You can enjoy Boracay on a budget. But, you can enjoy Boracay more if you have extra budget.
Having been on my favorite island for three consecutive years, with the latest being the most outrageous of them all, and I mean that in a good way, I finally know why people would spend so much to experience island adventures. After trying four of them I realized that they did make our trip much more exciting and memorable. If you have the means I say you should try them too and here’s why.
It’s a surreal experience to be underwater
I have never been underwater, which means I never tried scuba diving or I was never murdered and thrown on the water with a heavy material to keep me submerged (hehehe…). I’m not exactly a good swimmer so I was not excited at all when we found out we’d go Helmet Diving, which is one of the most popular adventures in Boracay.
A feeling that I did not share with my fellow bloggers. They were all excited, each one wanting to go first. Our adventures for the day were handled by Stingray, who by the way offers insurance to their guests. The guide though was happy to report that since they started operation, they have zero accidents. Now that’s a relief.
Despite my halfheartedness I was the third person to go down the water, not from excitement but from wanting to get it done and over with. But first, let’s talk about how it works.
You will be able to breathe underwater with the use of the helmet. It’s a square-shaped heavy object that you put over your head. It is attached with an air compressor. The pressure keeps the water from entering the helmet and it also allows you to breathe. The entire activity lasts for only 15 minutes.
Are there special requirements you might ask. Well, nothing.
- You don’t have to know how to swim (in fact, there’s no swimming involved here)
- You don’t have to be in your bathing suit (I was wearing jean shorts and cropped top)
But are there some rules? Well not really, but you have to be careful of course. Here are some of the things to remember when you’re underwater:
- When your ears hurt from the pressure, do the equalizing trick. Just pinch your nose then exhale with your mouth closed. It should release the pressure.
- If you are not feeling well and you want to go up, signal the divers with the thumb up sign.
- When you’re okay then put up the okay sign.
So what happened? Well, the boat has a ladder that goes all the way down to the seabed. You step down and when the water is already on your chest level, the helmet will be put over your head. Then you have to climb down until you reach the ocean floor. There are divers to assist you so don’t panic. And once you’re down there you might expect to feel a little dizzy. But you may also enjoy the view and boy was it fantastic.
There were fishes everywhere and it felt surreal to be in their world. The divers gave us pieces of bread to feed the fish wish. You hold up that piece of bread and watch them nae nae… I mean watch the fish consume that piece in 60 seconds. It was fun, like feeding fish in the aquarium only this time you are also in the aquarium.
As much as I liked it, I wasn’t able to thoroughly enjoy the experience because first, the helmet is too heavy. In fact, I had to support its weight with my hands because it was digging into my shoulders. Also, despite doing the equalizing trick, I suffered from a little headache that refused to go away. The only thing that stopped me from giving that thumbs up sign is my pride, I didn’t want to be the ninny who went up too early. But as soon as I saw the diver motioning for us to go up, I was the first one to approach him.
Would I recommend the activity, yes. I think it’s interesting and for what it’s worth, it felt surreal to be in the company of fishes. I liked the idea that humans cannot live underwater, but we found ways to at least enjoy it by doing some water activities. Would I repeat it, nope. I think once is enough.
Being up in the air is strangely soothing
I am kind of afraid of heights; kind of because I can be up on the building or ride a plane and not suffer from vertigo, but take me on a Ferris wheel and I’d be crying like a baby. I was also petrified when I rode the skycycle in Boracay last year. My fear had me thinking twice about going parasailing. Prior to that I was suffering from seasickness. I wasn’t the type who gets seasick, but the waves were so rough on that day, I was dealt with a terrible headache. I puked a little when I could no longer hold it in.
Because of that, my friends thought I wouldn’t go parasailing anymore; they thought wrong. This activity is worth PHP 1,700 (USD 36.52) and it would cost you more if you are doing it alone. Afraid or not, there was no way I’d let go of the opportunity.
We came in threes and my buddies for this activity were my blogger friends, Erwin and Jerny.
It also lasts for 15 minutes. First they strapped us in, I was positioned in the middle. Over our head is the parachute/kite and it’s the very thing that allowed us to fly up in the air. It’s attached to a long tow rope that is connected to the boat.
Before we knew it, we were over 800 feet off the ground, or the sea rather. Just like my “unsure” fear, I also had unsure feelings about it. For one, I remember feeling unusually calm when we were up there. It was just so peaceful and contrary to my expectations, the wind didn’t whip our kite so the experience was basically still. At the same time, I was also feeling a bit paranoid because you know, sometimes imagination runs wild. I imagined the harness breaking like that scene with the raccoon at Ace Ventura. And when that happens, goddang it’d be a free fall. I knew I was wearing life vests but I still wouldn’t want to plummet to the sea.
So I distracted myself by talking with my friends. And we talked like we were just hanging out at the balcony of a tall building. Eventually, I was able to conquer my unreasonable fear and I was able to enjoy the ride.
Would I recommend it? Of course! Would I repeat it? Hell yes!
Riding on the water’s surface is a surefire way to pump up your adrenaline
I remember the story of my friend whose friend met a little accident during the flying fish activity. Apparently, she fell on the water and that sort of messed up her hip giving her a permanent limp. I knew then that flying fish despite looking like it’s a harmless activity may in fact be dangerous.
Needless to say, I wasn’t excited to do it, but I still did it anyway. You should realize by now that I’d try anything despite my reservations. I’m curious like that.
Anyway, we sit atop this big inflatable raft and held on the rope in front of us. We were towed by the speed boat. At first, it was all okay, I even thought, wow this is enjoyable. But when the boat started gaining speed, I felt the force vibrate through my body. Soon, my hands were hurting from holding on the the rope and there was no way in the world I’d let go of that rope. I didn’t last that very long. Nope I didn’t fall on the water but when the boat stopped because one of my companions was begging to go back on the boat, I followed suit.
Would I recommend it? No. Would I repeat it? Nope.
ATV/Buggy Ride is exhilarating
After all those water activities we went back on dry land for another exciting activity. Last year, I tried driving the ATV and it was so much fun (and the weather was so hot too!). But when we went to the venue and I saw the buggy, I immediately informed our guide that that’s what I wanted to drive, notwithstanding the fact that I don’t know how to drive.
The activity was sponsored by Boracay Adventure World (BAW). When I learned that they have their own tracks for their ATV, my excitement grew. Last time, my friends and I drove the ATV on a paved road. This time we took the dirt road with slopes and sharp turns that made driving more challenging.
The buggy is not that complicated, it only has two pedals; gas and brake. I was lost in pure exhilaration the moment I started driving it. I know it’s not a car, but I think I now have an idea why some people like to drive. There is something liberating about mastering a machine that could take you to places. It’s an amazing feeling.
There is a roundabout where people can practice and that’s where I spent most of my driving. Yep, you read that right, that’s the only time I was really able to drive that buggy. in the beginning of the real drive, I lost control of the steering wheel, which careened the buggy off the path. Still, I was confident I’d get the hang of it but the BAW driver wasn’t as confident that he decided to take the wheel from me. Bummer.
I was terribly disappointed. While my friends were having the time of their lives driving their ATVs and buggy, I was on the passenger seat. Being a passenger and a driver are two different experiences; the former being the sucky part. Because I was merely a passenger I felt every bumps and I hated it.
So the best part of this adventure for me was not the buggy but our free time spent on a beach called, Bil-at. It’s such a beautiful beach with fine golden sand minus the crowd. If you avail of BAW’s adventure, you will have an opportunity to see this beautiful beach for yourself so I suggest you go get their service.
Going back, I told Jerny that I wasn’t able to enjoy the buggy ride because the BAW driver didn’t let me drive. He then told the driver to let me take over the wheel so that I could experience it; the driver agreed.
Suddenly, I was happy again, but the happiness was short-lived because I didn’t get to drive it long. It turned out, the beach was near BAW’s area. Bummer.
Would I recommend it? Yes. Would I repeat it? Most definitely.
In my previous Boracay trips, I didn’t pay mind to the locals who were scattered about the seashore, offering adventures. I wasn’t even curious, I just thought those activities are a waste of time and money. I didn’t get why some tourists would pay for such expensive activities. What I failed to realize, which happily I have now come to understand is that they were spending for experience. How many times can you go underwater and be with the fishes or fly through the air and see the magnificent view of Boracay from above? When you really think about it, these experiences are priceless because they make for unforgettable memories and interesting stories to tell.
What about you, have you tried any of these activities?