Around Boracay

While most of my posts about Boracay (fondly referred to by Filipinos as “Bora”) have been about Discovery Shores, Bora has SO much more to offer in terms of dining, entertainment, and other activities. It just so happened, to your misfortune, that DH and I are really lazy lankers at heart. But we did go around a few times, and here’s just a taste of what’s around Boracay.

White Beach has a little strip mall in the middle of Station 2. It’s called “D’Mall”, a typical Filipino joke playing on the word “the”.

D’Mall has a bunch of restaurants that cover a diverse array of cuisine. There’s a Greek restaurant called Cyma (very good! Complete with the “Ooopah!”), and this Italian restaurant Aria. Both these restaurants started in Boracay but did so well they opened a branch in Manila.
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Then you have a bunch of grilled seafood restaurants like this one (sorry, didn’t eat here, so can’t tell you anything about it). But fresh seafood abound in Boracay, and the simpler restaurants usually grill them over charcoal. What can go wrong? Just make sure that you’re eating REAL fresh seafood, and take special care with the shellfish (especially oysters). To be safe, eat oysters on a full stomach.IMG_2336

For REALLY fresh and cheap seafood, go to the Talipapa (known as D’Talipapa, owned by the same people as D’Mall), or the wet market. There you can buy your fish fresh, and have it cooked the way you want it (grilled, steamed, wrapped in banana leaves, etc.). As long as it’s relatively simple, they’ll be able to do it. (Again, my apologies, no pictures).

Of course, the coffee craze has also reached Boracay’s shores, so you will find coffee hangouts. IMG_2337

One of the more popular places to eat is Kasbah, which serves Mediterranean food. Again, like Cyma and Aria, it did so well in Bora that they just opened a branch in 2012 in Manila.

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Unlike their Manila counterpart, their Boracay restaurant has that distinct island feel. The whole restaurant is open-air (actually, I don’t know of any enclosed, airconditioned restaurant in Boracay).IMG_2377

The decor is quite distinctive though. They did make the effort to have some Mediterranean touches. IMG_2379 IMG_2382

They had good kebabs, curries, and tagines, all presented in earthenware.

DH and I also tried Friday’s, the resort beside Discovery Shores. Years ago, Friday’s was THE best resort on the island, by virtue of its location. Just look at the view they have!IMG_2395

While Discovery Shores has a modern design, Friday’s went native. We had breakfast here one day.IMG_2392 This is their central restaurant. IMG_2394 IMG_2396

And of course, there IS Discovery Shores. This was our lunch. A seafood platter, good for 2. Can’t really go wrong here either.IMG_2419

With 3 kinds of sauces!IMG_2418
A side from restaurants, there is a whole slew of water sports, from the technical (diving, sailing) to the just-plain-fun (ask for the Banana Boat). On the other side of the island (which isn’t far) is kite-boarding. And for the landlubbers, there is an outfit that rents out ATVs to explore the island.

As for DH and me, we were just happy basking in the sun and feeling the sand between our toes.

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Dos Mestizos in Boracay, Philippines


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DH and I decided to go to a well-reputed Spanish restaurant for dinner in Boracay. Friends in Manila have told me about Dos Mestizos, and I am fortunate enough to befriend the chef-owner, Binggoy Remedios , but I have never eaten there. Aside from the glowing reviews from fellow foodies, it got a good rating from tripadvisor (#6 out of 147 restuaurants!).

Frankly, I don’t really expect much when I dine in Boracay. I come here not for the food, but for the beach experience: the fine sand, the lounging in the sun, the lazy life. Also, I do understand that fancy ingredients are hard to come by in the island. It distresses me when I eat food that tries hard to be “haute cuisine”, but falls so short because they’re trying so hard to be something they’re not. I like sticking to the best ingredients of the island: simple, fresh seafood, without any complicated sauces or preparations masking their natural sweetness.

Dos Mestizos looks like a rustic Spanish restaurant, with earthy colors and dim lights. A large window to their kitchen dominates the dining room, emphasizing the chef’s pride in his kitchen’s cleanliness and orderliness.

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Dozens of magazine articles decorate the wall: a testament to Chef Binggoy’s talents and marketability.

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This mural of a nude maja shows Binggoy’s artistic leanings. IMG_2450

Their bar is in the middle of the dining room, inviting solo diners to sit and just people watch from the best vantage point of the restaurant. We’re lucky enough to see Binggoy by the bar, and say hello.

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After we order, Binggoy takes us around, showing us his wine room, his deli, and his bake shop. He proudly says that they make their own bread. I see ciabatta, baguettes, and gorgeous whole wheat sandwich bread.

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Two tempting legs of jamon serrano hang temptingly at the deli window, and his deli showcase displays an assortment of cheese. The deli is bright and inviting, and Binggoy says that his sandwiches are quite popular. I surmise the fresh bread has something to do with it.

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But we’re here for dinner, and so Binggoy settles us in a table and gives us a complimentary carafe of sangria. Since we’re only 2, we can’t order our usual array of tapas, so we settle for two: their homemade chorizo and slices of manchego. The chorizo was excellent! Packed with flavor of the pork and paprika, they sizzle deliciously in the  traditional earthenware dishes. They’re served with pan-fried,  diced potatoes and whole garlic cloves, both cooked perfectly. The garlic was sweet and mild, and the potatoes were crisp on the outside, adding to the textures. But the best part of the chorizos? The bits of fat in the sausage! They’re large enough that you can taste the fat.

Here’s a shot of the tapas menu, just so that you have some idea of their offerings and prices. Exchange rate was 1USD = 41PHP.
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For our main course, we order their assorted seafood platter: a combination of fish and shellfish, with a light beurre-blanc sauce. We had Aklan clams (large, sweet clams), mussels (tiny ones, so they weren’t rubbery), native scallps, grilled shrimps, and salmon. Of all the seafood, only the salmon wasn’t freshly caught (salmon isn’t a local fish of the Philippines, and are brought in frozen). While the salmon was still excellently cooked (crisp skin, and medium-rare), I felt that it didn’t belong in this platter of mostly local seafood. But, all the seafood was delicious: lightly seasoned, letting the natural flavors shine.

Sorry, but we were so excited by the food that I forgot to take pictures!

For postre, or dessert, we had the warm bread pudding with natilla, or condensed milk, and liquored ice cream.

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Getting Married? Have It At Discovery Shores, Boracay, Philippines

IMG_2431I promise this is the last post on Discovery Shores, lest you think I’m on their payroll. 🙂

Most people dream of a destination wedding, and if you want a beach wedding, I don’t think there’s a better beach than Boracay, Philippines, and Discovery Shores is one of the best hotel/resorts to have it in. As I said in a previous post, Discovery Shores is not only a beautiful hotel, but is also located in one of the best beaches in Boracay.

While lounging on the beach, we saw a lot of activity in front of the hotel: tents, tables, a stage, a sound system, flowers….what was going on? “We have a wedding at 4pm.”, we were told. So we saw firsthand all the preparations that went into a Boracay wedding.

The engineering staff of the hotel was a flurry with activity setting up the tents in front of the hotel. Apparently the ceremony was going to be on the beach (timed with sunset. How gorgeous!!), and the reception (dinner and dancing) was going to be on the beach as well, right in front of the hotel.

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Nearby, a gazebo was being constructed. The top photo shows the finished product (with DH and I posing for our anniversary picture).IMG_2398

Simple monoblock chairs were set up facing the water. This was around 1pm, and the ceremony was set for 5pm.IMG_2399

Underneath the tents, the presidential table was being set up. Fine linens and sturdy chairs were used, so at least the monoblock look was only for the outdoor ceremony.IMG_2403

The wedding party hired a band to play, and a stage was also being set up.IMG_2404

Part of a Boracay wedding is a sandcastle made of the famous sand, with the newlyweds’ names on it. Here you see the start of the sandcastle.IMG_2401

Carefully block letters are “carved” out of firm sand.IMG_2405

And the finished product! A very personalized sandcastle.IMG_2409

Stylish buffet tables, ready to be dressed up.IMG_2411

The reception area is cordoned off to ensure no “strays” wander in.IMG_2414

Almost done!
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The wedding attendants and coordinators get ready! The sun is starting to set.

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All waiting for the bride to arrive!IMG_2439Inside the tent….the finished scene! All lit up and ready to party.

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Discovery Shores, Boracay, Philippines Part 4: Facilities

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Well, just in CASE you’re the type NOT to hang out on the beach, Discovery Shores does have some facilites that give you alternatives to sunbathing. Firstly, the pool and jacuzzi (shown above) is shallow enough for easy wading. PLUS it’s beside the bar, so really nice for night swimming and hanging around the bar action. There’s a small side pool just for kids.

Just as an aside, Discovery Shores really took a lot of pains in landscaping their property, and making sure that their place looked nice both during the day AND night. Just look at the different colored lights, just for different moods.

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This is their cafe/breakfast restaurant. Unfortunately I took these pictures at night, so you don’t get to see it humming with activity. Or maybe that’s a good thing.
IMG_2464 Their front desk and reception table. During the day, there’s this big jar of cookies just sitting there on top of the counter, welcoming any guest to dive in and grab some. Rest assured I made myself at home here.IMG_2463

Their convenience store and sundries shop. Just in case you forgot your swimsuit or tanning lotion. Or are need a gift to give.IMG_2462 A children’s playroom.

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A library, for the bookworm in you. Don’t forget the stack of books in your room as well.IMG_2458

And, for the traveller who JUST has do get some work done, here’s a business center. Oh, before I forget, there’s free wifi available all over the resort, even at the beachfront. So you CAN work and tan at the same time.IMG_2459