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Saturday, July 13, 2024
HomePhilippinesBoracayBoracay: My Favorite Beach in the World, Now Closed

Boracay: My Favorite Beach in the World, Now Closed

I’ve published my Top Ten Lists on a variety of topics from Champagne to Adventures Requiring Liquid Courage. I never put together a top list of beaches because it would take an eternity to setup the parameters for what makes one beach better than another. If I did put that list together, Boracay would be at or near the top. This assumes that the disgusting sewage problem which has resulted in the island’s closure to tourists is resolved. Instead of focusing on that mess, I would like to take this opportunity to write a happy review of the island from my pre-blogging days.

The year was 2009. I was living in Shanghai as part of earning my MBA. Thanks to tactful scheduling, my semester ended the first week of November, leaving me with nothing to do but travel. For Thanksgiving, I decided to go to the Philippines for the first time. To get to Boracay, I flew Cebu Pacific to Manila, arrived early in the morning, and caught the connecting flight to Kalibo. From there, I had to take the hell bus to the water and take a trusty paraw to Boracay, followed by a tuk tuk ride. Here is that journey in pictures:

the wing of an airplane

a wall with a painted sign

a group of men standing on a boat

a group of people on a boat

a boat on the water

a life jacket on a table

a group of people on a boat

a man wearing an orange life jacket
Tad a TPOL
a group of people riding a vehicle
Tuk tuk to hotel

a group of people riding a motorcycle on a road

With no points, I stayed at a small hostel in a private room near White Beach, an appropriate name for a beach that was just that. With no friends, I went on a tour of the island which included snorkeling and a cave straight out of Baywatch. a chalkboard with writing on it

The Beautiful Beach

When you’re in the ocean, focus on the horizon and the immaculately clear water. Do not look at the shore which has destroyed the beauty of the beach. Small shops, restaurants, and bars contaminate what was once an unspoiled paradise. Instead of being upset by the disregard of nature by mankind, enjoy the peaceful bath water experience. There are no waves to bother you, and there are no rocks, seaweed, or coral to mangle your feet.

a beach with palm trees and a body of water
I arrived on a cloudy day.

a person's feet on a beach

a beach with palm trees and umbrellas
But then it was sunny.

a beach with clear water and blue sky

a beach with boats in the water

a group of palm trees on a beach

a shadow of a person on the water

Interfering With Nature 

Everyone appreciates a cup of coffee, but there doesn’t have to be a Starbucks literally on every corner.

a building with palm trees in the background

a man swimming in the water with palm trees in the background

The Island Tour 

I am never excited to go snorkeling until I actually go snorkeling. If you’re in Boracay, snorkeling is a must. Just be sure that no one photobombs your picture. people walking on a rocky cliff by the ocean a body of water with trees and rocks a rock and water with a cave

a man wearing goggles and snorkeling underwater

a man swimming in the water with a mask

a man wearing goggles and diving underwater

Other highlights of the island tour were the caves where the water would rush in, and everyone would hold on until it rushed back out. a cave with waves crashing on rocks a group of people in a cave a group of men in a cave a group of men in a cave a group of people swimming in a cave

The Sunset Cruise 

Be sure to get out early enough for a cruise to see the sun go down. The harbor is full of boats and tourists trying to catch one last glimpse of the sun. This is not to be missed.

a group of sailboats on water

a man sitting on a boat

a sailboat on the water

a group of sailboats on the water

a boat on the water
Goodbye sun

a boat on the water

a sailboat in the ocean

a sailboat in the ocean

The Bars

The nightlife in Boracay is timid. There are a few bars on the beach. They are comparable to what you would find in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

a group of palm trees on a beach


Boracay, get your ‘ish together, literally. Don’t ruin heaven on earth.

a sand castle on a beach



      • Not only the sewage although that’s probably the worse of it. The roads are way too small and congested for the amount of development they had on the island. The drainage system is not adequate that’s why flooding has been a problem. The local government is only collected about 30% of the trash the island produces so the rest stays on the island in an open pit. Resort owners have built structures they were never supposed to build on like forest lands and rock formation. And the sewer system was not designed to handle what the island produces and that’s only counting the establishments hooked up to the system. That doesn’t even include the ones that discharge directly into the ocean. The island will close for 6 months and I hope they can fix all the issues within that time frame.

  1. What a shame. I’ve been wanting to go there and had hoped for next year, even though it’s a huge PITA to get there. Are there any comparable places that you can think of with low prices by US standards and the same impossibly clear water and amazing beach?
    On a separate note, any pointers for Sihanoukville? My wife and I will be there early next year for about a week.
    Lastly, on the same trip, we’re stopping in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year. Never having experienced this, I didn’t know if you might have any suggestions.

    • The island is scheduled to open Oct of this year. But if you’re not sure about Boracay, Palawan is definitely a great alternative. Never been to Bohol or Cebu but from what I see in pictures, their beaches are also great.

  2. I’m actually ok with the govenment closing the island for 6 months. It is sad that most of the employees on the island won’t have a job while the island is closed to tourists but it had to be done. It teaches the greedy businesses and corrupt local officials not to f**k around with the environmental laws or this will happen. It also shows other towns in the Philippines what could happen if they don’t enforce the environmental laws that are designed the protect the very things that makes them money. I’m sure Boracay will bounce back from this.

  3. Some of the reporting on this is off the mark:
    First off , sewage isn’t everywhere – a lot of small, non-permitted businesses and residences connected to the storm drainage system instead of the sewage system, resulting in sewage going straight into the sea on the Eastern side, Bulabog Beach, not on famous White Beach.
    That DOES have to get fixed by enforcing existing laws (and punishing corrupt local officials and police in the process). But the PHL government did an “act first, think later” on this one – the impact on local workers as well as visitors and tourism in general is huge – and this won’t be “fixed” in six months – it’s the Philippines, nothing major gets done in 6 months!
    39,000 people will have no income and won’t know how to feed their families; tour groups are being redirected to secondary destinations (thanks!) and independent travelers are left to recover the funds for their vacations – good luck getting your money back!
    The Philippines has lots of nice beaches as an alternative, although not as well developed. If you have plans to visit between now and June, consider Coron, Palawan or Bohol. All are just as beautiful, but not as developed. If you are going July through October, consider Siargao in the South. It actually has its dry season at that time, while Boracay and the rest of the Visayas has their rainy season and I wouldn’t recommend going there anyaway!
    I live in the Philippines and have followed this closely. You can find updates and where to go instead on my blog:

    • Usually, I erase comments where people link to their blog but this is actually useful info and not self-promoting. Thank you for sharing.

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