Given that in 2012, Boracay was awarded ‘best island in the world’ from the international travel magazine Travel + Leisure (it came in 2nd in 2013, with Palawan – our previous destination – in 1st); we thought we should probably pay it a visit. The centre of the action in Boracay is a 4km, postcard-perfect stretch of sand beach aptly named ‘White Beach’ and lined with hotels, restaurants, bars, and dive shops. White Beach has been hailed by Yahoo Travel, BMW Tropical Beach Handbook and many others as one of the world’s best beaches. It is immensely popular with beach-loving tourists from all over Asia – most commonly Korea, Taiwan and China. When we found a one-way flight on sale for 25$, combined with a cheap Airbnb, well, we didn’t really have a reason to say ‘no’ to checking out another slice of paradise.
White Beach is split into three stations. Station 1, the northernmost section has the best, most expensive resorts and hotels. The center of White Beach is Station 2 and is the main gathering area for people to eat, shop, and party. Station 3 is quieter and where we found our accommodation. Well, it wasn’t even quite at Station 3 – it was further inland in a very non-touristy, residential area. Let’s just say we were slightly pushed off by the high prices that accompanied the ‘resort-status’ of the area and looked as far away as possible from Station 1.
As it turns out… Boracay isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. It’s touristy – but not as bad as El Nido – and we were expecting it, so that wasn’t the problem. It’s also quite developed, but again, we were expecting it, and thus, not a problem. One of the many thing we weren’t expecting was the beach to be so covered in seaweed that we never went swimming….and it really wasn’t that breath-taking of a beach. Maybe our expectations were just set too high…I mean, it was still pretty beautiful.
Bulabog Beach, opposite White Beach, is not only covered in seaweed but also in kiteboarders and windsurfers. Now, I have nothing against a few kiteboarders but I have no idea how anybody is supposed to enjoy this beach (or how the kiteboarders don’t constantly get tangled up in each other). The obvious draw to the beach is the large waves and strong winds year-round. In fact, Bulabog Beach is considered Asia’s top kitesurfing destination. There’s literally not an open spot to swim or relax on the beach.
In the end, Boracay didn’t end up being the highlight of our trip and it doesn’t even rate in the top 10 of the most beautiful beaches we’ve seen in the world (Varadero, Cuba blows Boracay out of the water). But we still had a great four days!
One of the up-sides of Boracay being developed was that it had an array of expensive restaurants and of course, a Starbucks. And not only did Starbucks have an awesome view but it was air-conditioned. Meaning we went there not once, but multiple times, as much to cool off as for the drinks (very few places are air-conditioned). There was also a small shop on one of the main strips that sold coconut ice-cream, served in a coconut – how genius is that?!
White Beach is lined with (supposedly) romantic paraws (outrigger sailboats) that offer one-hour rides, or rides around the island, all for ridiculous prices. While we never got on board, I did admire the colourful blue sails which looked a lot like large blue tarps; bamboo masts and booms with rigging was so basic, any amateur could have set it up. Not a bad DIY sailboat.
Our Airbnb was a bit out of the way but had a great little kitchen and we got the shared taxi system down – although it’s definitely not encouraged for tourists to use. While Boracay Island has more than a dozen beaches, we didn’t go to any of the far beaches as the only way to get there is to hire a private tricycle and they overcharge an outrageous amount. We were content on exploring White Beach, walking up and down the long stretch of beach between Station 1 and 3 and Bulabog Beach.
On a side note, I’ve seen a lot of flowers and plants in the past year but this particular funky velvety looking flower struck me as odd enough to remember.