Time for some travelling, from Dumaguete to Iloilo and on to Boracay. By bus, as usual. I think Ceres Bus and also Dimple Star, and on some island even local buses, offer a great opportunity to travel cheap, reasonably comfortable and it is a great way to see the country.
When you travel from Dumaguete to Boracay by bus and ferry, you will pass the following significant cities where you have to change transport:
In Dumaguete it is easy, in the bus terminal on a regular base, starting at 2 am busses to Bacolod depart. When entering the bus station just go all the way to the left side of the platform and you will find the air-con tour buses that take you in a few stops to Bacolod South Bus Terminal.
In Bacolod I took the FastCat, leaving from Bredco Pier to Iloilo, they offer cheap fares and reliable vessels that are very comfortable. The trip reversed you can find here with all the details on schedules and tickets etc. Please note that you arrive at the South Bus Terminal and Bredco Pier is near the North bus terminal. So you have to travel through town, my advice is to take a taxi.
In order to get to Boracay you have to get to Caticlan, from where the ferries depart. In Iloilo busses to Caticlan leave every 20 (!) minutes from the Tagbak bus terminal (taxi again!) Now if you search the internet you can probably find news articles about Ceres bus-company having new busses doing this trip with onboard CR and in 4 hours….don’t get your hopes up.
The bus will take the regular 6 hours to reach Caticlan port. The CR on board is not working, as is the wifi. The roads are in very bad shape, they changed all the asphalt to concrete which is very bumpy. And they haven’t finished yet, so you will have some dirt road experience as well. It is no non-stop trip as they advertise, there are several stops, and I think that’s nice because you can use the CR in the bus station. On my trip there was a lunch break at a restaurant and a few sari sari shops in a small Barangay, just before Kalibo.
In Caticlan, when you arrive there is friendly but pushy staff everywhere to help you find your way, they handle the crowd going to Boracay quite efficiently but I got a bit of “cattle going to the market”-feeling.
It is amazing how much people they handle and you just have to follow the crowd.
Be patient, stay polite and do as you are told.
I must say I was surprised by the prices, the boat tickets are cheap, around 25 pesos, but the terminal fee and environmental fee are crazy, other terminals charge like 15 php, this terminal charges 100 pesos and you are rushed through on your way to the boat. The environmental fee is 75 php.
And then after a short boat trip, you finally set foot on Boracay……..holy shit…..so many people.
Book your Hotel on Boracay Island
Yes, the beaches are sparkling white, flat massive trampled sand, by the stampede of people seeing the ocean and so ready to reach their hotel or resort. Overwhelming amount of very expensive Henann Resorts is dominating the scene.
And super expensive souvenirs, restaurants and shops are visited by the multitudes that all end up eating at cheap places like Inasal, McDonald’s, Andok’s and Shakeys, leaving big empty spaces on lovely beachfront restaurants with an abundant buffet waiting for nobody.
I must say Boracay has a vibe, but you have to like that vibe
The contrast between poor locals and the rich tourist is enormous and the busy beach makes it almost impossible to make pictures without a multitude of banana-boats, sailing boats, dive banka’s, parasailing, kite surfing and selfie making crowds.
If you like the vibe, you like Boracay, if you do not like the vibe, you might like Boracay also, but only in the very early morning, when only a few are on the beach and the sandcastles are being built all over again by the teenagers that later on will charge you big time to have your picture taken with your own cell phone.
And do not be fooled, the salespeople and day trip promotors will follow you from early morning (I was at the beach around 6 am) till late at night and even in the water there is no escape. They follow tourists around on the paddle boards in the hope to sell an island hopping trip or a sunset cruise, sunglasses, pink floating flamencos for an hour or sun hats……..
All special Boracay price off course……..