Boracay's sandy throwback
BY JOE YOGERST
Boracay was once the epitome of tropical-island nirvana. Thirty years down the line it's still pretty cool, just a little overbuilt. All, that is, except Puka Beach.
Perched on the island's north shore and removed from the rest of Boracay by a jungle-covered mountain, Puka retains its end-of-the-world vibe. Scattered with bleached shells and tidbits of coral, the sand isn't talcum-powder-fine like the rest of Boracay, but the beach is plenty wide and often refreshingly empty, with clear, warm water. There are only a couple of proper restaurants -- Puka Grande and Hija de Puka Resto Bar -- where you can sample seafood dishes like garlic prawns and adobo squid. A few handicraft stalls, sand volleyball courts and rental lounge chairs beneath palapa shade structures round out the Puka Beach offerings.
For half of 2018, Puka, like the rest of Boracay has been off limits for a clean-up operation prompted by concerns about the island’s environmental welfare. The good news is that it seems to have worked, with beaches now immaculate and waters returned to crystal clarity.
Re-opening should hopefully mean the revival of Puka stops for the swim-and-snorkel daytrips that circle Boracay in pump boats or paraw outriggers. An alternative way to get there is a motorized tricycle for the 15-minute ride from White Beach or Bulabog Beach. The only hotel with direct beach access (via a jungle trail) is Alta Vista de Boracay resort, although you can also reach it by kayaking around the headland from the posh Shangri-La Boracay. Cheaper digs can be had in Yapak village.
Did you know?
The shelving sands make Puka better for swimming compared with other Boracay beaches, although currents can get strong.
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