Boracay (meh)

Reasons to go:  Partying, beaches, diving (I didn't do any here though)

How to get there: Fly to Caticlan and take a 15 minute ferry.  On arrival at Caticlan airport you buy a ticket which will get you to your final hotel destination, then crammed into a minivan to follow the crowds to the boats which take you out to the slim strip of island that is Boracay.  Allow time for this as it’s not a fast or well-communicated process, and I would actually suggest jumping in a taxi-trike from the port in Boracay to your final destination rather than sharing a shuttle van.

Reasons to go:  If you like crowds, kitesurfing, non stop partying

I have friends who have been to Boracay in years past, and it must have been Eden.  The longest sandy white beach, beautiful clear water, green hills.  Take that image, and savour it.  Now add about 3000 tourists armed with selfie sticks, hundreds of loud beach bars, massage parlours, peddlers, hawkers and lady-boys; a narrow road through the middle of the island crammed with buildings, traffic, bags of rubbish and emaciated dogs and you’ve got a good idea of the seventh level of hell that Boracay has become. 

White beach Boracay - this is towards the north end where there weren't too many tourists

If you want to find peace and quiet and regain your sanity you’ll need to leave the west side and either walk all the way north to Diniwid beach, also good for sunset – Spider House is a quirky funky restaurant with good food and a view, but booking at sunset is recommended.  Sunset on White Beach is horrendous due to the crowds, although if you like people-watching and want to see some irresponsible tourism up close and personal, this is the place, including people flouncing around in the sea in ballgowns.  I did some stand up paddleboarding here and whilst the danger of being run over by a motorboat is a real one, it was a pleasant enough way to kill an hour, and it’s cheap.

Go through the arch to Diniwid Beach, at the north end of White Beach

A few minutes walk from one side to the other will take you to Bulabog beach, where strong winds mean it is idea for kite surfing and there are several to choose from.  This beach doesn’t have the crowds and has a slightly more backpackery feel to it – wish I’d stayed here – and is a good place to have a beer and watch people kitesurfing on the water with their colourful canopies.  Puka Beach is a trike ride to the North.  I walked west along the beach, away from the inflatables and beach bars to the cliffs at the end where there were about 3 people sunbathing.  This is a handy little guide to some of the Boracay Beaches.

Puka Beach

I can’t for the life of me find the name of the hotel I stayed in – all I remember is it’s in Station 2 on the main road, set back slightly.  Somewhat jaded, it’s far enough from the road not to hear the noise but there is construction either side – honestly I’m not sure that anywhere in the Philippines is free from the sound of construction.  It’s as common in Asia as horns, roosters and the whiny mosquito sound of drones.  The staff were lovely, the breakfast was good, and it has a nice pool.  I did have to ask some very sullen Russians to turn down their music at 1am but lived to tell the tale.

This is sunset on White Beach - me and thousands of other people

You can party here, that’s for sure, and Boracay is a 24h party place.  I did go clubbing with 
one of my Malapascua compadres and I must admit it’s a fun night out with good music and spending time with them was one of the highlights, so it definitely wasn’t a wasted trip.