Three years ago, no one was wearing a face mask, and their faces aren't obscured with face shields. Three years ago, no one was afraid to give a handshake and share a couple of meals on a table indoors, everyone was allowed to give out hugs, and there was no such thing as quarantine and isolation.
Let's travel back to the time where we can gaze at the sunset Boracay was known for. A time where we are filled with awe whenever we've seen its pristine white sand and clear blue waters. A time where we are at the palms of this magnificent paradise.
Being stuck at home didn't do anything but helped rekindled those old memories. Bringing life to them once more. That was three years ago. And a lot has changed since then.
It was a summer like this one. Bright blue sky, the sun just warm enough to get my skin to another shade of brown, and the wind picking up the scent of the sea. I stood there, an observer, a passerby on a timeless beach of Boracay, and it was a day to remember. This is how my family and I spent the entire day in Boracay three years ago.
Set on the beach with tons of things to do, we decided to seize the day by exploring the entire island, and what better way to do that than through island hopping. The itinerary we've chosen included going to Puka Beach, snorkeling, lunch, and finally exploring Crystal Cove. With that much on our list, we couldn't wait to get started.
As soon as we got the thumbs up, we jumped on the nearest boat, headed our way, and tackled our first destination. Puka Beach.
I recalled how clear the water was, so clear that I could see the sand beneath it, and then it slowly changed its color from light sea green to deep-sea hue the farther we got. Riding the boat was fun as I could feel the open wind playing on my hair and our laughter muffled by the crashing of waves on the side of our boat. And that when we finally saw it.
A QUIET CORNER OF BORACAY
The beach was covered with pure white sand. There were no buildings, or stores, just a few cottages, and it was tranquil. It was like the secret door of Boracay that only a few people get to see. The sun was already blazing hot, but we didn't care. All we wanted to do at that time was get off the boat and just swim to the shore. It was that exciting.
Upon reaching the shore, I remembered distinctly how the sand wasn't hot like it should be; in fact, it was cool. The nature surrounding us reminded me of what Boracay looked like in the old days. Its beauty knows no bounds and continues to leave us in awe no matter how many times we've seen it.
Looking over the horizon, we could see where the sky meets with the dark blue sea waters. So with my siblings, we did what every other kid would do when presented with the challenge of meeting that horizon. Throwing rocks as far as we can. I know it's a bit cliche, but it was fun to see our rocks fly over the blue sky and see it land clear on the waves.
Lastly, we took a picture that always takes me back to that small part of the beach. And it's time to move on.
THE UNDERWATER WORLD OF BORACAY
Waving goodbye to the beautiful beach, the next activity is just as exciting as the previous one, snorkeling. The organization we have chosen for this island hopping lent us some suitable snorkeling gears. After the boat stopped in the middle of the sea, we then got ready to jump off and dive.
In the first part, it was like seeing another world. Where various sea creatures lurk in the deepest crevices of the sea. Corals of different kinds colored the seafloor in hues of reds and oranges and blues.
But the further we go, the less the corals and marine life we could see, and then all was left was a white streak of emptiness. It's pretty sad to see that this is what's left to Boracay's seafloor.
The same can be said for other snorkeling sites. Thriving on the other parts, death, and decay on the other. But it isn't the end. This serves as a reminder to us all that we are humans tasked to be responsible for preserving marine life in any way we can.
After viewing the neighboring underwater world, we finally decided it was time for lunch.
ONE IN A MILLION CHANCE OF HAPPENING
Then the unexpected thing happened, our boat suddenly wouldn't start, and we were left at the harsh mercy of the waves. For over an hour, we were drifting with the currents and trying to stay on course.
When, at first, the ups and downs of the waves were comforting and fun and exciting, the next thing I knew, it was all I could do, to not throw up my breakfast.
The scenery kept me grounded, with the horizon in my line of sight and the crocodile island at my other, and it helped me overcome the seasickness.
My siblings and I were actually preparing to abandon ship, but then the engine roared to life, and we all cheered our hearts out. Finally, we can see land. Once we reached the shore, I swear we could kiss the sand and the steadiness of the land.
Still, it was an experience worth remembering, and every time we looked back, we would not forget our green faces and just laugh about it.
We went to our exclusive reserved buffet, and we found ourselves drooling over the expanse of different cuisine right in front of us. There were plates of seafood and meat—all in the traditional Filipino cooking. Various flavors coated our tongues and sating the grumbling hunger in our stomachs.
Never had we found ourselves in such a satisfying lunch after the whole sea sickness event. And did I mention we had a front sea view while eating?
Several minutes pass and no food was left unturned on our table. Having rested after that satisfying meal, we headed on to our final destination—the Crystal Cove.
THIS TINY ISLAND
And let me tell you, it was THE adventure we were looking for. All of it packed in a small tiny island in the middle of the sea surrounded by a couple more of those little islands.
Up we went to the watchtowers, and I recalled hearing our gasped of amazement, imagined that we were cast away on this island, cut off from the rest of the world in this tiny paradise. Nature in abundance and tons of mysteries left for us to discover. It can be a bit overwhelming, but like what they said, "one foot in front of the other."
Taking the steps down in my memory lane, we followed a pathway that took us to some sort of mini jungle where we tried our best to spot the different birds flying through the canopy of the trees.
But the real beauty of this island is not found from above but below. Down we went to the back door of the island, and we found ourselves staring at the entrance of the real adventure.
AND THEN THERE WAS SOUND
Darkness surrounded us as we entered the cave. There were soft sounds of water dripping from above and the occasional slipping off my feet from the rocks, and that's where we heard it. A few minutes deep, we listened to the roaring of waves. Finding ourselves at the edge of a pocket of the cave, with waves hurtling the rocks beneath our feet.
It is not something you could see in every cave exploration, and I assumed that it must have taken decades, maybe even centuries, for the water to have created this opening in the side of the cave. This scenery is cemented into the folds of my memories. I could have stayed longer, but there is still more stuff to see.
Another walk in the dark, and a couple more slipping, we finally arrived at the reason why this place is called Crystal Cove. A cavern with stalactites and stalagmites littered the ceiling and the floors, surrounding the gigantic white crystal. We weren't allowed to touch it since it is said to damage its purity. But we are allowed to marvel at it.
After a few minutes of further exploring the caves, our time was now up, and it's time to return to the main island. We waved goodbye to the amazing island and treasured all of our experiences.
We ended the day staring into the ever colorful sunset of Boracay. There is something magical in starring into the sunset. It brings out memories, makes you realize your dreams, your hopes. I think this is the time when they say that you're living in a moment. We are but fellow travelers, and looking at the sunset reminds us that the day we have has finally ended.
And that concludes our four-hour island hopping tour of Boracay. We returned to our hotel, drained and exhausted, but was filled with tons of memories and pictures to last for eternity.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
And that was the last time we've seen Boracay. Who knew that in a few months, the entire island would close its borders for the rehabilitation it seeks and who would've thought that the pandemic altered everyone's lives, including how we had spent our next vacation at home.
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