Whenever the minis’ birthdays are approaching, I start brainstorming for ideas on how we can make their birthday extra special. In the past years, we’ve always celebrated with family and friends through parties held at home or in a rented venue. We also give them a chance to ask for one big gift as a birthday treat.
This year, though, we decided to invest on experiences instead of material things. Thankfully, the minis are both in tune with this shift and agreed to do the same. So, instead of asking The Princess what she’d like for her birthday, we asked her where she’d like to go.
Last April, we brought the minis to Looc, Romblon to visit their grandparents. We also took a quick trip to Boracay while we were in the area. The minis both had a grand time during our April trip, which is why it came as no surprise when The Princess asked us to bring her to Boracay for her fifth birthday.
While it’s faster to go there by plane, A and I decided to take the longer route to Boracay—by sea. We tried this when we went to Romblon and we had fun during our trip despite the long hours in sea so we decided to try it going to Boracay as well.
Sea Travel to Boracay
Flying to Caticlan by plane is no doubt faster. However, since we want the minis to experience the different ways they can travel, we decided to take the 2Go ship going to Caticlan instead.
Purchasing a ticket from 2Go going to Boracay is similar to booking a plane ticket. You just need to go to their website, choose the accommodation you want, then pay via credit card. You can also give them a call at (02) 528-7000 to book your ticket. I recommend calling them directly than booking online or with an agent because going directly to them will allow you to choose your beds. When we booked with an agent for our trip to Romblon, we ended up in different areas of the ship! After booking by calling them directly, your ticket will be delivered to your home and you can pay via cash-on-delivery.
They have different types of accommodation for your 8-hour trip to Caticlan, depending on your budget. The cheapest one is their Super Value class, which gets you access to the open area of the ship with bunk beds. If you want accommodation with airconditioning, you can buy the Tourist Class accommodation, wherein you get a bunk bed inside a closed, air-conditioned area. This is the accommodation we chose for our trip and although we shared the dormitory-style room with many other travellers, the experience wasn’t so bad. The room was comfortably cold and we got our own bunk beds complete with clean linens.
However, if you want a more private space, 2Go also offers the Cabin Room and State Room. Getting a Cabin Room is similar to the Tourist Class except there are less people in the room. A State Room, on the other hand, is a private room reserved solely for you. Note that these two types of accommodation are booked quite fast so if you want to get these, you have to book way ahead of time. We tried to upgrade from Tourist to State both ways, but all rooms were fully booked.
The trip will take about 8 hours from Batangas Port to Caticlan Port. If you’re worried about getting bored, I promise that you won’t. They have a cafe and restaurant on board, a bar in the open area, and a band plays at night (if you take a night trip like we did).
From Caticlan Port, you will have to transfer to smaller boats heading to the port of Boracay. From there, you can take a tricycle (PHP 100) or a bigger e-tricycle (PHP 150) going to your station. Tricycles and e-trikes cannot go directly to your hotel if you booked a beach-front hotel. You can choose to walk from the drop-off point going to your hotel or take a pedicab at PHP 100.
Boracay Hotel in Station 3
We arrived in Boracay at around 9:30 in the morning. Check-in time was in the afternoon, but thankfully, Arwana Hotel and Restaurant allowed us to check in upon arrival. We were served welcome drinks while we waited for our room to get ready.
Arwana Hotel and Restaurant is a beach front hotel in Boracay Station 3. This is a good location for us because the minis wanted lots of time by the beach! If you prefer a more relaxed stay in the island, it’s best to find a hotel in Station 3. It’s also not as crowded compared to Station 2. The only downside is that there are not a lot of restaurants in the station, unlike in Station 2 where all the shops and restaurants are.
As for our stay: I think it’s good enough for the price. We got ourselves comfy rooms complete with airconditioning, a television with cable, and a clean bathroom with hot and cold shower in a beach front hotel. Arwana Hotel and Restaurant has wi-fi, but is not accessible from our rooms so we had to go to the restaurant to use it.
While service at the restaurant was a bit slow (we waited for 30 minutes for our breakfast), the staff are courteous and friendly. They are always willing to assist if we needed anything during our stay.
Boracay Activities for Families
With two little ones in tow, people thought we won’t be able to do anything but swim and make sand castles in Boracay. Au contraire! In fact, we tried a lot of activities with our 5-year old and 3-year old.
First up was our Banana Boat Ride, which costs PHP 250 per person. The kids definitely enjoyed riding the waves on a bouncy double banana boat! Worried about safety? Don’t worry since they have life jackets for both adults and kids—and, the driver won’t make sharp turns so as not to off-balance the boat.
We also took the kids on an island hopping experience wherein we explored Crystal Cove and Puka Beach. For PHP 800, you get to join the island hopping tour, including buffet lunch. However, make sure that you bring extra cash since the islands you’ll visit have entrance fees. If you wish to go snorkelling, there are corresponding fees as well.
If you’re up to it, don’t let the opportunity to try parasailing when in Boracay. A and I have been wanting to try it, but never had the chance before. So when my mom said she’ll look after the minis, we went and tried it.
Will we go back to Boracay?
Now that we’ve been to Boracay a couple of times, we can say that we’ve had enough of it. Although we had lots of fun during The Princess’ birthday weekend in Boracay, there are a number of not-so-good things about the island.
- For instance, the island hopping package has hidden charges. You’d sign up for it since it’s just worth PHP 800 per pax. However, when you reach each island, they would ask you to pay extra fees. It felt like you had to pay for every move you make.
- We also felt like the water is not as clean as it used to be. In fact, we had to bring The Princess to the emergency room after our island hopping experience due to an allergic reaction. She didn’t eat anything that could have triggered it, so we came to the conclusion that it could have been the water. It felt a bit itchy and had a “malansa” smell.
We’ve experienced Boracay and what it has to offer—we’re now ready to explore other beaches in the Philippines.
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Someday, R, the girl and I will go there. Yung tipong hindi kami masyadong in a tight budget para hindi kami manghinayang sa money. Because a lot of the people who went there lately have been complaining about the water na nga. I want to go to Kalanggaman Island in Leyte, Caramoan in Bicol, Bohol, Palawan. Ay grabe, ang dami pa. Friend, try niyo sa Hundred Islands, medyo malapit lang. Mage-enjoy ang kids sa dami ng island-hopping sesh. Hehe. 🙂
*a lot of the people I know
Ang explanation sa akin, when the rainy season is nearing, iba raw tubig doon. What we didn’t get kasi noong unang punta namin (which is just a month before the second one), okay na okay ang water. There’s so much to explore in the PH! When we get tempted to bring the kids abroad (lalo na si K na may idea na sa mga Disneyland na yan), we just look at the list of places we want to see in the Philippines. Caramoan and Kalanggaman are on our list too! Bohol is super family friendly, Palawan naman I think P can handle already.
We’ve been planning to visit Hundred Islands, kaso inabot na ng tag-ulan. 🙁