Our Island Hopping Disappointment in Boracay

island hopping in boracay

“Our Island Hopping Disappointment in Boracay.” I must have been asked over a thousand times if I wanted to go island hopping by various salesmen during our four day stay in Boracay. I was getting pissed with all the perpetual pestering.

If you factor in all the traveling vendors trying to sell you selfie sticks and cheap sunglasses, along with the tour salesmen,  it was nearly impossible to walk these white sand beaches without being disturbed.

Regular readers of Philippines Plus know that the crusty old expat doesn’t like to be bothered at times. Most of the time I just ignored everyone trying to sell me something.

However, I did tell one old geezer trying to sell me pirated DVD’s that I didn’t speak English. Since I told this to him in English, I don’t think he believed me and hung around for a few minutes. He finally wised up and left after I ignored him and gave him the silent treatment. You married guys know all about the silent treatment.

My asawa, sister Marjorie and her daughter Shaina,  were swimming on the beach our second day in Boracay (see following photo.) It was around 7 am. I stood guard over the purses. I had informed my spouse that if she wanted to go island hopping, she should see what kind of a deal she could get. Advertisements on the white sandy beaches were listing prices of 800 pesos per person.swimming in boracay

It wasn’t long before I spied someone approaching my wife attempting to entice her to take one of the island hopping tours. These salesmen are always easy to spot, they’re usually carrying a laminated copy of the tour and their destinations.

“Paul,” the island hopping guru, was offering a six hour tour complete with a free buffet lunch for 700 pesos per person. It seemed like a good deal but I did have concerns when Paul informed us that he wasn’t authorized to be at Station 2. But we took a 15-minute walk in the early morning heat the beach where the tour vessel was located.

Everything seemed to check out. We signed a passenger manifest and I made sure Paul escorted us to the tour boat until we paid any money. We soon took off along with around 40 other passengers.

After about 10 minutes we made our first stop about 500 meters from a nearby beach. And that was it. The boat stopped and people who wanted to swim were encouraged to do so. A buko, coconut juice salesman approached, and for 25 pesos each, we drank buko juice.

Now buko juice is supposedly quite healthy for you. I don’t like the taste of it but since I can’t swim and was thirsty, figured I could drink one.

coconut juice on the fly in boracay

Not to be outdone, a Magnolia ice cream salesman, seen in the following photo, came by. We paid 50 pesos each for a cold ice cream treat, not an unreasonable price. We must have stayed at the swimming hole for around 45 minutes. We were never told how long we would be at each stop and were not kept very well-informed regarding the tour’s itinerary. floating ice cream salesman in boracay

Most of our tour group could swim and they seemed to be having a good time frolicking in the water. It took some persuasion to get my sister-in-law Marjorie into the water but my asawa finally convinced her to jump in. Me? I slurped down my ice cream.

swimmers from our tour group in boracay

My spouse wisely purchased a new straw hat when we arrived in Boracay. We got a deal on the hat as the vendor knocked 50 pesos off the original purchase price of 250 pesos.

swimming in boracay

This next stop at Crystal Cove, where we spent almost two hours, was a waste of time. It cost 200 pesos to enter the cave. We declined. My wife, sister-in-law and niece went swimming as we waited for our group to finish touring the cave.

That’s our tour vessel from Shingley Tours. We saw a huge amount of watercraft with the Shingley Tour logo on them. No doubt the operators of this tour received a cut from the owners of the Crystal Cove for stopping.

our tour craft from shingley tours boracay

My wife spoke to one lady that had just completed the tour and pronounced the cave as  “disappointing.” We’re glad we didn’t shell out an additional 800 pesos to walk through it.

crystal cove cave near boracay

One of the many boats from Shingley Tours that landed on the Crystal Cove beach.

shingley tours boracay

Had plenty of time to take photographs, however. After about 30 minutes of swimming my asawa joined me on the beach. We were all getting hungry and had no idea how long we would be at this stop.

view from boracay

Now don’t get me wrong, while we weren’t pleased with this our island hopping disappointment in Boracay, we did manage to make the best of it. My lovely spouse put on a wry smile in the next photograph, and niece Shaina, was busy checking her text messages of course.

taking it easy in boracay

We finally took off for our lunch buffet destination. I took the next picture as we headed out. We were extremely hungry and were looking forward to our meal.

underwater cave in boracay

But lunch, however, was another disappointment. Hundreds of people with dozens of boats docked at the beach crowded the strictly native style structure which housed our eatery.

The food was traditional Filipino fare of average quality. Pancit, rice, BBQ pork on a stick. We did, however, get to have one drink as part of our lunch package and I opted for a cold bottle of San Miguel Pale Pilsen. It was the only beer I had consumed in weeks.

the last stop on our shingley tour in boracayAfter a quick lunch we headed out to our final stop, an island which featured “free cots” to take a nap on. But our guide to the “free cots” quickly handed us menus to all the native style nipa huts housing sari sari stores. Marjorie and Shaina took time to check their text messages of course.

the crew in boracay

I don’t remember who took the above picture for us. Boracay was the kind of place where people are more than eager to take your photograph, for a price of course. But I mugged for the camera and relaxed on the “free cot” which only cost me one lemon-flavored San Miguel for 100 pesos.

My wife purchased a small bag of Nova chips for 60 pesos, about three times the normal price. But though my wallet was considerably lighter, I still relaxed and enjoyed these few moment of paradise in the Philippines.

the kano relaxing in boracay

The tour wasn’t a complete waste of time. It had its moments but I wished we would have been kept better informed of how long each stop was going to be. Our boat always docked off the beach and it would have difficult to swim out to ask them.

I would recommend taking an island hopping tour of Boracay but would have to advise my readers to avoid Shingley Tours.

american expat living the good life in the philippines

I finally got my butt off the cot and we headed back to Station 2 in Boracay. I took the following shot on the way back. And yes, anyone who has ever visited the Philippines knows that the Superman logo can be seen just about anywhere. Wonder what island hopping tour the Man of Steel would take?parasailing in boracay

Author: The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 19 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people in the last two years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.

24 thoughts on “Our Island Hopping Disappointment in Boracay

    1. Yep, Boracay isn’t a place we plan to return to, Pantera, precisely for the reasons you listed. My asawa thinks the sand in Guimaras, particularly Raymen Beach, is just as white as the sand in Boracay but she did say the Boracay sand is finer.

      But at least we can cross Boracay off our bucket list now.

  1. Hi Dave , boracay looks nice but a bit pricey 200 pesos each just to enter a cave
    Glad you didn’t pay it, I think it’s a place I would visit once and that would be it
    Plenty of other great places to go in the Philippines, going to Bicol Christmas time
    Probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in the Philippines and not touristy
    Isn’t it funny were ever you go ln the Philippines they are always texting , I don’t even have a cell phone and I don’t miss one either,
    Derek in pasig.

    1. I couldn’t see plunking down a total of 800 pesos for our group to enter the cave, Derek. The whole tour seemed rigged to me.

      Boracay does have some beautiful sunsets and beaches, but yes, it was a place we will probably not visit again.

      We’ll have to place Bicol on our places to visit list along with SM Mall of Asia, Palawan and Puerto Galera.

      I don’t have a cell phone, either, Derek. My asawa would sometimes text me back in the States where I did carry a cell phone. I would always call her back instead of texting, it was just as cheap on our plan from AT&T to call. I hate sending text messages, hard on my fat fingers and very frustrating.

  2. My wife has never pressured me to visit Boracay and even when she mentions it I very clearly tell her no. I mean I say let’s see, which to her is all the same.

    We found a nice white sandy beach in an above mentioned location but we stay away from the large groups of foreigners mainly for my breathing space.

    1. Well, David, a nice white sandy beach away from the crowds sounds good to me, much more relaxing. It was a pain in the butt to get around the beaches and the mall in Boracay. I get too grumpy when I get closed in and bumped around.

      1. I definitely feel the same way. My wife used to visit Divisoria frequently before we married but she hasn’t been there in 6 months because I really hate it. It’s easy to get lost and easy to lose the people you are with.

        1. David, since I’m a crusty old expat of 64, I, too, avoid places I can easily get lost in. 🙂 My asawa also would avoid any place I hated and always leaves the decisions of where to go up to me.

  3. Looks like the place deserves it reputation for being beautiful. You appear so contented in the pic in the lounge. Can’t say as I blame you for that. One can only chuckle at the enterprising nature on the Filipino as they can spot a tourist from a mile away and they never seem to be bashful about approaching them. It seems that I need to add another place to my already long bucket list. Keep on enjoying and sharing these new places.

    1. Yep, Mike, no doubt that Boracay is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited in the Philippines. I was quite content, just decided to go with the flow and the cold lemon-flavored Pilsen didn’t taste too bad.

      Filipinos, as you stated, are quite enterprising and some of the ones I know have multiple jobs and businesses. Our local policeman, a relative, has a hollow block factory and furniture shop. You have to be very imaginative in making a living here.

  4. Dave,

    I guess the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. I’ve said that many a times with Anne since she can be kuripot at times. Don’t know if we will visit Boracay now. Anne is enjoying herself in the nice weather, she really loves the garage sales lol. Couldn’t believe it got down in the 40’s earlier this week.

    1. Yep, we probably should have explored some other island hopping options Papa Duck, but this trip was totally spontaneous and I didn’t do a lot of research before going to Boracay.

      Melinda always hit the garage sales back in the States, too. And temp’s in the 40’s? Wow! Haven’t experienced that in almost seven years. Take care.

  5. Hi Dave.My wife says you look way cuter than the lemur on your shirt.She says Palawan is a better beach resort.I don’t know.Thanks for the great pictures,the water looks amazing.Joe.

    1. Thanks to your asawa, Joe. Good to hear that I at least look better than the lemur. 🙂

      Actually we are planning to visit Palawan and some of their resorts have gotten even better ratings than the ones in Boracay.

      You’re welcome, Joe, glad you like the pics, more to come.

  6. When the better half and I honeymooned on Boracay over 20 years ago it was as near to paradise as I could imagine, few cars due to fewer roads, a true laid back atmosphere with super friendly people who were not trying to rip you off. On our tenth anniversary we went back and I saw the trend toward massive tourism taking off. On our 20th I swore I would never go back, way too crowded, way too touristy and a general feeling that I had to keep one hand on my wallet and grow eyes in the back of my head. It’s really too bad because it used to be an amazing place.

    1. Great to hear from you, Tony. Wish I could have been in Boracay 20 years ago, sounds fantastic.

      And now, yes, aside from our guide Willy, I felt that everyone was trying to pull every single peso out of us that they could. The majority of the eateries, TGI Fridays for example, were extremely overpriced.

      Yes, the beaches are fantastic, especially at sunset, but I’m with you, Boracay is not a place we plan to ever return to. Take care.

  7. Hi Dave,

    While relaxing I don’t really want to be disturbed, yet in Boracay it is maddening how many sales people disturb you. How many pairs of sunglasses do I need? Even if you have a pair on they still try to sell you another pair. Try to nap close to the beach on a cot and someone wakes you to sell you something. Borocay is beautiful but if you are wanting piece and quiet and no sales people bothering you find somewhere else to go.

    1. I completely agree with you, Mark. It seems you couldn’t relax for even a few minutes without some vendor pestering you. Even beggars were allowed to roam the beach and bother people with no security in sight. All in all, yes, Boracay is beautiful, but if they want to have any return visitors something needs to be done about the wandering sales people. The mall on site, D’Mall, is more than adequate to provide you with anything the vendors are trying to sell you.

  8. I think it is said that once a place becomes a hot spot for tourism it becomes a place for locals to take advantage of the tourist. Sounds like this is a place I should had visited years ago. I really don’t like going to places where prices are inflated and big crowds.
    I’m with Derek Bicol is such a beautiful place and not a lot of tourist hopfully it stays this way. This is where we live. If you get a chance to visit Bicol I think you would find it very enjoyable home of Mt. Mayon and the caramon islands these are the beautiful islands where they have held the show survivor many of times.

    1. I think you’re right, Roger. The constant pestering from the vendors and the high prices certainly do not entice us to return to Boracay.

      Bicol will have to go on our bucket list of places to visit in the Philippines, Roger, sounds like a great place.

      Next up, however, in mid-July we will be in the SM Mall of Asia area, three kilometers from the super mall, as we accompany my sister-in-law Marjorie to catch her flight back to Kuwait. But I already informed my asawa that Bicol definitely should be a place to check out.

      1. Still getting paperwork in order for are permanent move wife is now a duel citizen and turning in my paperwork Friday at the Philippine consulate Chicago for my 13A . Are goal is to be back there in September
        So hopfully when you get ready to travel to Bicol we will be there.

        1. Congratulations on getting that paperwork in order for the 13A, Roger. Should spare you a painful visit to the local Immigration offices here to take care of it.

          We probably won’t visit Bicol before you get there, Roger. We’ll save that visit for until you and your asawa make your move there. Good luck.

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