Boracay In January

Boracay in January - The gang on the last trip

In 2014, we spent a few days in Boracay with our good friends Dodong, Snookie, and Gina. Two weeks ago, we went back again with a third couple, minus our dear friend Gina. Gina passed away last year so our return trip was bittersweet. 

Boracay In January?

January is right in the middle of peak Boracay’s peak season which is November through May. In about June, and lasting through about October, the “habagat” winds usually blow from the west and bring gloom, rain and sticky humidity. 

While June through October is considered “low-peak”, a place like Boracay never really turns “off”.

The Hotel

We booked two rooms at the Royal Park Resort on the beach at the southern end of Station 1. Four of us, two couples, stayed there. Except for the really hard king mattresses, the hotel was good. Just beware that when you see “resort” in a hotel name in the Philippines, it may or may not live up to the western definition of “resort”.

The Royal Park is pretty much just a hotel on the beach. It’s low on amenities but high on location. In fact, many of Boracay’s Station 1 water activities are staged from the beach outside of the Royal Park’s doors. Swimming is available just to the right (north) of the slice of beachfront owned by the Royal Park. It’s wading water until you get pretty far from shore but it’s all cordoned off with floats.

Boracay Boat Ride

The beach outside of the hotelThe first morning dawned clear, with sunshine and blue skies. We were going to go out on a pump boat for a tour around the island so it was ideal.

The boat pulled in close to the beach but we had to wade out to it. I have no sea legs at all so climbing the foot-wide gangway from knee-deep water was a trick. I’m glad there were boat hands to hold me up while the boat bobbed in the waves!

A wave-battered rock formationThe ride around the island was smooth. It’s windier on the north side so the waves are choppier there. But the pilot was good with the tiller and knew when to cut the engine and let the boat take the rougher water on its own.

We got to see some really cool parts of Boracay from a vantage point we usually don’t have. You can imagine the years and years of wave action it took to cut up the rocks into their present formations.

Boracay Puka Dogs

We didn’t experience much nightlife on this trip to Boracay. We only had three days so we spent them mostly on the beach.

Boracay in January - A Puka Beach Dog asleep in the sandOn our second day, we visited Puka Beach and spent most of the day there. We hung out at a “bar” that was more or less just a lot of bamboo lounge chairs. They had some food and some beers but we brought our own eats.

One thing there was this time that I don’t remember from our last visit is beach dogs!

There were seven or eight of them total and they were all friendly. I saw little tourist kids get right up next to them and the dogs didn’t react. We had a couple that came over to us and mooched some pepperoni from our pizzas.

A sweet Puka DogThis little German Shepherd- Corgi mix (?!) was a heartbreaker. She really had the “Please feed me” look down perfect. What a cool looking dog!

Be warned that Puka Beach has rougher water than White Beach. I can’t stand up in the crashing surf anymore and my wife, even with good legs, was knocked down by a wave and got a bathing suit full of sand!

Boracay Feed Bag

At Tatoy's near the Iloilo airportWhen you get home from a Boracay beach trip, some people want to know how the beach was. Other people want to know how the nightlife was. But EVERYONE wants to know how the food was!

Truthfully, we were disappointed with the food we ate this time. 

We flew into Iloilo, rather than straight through to Caticlan. That meant a four to six-hour van ride to Caticlan (which I will never do again if it’s avoidable). So we stopped at Tatoy’s Seafood to fuel up for the long ride.

The food was pretty good at Tatoy’s but the flies in the dining room were horrible! Man, they have GOT to get a handle on those.

For our first meal on Boracay, the six of us hit the dinner buffet at the Astoria Boracay. We had the breakfast buffet one morning on our last trip and it was good. The dinner buffet food was not very tasty at all. I can’t recall what the dishes offered were (a good indication of their quality) but I do recall trying to fill up on the spaghetti. You know the buffet is mediocre if I stick to eating the spaghetti.

The next day, in the D’Mall, we ate at Andok’s Chicken. It was just OK. (On the way out, we ate at the Andok’s in Caticlan and I had the absolute worst, most dried-out siopao I’ve ever eaten. We called them “Last Week’s Siopao”.)

A Puka Dog searching for good food

We had Yellow Cab pizza twice – for lunch two days in a row. That was more a matter of logistics than anything. The first full day, we were hungry after boating and swimming and wanted something right away. The next day, we needed something to carry to Puka Beach. (There’s a Puka Dog on the right, looking for some better food. I hope she finds it.)

We ate at Gerry’s Grill, which was pretty good. They had sashimi grade tuna but messed it up with sesame oil. I ate it anyway. Later, we ducked in out of the rain at Paraiso Grill outside of the Boracay Uptown Hotel. The food was just typical. At least the beer was cold.

The biggest disappointment came from the beachfront restaurant called Epic. I ordered a “dry martini” which was so awful, it must have been mixed by an untrained monkey. The rest of the food – for seven people – was just as bad. No of us liked their food! Epic, it seems, is an epic failure.

I love all kinds of food and I’m not hung up at all on fancy cooking so I have to ask, “What happened to you, Boracay?” Your restaurants seem to have stopped caring and have definitely forgotten that they’re trying to appeal to an international audience of travelers. Really, if you can’t make a two-ingredient martini that’s drinkable, you’ve lost your grasp of things.

In the end, I have to say that the best food was the breakfast buffet at our hotel and the Yellow Cab pizza! 

Boracay sand sculptureWhile we were beach dining at Epic, a group of young guys made the sand sculpture in the photo at left. They put candles in the letters to make them shine like that. They were asking for donations from people who wanted to take photos of their creation. That seemed right to me. And since they were the highlight of a low night of dining, I gave them P50.

So that was Boracay in January 2017. Even though the people and beaches were grand, I think it will be a long time before I visit again. At least until I hear that the food is improving.

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