Going back to Boracay

It’s crowded. There are so many people in the small island that there’s even moderate vehicular traffic along the small main road behind the beachfront properties, which would have been unthinkable decades ago. And should that make you shake your head in disbelief, you can get some comfort from a cheeseburger in McDonald’s or a latte in Starbucks. Okay, time to pick up your jaw from the sand, Boracay-visitors-from-long-ago. Oh, let’s not forget the lumot (algae) that stain the clear waters particularly in the summer months when the tourists come in droves. With so many people jostling for a piece of this paradise, it’s easy to tell yourself, I won’t ever go back. I shouldn’t have gone back.

A little part of White Beach

How can you not go back to this? Early morning when the crowds are still nowhere to be seen on White Beach.

But then I find myself standing in the water, digging my feet into the white, soft sand below, and (my back to the shore and the lumot) staring at the stretch of different shades of blue before me–from the sea to the sky. And in spite of everything I fall in love with this small island all over again and wonder what took me so long to go back.

Out of the 7,100-plus islands in the Philippines, Boracay is not the only one that boasts a white beach. (This gallery shows  some less-touristy islands in the country that are also worth the visit.) But it is one of the handful of islands in the country that has gained recognition from several international travel publications and websites. And with the fame came the crowds, and with the crowds came development. Massive development.

A lot has changed. People talk about how back in the 1980s, it didn’t have electricity or there was only one resort or how the island was so hard to get to. (The city girl in me though has to admit that I rather like electricity and organized means of transportation.) But you don’t even have to look back that far. Every time I’ve gone back in the last 15 years, there are always more resorts being built, more restaurants and bars, even more modes of transportation. And did I mention more people?

During the  most recent trip to the island last week for a friend’s wedding, another friend kept saying it would be the last time he would go to Boracay. I understand where he’s coming from, though I wasn’t going to make any similar sort of promise. Maybe, I wouldn’t go back anytime soon just because there are more than enough tourists nowadays who make their way to the small island and there are other islands in the country’s 7,100-plus to explore. It’s always good to spread the tourism love, anyway.

But if you do find yourself in Boracay, and you miss those days when you can have a little part of the beach all to yourself, or when the water remains so clear you almost can’t tell where it starts to kiss the shore, here are a few tips: (1) Go during low season (from June to October, though be warned this is also monsoon season). (2) If you must head off during the summer months of March to May, stay in Station 3, which is far from the high concentration of bars, restos and shops and has (hooray!) less lumot (at least when we were there). (3) Or find a quiet, beach-all-to-yourself (and 10 others vs. and a hundred others) moment when you swim and sunbathe before breakfast.

Of course, these are suggestions of a woman who’s asleep before midnight and whose last party-until-the-sun-rises in Boracay was 15 years ago when I first set foot there and fell in love with the island. So scratch the last couple of sentences if you’re heading to Boracay to party (an activity that apparently the island remains very good at) because this means you probably welcome the crowds and you won’t be waking up before breakfast to enjoy the beach in relative peace.

The view from the balcony of our resort, Arwana

The view from the balcony of our resort (Arwana) in Station 3 along White Beach (FYI, this part of the island had the reputation of not being ‘hip enough’ since when development started most of the nicer resorts and bars and shops went to Stations 1 and 2. But I love it that it relatively has less crowds compared to the other Stations or areas of White Beach)

White Beach, Boracay

The sand along White Beach is talcum soft and it always stays cool under your feet

boracay_sail

Find the best seat in the beach

Shake from Jonah's

Or stay under the shade and sip a glass of shake from local shake stop, Jonah’s

Take one of the small boats to go around the island

You can also take one of the small boats to go around the island.

Or instead of a regular tricycle, ride this electric PUV. Cheaper and better for the environment

Or instead of a regular tricycle, ride this electric PUV. Cheaper and better for the environment

Sunset in Asya

At the wedding reception in Asya Premier Suites at the far-end of Station 3

And there are the sunsets

And there are the sunsets. Don’t forget your drink.

How to get to Boracay: Enter via Kalibo International Airport, which services flights to and from Manila, Clark, Cebu, Davao and international destinations Incheon, Busan, Shanghai, Chengdu, Taipei, Beijing and Hong Kong. From Kalibo, take an hour and a half bus ride to Caticlan Jetty Port, and take a 15-minute boat ride to Boracay Island. You can also enter via the smaller Caticlan Airport, then take a quick tricycle ride to the port for the boat ride. You can arrange transfers with your resort although there are also services you can avail from the airport.

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12 thoughts on “Going back to Boracay

  1. Those photos show a gorgeous beach but I can imagine having to negotiate a huge crowd of people to get to them is a pain! That’s why it’s best to be an early-riser. Sleep before midnight is a must for me as well but seeing the world just as it wakes up is perfect and I bet sunrise on one of those beaches is beautiful.

    • Sadly, I’m only an early riser when I am on vacation. I just wake up around 6 am and sometimes even in time for sunrise. Must be the excitement of being on a trip…that or age. 😉 Yeah, the beaches here are beautiful in spite of the crowd. (So come over after your trip to Japan, hehe)

  2. Tumpak! Talcum-soft sand, love that. And like you, I now appreciate the magic of having the beach all to myself in the early hours (my party days are obviously over). Something else you told me before says it best: Boracay is like a bad relationship–you say you don’t want anything to do with it anymore, but once you’re in it again, you remember why you fell in love in the first place…

    • Oh, those party days, aren’t we lucky there wasn’t any Facebook at the time. ThanktheLord!
      Hihi, Boracay the bad relationship… you just want to NOT like it anymore but it still has its charms! Damnit!
      (Btw, can I hear you say ‘tumpak’ when we see each other?)

      • I knew it was going to be crowded. I know I’d hate the tourists. knew it was going to be sizzling hot. I even knew it would be “lumot”-y. But dammit, I miss Bora! And I wish I was there with you guys during Mela’s epic of a wedding! But thanks for this post — it’s almost as good as being there! (And seconded on the “tumpak”, Pierra! 😉

  3. Reblogged this on Sleepwalking and commented:
    I wasn’t able to go to a friend’s wedding held in Boracay island, and this blog post about life in the island has me wishing I was there — modern sprawl, hordes of tourists and algae notwithstanding.

  4. We wished you were there with us too! The trip was tiring but worth it. Boracay still held a bit of magic and the wedding was fun. Karen said Liza didn’t get to tell you about the garter ‘toss’? Hehe.

  5. Not a fan of the beer-swilling hordes, backpackers on their gap year intent on being their stupidest selves (no, you don’t jump off a cliff or try fire poi dancing in an embarrassing state of inebriation, it’s just not done!), and rubbish floating everywhere 😦 .

    But I find it hard to imagine anyone being proof to its wildly dramatic sunsets, powdery sands, and aquamarine waters. These things NEVER grow old. 😉

    I love how Asya Premiere is all light-filled and lushly green. Such wide open spaces! And their Happy Hour starts at 3 pm, did you know? 😀

    • Hey Mariella, yes those things never get old! And thankfully, there wasn’t any rubbish floating in the water (Boracay now forbids drinking, eating and smoking along the beach… lessens the chances of an intoxicated tourist throwing his beer bottle in the water, yikes!)
      Asya Premiere is sooooo pretty…wished I stayed there but way over my budget, haha! And I didn’t know Happy Hour starts at 3 pm there. What a great idea! 🙂

  6. Really? That is great to hear. 🙂 🙂 I wonder now why nobody thought of it sooner. I remember the last time I was there, plastic water bottles, candy wrappers, and junk food foil packaging kept me company while swimming. 😦

    Asya Premiere is super pretty, I agree. 🙂 Hardly anyone used the huuuuuge pool when we were there. You see other guests at brekkie and you go about your merry way and do not see them again until… brekkie the following day. 🙂 I stayed there on the cheap(ish) though. They had a half-off B&B offer a year or so ago. Brilliant deal!

  7. Hi there! Stumbled upon your blog about the restos in Maginhawa, and this. Thanks for reminding me about Boracay’s true beauty. Lived and worked there for 13 years, and it still has its charms (I just ignore the crowds during peak season). Been away for 3 months now and starting to miss it …

    • Hi Geri, wow, you lived there for 13 years? I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in a place like Boracay. The beach just there… and your ‘neighborhood’ often swarmed with tourists.
      Btw, hope you found what you needed to know about Maginhawa 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!

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