Not too long ago, I was parading around town, screaming my indifference, feeling like I was above being a Boracay dreamer. I just couldn’t understand all the hype. “I will never go to Boracay,” I declared. “Unless it’s free.”
The joke was on me. Together with other bloggers, I received an invitation to an event in Boracay from Tattoo. They would be covering everything. All I had to do was show up. Now, now, that’s the very definition of free. Who am I to pass up an opportunity like that?
Prior to this trip to Boracay, every time my friends and I were planning a trip and discussing where to go next, and someone would make a predictable suggestion of even considering going to Boracay, I would pretend that I didn’t hear anything and make my eyes roll like they were really meant to stick to the ceiling of my eye sockets. I just hated Boracay. Scratch that. I didn’t hate Boracay. I hated the idea of it. I always loved the underdogs. I had always preferred secluded beaches over the crowded ones, and Boracay just did not appeal to me in any way. If I wanted to party, there’s plenty of places for it in Manila. To me, Boracay was overrated.
That was then.
All it took was just one trip to Boracay, and I switched teams instantaneously. I’m a shame to the Boracay-hating brotherhood. Bite me.
That moment when I first stepped on Boracay sand and got to see the landscape and the fun people are having, it was the moment I knew I have misjudged it. Boracay is gorgeous!!! And yes, that comes with three exclamation points, people.
Boracay is an island two kilometers off the northwest tip of Panay. It is part of the Municipality of Malay in the Province of Aklan. It is the most popular beach destination in the Philippines, registering almost 780,000 tourist arrivals in 2010 alone. I bet it has skyrocketed since then after the addition of new flights, both domestic and international, in and out of Kalibo airport (the nearest major airport other than Caticlan). And after topping a number of lists of the best tropical beach destinations in the world, we should expect a lot more visitors in the years to come.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
What Makes Boracay Special
So what makes Boracay this popular? What makes it special? What is it with Boracay that makes almost everyone go gaga over it? Here are some of my ideas. Of course, you can also find some of these in other beach destinations in the country. I’m just saying that all of the things below are in Boracay.
1. The Sand
White Beach’s long and wide stretch of white sand has to be the most obvious reason. The sand here is just sparkling white especially when the sun is at its brightest. It is so fine that it is such a joy to dip your toes in it and leave footprints everywhere. (Though I still think Panglao Island in Bohol has finer sand.) And it doesn’t stop there. White Beach, the island’s most popular stretch, spans four kilometers, some parts of which can be so wide you can play almost any sport you want on it.
2. The Landscapes
The sand that slowly slopes down into the blanket of turquoise water, which turns into deep blue as you move your gaze farther; the silhouettes of the sails as they slowly glide through the rolling waves; the ridges of the mountains that create a good backdrop for the low-lying clouds that get blown by the wind across the sky — ah, so damn pretty.
3. The Familiar
When I was in Boracay, I didn’t feel like I abandoned city life at all. It was more like I shrunk my metropolitan lifestyle, put it in my pocket, and took it with me to a tropical paradise. The establishments were all too familiar even when it was my first time there. All you have to do is go the DMall and you’ll know what I mean. Shopping? Check. Nightlife? Check. Sports? Check. Restaurants? Check.
The downside is that even the things I don’t like about the city have snuck their way here, too. Traffic, garbage, noise. I bet prostitution, too.
4. The Activities
Boracay offers a number of activities that people of all ages can enjoy. The athletic will love playing sports. The not-so-active will enjoy the spas. Even kids will find something to do here.
Windsurfing, paraw sailing, kiteboarding, ziplining, cliff-diving, swimming, running, jogging, shopping, partying,
flirting, food tripping…
5. The Food
Speaking of food trips, one thing that I don’t really appreciate about secluded beaches is the limited food options. The same cannot be said about Boracay. This tiny island offers a wide array of food selections — from seafood to steak, from local dishes to foreign, from street food to gourmet, from buffet to carinderia-style: you’ll find ’em all here.
Crowd favorites are Jonah’s fruit shakes and the chorizo burger (choriburger) being sold in many stalls around Boracay. Seafood! And oh, kalamansi muffins are a best-seller, too!
6. The Convenience
There’s wi-fi in most places so you don’t have to worry about checking your email or Facebook account. You can even pay your bills, apply for a plan, or run other errands. If you’re planning on bringing your work to the beach, it can be really easy for you.
7. The Accommodations
We all know this. From hostels to five-star hotels, Boracay has them.
8. The Sunset
My blogger friends and I were having a drink at Epic and we were having so much fun we didn’t realize that the dark was already starting to blanket the island. They decided to get up and walk closer to the shore. I didn’t know why and I was not expecting anything really but when I first saw the sun as it kissed the horizon, I knew it was what they all wanted to see — the famous Boracay sunset.
9. The Nightlife
When the sun takes a dip, the fun is just beginning to some. One of Boracay’s strongest selling points that is not present in many other local island destinations is its vibrant nightlife. Bars and clubs abound in the beach front, bringing the music, the dancing, and the booze we oh-so-loved in the city to the island paradise that is Boracay. If partying isn’t your thing, you can always hang at an al fresco cafe or restaurant and just enjoy a quiet evening with friends, old or new.
For a list of the island’s clubs and bars with info on price, type of music, and opening hours, check out this post by Boracay Compass: Boracay Nightlife Guide.
And yes, the fire dance. (But I did not enjoy it, to be honest.)
10. The Crowd
It was the crowd that I had always hated about Boracay. I had always thought that I wouldn’t find anything pleasant about Boracay being crowded. But I was wrong. I did not realize that the upside is that it gives tourists an opportunity to make new friends. In the short time that I spent in Boracay, I had met some of the nicest and most delightful people.
Boracay’s “ability” to cater to visitors of all ages and from all walks of life has a lot to do with its charm. Whether you’re traveling solo or part of a group, on a weekend getaway or on a honeymoon, young or not-so-young, on-a-budget or the just-swipe-it type, there is something in Boracay that you will love. And this makes Boracay a great place to build new relationships and strengthen old ones.
As written on this post, “What makes Boracay special is the relationships that the island nourishes as families, friends, and lovers choose to strengthen them by the bay or at a nearby restaurant or at the dance floor. The music in the background and the laughter from the big crowds have become part of the island’s character. The charm of Boracay is that it has something for everyone within a few yards from nature’s liquid whisper.”
Boracay and I might not have a good start but I can definitely declare that I adore Boracay now. Is it my most favorite beach ever? Maybe, maybe not. I still prefer the quiet charm of a secluded cove to a busy, chaotic beach but there’s nothing wrong with joining the crowd sometimes and just enjoying their company. Yes, there are issues in the island that need to be addressed but it is still a special place. I love Boracay now. I love Boracay.
And yes, I shouldn’t hate a place if I haven’t been there yet. Lesson learned.
How to get to Boracay: All major local airlines fly from Manila to Kalibo or Caticlan. Caticlan Airport is closer, just a 15-minute ferry ride away. Just take a tricycle to the Jetty Port, and board a ferry to the island.