The paradise island of Boracay.
The wee Island of Boracay is situated off the northwest region of Panay island in the western Visayas region of the Philippines and roughly about 195 miles south of the capital, Manila. Boracay is renouned for its white beaches and amazing sunset that are postcard perfect. As the island of Boracay is too small to have its own airport, getting to the the island of Boracay can be a treck depending on which airport you fly into. The two airports closest to Boracay are Caticlan airport and Kalibo airport. The former caters to only premium airlines and the latter to budget airlines. During this trip we flew to Kalibo as we decided to go with a budget airline, but the airport is also much further from the jetty to get a boat to the island of Boracay. In order to get to Boracay we had to get a bus from the airport to the jetty and then a boat to Boracay followed by another bus to the hotel. In total the journey took close to 3 hours so do take note that you would loose half a day on your journey to and from Boracay if you decide to fly into Kalibo airport. In order to make your journey to Boracay as seamless as possible I would recommend you book your transport before your arrival. We booked our transport through myboracayguide.com as they provided free transport to your hotel and you only pay for the return journey if you book your hotel through them as well. myboracayguide.com would have a representative to meet you at the airport and ensure that you have all the relevant tickets for the bus and boat as well as making sure that you are picked up at an allocated time for the return journey in order get to the airport with ample time to spare.
In recent years Boracay has increasingly become one of Philippines' most popular tourist location as a result of Travel + Leisure magazine voting it to be the second best island destination in the world behind Palawan in 2013. In return this has created an intense growth and development in the wee Island of Boracay to cater to the influx of tourist from all over the world.
The rapid growth and development of Boracay has its both positives and negatives. The growth has brought an abundance of jobs for the local community and everywhere you go on the island you would notice that hotels, restaurants and shops are advertising to recruit more staff members. What I observed was that the growth has been too rapid for this Island to handle and there is not enough infrastructure to cope with the influx of tourist. Especially when it comes to dealing with waste and the displacement of locals to make way for resorts and hotels. Local villiages were only seen along back roads and landfills were located close to the villages, hidden behind dense forrestation away from sight of hotels and resorts. Don't get me wrong, Boracay is a beautiful island to visit, but I strongly feel that both locals and tourists have a big part to play in relation to respecting the land and environment as well as local culture and identity, in order for all of us to continue to enjoy the beautiful island and its beautiful white sand beaches in years to come.
The most crowded areas of the Island are stations 1,2 and 3 on the west side. This is where you would go to find most of the hotels, restaurants, bars and shops. These areas are where you are most likely to go to for your meals unless you are willing to pay the exorbitant prices to eat in a hotel. Along stations 1,2 and 3 there will also be plenty of locals offering sea activities, massages and souvenirs so do remember to shop around to get the best deals and if you are unwilling to accept the offers, do still acknowledge them as you will soon notice how friendly and polite the locals are and they are only trying to making a living. Although the area is constantly crowded, it is also one of the best places on Boracay to experience a beautiful sunset as the beach is facing west. The other place that you would catch a beautiful sunset is on Mt. Luho which is the highest point of the island with an observation deck that you have to pay a fee to access.
If you prefer a slower and quieter pace of life while on Boracay, I do recommend that you book your accommodation on the northern or eastern coast where the beaches are much quieter but also windier and the seas are much choppier compared to station 1,2 and 3. We were very fortunate to have access to a private beach that was linked to our hotel on the eastern coast. However, the quietness of both these areas might be coming to an end soon as development has started in these areas known as Boracay newcoast. We were informed by staff at the hotel we were staying at that, within the next 5 years, there will be luxury apartments, resorts, a casino and a hospital built on the northern and eastern areas to attract and accommodate more tourists to the island. In time we will be able to tell what impact such developments bring to locals and the island itself but I do hope that Boracay will be able to maintain and keep some of its charm of being a bit rustic and rough around the edges, and not become too commercialised.