It takes the right list of ingredients to claim a title like The Best Beach in the World. A few no-brainers would probably include: fine sand, warm water, gentle waves, and plenty of good sun. When picking the vacation spot for our last summer holiday from our teaching jobs in South Korea, seeing that Best Beach award edged out the Philippines island of Boracay from a few other competitors. What better way of ending a 2.5 year stint of lesson plans and whiny kids than the time-honored tradition of “getting away from it all”?
Paradise did not come easy. A combination of a 6 hour layover, flight cancellation, and an additional 7 hour flight delay brought us to the airport at Caticlan in sour moods. A rush through the ferry terminal, a short ride on an interesting boat, and bumpy excursion through muddy streets in the back of a cramped tourist van finally brought us to our hostel. We barely snuck in an hour of naptime before the rain started coming down.
Think aquatic drum circle.
This was not the ideal way to start a vacation. But you know, when weather conditions are uncooperative, there’s only one other thing for a tourist to do.
The experience of picking a restaurant here is like stepping into an arcade for the first time and only having four quarters to spend. In our case there were hundreds of food options and we only had one stomach apiece. Restaurants lined up door to door along the mile long strip of White Beach. Everything caught our eye, and almost all of it looked good.
We spent a lot of time here eating. These were the highlights:
Burgers @ Bite Club
Arguably our favorite place on the strip. Juicy burgers with up to 1 lb patties and a ton of delicious topping options. Definitely the best bang for your peso.
Buffet Dinner @ Sea Breeze Café
Not a budget option but we decided to live large for our last meal in town. A decent selection of pretty tasty buffet foods with a good variety of seafood options and fish cooked to order. Oh, and the chefs are part of the dinner time entertainment.
It took me a while to realize that “buko” meant young coconut, but once that veil of ignorance was lifted there was no turning back. Water, sugar, condensed milk, coconut, and ice – everything you need to start an addiction.
Meat on a stick
It doesn’t really get any more primal than that. If you’re still hungry after dinner, this cheap street food option hits the spot.
Magnum Ice Cream
You can’t name something Magnum and have it not deliver. A bit upscale in terms of price, you’ll have to eat this one pinky up.
Crack can come in many forms, and the Filipinos have artfully made it into edible snacks.
(Okay, okay, I think I’ve been writing with my stomach for long enough.)
And then there was Paradise
With each passing day the weather took a more positive turn. Slowly but surely, the sun was winning the battle against the clouds. We got our first sunburn on the third day. By day 4 I had made wearing Speedo’s a permanent fixture. On the morning of our last day we partook in one final circuit of our now well-established beach bum routine: tan, play, swim.
Man I miss this place.