Thick, grey clouds moved across the sky as we ate our breakfast on the hotel rooftop. The forecasted rain threatened to break out at any moment, even as brief pockets of sunshine opened up in bright blue patches. As the wind whipped around us, we scarfed down our pancakes and banana smoothies, hoping to catch a bit of sun and sand before the imminent tropical deluge.
A little to the north of Station 1, just around the corner from our hotel, is a smaller beach called Diniwid. Separated from the main beach by a green hill that plunges abruptly into the ocean, the path to Diniwid hugs the cliffs along the shoreline before opening up onto white sand, beached paraw sailboats, and palm trees swaying in the pre-storm breeze. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about this beach, all things considered. It is perhaps less crowded than the main strip on the other side of the hill, but otherwise it’s quite unexceptional. We spent the rest of our morning sunbathing and wading out into the waist-height water, before making our way over to the nearby Spider House Resort. The restaurant on the premises overlooks the Sulu Sea, and we had our lunch suspended above the gentle waves below.
White Beach Afternoon
After lunch, we abandoned the forgettable waves of Diniwid for the sunburnt crowds of White Beach. The rain still had yet to make an appearance, though the skies at the northern end of the beach had grown increasingly dark and brooding. An ultimate tournament played out in front of one of the oceanside resorts, a crowd of local youths cheering on the Boracay side against a team of Westerners. Closer to the water, couples held hands and posed for Instagram-worthy photoshoots, oblivious to the families wading and splashing in the ocean behind them. We took off our sandals and walked into the shallow surf as well, digging our toes into the impossibly fine sand. Footsteps pounded on the beach behind us, a blur of orange hat and deeply tanned skin shooting past a moment later as the bent shape of a man on a skimboard glided across the incoming waves. The afternoon was spent in moments like these. As the day wore on, the clouds continued to gather, and still there was no rain.
A Return to Colour
A sunset is a return to colour, even as it ushers in the black tones of the night. Morning and afternoon belong to the harsh whites and deep blues of the sun and sky, but wait a little while longer and they soon begin to fade. Brushes of violet, orange, pink, and rose bloom and bleed across the horizon at just the right hour, filling in the infinitesimal degrees of hue and shade between light and darkness. I’ve written about a few sunsets on this blog, and I don’t know if I have anything new to say about them. It was warm and beautiful and spectacular that evening in Boracay – not quite the desperately romantic hues of Istanbul, or the apocalyptic fire of Sri Lanka, or the golden light that bathed the temples of Bagan. Just warm and beautiful and everything good.
Dinner was at Cyma, a Greek restaurant with locations all over the Philippines. I don’t know what their food is like outside of Boracay, but this was one of our top meals there. The restaurant is tucked away on a small street inside D’Mall, an outdoor commercial space in Station 2 and the center of the island’s nightlife. After dinner, we took our time getting back to our hotel, walking slowly along the wide beach. To our right, an endless series of outdoor restaurants and hookah bars, live music – very good live music – and fire dancers aplenty. To our left, a dark ocean, waves lapping quietly on the shore, the water just far enough away from the bright lights and jubilant clamour to give a semblance of privacy and seclusion. That’s Boracay in a nutshell – celebration and solitude, jostling for space along miles of soft, white sand. Somehow, it all works.