Off-The-Beaten Path in Boracay
By Allison Yates
The seven-kilometer long island of Boracay may be tiny, but it leaves a big impression on the reported 1.7 million annual visitors. Located just two kilometers north of Panay Island, one of Boracay’s most famous spots is White Beach, a four-kilometer stretch of powdery sand and crystal clear waters.
Travelers fall in love with its joyous atmosphere that makes the tagline “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” ring true. But besides the relaxing all-inclusive resorts and all-night parties, there are pockets of culture and adventure you wouldn’t expect.
Besides celebrated experiences like parasailing and snorkel among the tropical water’s brightest fish, here are four activities to spice up your beach vacation.
Show Your Strength at Legacy Gym
What better way to take advantage of vacation than improve your reflex skills and gain strength? Located on the north side of the island, Legacy Gym offers training in Muay Thai boxing, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). With coaches from all over the world, Legacy Gym is a welcoming, international space and a great place to meet new friends while learning a new activity. Boracay may have a hot and humid climate, but Legacy Gym keeps it cool in their open-air bamboo hut.
It’s best to bring gloves and hand wraps from home, or you can purchase them at the gym. Be sure to throw in some running shoes and shorts in your suitcase – you won’t want to fight in your bikini! Training starts at 600 pesos and private classes at 1,000 pesos.
Photo Courtesy by Legacy Gym
Tap Into Your Inner Ariel
Who says mermaids don’t exist? The Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy in Boracay make fairy tales a reality with their classes. Mermaids – and mermen – meet at the stunning White Beach for a full lesson. After choosing your perfect tail, you’ll have safety training, swimming instruction and lots of photo opportunities. Wade through the warm waters, twirling and diving in full mermaid fashion.
“People enjoy it because it’s every girl’s dream to be a mermaid,” says Anamie Saenz, the COO and co-founder. The best time to go, Saenz says, is October – June when the water is flat with no undertows and there aren’t as many rocks and coral in the sand.
Nervous about swimming? Mermaids can choose to stay in shallow water and slowly swim to deeper areas as they feel more comfortable. Prices vary, check the website for current classes.
Photo Courtesy by Metro
Cook With a Local
Both foreign and domestic visitors to Boracay can learn the secrets of the island’s favorite dishes with a cooking class. With We Cook Local, the island’s first cooking school, Kathy takes participants on a market tour and back to her rural house make the food. She gives step-by-step instructions so you’ll be able to recreate these rich dishes once you leave the island.
Photo Courtesy by 10 Magazine
Guests cook two entrees and one appetizer and desert. Vegetarians, have no fear! There are options available for you as well. You’ll also take home a shirt and digital cooking instructions. Classes run in afternoon and evening and cost is 2,500 pesos.
Step Back in Time
What was the Philippines like decades ago? You don’t have to read a book – just visit the Motag Living Museum a boat ride away in Malay on Panay Island. This interactive museums allows guests to not only learn about, but fully immerse themselves in traditions of the past.
Photo Courtesy by TripAdvisor
While dressing in pre-Spanish loose skirts patadyong, visitor ride on water buffalo through rice fields, climb into a bamboo hut and weave roofing with elderly women. You’ll sample rice and coconuts and feel a sense of rural community that once in the area. Entry is 700 pesos for adults and tours run at 10am and 2pm. Reserve at least a day prior.
When you think of Boracay, the thought of wearing a mermaid tail or riding a water buffalo probably doesn’t come to mind. You may not be able to take the beach in your suitcase, but you can bring the recipes, mermaid and fighting techniques, and cultural knowledge with you wherever you go.