One of the things that I love most about Boracay Island is the extent of options to spend my moments in. When I was living there, most of the times I’d find myself stranded in Barangay Balabag, spending time with my friend Ging over a glass of fresh papaya shake at Joney’s Beach Resort or watching the sunset with my island family at Bom Bom; a few times I’d be in Manoc-Manoc, eating Pizza Napolitana at Treehouse by Da Mario or at Red Pirates Pub relaxing from sunset til midnight with my husband; and in Yapak, having a picnic with my friends at Puka Beach or at Mt. Luho’s viewpoint where I could graze freely at the entire island.
The list of places and activities offered by this beautiful island is endless. I could suggest so many things to do and stay in, and it still wouldn’t be enough. For instance, when I needed to eat in a place that reminds me of home, I’d go to Smoke Resto in D’Mall. It’s a small laid-back restaurant where I could eat no-fuss Filipino food and relax with my feet propped up on a chair without anybody bothering me. Most of the times, me and my island family would meet there for breakfast, over some Tocino with fried eggs and fried rice, and for dinner with a dish of Chilli Chicken with Pechay (Chinese Cabbage), while at the end of each dragonboat training, Rea, the owner of Smoke, would host an easy breakfast of freshly baked pandesals (Filipino bread buns), fried eggs and a warm cup of instant coffee to refill our drained energy.
On the other hand, people from all over the world, not only in the Philippines, patronize Smoke Resto for their affordable and delicious seafood, meat and vegetable dishes; like their famous Beef Salpicao, Pinakbet (a warm Ilocano dish made with bitter melon, eggplant, tomato, ginger,okra, string beans, lima beans, chili peppers and shrimp paste or bagoong), Spicy Garlic Kangkong (water spinach), Ginataang Gulay (assorted vegetables dish immersed in rich coconut milk), Pad Thai, and for their all-day breakfast dishes, like Spicy Tuyo (dried salted fish) with Itlog na Pula (salted eggs), Bangus ala Pobre with a fried egg, and sweetened pork and beef breakfast combos, like hotdog, chorizo, longganisa, corned beef, bacon, tocino and tapa, which includes a serving of fried egg with fried rice. And for those with a different food request, Smoke offers to cook whatever their tummies desire.
Another reason why people choose Smoke Resto is because of their flexibility to entertain their guests. When diners crave for food that’s out of the menu, Smoke offers to cook it for them, and when guests prefer to eat in their homes or in their rented cottages, Smoke delivers their order wherever they may be.
Next to my list is Dos Mestizos, a Spanish restaurant that reflects the absolute Spanish culture. Proprietor Binggoy Remedios had a vision of a cultural watering hole in the middle of Station 2 where locals and tourists could wine and dine alongside images depicting well-known Spanish figures like a matadors, a Salvador Dali piece and a flamenco dancer, with a background of vibrant Spanish music. In 2006 his vision manifested into what has now become a favorite dining and party place, amid close proximity to the Boracay Police Station and the Tourist Center.
Dos, as the locals call this refined restaurant, bestows its guests with weekly tapas smorgasbord including a bottomless glass of Sangria. The regular tapas dishes consist of Tortilla de Patatas con Jamon, a fascinating kind of potato omelet spurred up with herbs and spices to compliment other tapas dishes; the flavorsome Pulpo composed of Galician octopus with a distinct addition of bay leaves, tasty hot paprika and sea salt for fine savory; Callos con Garbanzos, a dynamic blend of chorizo de bilbao, oxtail, tomatoes and leafy garbanzos; Aceitunas Verdes Alinadas, an irresistible spread of green olives marinated in red wine vinegar, herbs and seasonings; and Chorizo sprinkled with pepper and paprika. While at times, Chef Andrei spurs up various tapas fusions to keep the guests coming back for something different, like curries, oysters, Mediterranean mezze and spicy dishes to name a few.
While on the eastern side of the island is a native cubbyhole of cottages for short-term and long-staying guests, known as Ralph’s Place. At Ralph’s, you could never miss the beautiful manifestation of the moonrise or sunrise at your most serene state, particularly within the helm of native cottages that are furnished with cushy beds covered with elegant mosquito nets, bamboo furniture and a veranda with a grand view of the windy Bolabog beach and the dramatic sunrise. Their lovely garden also adds a tranquil quality that you can only find in your own home.
One more humble abode that has to be mentioned in this list is located in the northern part of the island overlooking the glorious sunset — Balinghai Beach Resort in Yapak. Rustic bungalows tucked in the mountain were made in harmony with the rest of nature through pebbled paths and driftwood steps. Owner, Otik Macavinta built these native bungalows with unique interiors and big verandas in 1983 to share with special guests Boracay’s tropical waters, Balinghai’s lush green landscape and towering healthy trees. Once inside your chosen bungalow, you could strongly hear raw sounds and visions of nature uniting your senses with the universe, like the rickets of crickets and geckos and sparkling fireflies and shooting stars.
Another tranquil locations are found in Angol, the Southern part of the white beach. So far its underpopulated but foreign invaded location emits a Miami beach aura, due to the number of Caucasians who frequent the place. Here there are two unpretentious and warm restaurants that are conveniently found near the road connecting Angol to the main road.
One is Coco Loco Bar, one of the oldest bars in Boracay, which offers a variety of dishes, from pastas, sandwiches, pizzas to grilled food and pancits. In a nutshell, it actually looks like a native sports pub due to its imposing billiard table and narra furniture.
The second bar in this location is the Treehouse Bar and Restaurant. Perched at the top of a developed tree, the native hangout is equipped with a cushy atmosphere, cool sounds, warm lights and uncomplicated authentic Italian food, c/o Da Mario Resort and Restaurant, ideal for a romantic candlelight dinner for two.
But as Boracay Island’s constant infrastructures and developments ensue, so do the quick turnover that cannot be controlled in this very dynamic island resort. I’d say, relish these relaxing choices before something else turns up anew.