We asked the boatman to take us there for lunch, and he suggested that along the way, would we be interested in stopping by Crystal Cove? I have never heard of it (and in my mind, the words "tourist trap" started flashing), and Joyce, who has been a regular to Boracay has never been to it as well. The entrance fee was palatable so we adopted an attitude that seemed to jive best with such lazily summer surroundings, and said "Why not?"
Along the way, we were told that there was a cave where we could go into. I mistakenly thought it would be similar to the now-famous Palawan Underground River, where the boat would enter the subterranean formation. I was mistaken, and thankfully so.
A little background on why this is a first for me.
I don't go on mountain trails, hiking, trekking and other activities of a similar nature, mainly because of my ankles, which an orthopedic doctor has long wanted to operate on for "unevenness" (I have extra bony "extensions" on both legs that account for the natural imbalance). Even as a child, I would be browsing through books in stores, and while standing and reading, my ankles would just give way.
I wanted to relate that because going down caves and hiking up hillsides = not my thing. At all. If you've ever had a sprain that caused your entire foot to blacken, you know there's no "silver lining" to a situation like that. So to have been able to actually enter and travel through a cave on foot is something I don't seek out. And why this trip to Boracay is a little more memorable on a personal level.
On top of that, I have also not seen anyone posting pictures of their trip to this place when their albums are entitled "Boracay". Which I took as a given: most people do come here to party, get drunk and show off how they look in practically nothing (and have fabulous pictures to prove this). So seeing that there are some "other" things to do on the island is really an eye-opening experience.
This is from the first cave. Crystal Cove has two caves where people can go and see, and actually swim in its waters. It was rather difficult to get "proper" shots of people enjoying the (reportedly) cool waters as the rocks were slippery and it was all I can do to maintain a semblance of hold whilst lugging around Arthur's things as well as mine. The caves are rather small, and can't accommodate a large number of people, but visitors are more excited about being able to swim around "cave waters" which left me more time - and space - to visually enjoy these natural formations.
To get to the caves, the pathways were another workout, this time on an upward scale. But as always, climbing heights has its rewards when you get to see the view from above.
The heat was either a blessing or a curse, depending on whether you are a sunbather or whitening-lotion user. In any case, we all agreed (based on the huffing and puffing) that it did not help make the trek easier, but I was thankful to have gotten a little bit of exercise on a trip that is predisposed to enjoying motionlessness. There were some people hawking shirts and some weaved goods, so the conk back to "tourist trap" started to hit me on the head, but I chose to enjoy the experience for the natural wonders instead.
After leaving Crystal Cove, we headed to Puka Beach for lunch. We were dismayed to learn that from being sparsely populated two years ago, many others have discovered its' "empty" charm, and what greeted us was a slew of boats docked and many people already swimming. We then went straight to lunch and just headed back to Sol Marina afterwards to find just a little bit of solitude on this seasonally packed island.
(See http://theguywithablog.blogspot.com/2012/05/boracay-less-traveled-ii.html for my post on Sol Marina.)
By now, everyone has come home from their vacations or rested from their weekends to the news that actors Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto have figured in a brawl with newspaper columnist Ramon Tulfo at one of our airports. Boracay, this time through the eyes of someone who experienced it in a completely new way, has left me with such an afterglow that I was filled with amusement upon first hearing of the altercation.
Reality has to set in - thanks to these three slugging it out on a video that's now viral - but if I ever need to escape from it all, I can mentally jettison myself back to Boracay, the May 2012 Edition, as one of the truly unique experiences that qualify as one of our best vacations ever, and a testament to the claim that there really is paradise on earth.