A Boracay driving adventure with Kia SportageBy Botchi Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
When people think Boracay, people think beach, party, gimmick, gastronomic adventures, beautiful, breathtaking sights and public transport. While Caucasians seem to lap up this very native, low-tech experience of driving in converted multicabs and tricycles, I’ve always dreamt of driving a proper car and exploring some of Boracay’s less popular but glorious sights and sounds. And believe it or not, there are some pretty great roads on the small island. Some lead up to tall peaks such as the summit of Mt. Luho, which overlooks Paradise Cove, the private beach of Fairways and Bluewater’s planned massive Newcoast Expansion.
So thanks to the kindness of our friend Harry Van Caem, a resort owner and part-time resident of the island, we borrowed his practically brand-new Kia Sportage 2.4 EX De Luxe A/T for a drive, to stretch its legs since it’s hardly been used. Technically, the island forbids privately owned vehicles, but Harry’s stylish Sportage is used as a shuttle for guests in his ultra-luxurious resort and service apartments located at Tambisaan Beach.
We picked up Harry’s Kia Sportage at Faith Village, a compound with a multipurpose hall used as a Christian church during Sundays, a very well-maintained garden and some rooms for rent. The problem is that the road is barely wide enough for the modestly sized Sportage to exit. With help of my wife, Erica, and our guide, Harry’s architect and friend Tubbs Obsum, we got out without any scratches and onto Boracay’s main spine road. The Sportage’s parking aids and rear-facing reverse camera, no doubt, gave me extra confidence to back up and maneuver the almost too-big-for-Boracay Sportage with surprising ease.
Our first destination was Tambisaan Beach, to visit Harry’s soon-to-be-finished resort. It’s a massive development, probably the most luxurious boutique hotel on the entire island with lots of wood, glass, sandstone, granite and high ceilings. The Sportage’s futuristic, European-inspired interior, covered in soft leather and soft-touch plastics, mated with the equally futuristic exterior and highlighted by LED strip lights, penned by Peter Schreyer, is a good match to Harry’s masterpiece. We took pictures; our minds were blown away by the sheer magnitude of this small resort, which looks more like a home in South Forbes in Makati.
Afterwards, we left for our next destination, Fairways and Bluewater’s expansive complex.
Fairways and Bluewater is the single largest development on the island, accounting for just over 10 percent of the island’s total land mass. With a world-class 18-hole golf course, three private beaches and ultra-luxurious villas, no wonder tourists flock to play some scenic round of golf and enjoy a very exclusive hideaway, away from the noisy beach and throngs of tourists. But we’re trying to find a way to bring our Kia Sportage as close to the shoreline as possible. And we did, right at the base of the Zipline and Zorb amusement parks with a short off-road trek that the Sportage, even with 18-inch highway-biased tires, made easy work. From the beach, one can see the famous keyhole rock formation, a Boracay wonder famous all over the world. We took pictures and headed out for Mt. Luho, one of Boracay’s highest peaks.
Mt. Luho is the starting point for many ATV trail riders and even horseback riders. Going up the steep and narrow road, the Sportage’s 175 hp and 225.5 Nm of torque, mated to the 6-speed automatic with AWD, feels like a champ; we overtook convoys of slow-moving ATV’s and bikini-clad tourists on scooters on our way to the summit, or at least the end of the road. Interestingly, there’s a small amusement park at the base of the road leading up to Mt. Luho, which locals fondly call the Disney Land of Boracay. We didn’t have much time so my wife and I agreed that we’ll visit it next time we’re on Boracay. We took more pictures and decided to hit our next spot, the ultra-luxurious Shangri-La Resort and Spa.
Shangri-La is at the tail-end of the island. There’s not much happening on that side, which was how Shangri-La wants it—making it even more exclusive.
It’s also one of the few stretches of deserted roads on the island where a car can really get into stride and hit fourth gear all the way to the DMCI-developed Alta Vista Community. But unfortunately, just as the road opens up, we saw the Boracay Convention Center and turned in to reach Shangri-La. It was a slow but breathtaking drive as we entered the Shangri-La complex and were greeted by the view of the sea at sunset, and we were blown away. Shangri-La’s impressive design makes one feel that he is outside of the Philippines and in some exotic destination abroad. Again, we took pictures, followed by a hefty merienda, which was followed by an even heftier bill. With the sun setting, we took our last set of pictures before calling it a day.
Going back to Faith Village, we passed through D’ Mall and the road was congested like crazy, with throngs of tricycle drivers carrying tourists out looking for dinner and some shopping. The Kia’s headlights cut a path and everyone was amazed to see what seemed like a private vehicle sharing space with tricycles. We reached our destination and, once again, Tubs and Erica directed some traffic while I eased in the Sportage back into its berth. Next time, we’ll visit Puka Beach and explore more roads and empty beaches.
Short URL: http://business.inquirer.net/?p=79150