Boracay is a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time now. With family living about thirty minutes away (by plane) I had no excuse not to go this time around. And I’m so glad I did, because it really is as beautiful as the pictures convey it to be. Granted, it is teeming with tourists (myself included) but when you stand on the white sand beaches with the shallow, warm, turquoise water gently lapping at your feet, you begin to understand why. I feel that the Philippines is often overlooked as a destination, but with an archipelago made up of over 7000 islands filled with beautiful beaches and so many activities, it really shouldn’t be.
There are two airports within close proximity to the Island: Caticlan & Kalibo. Travelling to Caticlan will allow you to save time as it’s only a 10 minute drive from the port where you can catch a boat to Boracay. You can also get to Boracay by travelling to Kalibo airport, it’s a 2 hour car journey away from the port, but the flight prices are usually cheaper. If you choose the latter you will find that there are plenty of shuttle buses waiting outside the airport which will drive you to the port. Catching a ride with one of these will cost you roughly 200 pesos (approx £2.85) per person. I think the government has recognised the recent influx of tourists heading to Boracay, so they’ve resurfaced most of the road to make the journey a lot smoother.
Regardless of which airport you choose to fly to, everyone will have to catch a boat from the port. There are 3 small payments you will have to make: a payment for the boat, an environmental fee and a terminal fee - all together these shouldn’t exceed 500 pesos (£7.10 approx.).
After getting off of the boat you can catch a tricycle (one of the Philippines’ main modes of transport) down the main road to your hotel. We went in October which is considered low-peak season so we decided to find a hotel while we we there. Surprisingly for a relatively small island there was a lot of choice! There is definitely something to accommodate all budgets and most hotels are usually less than a 5 minute walk to the beach.
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Due to a surge in tourism and, therefore, environmental concerns, Boracay was recently closed for 6 months to undergo a period of restoration and restructuring. It has since re-opened but is still a working progress. To preserve and maintain its current ecological state, new rules for visitors have been implemented since this post was last published. A summary of some of the key changes have been outlined below.
According to local news, tourists must now have proof of their hotel booking before visiting the island - the accommodation must also be part of a list that complies with the new rules. You can no longer just get on a boat to the island and make a booking on the day like you could before. So far, it has been reported that approximately 400 hotels have been closed due to the environmental concerns they raised.
For such a small island, Boracay had far exceeded its capacity for the amount of tourists it could accommodate in recent years. This ultimately put strain on the island's little resources and infrastructure which has consequently led to the sewage systems overflowing and excessive amounts of litter building up. The government has, therefore, also restricted travel from Airlines and Boats going within the vicinity as a means of reducing the number of visitors. Since its re-opening the amount of visitors allowed on the island at any one time has now been capped at 19,200. Previously at its peak, the island was drawing crowds of up to 70,000.
Water sport activities have also been temporarily halted due to concerns about their effect on the local marine life, an assessment of this is currently in progress. The shorelines of the beaches have also been cleared through the removal of vendors/activity touters, masseurs, bonfires and sand castles. Smoking and drinking on the beach are also banned and now have newly designated areas.