January 22-24: Boracay International Funboard Cup
This 52 Weekender is one for the water-babies out there. The spectacular Boracay beaches in the Philippines are hosting the annual Boracay International Funboard Cup, one of the regions biggest wind-surfing competitions. Besides watching the surfers slalom and tack their way to glory (or doing it yourself) you can enjoy various other water and land-based activities.
Sails on, prepare for the slalom
The races are free for spectators while participating competitors can go to the Green Yard Funboard Center which already includes registration, practice and the main competition. Price to participate is US$125, telephone +63 36 2883208. Drop by at the D Mall at Station 2 or Talipapa, near Station 1 for that cheap beach wear. A US$10 budget and some crafty haggling will get you several t-shirts and sarongs to ensure you look the part, as well as some lovely bangles to pile up round your arms and neck.
Where to watch
Just a few minutes’ walk from the more popular (and crowded) White Beach at the opposite side, the funboard action all happens on the eastern side of the island at Bulabog Beach which, at this time of the year, is ideal for watersports because of the constant northeast monsoon. The beach line can get crowded with competitors and gear but it’s really fun to watch the ongoing race (and observe the concerned faces of the surfers' girlfriends who often act as assistants, lugging their boyfriends’ gear).
Eat, drink and be merry... until you drop
Several resorts and shops offer menus for every type of budget. There is a wide selection of cuisine to choose from, ranging from local fare to Japanese and even Moroccan.
As night falls, White Beach, an 8-kilometer strip of powdery sand, is where all the fun and partying is concentrated. Get ready to hop between the lively bars along Stations 1 and 2 while Station 3 is more relaxed and laid back. Don’t forget to drop by Cocomangas (+63 36 2886384) near Station 1 for the “still standing after 15” drink challenge: winner gets a t-shirt and a plaque on the wall. If not, you can have a wonderful evening at The Hobbit House (+63 36 2886687), a theme bar with a unique staff.
Doze off or change at your crib
Accommodations are as varied as the restaurants and bars in Boracay. If you want peace and quiet, though, avoid central White Beach where dance music can pound until 4am. Head south for a more relaxed and cheaper stay and north for the more expensive hotels. Dave’s Straw Hat Inn (+63 36 2885465) near Station 3 is one of the best budget resorts while Shangri-La's Boracay Resort and Spa (+63 36 2884988) can set you back several hundred dollars per night.
Walk, ride and lose that gut
A little under the weather following a night on the town? Clear the mind and tone the body with any number of outdoor activities: Island hopping, diving (starting at around $33) and other water-based activities are available. Just inquire at your favourite resort for rates and arrangements.
For more challenging water sports, Green Yard Funboard Center can provide week-long rent and sale packages including accommodation. Prices start at US$400 per person per week or US$530 with companion. Telephone: +63 36 2883208.
Isla Kiteboarding School (+63 36 2885352) offers lessons on all levels by IKO certified instructors. Cliff jumping is another growing free attraction at Puka, Diniwid and Angol or if you prefer a more stylish place, Ariel’s Point at Boracay Beach Club (+63 36 2886770).
An easy to moderate climb to Mt Luho, the highest point in the island, provides a stunning view of Boracay. The site can be reached on foot, via mountainbikes (starting at US$2 per hour ) or for a more fun ride, ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles, starting at around US$33). Inquire at your favourite resort.
Want to explore away from the beaten path? Horseback riding is an exciting option. Ride a trike to Boracay Horse Riding Stables (+63 36 2883311, about $10 per hour). If you’re on the budget, hiking on foot around the island or just a laid back run at the beach can be a relaxing experience.
For helpful information, services and establishments, check the island resort directory.
Looking for more things to do on upcoming weekends? Check out 52 Weekends for the full list of 2010.