Just because Kate Ceberano has Philippine heritage doesn't mean she's biased when she says that Boracay's White Beach is the best in the world. It's been voted No.1 many times by various bodies taking polls on such things.
Around 300km south of Manila, the butterfly-shaped island's White Beach is 4km of white, powdery sand, lapped by crystal waters, making it a magnet for holidaymakers.
It was a well-guarded secret for many years, and became popular with backpackers in the 1980s. Since then it has gradually become a cosmopolitan tourism destination and one of the Philippines' major tourism spots.
A good way to see the island and its other beaches is by motorised tricycle or pedicab. For around $4 you will have the freedom of going wherever you want and they can be rented almost anywhere along the main road. Stop somewhere for a swim and maybe visit the markets. Go to the fish markets to see happy fishermen bringing in their catch.
If your mouth waters at the thought of chilli crab, one of the cafes will cook one up for you for next to nothing.
There is excellent snorkelling, paddling native canoes, windsurfing and kiteboarding to be done. For something really great, pedal off to Ariel's Point. There are swimming holes, mangrove forests and volcanic rock formations and you will notice planks at various levels. That's your big chance to leap into the ocean!
For around $20 you can take a 30-minute boat ride from Boracay to Ariel's and have unlimited cliff dives, lunch, unlimited drinks and sail back in the most stunning sunset ever.
At White Beach you can rent a small outrigger sailboat for two to six people, with or without a two-man crew. Sailing instruction is available.
Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa on the north of the island covers 12 hectares, shared with rare and interesting wildlife, which you can see on the nature trail. It has a private beach and 219 rooms to choose from including a tree house! Each room has ocean views from a private balcony or terrace, tree houses have outdoor jacuzzis and all other villas have private pools. Villa Likhha is very fancy it sleeps four and has butler service.
Dining options are wide and varied. Sirena is a clifftop seafood restaurant, Rima is an intimate Italian dining room nestled amongst the treetops. Vintana offers a variety of international cuisine and Cielo by the pool is for casual, outdoor dining. Beach party barbecues with fire dancers offer great food and amazing entertainment.
For an exotic cocktail, Alon Beach Bar, Solana Bar at the clifftop and the Lobby Bar all offer something different.
There is a fun-filled entertainment centre and a child-friendly zoo. Adventure Zone's karaoke and basketball is great for families and the Shangri-La's signature Chi, The Spa is there for pampering.
Shangri-La has a health club, free-form and lap pools, marine centre and dive shop. Water sports include kayaking, windsurfing, Hobie cats, jetskiing, parasailing, banana boating, snorkelling and scuba diving.
Boracay, an hour's flight from Manila.
Viva! Holidays has seven-night packages starting at $2335 from Melbourne and $2355 from Sydney per person twin-share. They include one night's accommodation in Manila, six nights at the Shangri-La Boracay Resort for the price of four, transfers, breakfast and return flights with Philippine Airlines. Available for travel between August 1 and September 14, 2011.
Prices correct at July 30, 2011.
For further information
Ph: 131 415
Shangri-La's Boracay Resort & Spa
Malay, Aklan 5608
Ph: +63 36 288 4988
Fax: +63 36 288 5088
Philippine Department of Tourism
Suite 703, Level 7 Thakral House
301 George Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9279 3380
Fax: (02) 9279 3381
Visa: Not required for stays of up to 21 days. Passports must have six months' validity.
Electricity: 220V at 60Hz taking plugs with two vertical flat pins or two round pins.
Time zone: GMT +8.
International dialling code: +63.
It is recommended travellers see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.welltogo.com.au.