Boracay is a great place if you’re looking for a low-cost, fun place to have a tropical island vacation. The beaches are gorgeous, the nightlife is fun, and there are opportunities everywhere for adventures.
If you Google Boracay, Philippines, you’ll find a whiny article on the first page describing it as “the worst tourist trap evarrr”.
Since it’s hip in the travel blog-scene to hate on popular, touristy destinations, don’t let that fool you. There’s a lot to like about the place.
I enjoyed every second of the beach lifestyle, the wonderful weather, the gorgeous views, the nice food, the partying, and the crystal clear water.
Like any place you go to, it’s all about managing your expectations.
Of course the main beaches are going to be crowded, of course everyone will try to rip you off and sell you plastic crap, and of course the main places will be overrun by Chinese tourists and drunk assholes.
If you’re looking for a deep, meaningful, experience that will change your life, mannnn, there’s a slim chance you’ll find it here.
If you’re looking for a place to have some laid-back fun, enjoy constant sunshine every day, and basically live like Hunter S. Thompson in The Rum Diary (read it, it’s brilliant), this is a good place for it.
Food and especially booze costs very little here, and it’s always five o’ clock somewhere on Boracay. Many tourists pick up in the morning where they left off the day before, and that isn’t strange or inappropriate here. No one bats an eye when you have a Corona with your breakfast.
Once the sun starts sinking into the horizon, a general vibe of debauchery rises up. Instead of selfie-sticks, bracelets, and plastic necklaces, panhandlers will try to drag you into night clubs and sell you drugs.
Stick around long enough, and the hookers start to come out. The ladyboys are the ones getting the most attention, because they demand it through aggression. As you walk by, they’ll straight-up grab you and try to pull you aside.
I saw one drunken British guy getting his ass kicked by five ladyboys after he shoved one of them to the ground after he got his crotch grabbed. That was some funny shit. It was right in front of a busy bar, too, and all of his friends were literally falling over laughing while watching it. Luckily a security guard showed up and sent everyone on their way.
And that’s the kind of stuff you’ll find in a place like this.
It’s a little bit crazy. It’s a little bit out of control. Law and order has different meaning here when it’s present at all. It’s probably not the safest place in the world. But, it’s easy to have fun here, and you’ll have a bag filled with memories by the time you’ll leave, for sure.
Photos from Boracay, the Philippines
If you go out of your way to find the nice, quiet parts, you will find them. There are several stunning beaches all over the island, and this is also where you’ll meet locals and the more curious travelers. On a side-note, if you don’t go out of your way to find the best places wherever you are, you’re doing it wrong.
Puka shell beach
This beach is a 15-minute tuk-tuk ride away from the main beach. $2 to get there.
Ilig Iligan Beach
This beach is another 5 minutes away. There’s almost no-one here. Paradise. Try to keep this one a secret.
Nightlife in Boracay
The color of the water here is something else.
We also took a boat to another island called Caticlan. It was definitely more rural than Boracay, and the reality of where we really were shined through more than ever.
Boracay: a third-world beach destination
Make no mistake, despite the beautiful beaches, nice hotels and resorts, there’s no getting around the poverty and misery that comes with any third world country.
The further you get away from the main tourist areas, the more you’ll see the reality of it. Many people live in shacks, you’ll see stray dogs everywhere, and there’s a general sense of lawlessness and chaos. As a rule of thumb, you always take a taxi/tuk-tuk if you travel from place to place, especially at night.
Coming from Western civilization, it takes some getting used to, for sure. You’ll be fine if you keep your eyes open, walk tall, trust your gut, and don’t do anything stupid. In the end, these are also just people living their lives.
Tricycle-taxi’s aren’t factory-built vehicles. They’re basically a motorcycle with a sidecar welded to it, and the drivers drive those things HARD. The engine, clutch, and brakes are constantly pushed way beyond what they were designed for, and yet they just keep on going. Honda makes a solid motorcycle.
Would I recommend you visiting Boracay?
The answer is: definitely. As long as you’ve got the right mindset, you can have a great time here.
The beaches are beautiful, the people are generally friendly, there is plenty of stuff to do, and you can party like a rock-star without breaking the bank. San Miguel, the local beer, is really nice, too. Reminded me of Corona.
If you need to wind down in a different kind of place, Boracay is nice to spend a week or so.