Boracay: A White Beach Island Guide

 

Everyone must believe in something.

I believe

I should go to the beach.

inspired by Groucho Marx

 

 

Looks like an early white Christmas already where I am in the Northeast. As an island goddess, I prefer a white beach Christmas so it’s fortunate that I know exactly where to escape to.  With its archipelago of almost 8,000 islands, the Philippines has three that rank among Travel & Leisure’s top beaches in the world. Among its 6.6m tourists last year, about a third visited Boracay, a relatively small island measuring 3.98 square miles with a local resident population of only 30,000. You can dive and snorkel through top notch reefs, enjoy a variety of waters sports, go island hopping, kayak or canoe, hike trails and waterfalls, chill on a lounge chair or beach bar, all the while enjoying the help of smiling locals everywhere you turn.

A couple of decades ago, Boracay certainly was idyllic with its throw back in time feel amidst thatched roof hut accommodations.  As late as 2012, Travel+Leisure declared it the best island in the world for the powder soft sand on its White Beach. These days the main stretch of white beach feels more like Florida’s South Beach party town with hotels and restaurants of all stripes shoe horned one after another.

Getting to Boracay  An hour’s flight from Manila gets you to Caticlan (the Kalibo International airport option is farther away), followed by a ferry ride from the Caticlan Jetty Port and a drive to your hotel. Caticlan is a small airport that allow small aircrafts so luggage weight restrictions are strictly enforced. Book transfers ahead with Island Star Express or My Boracay Guide with your preferred level of service.

If that sounds like too much work, consider a hotel that includes inter-island transfers like the luxury T+L favorite Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa, where guests can arrive via speedboat directly from Caticlan to the resort’s private jetty.

Which beach?  Of the island’s 12 beaches, White Beach lives up to its name except it can get busy because most of the island’s shopping, nightclubs and hotels are found here. Spanning 2.5 miles of the island’s west coast, it is divided into three “stations.”

When to go  The weather in Boracay, like most of the Philippines, is either hot or hotter.  Prime travel season runs from Christmas until May. January gets extra busy with the Kalibo Ati-Atihan Festival–the Philippine version of Mardi Gras–and the annual water-sports competition, the International Funboard Cup. Given a choice, I’d pick the shoulder season (October to November), when temperatures have  cooled down after the monsoon rains of July/August. Low season is June to September if you don’t mind rain and wind.

Where to Stay  To get away from the maddening crowd, The Shangri-la Resort and Spa makes you feel like you’re on a private island because it sits on a sheltered bay at Boracay’s pristine northern coast. Heaven must be not unlike staying at a quiet villa looking out to peaceful blue waters with a friendly butler at your beck and call.  The resort’s layout offers rooms with spectacular vistas of lush green scenery and azure ocean views from every vantage point.

If you want relative quiet without having to spend as much money while having the option to walk to the action on White Beach, I like these beach front properties on Station 1:

The Lind Hotel is a high rise with modern facilities and a larger swimming pool. Try their deliciously tender grilled octopus and cucumber mint slushee.

Friday’s Boracay is among the older properties (since 1982) without a pool but their restaurant has an  unobstructed beach view while their accommodations are the closest thing you get to going native.

Ambassador in Paradise is a narrow property with a lap pool. I like the vibe of their restaurant amidst coconut trees featuring a raw seafood bar set up on a quaint little boat in the evenings.

The government’s clean-up initiative in the past year has banned sandcastle artists and other beach entrepreneurs but has not remedied the eyesore of dilapidated and abandoned properties amidst better hotels.

Click on “Leave a comment” (top left) to share your favorite winter escape. (Photos on this page are from Google Images.)

xoxox

Shangri-la Resort & Spa’s beach cove

Friday’s Boracay beach front

xoxox

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Beauty in Hindsight

 

Being absolutely certain that one is right is part of growing up

and so is realizing years later

that the truth may be more nuanced.

Rebecca Meade

 

As you gather with loved ones this Thanksgiving, what will you count among your favorite blessings?  I am thankful for great health and the freedom to create happy memories, the constant love of friends and family, the joy of working with the inspiring and generous women featured on this blog.  I am most thankful for the wisdom that comes from looking back on my life and seeing the big picture, how things eventually work out for a good reason, if we hang on to our sense of humor through the desperation and disappointment of not getting what we want. Then there are the the many little things we may take for granted, like the first one on this list of comforting quips from What I Wish I’d Known in the book compilation The Most of Nora Ephron:

The empty nest is underrated.

If the shoe doesn’t fit in the shoe store, it’s never going to fit.

When the children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.

The plane is not going to crash.

There’s no point in making piecrust from scratch.

Anything you think is wrong with your body today you will be nostalgic for a decade later.

Write everything down.

Keep a journal.

Back up your files.

Overinsure everything.

Whenever someone says “Our friendship is more important than this,” watch out, because it almost never is.

Take more pictures.

You can order more than one dessert.

You can’t be friends with people who call after 11:00 pm.

The world’s greatest babysitter burns out after two and a half years.

The last four years of psychoanalysis are a waste of money.

Overtip.

Never let them know.

If friends ask you to be their child’s guardian in case they die, you can say no.

There are no secrets.

You never know.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what hindsight makes you thankful at last. Happy Gobble Gobble!

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Sleepless at Fifty

 

 

Looking back, it seems to me

that I was clueless

until I was about fifty years old.

Nora Ephron

 

 

A handful of women I know are celebrating their 50th birthday with some trepidation.  Having had a couple of years’ head start, I am here to assure everyone that the water is perfectly fine! The perks of this golden age include the 20/20 vision of hindsight–The more years you rack up, the clearer things get!

The quote (above) on turning fifty is by Nora Ephron, a prolific journalist, author, and filmmaker whose books, newspaper columns and magazine feature articles were irreverent as they were funny.  Widely known for her trilogy of romantic comedies starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail. I love this woman for her courage in frankly writing about the best and the worst of her life, including the screenplay for the witty movie about her husband’s infidelity in the middle of her pregnancy. I love her evolving collection of five adjectives that she chooses to describe herself with each passing decade. Admirably, “victim” was never among them even through the cancer that eventually claimed her life to the great grief and surprise of friends and colleagues whom she chose to keep in the dark until the end.

Her commencement address to the Welleslay graduates of 1996 is relevant to the rest of us today:

When I was your age, I would have described myself as ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single.  Ten years later, not one of those things turned up on my list. I was journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today, not one of those things turn up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy. Whatever those five things are for you today, they won’t make the list in 10 years–not that you still won’t be some of those things, but they won’t be the five most important things about you. Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you break the rules and make a little trouble out there… The first (half) of your life is over. Welcome to the best years of your lives!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share the five most important things about you in this brave new decade.

All photos on this page from Google Images

xoxox

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Fearless in Style

 

People often ask, “You have so much confidence.

Where did that come from?” It came from me.

One day I decided that I was beautiful then

carried out my life as if I were beautiful.

Gabourey Sidibe

 

Aside from Halloween, I don’t do therapy.  I am completely capable of boring myself with my own whining, obsessive worries, and  old stories that other people mistake to need resolution or absolution. I do all this with a journal because, unlike friends, pen and paper take it all in without compounding my complaints with worse versions of their own. Besides, if I had to dress and drive somewhere, I want to be the one charging for the hour. When it comes to overcoming fear and trepidation, this witch swears by these style tricks that thoroughly complements the essential broomstick:

Own one fabulous coat (or jacket.) When you have to run out of the house in pajamas, a long dress coat hides many sins while allowing effortless elegance.  Barbara Corcoran launched her real estate empire wearing the same red coat to all her client meetings.  This power coat was her biggest investment as a small town waitress starting a new and very foreign career in the big city. And when you’re done torturing yourself teetering on stilettos, find a comfy pair with an inch or two of sturdier heels with rubber soles that’s kind to your spine while still encouraging good posture.

Color is my coffee  Wake yourself up with a bright, light or white top. Color has healing properties, perks up your face and makes you smile when you see yourself in the mirror. There is one other reason why I don’t wear black: No one has died yet.

Perfect eyelashes   The purpose of having a daughter and girlfriends is to have people you can count on to glue on your lashes when you’re no longer capable of doing this yourself.  Whether it’s lipstick, a blowout, or a facial, indulge in whatever makes you feel better about what you’ve got. My life may not be perfect, but my fake eyelashes can be.

Wonder Woman  I love this film starring Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.  She was no helpless Barbie Doll in real life as an Israeli citizen with the requisite military training. As Wonder Woman, she ventured out of her tiny cloistered island, overcoming great fear of leaving all that she loved behind to venture into the unknown for the sake of saving the planet. When I need a push to get out of my comfy world, to travel somewhere or to attend an event where I know no one, I dress well and coax myself with the thought that I can show up for just a wee little bit. I promise myself that I can leave anytime I feel like and dangle a treat as reward after. More often that not, I end up staying at the event for much longer and have a great time meeting or simply observing a different world and its people. Amy Cuddy shares a life hack to quickly boost your confidence through Power Posing.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you say BOO! to fear.

xoxox

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable photo shoot for up to three people!

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

When in Rome: Best Photo Locations

 

Sometimes the road less traveled

is less traveled

for a reason.

Jerry Seinfeld

 

What is your favorite corner in the Eternal City?

Piazza Navona

This is my favorite piazza for its open space, sculptures in fountains and its nightlife of hawkers, locals and street artists. This is the neighborhood I consider central for booking a hotel to stay in because I can walk in every which direction to different neighborhoods.

 

The Tiber River

There are lots of points along this river that you could use. Here are three of the most popular choices.

  • The view to St Peter’s Basilica – The view down to St Peter’s from Ponte Sant’Angelo is one of the best in Rome. Certainly the best along the river Tiber. Aim for sunset and blue hour to make the best of this location.
  • Castel Sant’Angelo – Looking along the same bridge, Ponte Sant’Angelo, is Castel Sant’Angelo. The lines of the bridge leading up to the Castel offer another great photo from this location.

 

Altare de la Patria (aka Vittorio Emmanuel monument or The Typewriter Building)

The Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) is an imposing structure with striking architecture. Get up close to get interesting details of the sculptures. You can take the elevator to the top for the views.

 

Spanish Steps

Always crowded with tourists because it’s iconic and has been featured in popular movies set in Rome. New regulation does not allow people to sit on the steps anymore which takes away from its personality.

 

The Colosseum

Among the “new” 7 Wonders of the World is the Colosseum. Can you imagine its glory days when the entire structure was wrapped in white marble? There are plenty of good options for photographing this masterpiece, so let’s look at some of the potential photographs you could take.

Arriving at dawn means you can photograph the Colosseum with no people with the bonus of catching the sun peak through its arches.

Trevi Fountain

Completed in 1762, this still counts among Rome’s most popular tourist attractions.  Its statues are dramatic backdrops for portraits if you can avoid the crowds by waking early or elbowing your way to the front row.  Crowds can provide an important narrative element to a photo, giving the image context and life. To get the best of crowds in a photo you’ll want to get above them.

 

The Pantheon

This building has a lovely dome with genius construction in allowing rain to fall from the hole in its center and flow down the gently sloped marble floors with built in drains. If you get lucky at night to catch its front foyer lit, you can create a fun picture with someone in the spotlight juxtaposed with the gigantic pillars.

For a wide shot of the entire building, come at twilight when it is lit up and you’ll have the blue skies to complement the yellow glow of lamp lights.

 

St. Peter’s Basilica

Get lucky with the Pope’s appearance or enjoy the details in the architecture and the mosaics that look like very fine paintings.

Best time to photograph  Arrive early to avoid queues at tourist locations. Sunrise and sunset are fun for playing with shadows. The twilight hour after sunset is magical when the sky is that shade of blue that complements the brightness of streetlamps.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite corner in the Eternal City. All photos on this page from Google images.

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable photo shoot for up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

One Perfect Speech Coach

 

It’s all right

to have butterflies in your stomach.

Just get them to fly in formation.

Rob Gilbert

 

 

Among the brightest lights of inspiration in my world is Jane Paterson of OnePerfectSpeech.com. Fortunately for the rest of the world, this veteran of speech writing and interview coaching now offers her services to a wider audience through her very user friendly website. You’ll find tutorials on it that have easy to follow instructions and practical advice on speech development, practice and presentation.

Whether you have been invited to toast the bride and groom, to acknowledge valued mentors and employees at a corporate gathering, or simply need help polishing that elevator pitch for your business, Jane will walk you through the process of speaking from the heart seamlessly. In her capable hands, you will always feel like you’re sharing a comfortable couch even when your conversation is through video and those butterflies in your stomach will have no choice but to fly in formation!

Jane fully embodies the Powerful Goddess ideal of delivering excellence and doing whatever it takes to nurture personal fulfillment no matter what. She lifts others up with her eternal sunshine while striking an admirable balance of equal parts responsibility and fun play at work and at home. Definitely a woman I aspire to be when I grow up and am very blessed to know.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share who lights up your world!

 

xoxox

 

 

 

xoxox

 

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable photo shoot for up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

The Unusual Selfie

 

The best advice I’ve received is

”No one else knows

what they’re doing either.”

Ricky Gervais

 

All our friends, family and Facebook’s facial recognition software already know what we look like so how about we give them something more interesting to see than just another selfie?

Here’s how I made these Unusual Selfies without needing a selfie stick:

Get a Folio Case for your smartphone. Coach.com has a fun selection in leather to hold your cash/cards as well as protect your phone’s glass surface. More importantly, it serves as a stand to angle and prop up your phone so you can use its timer (and AF lock) to compose the shot before you jump into the frame.

Google knows everything.  In researching my travel itinerary, I stumbled upon another mom’s blog which mentioned that Dubrovnik is a film site of HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones (GoT). My sons are great fans of this show so I thought it would be funny to impress them and sign myself up for a GoT themed city tour there.

Prep the prop. As inspiration for this GoT tour, I decided go as one of the show’s main characters, Daenerys, aka “The Mother of Dragons” who wears the best costumes among its lead cast.  I packed a fantastic 3D print replica of her Mother of Dragons necklace as well as three custom painted dragon eggs from Etsy.com.

Dubrovnik is King’s Landing in GoT, the capital of the story’s 7 Kingdoms. It has imposing medieval fort walls flooded with tourists. You’ll have a better chance of enjoying the place all to yourself if you visit in winter. Finding a quiet spot can be impossible so keep an eye out for locations  with relatively few passersby.  Be patient and wait for a lull in the crowd to get a clear background.  From the pier, for example, I walked along the base of the fort until I found an outcropping of rocks facing the sea that also happened to have an angle of the castle known as the Red Keep in the show.  I took time positioning the dragon eggs and iPhone until I got the shots I wanted to tell my story—an especially poignant one for a mother of three (dragons) who have all flown the nest. Rain clouds were perfect for the mood and a scarf billowing in the wind added the effect of dragon wings.

If someone offers to take your picture, all the better!  At the Iron Throne (GoT souvenir shop at Boshkoviceva 7 in the old town), my GoT tour guide impressed me with the filters on his Samsung even as he envied how my iPhone takes creamier pictures in daylight.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your best selfie trick without a stick.

Xoxox

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable photo shoot for up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

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