Friday, May 15, 2009

same old, same old Puka Beach

Obviously, I’ve stayed away from Boracay for far too long. The last time I was there was in the mid 90s and by the power of commerce, how Boracay has changed! Overrun, crowded, noisy, White Beach is unrecognizable. This is not to say that it is all for the worse.

geometries of Puka
geometries of Puka Beach

In particular, the three and a half kilometer stretch of White Beach, is a different world far removed from the typical Filipino experience, as if this were some island that operates outside of the country’s borders. Boring, no. Captivating, totally and sinfully so.

Puka beach vendor
Puka beach lies in Yapak, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan

But up north, things can be calmer, quieter, saner. Somehow, by a twist of its distance and relative inaccessibility, the beach called Puka remains frozen in time. Gone are the high rise villas, the fastfood outlets and the water sport centers. There stands just one eatery, a few stalls selling seashell souvenirs – the name Puka is derived from the single-holed shell pieces strung together as necklaces that were the rage in the hippie 60s – and surprisingly, only a handful and less intrusive hawkers.

leaving Puka beach
outrigger leaving the beach

Sure, you may still have to hire a boat (about P1,500-1,800 for 3-4 hours tour around the island) or rent a bike or trike to get there. The sand is also not as white nor as powdery. The waters may also be more tricky for the surf is rougher and the reef shallows are narrower.

boats docking at Puka
boats docking on Puka

But the stillness and emptiness must be what White Beach was before, way back when tropical paradise needs no marketing. And Puka Beach remains that: blindingly clean sand, crystal blue waters, hot sun and little else.

Puka beach southwards
the view southwards

To go: Boracay is easily reached from Manila or Cebu by air via the airports of Aklan or Caticlan (Malay, Aklan). Boat services from Caticlan to the Cagban port in Boracay are frequent, even in the evening.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Oss said...

It is this aspect of the Philippines that this particular westerner craves :)

Ana on the other hand loves the hustle and bustle of the commercial resort.

The first time I arrived on Boracay they still allowed the boats to dock on White Beach, we had a wonderfully sunny day and the Beach was empty, coming up to the docking point we saw my old French colleague waving at us from the water it truly was an experience of paradise and because it was June and the rainy season had just started the island was fairly quiet.

On that weekend we went on a boat trip round the island and landed at Puka, it was stormy that day and the boat ride was rather scary but when we landed at Puka the Sun came out and lit up the place with a wonderful golden light.

We stopped off at the one local cafe restaurant on the beach to get something to eat and after 10 minutes or so a thunderstorm started on the other side of the hill however not a drop of rain fell on our side and the sun stayed in the sky :) coming from Scotland this was an extraordinary experience :)

Puka was a magical place with an atmosphere so reminicent of one of the Scottish beaches of my childhood, it is one of the many reasons I fell in love with the Philippines.

As I said over on Flickr I really hope Ana and I can go back there sometime.


Farl said...

Jim- I remember docking at White Beach too. This was in 1995 or even earlier. I thought then Boracay is already crowded so imagine my shock this month when I saw how Boracay has turned too. Still, Boracay can be a lot of things for different people and I surely understand why its allure still is strong.


Boracay Hotels said...

Wow great, is it boracay? lovely photos. They look the same.

Tanya Gemarin

Kit Cruz | Boracay Real Estate said...

I noticed that there are only few people who visits this beach. This is indeed the less developed part of Boracay island. BUT, I can say it is the best part in the island! :)