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.

Willy’s Rock, Boracay

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 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

Fine, fine sand.
Fine, fine 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

Boracay Island Beaches
Boracay Island Beaches

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

Starbucks Boracay

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…

mini Ferris Wheel
You can even pray if that’s your thing

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.

English breakfast

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

Coy and Winston posing at a Globe Prepaid booth

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

Pool area
Pool area

We all know this. From hostels to five-star hotels, Boracay has them.

8. The Sunset

World Famous Boracay Sunset
World Famous Boracay 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

boracay-epic-cocktails-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.

Bloggers in Boracay!
Winston, Cheyzer, Raleene, and Melai

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.

boracay guide


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Yoshke Dimen

Storyteller at Yoshke.com
Yoshke is a part-time digital marketing consultant, part-time travel blogger, and full-time dreamer. He has three passions in life: social media, travel, and --- wait for it --- world peace. Yoshke has won 3 PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS and received 9 nominations. Learn more about his personal journeys at Yoshke.com.
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Comments

  1. … and that’s why I love Boracay. We had a fantastic time last winter there and will be spending even more time this winter. I much more prefer this holiday location over Bali.

    Everything about Boracay is just amazing!

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Thanks for the comment, Steve. Glad to know that you’re coming back to the Philippines!

  2. Elaine says:

    i guess i am one of the members of the boracay haters brotherhood and i was surprised that there is in fact, a brotherhood! Lolz! Well, am not here as a critic. but i would say that i still prefer those secluded beaches we have. The package they offer. from the plane to airport pick up, bringing you to the wharf and then to the resort itself and the rest of it.. but then.. a virgin island in palompon, tacloban, i say, is the best ever beach i’ve been to.. no electricity.. no resort.. no restaurant, no potable water and most especially.. no crowd. just our group.

    Anyway, I’ve been to boracay once. just last year. unfortunately, the weather is not good so we were not able to enjoy the beach and the sand.

    Now its my turn to say.. i wont be coming back to boracay unless it is all free.. and of course, if the weather is clear..

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Haha, it’s an imaginary, figurative brotherhood. #Char lang.

      I prefer secluded beaches, too. I’m just saying that Boracay has its market and has its charm. :)

    • Judy M. O. L. says:

      @ Elaine: It all boils down to preferences. I am from Palompon and of course I’m very that Kalanggaman island is getting recognized. But I believe and still would say I LOVE BORACAY very much! I have no reason to hate it, ever! There’s nothing much to do in Kalanggaman but yes for people who prefer an unspoiled white sand beach (it has two sandbars) and blue turquoise water, I think one has to try visiting our beautiful island. It’s a virgin island where you can relax and have peace and quiet.

  3. Hi,

    the english breakfast is a must to try, in which particular store in boracay can i find it? i’ll be going there on 28, tnx :)

  4. Gillian says:

    Boracay is the best. I was there last May with friends and we went cliff diving! We’re planning to return next summer and conquer the 15m dive. :D

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Haha, haven’t tried cliff diving yet. Im too chicken for that! Hopefully I’ll be brave enough next visit. :D

  5. Frithus says:

    i think this is too short a list!! hahaha.. i once was one of the nay-sayers about the allure of boracay, being myself one of the metro-drones who came from down southeast where secluded beaches lie untouched to wake us up as the cocks cry to the rising sun. having grown up in such idyllic nature made me think like, “boracay?.. beach?.. ahhmm nothing unusual…” so i didn’t really made it my ‘life goal’ to visit the place, until i needed to due to some errands. and then it hit me – boracay is a marriage of nature and the metro! so convenient, so fun, everyone has its place under the sun… or over the sand, should i say… was there early last month, and guess what? I am going back there this month!

    • The Poor Traveler says:

      Haha! I’m also planning my next Boracay trip, too! I’m totally charmed!

  6. Adelle says:

    I love everything you love about Boracay. It will always be my favorite beach, no matter how many others I have visited and will visit. :)

  7. cristina says:

    we had a seminar in iloilo city last april 3-6 and we decided to visit boracay for the FIRST TIME….imagine 6 hrs from iloilo city to boracay…..but its worth the looooong trip…..boracay is really beautiful……bitin ang 2 days…have to go back there……

  8. Rachelle says:

    I did the opposite, went on vacation there before I’d ever heard of it! Loved my two weeks without shoes.

  9. James M. says:

    Kakagaling ko lang din ng Boracay last week, first time ko din makapunta. Seryoso nalungkot ako nung pauwi na ng Manila, parang ayoko ng umalis dun! I love Boracay!

  10. Beth says:

    There’s something about Boracay that your always keep on coming back. :D

  11. Dedee says:

    My first visit was last 2008. we came straight from work to d airport.. Though i was soooo sleepy when we were in d boat, d sparkling sand made me awake and more excited as we approach d island. But when i saw d bed, we remember that we have to sleep so we cud have energy be able to explore. To make it short, we slept most of d time since we were restless and as if it was like r first time to sleep..so I made a promise to myself that on my next visit i will make sure that i will stay longer and be a normal sleeper…..and finally my long wait is over…i will be back with my family and friends (20 total) on d 28th until aug. 1!!! Sooo…excited now! And probably i will still be goin back everytime that there will be promos… 😊😀

  12. Anonymous says:

    Been there twice, cant wait to go there again this year! It is considered costly for a jobless Mom like me but I didnt regret “my butas na bulsa” twice, because Boracay is my addiction hahaha!

  13. John L says:

    I am in Boracay right now..what a craphole..the Phillipine Disneyland , where they charge you 10 times as much for everything..can’t wait to get the hell out of here.

  14. tohellwithhypocrites says:

    i was so disappointed when i visited boracay last year, it was OVERCROWDED and it was not even the peak season. more like a Baclaran with white sand. and to top it all, some of the sewage system and manholes where being cleaned up because it was clogged up. i’d rather be in a secluded beach camping with a tent, a bonfire, and gazing in a moonless night while playing an acoustic guitar somewhere in an island in Leyte. (Cuatro Islas i think)

  15. Marjorie Gavan says:

    You had the same issue as some of my travel companions. I suggested that we take Boracay this year for our summer destination but they refused. Maybe they thought that it’s too mainstream. I honestly didn’t get what they were bitching about and really disappointed me that they judged something that they haven’t even tried. So I found another way to get to Boracay and finally, I did! I went there just last week and I so agree, it is a paradise! And I declare it as my most favorite beach ever. I can’t wait to go back.

  16. Rob Rubina says:

    Just been there last Thursday-Wednesday (April 10-16). I love the sand and the food and the fire dance and the spa at Mandalay Spa. Though I was there because of work, didn’t really get to swim much (just less than an hour) so I plan to go back. Of course it’s a tourist destination so expect the usual nuisance (those manongs who keep on offering boat rides and such) haha. Try the ATV and the zorb, they were fun. Some stuff are too expensive so next time, bring all things possible to lessen things to buy in Boracay :)

  17. CLKCRS says:

    I used to love this place when it was not commercialized (anytime before 2005). I am now one of the many BORACAY HATERS due to our HORRIBLE SAFETY EXPERIENCE.

    Here’s the summary of our 2009 Boracay Experience

    Broken facial bone, face plated held by 6 titanium screws. 5 YEARS POST SURGERY: scarred face, lost sense of taste and smell, constantly twitching left eye – This is our unforgettable experience in this so called beautiful Island of Boracay, Philippines.

    Is it a fun place to go? YES

    Will BORACAY take responsibility for their lack of safety measures? Our experience, NO! – Travelers safety is none of their business!, your money, that is BORACAY’s business.

    If you trip or accidentally slip and fall on their laid out trap like the picture below. They will tell you – “Too damn bad, that’s not our problem, that’s your problem”

    My family visited Boracay in 2009. One evening, my brother who was standing close to the palm tree while I was paying our bill, tripped on a palm tree root and fell, face on, on the metal bar shown below. A metal bar (protruding through the light post) pierced through his left cheek. We managed to head back to our hotel room and called for medical help.

    The resort staff and the attending doctor was very helpful but due to the lack of amenities to properly diagnose the extent of the damage, we had to fly back to our home town to have his condition thoroughly evaluated.
    Went in for a long surgery to place a face plate held by 6 titanium screws.

    5-YEARS POST SURGERY: Partial loss of sense of smell and taste, scarred face, and constantly twitching left eye.

    2009 – We filed a claim to the governing body of Boracay requesting reimbursement for the cost of the treatment.

    BORACAYS Response: It was not their fault. It was apparently my brothers fault for having fun and consuming alcohol. Alcohol that they allowed resorts/restaurants/stores to serve in the island!

    Yeah, shame on you my dear brother. You should have just stayed in our hotel and do nothing after spending thousands of pesos to get to what’s supposed to be “a fun place to be” vacation spot geezzz…….

    Talk about taking responsibility ey? Blaming a tourist for having fun instead of taking responsibility and admitting their mistake. If, they would have cut those metal bars or even “bent” it, my brother would have just gotten a black eye or contusion.

    2009 – Filed a lawsuit.
    BORACAY’s RESPONSE: Delayed tactic (Constantly rescheduling hearings).
    Their play is to force us to give up, drain our bank for paying our atty fee every time they reschedule – little did they know, their actions gave us more reason to pursue them.

    2014 – Finally, a Settlement …. NOT!!!! { borat movie reference :) }

    BORACAY offered a “slap on the face” settlement. If we don’t take it, they will take the case to higher court and we will lose.

    Ohhh, we got so scared I tell you …… NOT!!!!

    OUR RESPONSE: Let’s take it to the higher court.

    No human decency! We felt stepped on, disrespected.This is not all about the money anymore, we lost that a long time ago. It’s RESPECT and DIGNITY! If this would have been offered back in 2009, even though it’s not enough to cover our expenses, we would have taken it, but no, this DISGRACEFUL settlement was offered AFTER 5 YEARS WITH A THREATENING TONE! – We are the government, we can do whatever we want. You are nothing – that’s what we understood from their response.

    We were not treated as human beings by the governing bodies of Boracay during the incident. They played the blaming game pinpointing one department to another on who is responsible for the incident. We investigated and sorted things out ourselves. It is not the resort owner or whoever they want to blame that is at fault but it is the governing bodies of Boracay who is responsible for the safety of their visitors. (Our sincerest thanks to the attending Dr., the resort staff and owner, the island police/guard who helped us through the process and to all those who helped us throughout the process.)

    What if this happened to someone who cannot afford to undergo surgeries to fix the problem? This person would have been walking in the street with distorted face, not able to find a job/ get a better paying job and potentially mocked because of the way he/she will look.

    September 2014 – This is our next hearing date.

    CONSULTED OTHER LAWYERS: We were told that we are fighting against the government hence, we will always be in the losing end. Our best option is to take the settlement amount since we will not win against the government. Wow, just wow right?

    SUCH A DISGRACE TO FILIPINOS and HUMAN RACE!
    What would you have done if you were in our situation, would you have done the same, handled it differently or just gave up?

    http://boracay2009.tumblr.com/

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