Considered as one of the best spas in Asia, Mandala continues to push the envelope in holistic wellness with its Shodhana Karma rejuvenation program and The Mandala Spa Hilot Trilogy. Recently, an innovative 24-hour stay-out Detox program was offered, where you can do the cleansing program while still enjoying the life on White Beach. Also, you can stay in the Mandala Villas and enjoy healthy food in the Prana Restaurant.
What I like about Mandala is it provides you with an escape from the busy, urban life, and it empowers you to strengthen your mind, body and soul without being preachy about it. Mandala tries its best to give you an experience of the "old Boracay" before its commercialization and before the 650,000 tourists/year trooped to this small island.
Related Posts: My Mandala Spa Experience [ The Bora Life #2 ]
Tip: Don't forget to meet Ria (also known as Batang Dagat -- check out The Real Batang Dagat blog).
Tirta provides the best pampering packages in Boracay with its signature 3-hour rituals, which includes something for the men (Gentleman's Quarter Packages). For this spa, details are important -- guests ascend the grand entrance flanked by Balinese guards; gong sounds are made to get rid of any bad spirits; and an image of the Buddha is present as if to greet you, "Peace be with you", as you enter the garden.
Personally, I like Tirta's relaxing ambiance. It's like stepping into an oasis in the middle of busy Boracay. (I'm not surprised that a Korean-owned spa opened a similar concept near the Bulabog area.) It is slowly catching up with Mandala in terms of opening up a Day Spa and a Bed & Breakfast villa. Tirta leads in terms of pampering massages and not-the-usual spa ambiance.
Related Posts: The Tirta Spa Difference
When you are in Boracay, experiencing Footsee'z foot spa and reflexology treatment is a must. It is the innovative leader in Foot Spa on the island and it is conveniently located near Budget Mart in D'Mall. Removing kalyo, Foot Reflexology and making your feet beautiful are its specialties. Having nice bare feet is a definite plus when walking along the white beach. :)
Tip: Don't forget to meet the owner, known as Mommy Anne among the locals. She is one of the most-respected, influential Boracay locals. From her, you can get the insider scoop on what's happening around the island.
6. Cyma the Original is still the BEST!
Cyma lost a bit of its exoticness when it opened in Manila, because it's no longer unique to Boracay. Nevertheless, the pioneering branch hidden in the corner of D'Mall continues to serve the best-tasting Greek food and the wildest "Opa!" versus any Cyma Branch.
For the ultimate Cyma experience, order these bestsellers: Saganaki, Flaming Cheese served with an enthusiastic "OPA!"; Roka Salata with its secret Greek Vinaigrette sauce; Cyma char-broiled Lamb Chops; and end the meal with Flaming Mangoes with Vanilla Ice Cream and another serving of the stress-releasing "OPA!"
In Boracay, specifically, you can have a shot of Ouzo liquor. It is a tradition to shout "Opa!" before drinking the shot straight up. Try to shout it at the top of your lungs and beat the loudest "Opa!" ever.
Kudos to Sunshine de Leon and team for maintaining the top quality of Cyma Boracay! :)
7. Aria, still the best Italian Restaurant on the island.
Whenever people ask me for Boracay Restaurant recommendations, these immediately come to mind -- Dos Mestizos (top of my list), Cyma (still our favorite), and Aria (consistently part of the top 3 restaurants in Boracay). Over the past years, though, Aria has been getting mixed reviews. Some foodies commented that the quality of ingredients declined over the years, and that it lost its charm as one of the best Italian restaurants in the country.
Personally, I find that Aria is still the undisputed king of Italian Pasta, Salad and wood-fire oven-cooked Pizzas in Boracay. The spicy Tuna Tartare is a recent favorite. :) Italian Chef Gino Amodio still runs the kitchen, which makes this one of the most authentic Italian Restaurants -- not only in Boracay, but in the Philippines.
Tip: Don't forget to order Aria's creamy (never gelatinous) panna cotta with its signature, innovative flavors like Panna cotta with fresh strawberry and pandan syrup, and Panacotta with gata.
8. Kasbah - a unique Moroccan Restaurant - only in Boracay.
I was asking the Boracay locals about what they would consider the best restaurant in Boracay, and Kasbah was often mentioned after Dos Mestizos, Cyma and Aria. According to them, this is one of the unique, only-in-Boracay restaurants and a must-visit for those looking for exotic food that you won't usually find in Manila. The only thing is it is quite far. It is located beside Discovery Shores. You can take a tricycle up to White House resort to get there.
Tagine refers to the slow-cooked stew and the special pot (with a conical cover) in which it is cooked. The stew is flavorful and rich, with very tender meat. The prunes and eggs give it a different texture that contributes to the overall enjoyment of this dish.
Some say that it is authentic Moroccan cuisine. I honestly wouldn't know for sure, but I like it because it's something refreshingly unique. Have you tried Kasbah?
9. Frozen Kefir and Yogurt Mania!
The hottest dessert craze in Boracay is a healthy one, too. Most people there are raving about Swirls Frozen Kefir. It has a creamy taste like ice cream but you can still taste the tanginess of yogurt. At the same time, it uses Kefir, which has more probiotic organisms that are very healthy.
Swirls Frozen Kefir was also a hit during the Ultimate Taste Test 4.0. :) Only thing is you have to go all the way to the White House resort near Discovery Shores to get a taste of Swirls. But it really is a perfect treat for a sunset merienda.
In D'Mall, the healthiest dessert is Fling by Fruits in Ice Cream. It is conveniently located near Cyma. Its Frozen Yogurt is made from fresh yogurt versus others that are powdered or reconstituted. Toppings are carefully selected from organic, lite and homemade options.
Healthy desserts are in because you don't want to have a bulging stomach while you're in your boardshorts or two-piece swimsuit.
10. The Latest Bars on the Island.
The Boracay Station 2 bars are still popular with the beach-going crowd -- with Hey Jude's techno music djs, Juice Bar's innovative drinks, and Summer Palace, which is a bit of a combination of Hey Jude and Juice Bar but with a "bahay kubo" ambiance. Sand Bar also has its following because of the performance of its fire dancers.
You can also hop on over to Guilly's and Club Paraw in Station 1 if you want to dance the night away with pop, hiphop and dance music. Cocomangas is losing its appeal among local tourists because it has a reputation of being a pick-up bar for foreigners.
Tides Hotel Sunset Rooftop Bar hosts some of the best parties in Boracay and is known for its New Year Countdown Party. Tides Hotel is owned by the same party-people who own Encore in Bonifacio Global City. The Jungle Bar in Bulabog beach has the best Full Moon parties on the island, where you are guaranteed to get wasted and enjoy a party that you will never forget.
My personal favorite is Bombom Bar because of its acoustic chill-out and reggae performances. I'm the type who enjoys bars where you can conveniently talk without having a shouting match with the super loud music.
So, what's your favorite hangout in Boracay?
Related BORACAY Blog Posts:
- BORACAY's White Christmas: 10 Never-Boring Experiences to Enjoy with your Kids!
- THE DISTRICT Experience: A Perfect Location for Families with Kids @DistrictBoracay
- Boracay 2012: CRAFTY'S ROOFTOP BORACAY - Best Indian Cuisine on the Island?
- What's New in Boracay in 2010? (Part 1 of 2)
- What's New in Boracay in 2010? (Part 2 of 2)
- Tips on Getting To and Around Boracay – 2009
- Boracay 101: A Bora First Timer's Guide To Boracay's Best Restaurants, Must Try Food and Gimmick Places
- Top5 Bora Resto! [ The Bora Life #3 ]
- My Mandala Spa Experience [ The Bora Life #2 ]
- [The Bora Life.1] Top Ten 10 Cool Things to do in Boracay!
- Boracay's Mystique...
Live an Awesome Life,
P.S. Let me know if there are other new and cool things in Boracay that I missed...