- Includes hotel accommodations + round trip airfare via Zest Air + round trip transfers + daily breakfast
- Hey! Jude Resort Hotel
- Standard Room accommodations
- Located at D’Mall Station 2
- Walking distance from the hottest bars and restaurants of Boracay
- Also offers a plethora of activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, island hopping and more
- Groupon is valid for 1 year
- Groupon is good for 1 person
- 2 Groupons are required in order to book a reservation
- P1900 surcharge applies (payable to Pabstar) if traveling alone
- Reservation is required at least 2 weeks from the preferred travel date, subject to availability
- Travel Period is from January 4, 2012 until December 31, 2012
- Blackout dates: Chinese New Year 2012, Holy Week 2012, Super Peak Season (October 29-November 3, 2012), December 16, 2012 until December 31, 2012)
- May be redeemed 24 hours after receiving your Groupon
- See the rules that apply to all deals
In the middle of November 2011, Mom saw this deal from Beeconomic’s website and thought that it could be a nice family trip for us. I was still in Singapore at that time, but I could easily fly back to the Philippines for vacation. So being away from the country was not one of my reasons for hesitation. If I must name one hindrance for me to say yes to that deal, it would be my preconception when I was younger.
I Hated Beaches
I have talked about the reasons why in a three-minute impromptu speech during speech class in college. As I recall, my reasons revolved around the activities usually done in beaches. I wondered why most people, particularly the teenagers and those in their twenties, love going to the beach to indulge on sunbathing, swimming and partying (drinking liquors and making a fool of themselves).
OK. To elaborate more, I thought that sunbathing is the worst thing a sane person can possibly do to his or her skin. I absolutely cannot get the point of basking, absorbing all those carcinogenic ultraviolet rays and reducing the epidermis to a painful, red mass of skin cells. Burning oneself to a crisp is definitely not a pleasure. Secondly, people in swimsuits that don’t fit them is a sore to my eyes. Shimmying into a skimpy little piece of cloth held together by strands of ribbon for public display does not spell sexiness. Practically, I don’t like clothing that reveals more than it conceals. Thirdly, I thought the beach holds plenty of dangers, jellyfish stings, shark attacks, drowning possibilities, and many more. Fourthly, I detest swimming in beaches because the salt water hurt my eyes! I’d rather dip into our swimming pool at no cost. Lastly, I don’t drink alcohol and I can’t imagine myself staying until the wee hours in the morning partying with a whole bunch of people doing just the same. Especially as a student before, I was extremely on the side of being a let’s-sleep-early-so-we-can-study-full-blast-the-next-day kind. I prefer a quiet life and a pretty straight one.
All Work and No Play
Yet what drove me to say yes was that I saw this as an opportunity for me to experience the best of the number one island in the whole world. This was in partial of fulfilling one of my greatest dreams — to travel to exciting places with my family. Also, all work and no play creates seemingly tipping-point stress levels that prompt high noon duels in the office.
So there, I chatted online with Mom and together we planned for the dates of the trip. I chose August 25-27 (Saturday to Monday) because…
- This period was close to my sister’s school trimester break. I visualized that she won’t be as busy and panicking to complete her assignments by that time.
- August 27 was a regular holiday celebrating National Heroes’ Day so it would be a long weekend. If we would be out on a vacation, we won’t be worried thinking that we’ll miss much at work.
- Dad could be walking fine after months of physical therapy. We hoped he could traverse outside and see alternative views—powdery white sand beaches with crystal clear pristine aqua-colored water, breathtaking scenery and great sunset—to our house interiors all-year round.
The Initial Obstacle
Mom hit the Buy button on November 25, 2011 and we only told this plan to Dad on July 25, 2012. On this day, we were like judges in an X-factor episode, where our decisions would be the basis if the contestant (in our terms, the Boracay trip) would pass onto the next round (in our terms, would push through and this is only if he’d be with us). The three of us already set mighty big yeses early on, and Dad was the last and most difficult judge to persuade for a positive response in the panel row.
We were afraid he’d turn us down and leave us heartbroken. I even prepared images and slides and thought hard on how to deliver the presentation to him that would make him agree to come and join us. If he declines, that would be the end of us being on cloud nine. Certainly, that happened. The tickets were NONTRANSFERABLE and NON-REROUTABLE but re-bookable for PHp 672. I broke down in tears as our first attempt of convincing him was a failure.
His initial revulsion and shock gave way to a sudden upwelling of fury. He contended that he could not walk on sand and he would be a pain for us. Mom dared to continuously object against his reasons until she finally made him go along with our plan. Oh, that took really long!
Our most awaited day came. My aunt and uncle took us to the airport (Terminal 4). Our flight was almost two hours delayed. Thankfully, we had free WiFi connection to feed our boredom while waiting. The airport crew assisted Dad on a wheelchair from the airport terminal, boarding area to the airplane. He got special priority and had managed to slowly but safely climb up the long flight of stairs from the hangar to the plane.
The flight was about an hour long. We arrived at the Kalibo International Airport and met the transfer tour guide who led us to the 90-minute coaster [transfer] ride to Caticlan Jetty Port. Next, we paid PHp 75 pax for the terminal fee of the ferry ride to get us to the Boracay port and reach the actual Boracay island. The ferry ride was about 15 minutes long. After that, we rode an open-air jeepney for free (part of the deal) for 10 minutes. Then we arrived at the hotel at last.
Making the Most Out of the Sweet 3D2N PHp 6499 Deal
Time was almost 3PM when we got in. Mom had prepared a packed lunch for Daddy, and after we have settled with our luggage in the hotel, we went out to eat and canvass for prices of activities. We stayed at Hey Jude! Resort which was right off the d*mall. Our room had two queen-size beds with clean and comfortable sheets, a TV set, two wardrobe cabinets with a safety vault, a long table, a balcony area and bathroom.
We were located at Station 2, at the heart of shopping (small tourist shops), entertainment, food establishments (that stretch all the way to the main road) and some high-end resorts, so everything that we could possibly want was but an arm’s length away from us. After lunch, we took advantage of having an idyllic moment with the cumulus clouds shifting against the amber sky. As the breeze waltzed with the leaves of the coconut trees and the waves of the water splashing onto the shoreline, we strolled along the beach canvassing for prices of activities and listing the ones we planned to do on the next day.
Before sunset, we wanted to drive the ATV but went on with renting buggy cars instead because the ATVs were still used by another batch of people who have not come back yet. We drove to Mt. Luho, Tanawin Viewpoint / Amihan Peak, the highest point overlooking the whole of Boracay. Entrance fee was at PHp 50 per person. (We skipped Everland Aviary Park because we all felt that seeing exotic animals and taking pictures with them was not worth the entrance fee of PHp 200 pax.)
We managed to get a very cheap rate for the buggy car rental fee (same as the ATV’s). While the local agent charged others PHp 400 per person (driver or rider), he gave us a discounted price of PHp 350 per person and Mom even haggled for a total of PHp 1000 for us three. He agreed and so we experienced driving with much exhilaration for the first time. Mom was adamant to try it at first, but she eventually got it right steadily and even wanted to drive more when we were done! Her passenger was my sister, while I drove and rode together with the tour guide for an hour. I loved the feeling of driving on the road as if owning it, with the cool wind brushing my hair. Buggy car driving in Boracay was so much a great afternoon delight! This broke the premise that the only things people can do in resorts and beaches are [the aforementioned] sunbathing, swimming and partying.
At sundown, we went back to Station 2 and looked for a restaurant for dinner. We fetched Daddy from the hotel and had dinner at Aria Cucina Italiana. We ordered two of their best vegetarian entrees: parmigiana di melanzane (baked eggplant casserole) for PHp 360 and a 14″ pizza margherita pizza which consisted of tomato sauce, basic and mozzarella for PHp 390. In addition, Mom bought us two Pinoy classic halo-halo specials from Andok’s which cost PHp 75 each.
We walked to the party mecca, watched live bands perform and shopped at unique shops to work off the calories after the delicious meal. Men from the Muslim Vendors Association were everywhere selling sunglasses, pearls, model sailboats, watches, belts and numerous other souvenirs. There were stalls offering made-to-order bracelets and necklaces customized with names and whatever wording decided upon. (I bought one necklace and my sister bought a bracelet.) There were also those customizable key chains with printed names, and sellers can write in English, Korean and even Chinese! Other services include massages by the beach (PHp 299-PHp 600++), henna tattoos (about PHp 200 for simpler designs), hair braiding (PHp 150-400), pedicures and manicures for over a hundred pesos.
Most tourists in the island were Koreans and several times, vendors wronged me to be one. When I won’t buy from their stall, I would smile and gently nod to acknowledge their anyong-haseyos. But when we wanted to buy some trinkets or go for their services, we would say we can speak in Tagalog so they won’t charge us more. (One of the vendors revealed that they have ask for a higher bargain when dealing with foreigners.) At 11PM, we went back to the hotel. And that was the end of Day 1.
Having an appointment set to meet at 8AM with the local agent for island hopping, we had our complementary breakfast served in bed by the hotel staff. My sister had tocino with rice; Mom, tapa with rice; me, bangus with rice; and Dad, bread and butter with bananas we bought from D’Talipapa, the small market place near our hotel. Part of the meal were tall glasses of mango and pineapple juices. But since we’re not accustomed to having cold drinks for morning breakfast, I made us hot coffee (self-served from the hotel lobby).
Dad stayed in our room all day, while we enjoyed the island activities as planned. Here’s the list (in order) accompanied with prices for reference:
Island Hopping for three hours via a small boat which 1-6 people can occupy: PHp 1000 for three people
We rode a tricycle for PHp 65 to set foot at the docking area where the outrigger boat was waiting. We were taken to different islands and every one of them was breathtaking!
Snorkeling for about 30 minutes done in Crocodile Island: PHp 20 per person for the snorkeling gear
The boatmen bought bread for us to feed to the fish. It was our first time to snorkel. It was hard for me to breathe and exhale in and out through the mouth using the snorkeling gear, so I opted to use our own swimming goggles instead. (I have a different breathing style and can hold my breath longer than normal people do—only if through the nose.) I tried to snorkel also and it felt like being in a large aquarium, feeling and seeing the coral reefs and different kinds of colorful fish underwater up close. Mom and my sister were so obsessed with the sea creatures that they stayed underneath for far several minutes than we should. The result was that they got more sunburned than me, afterwards.
Helmet diving / reef walking for 20 minutes: PHp 300 per person with the CD containing pictures and a video of us underwater (Actually, there were helmets that can be rented for only PHp 200, but the local agents did not recommend to go for them for they were the older ones and the noise that can be heard from the motor/tank would be louder.)
We took the plunge to be taken about 15 meters deep down to walk on the reefs. This was one of my favorite highlights in our trip. I was very scared at first with the possibilities of: drowning in case of the oxygen tank failure, getting water into my helmet, not equalizing enough to pop my ears and being deaf because of the air pressure among others. The helmet weighs about 30-35 kilograms. I also worried that it won’t get removed after and I’d look like Sandy Cheeks of SpongeBob SquarePants for the rest of my life! But everything went well. I walked and breathed like I was just in land, and I was smiling all throughout those 15-20 minutes. This would be one of my most unforgettable experiences!
- Fly fish for 20 minutes: PHp 400 per person
On an inflatable raft, we held on strongly to a slippery string handle while the raft was pulled by a speedboat. I was screaming at the top of my lungs, from beginning to the end. Whenever the boat speeds up, we were drifted vertically many times before plunging back down to the water. I fell off the fly fish hovercraft once and pulled my body to ride the vehicle once again. Ugh, it was too painful! My sister who was on the other side fell off twice to the water and had a seriously big bruise on her leg. My left thumb got injured and we had muscle pains on the arms and legs the next day. So I can’t understand why for a lot of people though, the flying fish boat ride tops when it comes to dishing out king-sized fun and thrills. Funny thing was that when Mom showed us her “stockings” after shower. This was because she wore extra tighter and longer shorts than we did. The skin color above her knee was fair like normal and the one below the knee until the calves of her feet were super reddish brown.
- Zorb (hydro-ride, non-harness): PHp 300 per person
We were led to the first and longest Zorb area in Boracay: Ilig-iligan in Yapak. There were two kinds of zorbs. One is the non-harness hydro zorb which could take in up to three riders inside the large ball with water. The other is the harness zorb (without water) which could accommodate only two riders. Maximum weight per rider is 70 kilograms (154 pounds). So before signing up, we had to step onto the weighing scale for safety’s sake. When we got into the “zorb rolling area,” we saw a man and a woman lying down with their faces to the ground waiting for the plastic ball to roll over their backs. The local agent assured that it won’t hurt and it’s only for FREE. We witnessed how the couple enjoyed having the ball on their backs. So my sister and I also got into the same position—only for picture-taking! For Mom was so brave, she went for it and made us laugh so hard that our stomachs throbbed. The actual Zorb experience, conversely, was super crazy fun. Guess who’s shouting Ahhhs the most. Yes, it was me.
Paraw sailboat sailing for 40 minutes – PHp 200 per person
Paraw sailing was another cool experience. It’s one of the most popular water activities in Boracay. We were lucky that weather was okay and the winds were strong enough to sail the boat from one end of the White Beach to the other. The paraw has a single shallow hull made of wood and bamboo. On the sides, there were two floaters that helped to balance the boat and prevented it from capsizing.
After that, we were mesmerized by the wonderful sunset that’s said to be the best in the world. We wrote on sands and allowed the beach waves to carry us from about 10 meters from and back to the shoreline.
For dinner, we had Shakey’s pizza delivered and a box of mojo potatoes. It was raining and there was not a lot of vegetarian restaurants to choose from. Prana is closed (under renovation), and True Food and Crafty’s Rooftop Bar and Restaurant are serving only Indian cuisine which my Dad, Mom and sister don’t like.
Check out time from the hotel was 10:30AM. So we went to the fourth floor of the hotel to finish our breakfast then started to shop for gifts to bring home to family and friends. Our flight was scheduled at 4PM but was rescheduled to 3:15PM. We got home in Manila at around 5:30PM. That concludes our short but happy trip.
Our stay in Boracay has changed the way I perceive beaches. Because it offers a plethora of water sports activities, I get to appreciate the beach now. I bet that we have grabbed and purchased a very good deal. Expenses for terminal fee of the ferry (back and forth), food for all meals, activities and souvenirs we bought summed up to only about PHp 10,000. We were satisfied with all services and treatment of their people and would definitely want to go back there when Daddy can walk better next time! 😀
Daddy is checking in to the hospital this coming Friday, as he’ll be undergoing an Achilles Tendon Repair Surgery (final operation) on Saturday. It was the best option of his physical therapist and also suggested by his doctor. This surgery provides patients with less invasive treatments and speedier recovery times. After this, he would be able to flatten his right foot on the floor as the Achilles tendon will be connected to the calf muscle and the heel bone in the back of the leg.
Now if you’re not too scared of seeing blood, watch this procedure: