You may have heard of Boracay. With it’s white sand beaches and party reputation, this tiny island attracts huge amounts of visitors every year. We can safely say that the island definitely lives up to it’s reputation… we’ve spent most of our time here either drinking or hung over. I’m not sure my liver will ever recover.
It’s not the place to go if you want deserted beaches and local culture. The crowds are huge, the beachfront overdeveloped and crammed with bars, restaurants and clubs. The main beach itself is beautiful – the white sand, the clear turquoise water… but if you want to relax, forget it.
We decided to spend only 4 nights on the island, as we figured the party scene and crowded beaches would get old pretty fast. The hostel we chose was Frendz – it doesn’t have the wild nonstop party reputation as Mad Monkey hostels, but it’s still seen as an amazing place to be if you want to get involved in the Boracay party lifestyle, plus is two minutes from the beach.
I can safely say that this is the best hostel we’ve ever stayed in. At £9 per night for a dorm bed, we weren’t really expecting much but the bedrooms are air conditioned and have their own private bathrooms, plus they’re cleaned every day and your bed gets made. This is well above the usual hostel standard we’d seen in New Zealand.
We got the friendliest welcome ever when we walked in – about 5 or 6 different staff members said “Hi, welcome to Frendz!” as we walked through the bar to the reception desk, and within two minutes we had a free welcome beer in our hands and other backpackers had come over to speak to us. Usually when I pick a hostel that the reviews say has a great atmosphere, I end up disappointed by how quiet it is, but Frendz is great – music all day, pool table and swimming pool all right next to the bar, fans blasting to keep the place cool.
Even if you’re not a hostel kind of person usually, I think you’d still love it here – so much more welcoming and social than a hotel. They even have hospitality staff members who’s only job is to socialise with the guests and make sure you’re happy. Not bad for £9 a night.
Jungle tour a.k.a. party boat
We signed up for the ‘jungle tour’ at the hostel, which was running the day after we arrived. It was around £25, which included lunch, activities and booze. Don’t be fooled by the name though – it wasn’t an informative and rewarding trek through the jungle… cliff diving, river tubing, and a distillery tour, all with unlimited booze. It was definitely one of the best days of our whole trip so far. Absolute highlight. It wasn’t cultural, or responsible, or anything remotely good for us, but it was just so much fun. Sorry mum, when you read the below!
We started around 11am, which was nice. We’re used to early morning starts for tours, so this very civilised hour meant that we had a lie in plus wisely lined our stomachs with a decent breakfast before the day of unlimited booze began.
First of all we took a little boat out to a tiny island, little more than a rock outcrop in the ocean, which had lots of very rustic diving platforms set up at various heights, and a load of big bamboo shelters with picnic tables. We claimed a shelter for our own, the hostel staff set up a massive speaker and cracked open the huge container of rum for a few cups of Dutch courage before the cliff jumping began.
The highest jumps were around 12 meters, which doesn’t sound too high until you walk out onto the plank and look down… I chickened out and went for the nicer 10 metre jump first, which was still pretty scary, especially when one of the hostel guys started telling us about dislocated shoulders and black eyes from hitting the water wrong.
Despite the chance of maiming, everyone had a great time and even fuelled by plenty of rum we all managed to come out of it unscathed and ready for the next part of the trip.
They rounded us up and we all piled onto the boat, where the speaker was set up again and more booze handed out. When we got back to Boracay, we all got in the back of a jeepney, set up the speaker and cracked out the air guitar and terrible singing all the way up into the hills for tubing and lunch.
We were all given an inflatable rubber tube and a beer and sent off into the river, where we spent some time floating around in the water, drinking and singing and generally ruining the peace and behaving badly. Then it was lunch, more tubing and bamboo rafting, before getting back into the jeepney and heading to our last stop – the gin & vodka distillery.
After a very quick tour, it was straight to their outdoor bar and swimming pool, where we were given two drinks tokens and got straight in the pool for a very drunken game of volleyball. I remember the caramel vodka being amazing – so much so that we ended up buying a bottle… although it was passed around the jeepney and disappeared before we’d made it home.
After that, things get a little hazy. A lot of the boys, Blakey included, decided to sit up on the roof of the jeepney for the trip back down to the beach, which was definitely not safe but seemed like a great idea at the time… then it was onto another boat to take up back to our starting point, and a second bottle of caramel vodka appeared and disappeared soon after. We stopped for a swim I think, then after that I honestly can’t remember getting back to the hostel. Only that when we got back, we were straight in the pool and had more beer, then unwisely decided on going for a night out, ending with us sitting on the beach until the world stopped spinning.
You can imagine how spectacularly awful we felt the next day. We managed to go and get some washing done, found my sunglasses (the hostel staff informed me they were fished out of the pool, whoops), and then quietly laid on our beds waiting to feel better… we’re still waiting. Boracay, we can’t keep up.
Is Boracay for you?
Obviously, there are quieter things to do on the island, it’s not all crazy days or big nights out. But it’s crowded and a bit pricey… basically I wouldn’t come here unless you want to see what all the buzz is about, which means diving in head first. This isn’t our usual scene, but sometimes it’s fun to misbehave!