The first thing you notice about Boracay is the colour. Cerulean skies sink into seas that are fifty shades of blue and green, fringed by milk-white, velvet sands. If paradise printed postcards, surely they would look a little something like this?

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Although I’ve been lucky enough to travel many parts of Asia, the Philippines have always eluded me. Maybe it’s because there’s a rather wide expanse of sea between this archipelago of 7,000 tropical islands and the rest of the countries that conveniently nestle together forming the banana pancake trail. But since I paid a visit to these beautiful islands a couple of months ago, I can’t wait to go back.

In the Philippines, there are many islands to choose from – you are bound to find something that suits and experience as much adventure as you wish. However, my first stop was the picture perfect holiday island of Boracay. Yes, it’s developed and yes, at peak season it’s popular amongst Asian tourists… But there is a cheerful vibe to this idyllic island that will make you feel that no matter what time of year it is, life’s one big holiday in paradise.

So, what exactly is it that makes Boracay so darn great? Read on and find out…

The beautiful beaches

The crowning glory of Boracay is its glorious beaches. Most of the action is centred around the long, wide expanse of heavenly sand that stretches down one half of the island – White Beach. This area is broken up into three sections or stations.

Station 1 is fringed with palm trees, accommodation on the sand and the mighty Jonah’s Fruit Shake Bar. The swimming is shallow and picturesque and it is a popular area for families. Station 2 is the heart of the island with bars and restaurants galore, plenty of people watching and the island’s inside/outside shopping centre D’Mall where you can shop and eat to your heart’s content.

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However, Station 3 is my personal favourite. There are some budget-friendly accommodation options in the lanes leading off this part of the island, a few cools bars and the vibe is much less hectic than Station 2. Plus the beach has plenty of space for sunbathing and the swimming is a dream.

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If you fancy a little more exploring then Bulabog beach on the other side of the island has a few super budget eateries – it may not be as picture perfect as White Beach but it gets the winds from the north and is a favourite hang-out for kite-surfers. Pukka Beach is renowned for its chilled ambience and pretty seashells and the tiny Diiniwid Beach, a simple stretch of sands peeping between the rocks, can be reached by following the cliff path right at the far end of Station 1.

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A very happy hour (or five)

Boracay is a happy island and perhaps one reason for that is the delightful number of happy hours that seem to be going on at all times of day. It’s pretty delightful. Despite the fact that Boracay might not be as budget as a lot of other Asian destinations, it is the cheapest place in Asia for alcoholic beverages that I’ve come across. Island rum is everywhere so expect lots of caipirinhas and other rum-based cocktails. In fact, expect a lot of cocktails, period.

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Some of our favourite places to sink a drink (and in the name of research we tried out quite a few) were: Bom Bom at Station 2 for the live music and the 12-7pm Happy Hour; Nigi Nigi at Station 2 for its Tikki island bar décor; Bei Kurt Und Magz at Station 3 for the insanely good fruit and rum shakes that are bigger than your head; Shantal’s Resto, a simple mobile bar with seats in the sand to soak up the sunset; and right at the end of Diniwid, the gorgeous Spider’s Resort with its unparalleled sea views. Paradise found.

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Drop dead gorgeous sunsets

The last little ingredient that helps elevate Boracay to paradise status are the mind-blowing sunsets that bless this gorgeous island.

I can categorically say that they are the best I have ever seen. Clear skies provide the perfect backdrop for the fat, orange sun to slide down into the waves. The colours, yet again, are out of this world and at this time of day, the light turns golden and the paraw boats take out their customers for a sunset sail. The shape of the boats, silhouetted against this blanket of pink, red and amber just adds the finishing touch to a breath-taking canvas.

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In a nutshell, Boracay might not take you on a journey off the beaten path but even the most seasoned traveller needs a little R&R – and Boracay offers that in bucket loads.

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All pics by Alex Saint.

Alex Saint is a writer based in Bristol, England – a place she calls home due to its friendly, diverse atmosphere and never-ending list of fun things to do. She loves tattoos, quirky fashion, pugs and, of course, travelling.

Keep up with the Saint sisters and their adventures in Bristol, London and beyond at www.saintsonaplane.com and @saintsonaplane or Alex herself @alexsaint13

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