From its powdery white sand, blue water and fabulous sunset to a wide variety of beach activities, and a great selection of bars and restos, no wonder Boracay Island is the most popular beach destination in the Philippines.
With the recent reopening of the island from rehabilitation closure, is it still worth visiting?
February 2009 was the first time I came to this island with friends for a few days of vacation. We stayed in small cozy inn/resort made of bamboo. There were sand arts in every station welcoming tourists, poi dancing at night, henna tattooing and hair braiding.
The restaurants were mostly Pinoy and the only food chain we could find was Andoks. You were sikat then if you stayed at La Carmella — the popular resort back then. Everything seemed nice except that some establishments were near the sea and a few were even nearer.
And that was my memory of Boracay.
Tourism in Boracay already boomed back then, but nobody really thought about how the island would be more exploited with the increasing number of tourists coming every day.
The headlines about rehabilitating the island promised so much to the tourists. Visiting it became so hyped after reopening, especially for those who haven’t been there yet.
Last March, I came back, this time with family as my uncle wanted to celebrate his 60th birthday there. I still recognized Caticlan Port though a lot of things already seemed to have improved.
In Boracay, the white sand is still the finest and most powdery I’ve ever seen. There’s no need for aqua shoes exploring the shores, but other than that, the island looked more like a community of resorts and mall with establishments, bars and restos serving different cuisines side by side. And there are a lot of ongoing construction everywhere.
My siblings and in-laws went for Helmet Diving (it cost P1000, cheaper than 2009) and saw ruins of some coral reefs. There is only one coral reef in the helmet diving area and that is where tourists take pictures. Yes, they were able to see fishes just because the guide was feeding them. I really wonder how the island looked before the rehabilitation.
I did enjoy the vacation because I was with family. My son is the happiest on the beach and I didn’t need to worry that he might step on some rocks on the shore as there was none at all. The sunset is still lovely, save for the fact that we shared it with a lot of other people so it was impossible to have a clean photo.
Would I come back a third time? Not any time soon. There are a lot of underrated beaches and islands in the Philippines that I haven’t been to and besides, the island still needs a decent break.