I had already grown tired of the Boracay party circuit, having exhausted it with regular alcohol-soaked visits every year for the past five years. But just when I thought I had drunk every island-themed cocktail there is to drink and shimmied awkwardly on every sandy dance floor there is to dance on, I get invited to board the Boracay SunCruiser, a 65-footer outrigger fiberglass boat that promises to breathe life into the old island party scene.
The Boracay SunCruiser, made its maiden voyage just last June, at the tail-end of summer. The boat sailed leisurely across the eastern side of the bone-shaped island as Boracay’s glittering partygoers downed champagne and hors d’ouevres. People were in such high spirits that they toasted multiple times, and at one point, were fearlessly jumping off from the top of the boat into the sea.
Freida Dario-Santiago, Boracay’s resident PR maven and wife ofBoracay SunCruiser’s managing partner Mark Santiago, regales me with more party stories as we make our way towards the Boracay SunCruiser in a bright purple speedboat that we boarded off the far end of Bulabog Beach.
It is only around 3pm. Dario-Santiago tells me their parties usually start at this time, which sounds too early, but I get the sense that on the boat, shindigs start slow and last well past sunset.
It is, after all, not your usual party boat. “It’s a pleasure boat,” Dario-Santiago says.
A short ride from the shore and we’re finally at the SunCruiser. The boat is dressed in sparkly fishnets and colorful flags, courtesy of dancer-cum-event stylist Ed Aniel. A quick tour reveals male and female toilets, an outdoor shower, and an air-conditioned cabin where guests can lounge and cool down freely, though it can also be reserved on a case-to-case basis.
Another private room — the stateroom — is still under renovation. We begin to cruise further out into the sea. So no French exits on this party boat. If you need to leave early, you must book a special shuttle beforehand.
The first level has beanbag chairs in prime tanning locations, as well as a bar right in the center. That afternoon, there were only 10 of us on the boat, but Dario tells me the boat can take on over 60 people comfortably. It’s easy to imagine the place packed with beautiful beachgoers, all sun-kissed and golden and laughing as they sail around Boracay.
Dario-Santiago then leads us up the stairs to the second story — a sun deck with lounge beds, a lot of sun, and a great view of the island and the sea. Another short flight of stairs and we’re up on the Jump Off Pad, where people launch themselves to plunge into the water. It isn’t very high and the water below is rock and coral-free, but the view from the top is still rather nerve-wracking.
The boat’s Super Slide, an inflatable slide that takes you right into the sea, promises even more fun in the sun. It’s under maintenance but should be back soon.
Eventually, we settle on the lounge chairs on the second level, sipping white wine from nifty acrylic wine glasses, looking out to sea and Boracay Island.
The sun is already starting to set on the other side of the island, and the sea and sky are starting to slowly change color. Dario-Santiago gushes excited about their first ever Rock the Boat party, a cruise party and floating bar they hold every Saturday afternoon.
As we sail on, Dario-Santiago and Aniel play tour guide and point out hidden coves and beaches that tourists have yet to populate.
The conversation goes like this: “That’s Crystal Cove. Russians love it there; it can get really wild. And over there is a private beach where we had our team-building. There’s a cove somewhere there, with a really cool cave. And oh what is this? I haven’t seen this before! Oh look there are people! Is there anyone good-looking? We should go there one time!”
I make a mental note to come back and figure out how to get to all these coves, so far removed from the overwhelming tourist trail that even the island’s residents can’t remember exactly what they’re called.I laugh to myself as I realize that just when I think I’ve had enough of Boracay, it reveals even more delicious secrets, one cove, one afternoon, one leisurely cruise at a time.
Originally published in InFlight Traveller October to November 2015