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Boracay is a small island set on the north tip of Panay just 45 minutes flight from Manila. It is about 10 km long and not much more than 1km wide and it is by far the most popular and best known of all the destinations in the Philippines.
The tourism industry has been built on the reputation of White Beach, a 3.5km stretch of palm fringed sand that is surely the best in Asia and it really is as beautiful as it is claimed to be. Running the whole stretch of the beach, but well hidden by the palms are a series of restaurants, bars, resorts, dive shops and houses.
Boracay is more than White Beach though and scattered all around the island are a number of very pretty sandy coves and beaches which you will often have to yourself. The pace of life on the island is slow or as busy as you want it to be but you will find it very difficult to get to bored! The island is perfect for sports enthusiasts and you can kite-board and windsurf, play tennis or go horse-riding, there is the famous 18 hole championship golf course and of course Scuba Diving.
After the warm day in the water or on the beach, the best way to round things off is by having a quiet drink watching the sun go down. The evening brings a different kind of island and Boracay becomes the host to a great nightlife. There is a very relaxed easy going vibe on the island and the restaurants and bars have contributed to the feel. You can eat really cheaply here or splash out on the most memorable of meals and usually you will find yourself sitting under the stars wherever you are. Some of the larger bars have a reputation for big tunes and will often keep the dancing going until the very late (or early!) hours.
The resort: Pinjalo Villas is situated just a one minute walk from the heart of White Beach and is the perfect resort for your stay on Boracay. The Standard rooms are newly built and are set in exotic and tranquil tropical gardens complete with swimming pool. All rooms are very airy and comfortable; each has its own balcony and all come with hot water, air conditioning and cable television. Wi-fi is available at the resort.
The recently refurbished Sports Bar adjacent to the Dive Centre is an ultra modern bar and restaurant complete with wall mounted widescreen TVs showing live sporting events. The restaurant offers some of the best dining on the island and its international menu is extremely popular. As part of all accommodation packages you can eat buffet style breakfast here.
The Dive Centre:
Calypso Diving is under the same management as Pinjalo and is also one minute walk from your accommodation. Calypso has prime position on the beach and has unobstructed views across the sand to the blue sea.
Calypso is a PADI 5 star IDC centre and is one of the most established dive operators on the island. Facilities include training pool, air-conditioned class rooms, rebreather centre, nitrox fills, full equipment rental, day trips and liveaboards.
There is a full complement of diving staff and all courses from beginner to Instructor level are available. Calypso professionals teach in English, German, French, Italian, Dutch, and Japanese and of course Filipino.
Although not a full on diving destination such as Puerto Galera, Boracay offers something for everybody – from the novice to the most experienced divers. For beginners the combination of swimming pool training and clear blue shallow sea water is hard to beat. For regular divers there are steep walls and challenging drift dives.
The majority of dives are boat based and local dive sites (of which there are about 20) are all within 10-40 minutes journey time from the Centre. Perhaps the best known site is Yapak on the north end of the island. Yapak is a wall starting at 30 meters deep and divers reach it on an exhilarating free drop after a negative entry. Currents along the wall attract the bigger fish and sightings of sharks, tuna and turtles are common.
By contrast, Crocodile Island and Laurel at the south end of the island are shallow wall and reef dives with beautiful corals and abundant marine life which are perfect for macro photography. Running along the west coast of Panay is a series of connecting steep walls and these are visited almost daily.
The beach dive is good for novices and check out dives but at night it is a great place for critter searching. Bring your camera! Calypso also runs single and 2 -3 day dive trips to the much less explored Maniguin and Panagatan Islands where you can see schools of snappers and jacks and of course really big pelagics.
Photographs courtesy of Pinjalo Resort & Calypso Divin
Copyright © Gunther Deichmann