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My adventures start at White Beach, the epicentre of activity

in Boracay. Four kilometres of perfection, lined with resorts,

spas and hotels – it bustles day and night. I arrive late in the

afternoon, striding across the sand to snap a photo as the sun

began to ebb, tracing a course toward the sea. As the night

began to heat up, I walk for hours, tracing a meandering course

along the beach and its boardwalk, taking in live shows of

fire dancers and karaoke singers. The next day, the adventure

will continue with two other activities popular on this island:

kitesurfing and scuba diving.

SCUBA DIVING IN BORACAY

Heading to Scotty’s Dive Centre, I hope to finish my scuba

certification with the help of Michael Bell, a former Glaswegian

who came here by way of Australia, Fiji and the British Virgin

Islands. Popular with scuba enthusiasts, I ask him what makes

Boracay so special: “The diving here, it’s spectacular. The corals

are so alive, and being in a marine sanctuary is a big part of that.”

And then I get to see what he was talking about. While just a

tiny whisper of a place – just seven kilometres long and at times

less than one kilometre wide – Boracay is lined by more than 30

dive sites, most of which are just a very short boat ride to nearby

reefs. Riding out less than 10 minutes, I try and ignore the fact

that we had just seen a deadly sea snake from the safety of our

little boat, and do a James Bond flip over the side, descending

12 metres. Skirting the edge of an underwater seawall, we’re

soon surrounded by a kaleidoscope of fish: lionfish, butterflyfish,

forktail rabbitfish, finishing with a true thrill, a close encounter

with a hawksbill turtle. The next day, I write my test and achieve

certification. I’m glad I did so in the Philippines, where my test

dives took place in the warm waters of the Sulu Sea.

KITESURFING

The kites were flying high when I turned the corner and started

walking down the perfect white sands on Bulabog Beach. I had

already had a day’s worth of adrenaline, having ridden there on

one of the Philippines’ famous “tricycles,” a motorbike handily

outfitted with a sidecar, rolling around corners at a breakneck

pace; but, here at the beach, it was all soaring and surfing, with

the prevailing winds on the west side of the island providing

ideal conditions for these pursuits.

At Isla Kitesurfing School, I ask for Francois Bacquet, the

co-owner, who is going to take me out for a lesson. He shakes

my hand and says, “Okay, let’s get you in a harness. We can do

a bit of body dragging.” Maybe not! Instead, I opt for a casual

unfurling and flying of a training kite, the first step toward a

real kitesurf lesson. Experienced kitesurfers skim by behind us,

cutting a fast path across the sea, their broad kites high in the

sky while Bacquet shows me how to maneuver our small kite,

making subtle movements with just wrists and elbows, and

where to place the kite, downwind, in the “power zone.”

When Bacquet lets me steer solo, things go rather badly.

Fumbling with the cords, I quickly place my kite into the wrong

side of the power zone, sending it south in a hurry, where it

crashes into the sandy beach below.

At the end of the lesson, I gather up my things – and my pride –

And head back across the island to White Beach. Enjoying the

sunset, a hammock, and a nice drink with a pink umbrella, I vow

to try my hand again at kitesurfing on my next trip to Boracay.

20 • Vacations

®

Summer 2017

Detours

Vacations® •

Summer 2017 • 21

While just a tiny whisper of a place –

just seven kilometres long and at

times less than one kilometre wide,

Boracay is lined by more than 30 dive

sites, most of which are just a very

short boat ride to nearby reefs.

BEACH ON EXOTIC BORACAY ISLAND

KITESURFING IN BORACAY

BORACAY SUNSET

VIEW OF BORACAY FROM LUHO MOUNTAIN

BOUNDLESS BORACAY

By Tim Johnson

On Boracay in the Philippines, expect a tiny island with some of the

best beaches in Southeast Asia.