If there’s one place in the Philippines everyone in the world knows about, it’s Boracay – a small island known for powdery white sand, crystal clear blue waters, and raving parties from dusk till dawn. It’s long been hailed as the party island in what paradise looks like for most people. For a place that’s only spanning around 10 square kilometers, Boracay is one of the liveliest places in the Philippines.
Boracay Under Rehabilitation
It’s the same reason why Boracay was closed in April 2018. The influx of tourists took a toll on the once idyllic island. Beach fronts were taken over by commercial establishments, shores became strewn with peddlers, and the water, while miraculously still a bright shade of blue, became dangerously polluted from mismanagement of sewerage and disposal systems. The island was given time to breathe and went through massive rehabilitation for six months. Many resorts were also penalized and forced to close due to numerous violations of environmental laws and regulations.
In October 2016, the island was opened again. It’s still deemed as a “soft opening” as rehabilitation efforts are still under way. Strict controls have been imposed upon entering the islands as well, and many activities that used to lure thousands of tourists are now banned until further notice.
It may sound glum, but Boracay is slowly being restored to its former glory. While you won’t be partying the night away anymore, it’s still one of the best places to visit in the Philippines. In fact, many tourists might even prefer Boracay this way.
Visiting the “New” Boracay
Before packing your bags and jetting off to paradise, there are very important rules you need to know to keep yourself out of trouble.
- Only 19,000 tourists are welcome to stay on the island at any given time
- Only 6,405 tourists per day are allowed to enter the island
- Availability of hotel rooms will be reduced from 12,000 to 6,000-9,000
- Tourists may be required to present hotel reservations before entering the island
- You can only book from Department of Tourism-accredited hotels. You can find the list here
- No smoking and alcoholic beverages along White Beach (main beach area of Boracay)
- Dining on the beach is prohibited
- Beachfront parties are now banned
- Sand castles (a big attraction in Boracay) will be regulated
- Shops and hawkers/peddlers are banned from peddling their goods on the beach
- Fire dancing with kerosene lamps are prohibited
- Casinos are banned on the island
I know what you’re thinking – so what’s left to do in Boracay?
Things to do in Boracay
It may look like a lot of rules, but this means a more serene and much cleaner island to spend your vacation days. Most of the activities will be limited within the premises of accredited hotels and establishments, and the beach will be left for simply lounging around and swimming.
But like many parts of the Philippines, Boracay is a nature haven. Aside from the world-famous White Beach, there are many land activities and neighboring islands to explore. From being a party island, Boracay is now a chilled-out family-friendly paradise perfect for a peaceful getaway.
- Boracay beaches
- Allowed activities
The island is very small and you can technically squeeze everything in one or two days. But that’s not the point, is it? Read on to know how you can make the most out of your stay in Boracay.
The fastest way to get to Boracay is by plane. There are two airports you can land in.
Via Caticlan Airport
Landing in Caticlan Airport is the most convenient way to reach Boracay. Upon arrival, take any of the tricycles waiting outside the airport and head to the port. All it takes is 10 minutes and USD 1. From the port, you will pay a terminal fee of USD 2, environmental fee of USD 1.50; and the boat fare of USD 2. You’ll arrive at Cagban Jetty Port in Boracay and you can take a private van or a tricycle to your hotel anywhere in the island.
Via Kalibo Airport
A flight to Kalibo Airport is a lot more affordable than to Caticlan. Kalibo Airport also services direct flights to Malaysia and Korea if you need to connect to an international flight. However, it’s a 2-hour van ride away from the port to Boracay. Upon arrival, there are many van operators that offer a package transportation deal of van and boat fare of USD 5. Once at the Caticlan port, you’ll just have to pay for the terminal and environmental fees.
The most popular beach in Boracay is White Beach. It’s a long stretch of white sand lined with bars and restaurants. This used to be where all the action is, but with the new rules of Boracay, it’s become as serene as the other beaches on the island. Yes, there are other beaches, and they’re all worth visiting, too.
White Beach is a 4-km stretch of powdery white sand and bright blue waters. It’s the main area of all of Boracay where most of the resorts, restaurants, and water activities are found.
Puka Beach is 800 m long where you have the ocean on one side and a cliff and forest on the other. The sand is not as powdery as White Beach due to the corals mixed in the side. It also used to be filled with puka shells, thus the name. Here you’ll see a few stores and some kayaks, but it’s definitely a lot less crowded than White Beach. The water depth also drops significantly as you get farther from the shore, so swimmers are advised to be careful.
On the opposite side of the island from White Beach is Bulabog Beach. It’s become very famous for wind and kite surfing from April to November. Due to the rehabilitation of the island, however, these activities are suspended until further notice.
Just 3 minutes from White Beach is the small patch of Diniwid Beach. This is the best spot to watch the sunset.
This is the only beach in Boracay with a thriving marine life. You can actually snorkel in this area, though a bit of swimming is involved. The corals can be found about 25 meters from the shore.
Ilig Iligan Beach
There are no developments here, which makes it an appealing escape within Boracay. However, that means this area is a little bit more rugged and wild. Adventurous swimmers enjoy this beach as there are many rocks, little caves, and forests to get through.
Balinghai Beach only shows itself during low tide. It’s a private beach owned by Balinghai Beach Resort, and they arrange private meals right by the water when the time is right.
Due to the rehabilitation of the island, there are a lot of activities that are suspended until further notice. Here’s a quick list of what you CAN do:
- Helicopter Beach Tour
- Mermaid Lessons
- Segway Tours
- Jet Ski
- Horseback Riding
- Banana Boat
- Stand up Paddle
- Yacht and Paraw Sailing
- Freediving (Scuba Diving is temporarily suspended)
For a full list and assistance on accredited services and tour operators, check out the Department of Tourism’s official MyBoracayGuide.