Why You Shouldn’t Travel Boracay In The Philippines (Seriously)

travel Boracay

I know, I know, when your blogging about travel you should be trying to focus on the positive side of things, always looking for stuff to inspire others to get out travelling, but with travel Boracay you just come across places which are so terrible you just can’t do that.

I wasn’t initially going to write about this however there is far too much hype about Boracay online.

Let me say first that this post will appeal to those adventurous backpackers out there, which is mostly what my travels are and what this website is about.

If you are a tourist that is on a one week vacation then I totally understand why you would appreciate Boracay for its easiness, although there are plenty of better places to go in The Philippines, such as Palawan.

Here’s a bit of background leading up to why Boracay is, excuse the language, absolute shite.

(Update 2019) Boracay closed – Boracay was even closed for several months in 2018 due to the sewage buildup in the sea and over-tourism.

Just goes to show how bad it got. Hopefully for the future they will find a way to protect the natural beauty of the place while also allowing holiday makers to enjoy it.

 


 

Why You Shouldn’t Travel Boracay

 

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A quick backstory.

I remember reading The Beach‘ by Alex Garland when first heading to Thailand back in 1998 (the later movie based on the book is shit), my first time backpacking in Asia.

It tells about finding the perfect beach paradise where backpackers hang out away from the over-developed islands.

I searched around the islands in Thailand but many were already destroyed by tourism.

Then a little whisper passed on by a few long term backpackers: head to Indonesia, that’s where you will find the good beaches.

A couple mentioned a chilled out little island called Pulau Weh in the north of Sumatra. So that was it, a mission.

The only problem was that you had to pass through a semi war-zone in Aceh Province to get there!

 

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Myself and two other travellers headed down to Penang, took a ferry across to Medan in Indonesia and jumped the next bus for a 12 hour drive up to Banda Aceh, the main city in Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra.

En-route we were enjoying ourselves and chatting away until we saw an overturned bus just like ours riddled with bullet holes on the side of the road.

Welcome to Aceh 1998.

Luckily the situation was improving and tourists were not the target of the rebels, who were more interested in fighting the government soldiers.

Plus we were going to an island away from it all. Arriving in Banda Aceh we didn’t waste time and were soon on a boat to Pulau Weh.

There are a few main small towns on the island which we had no interest in whatsoever, heading to the beach recommended to us away from almost everything.

Excited after the long travel we reached our destination and although not perfect, it was much better than anything seen in Thailand.

A small white sand beach with just a few travellers.

Staying in simple wooden huts, eating fresh seafood caught by local fishermen, snorkelling the unspoilt coral gardens, taking wooden canoes around tiny offshore islands before free diving with reef sharks, smoking weed in a hammock on the porch of the hut while monkeys scrambled around, and spent around $10 a day for the whole lot.

It was living the dream. Especially for a young 21 year old.

It was the kind of place where there was only electricity for a few hours a day, and you had to wash by pulling a bucket up from a well before pouring it over yourself.

There were around ten travellers there and most of us ended up staying for a month.

That is what adventurous backpackers should be looking for: escaping the crowds.

I only have one photo from Pulau Weh, given to me by one of the backpackers after we left the island and she got her film printed.

It only shows some of the travellers, but it’s all I have.

 

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I may do a longer write up about that adventure in more detail in the future, but now back to the main topic at hand here.

 


 

Why You Shouldn’t Visit Boracay 

 

Lets look at Boracay for the backpacker out there or just a general traveller.

I knew even before going that I would hate the place. So why go then you may ask?

Well I was travelling with two friends at the time and they sort of wanted to check it out as you hear all over about this ‘white sand paradise island’.

So I went along, as when you travel with friends you make compromises sometimes on what you see.

Indeed Boracay is famous and has won the worlds most beautiful island award, or whatever the fuck it’s called, a few times now.

Sounds great doesn’t it?

It isn’t. At all.

Oh sure you have that big white sand beach you see on the postcard, but it’s what comes with it that is disgusting.

I knew it would be bad, but even then I was in shock at what I saw.

This once beautiful place is now a concrete disaster. Restaurant after restaurant after bar after bar, with dozens of hotels in-between stretching down the length of the beach.

There is no respite from it.

With that comes hundreds, most likely thousands of people. It was so busy on the main thoroughfare on top of the beach that you bump into people sometimes, it’s that busy.

Techno music blaring out onto the beach while people dance in the sea.

Not the peaceful paradise that you dream about when you think of island life.

(Update 2018) -they have apparently stopped the 24 hour partying on the island now. Thankfully!

The big brands are there: McDonalds, Starbucks.

For me having those is more than enough to get me the hell out of the place. 

Walking along the beach and finding some McDonalds litter in the beautiful white sand pretty much summed the place up for me.

I was so disgusted with the whole thing that I didn’t even take pictures.

We heard that there were some quieter beaches in another area, but where we were is what Boracay is famous for, that long white beach, and that’s why people visit.

Thankfully we only stayed one full day there before getting the hell out. I was depressed upon leaving and I’m a very positive up-beat guy. Obviously not depressed because I was sad to go, but because of what happened to what was once paradise.

Like I said before at the start, if you are short on time then Boracay is easy and I understand why you would be curious to check out that beach.

But for long term travellers there is no reason to go there at all as you have the time and energy to find more chilled out places that haven’t been devastated by over-development.

 

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Devastated is a strong word, but that’s what it is. Along with the islands in Thailand, and for sure other places, rampant un-thought out development is ruining them, and has been for a long time.

The other sad part is the thought that “Well at least the local people are benefiting from it”. Are they?

The in-famous backpacker hangout called Hat Rin Beach in Thailand, full of travellers trashing the beach at full moon parties is terrible. And many of the businesses there are run by the Thai Mafia, not the local people.

Indeed anywhere there is the potential for a lot of money to be made, criminal activity will try and get a slice of the profit, often at the detriment of the community.

Now I don’t know if that’s the case in Boracay as I didn’t hang around to research in detail, but I would not be surprised if there was at least some element involved, never-mind big businesses away from the island most likely buying up property there.

Also many travellers in these kind of places act like completely disrespectful assholes to the locals.

Tourism is growing and naturally places are going to be developed for them, but it can be done in a sustainable way where it isn’t just a free for all build as much as you can culture.

I’m not against development, it’s just natural that it will happen, and it’s impossible to be always ‘off the beaten path’.

 I’m against OVER-development.

I still thankfully know islands and beaches way away from any tourism that can be enjoyed. But for how long?

Maybe as travellers and bloggers instead of fawning and over-hyping places such as Boracay and other islands in Thailand, often for selfish reasons, we can look for more eco friendly and sustainable areas, ones in which helps protect the local environment and culture.

You know some friends heading to Thailand asked me for advice on islands there that were chilled out. I honestly couldn’t say because I hadn’t been since 2004 and had no idea which ones had been built up.

But I remembered a little island for them in a national park in the far south-west. It was the kind of place where you went to the fishing village and a local woman would cook up a massaman curry for you in her home.

I went to Google Maps to show them where it was and upon zooming in on the island discovered that there is now a resort built with a swimming pool and other developments.

And that was around a ‘national park’.

Just goes to show…

 


 

Boracay Travel

 

You may ask why trust my opinion?

Well I’ve been at this travel game for over 20 years now and have learned a lot.

I can only imagine what it must be like for those travellers that have been around since the 70’s and 80’s. What changes they must have seen.

Far more than me.

This post will most likely be buried way down in Google Search, with all the ‘How great is Boracay’ posts at the top of results.

I could easily just write crap about how great Boracay is, that’s better for my blog as people love that stuff.  But I tell it like it is with no sugar coating.

And I’m sure I will get some haters for this post as Boracay is a popular destination, but I don’t care.

If just one adventurous backpacker who was thinking of going to Boracay changed there mind from reading this, then it’s all good.

Let’s help protect our environment and cultures.

It should also be noted that I have nothing against the Philippines, just Boracay.

In fact the photos in this post saying ‘Not Boracay’ are taken in the Philippines on Palawan Island.

Palawan and Coron Island make a much better option if you’re looking for beaches, diving, adventure activities. 

This is my recommended 2 weeks itinerary for Palawan and Coron.

Also Apo Reef in the Philippines is one such place where they are protecting the environment well.

Check out my post on what to pack for travel in South-East-Asia.

Nearby Bohol tourist hotspots are also a great alternative option.

 

What do you think about overdevelopment?

 

If you liked this article about travel Boracay (why you shouldn’t) a share would be appreciated! –

 

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54 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t Travel Boracay In The Philippines (Seriously)”

  1. Katie Featherstone

    Thanks for your honesty. I hate reading about incredible places before arriving somewhere and then discovering what has happened there. The eternal serach for “the beach” continues…

  2. Always best to be honest πŸ™‚ Yes I have shown up in a few places that were recommended to be disappointed on arrival. Indeed the search for ‘The Beach’ is always ongoing, even after 18 years πŸ˜‰

  3. Paul from BoracayCompass

    Hey Jonny, I get that you might not like Boracay, but many people do (as do I). And bashing it like that is a bit over the top I think, considering that even according to your preferences there must be numerous other places that are even worse.

    During what time did you travel there? That can actually matter a lot.

    I’ve been living in Boracay for 3 years, and right now it’s actually relatively quiet and peaceful, which I also can appreciate. But if you traveled there around April-May or worse: during labor day then those are very busy times, too much I feel also.

    Either way, I actually wrote an article titled “10 Reasons To Make Boracay Island Your Next Holiday Destination” which is sort of the opposite of your article here. And they are all candid reasons of what I feel Boracay has going for it.

    Check it out if you like (my name). I’m curious of your response to that.

  4. Hey Paul,

    As I mentioned in the article I said Boracay is a very popular place with people, I know that. I also stressed that I am saying to adventurous travellers not to go there, which is what most of my readers are about, as Boracay is not that place. Just as most of your readers are most likely people looking for a week vacation to an island, and I even said that I understand why they would do that. I was there in early March and it wouldn’t have mattered if super busy or not, there was still too many buildings there.

    I’ve been travelling for 18 years and have seen a lot of places and Boracay is the worst of the lot when it comes to over-development. Can you imagine how beautiful that place was before they built it up the way they did? Boracay also sets it up for a ‘bashing’ due to the fact that it gets recognised by bloggers and travel sites for ‘worlds most beautiful beach’ etc when it is one of the most over-developed beaches around. I also stressed that people love to hear about Boracay and how ‘amazing’ it is and that may lend some people out there to praise it more. Hell I would have got more readers to this post if I was to go on about how great it is.

    But then this is just my personal opinion and you have yours, each to their own.

    I believe we should help in protecting the beautiful places in the world. If Boracay ‘was’ previously the best beach in the world, then should it have been treated the way it has been? I understand that Boracay can’t be changed now but hopefully other islands can be more protected and development done in a more sensible way.

    Take care and safe travels.

    Jonny

  5. Paul from BoracayCompass

    Hey Jonny, ok yeah valid points.

    I guess i just got a flashback to AnnaEverywhere’s negative post about Boracay (which is actually the most shared article of all Boracay blog posts).

    But I agree, there’s better places for adventure. Boracay still has a fair amount of beaches to explore with few tourist though… which is part of the reason for me writing the guides on my site.. to inform people of things like that so they can get the most of their stay on the island.

    Overdevelopment is an issue like you say. And I hope i can have some influence in making that more sustainable as my website grows. Because i would like to see that get brought under control.

  6. Hey Paul,

    I know you don’t want to hear it but I agree with a lot of what Anna says. I hadn’t seen that post before and was surprised at how many shares it got, but am happy it did.

    Sorry, it’s just different opinions on how we see things.

  7. Paul from BoracayCompass

    That’s fair enough, I agree to disagree :D. I guess you either love or hate Boracay, at least that’s what it seems like from reading opinions online.

    I align more with Sab’s (JustOneWayTicket) opinion about Boracay myself.

  8. Hi Jonny,

    This is an interesting article, and quite a brave one! If you are suprised at why Anna’s post got so many shares, it could be because the Filipinos are crazy lovers of social media..so brace yourself mate!

    I have not been to Boracay, but I agree with your point that islands and backpacker hotspots are not what they seem in many parts of South East Asia. I spend sometime on similar “paradise” locations this year- Koh Chang and Otres Beach (‘Otres 2) on the south coast of Cambodia and I was left disheartend by the way tourism is affecting the natural state of these places. So much so that I too have a simliar article lined up. Not to be negative, but because I think backpackers should be aware of the impact they are having on these places and the way tourism is bringing in big companies (such as The Mariot Hotel at Otres 2) which will eventually squeeze out the local families who’s sheer survival depends on these places. I almost felt sick seeing so many tourists laying around on sunbeds while black trash bags and food waste lined the beach. I’m not suggesting tourists should embark on a massive trash sweep of the beach. But the ignorance towards it all was there for sure.

    As a long term traveller myself, I woud like to say that it would have been interesting to get some perspectives of the locals as they are the ones who will ne truely affected. You mentioned the disrespect from tourists towards locals. Do you mean in an in-direct way? Differing cultures maybe? Again, from my experiences I think thay comes down to Western society and how we percieve our “status” among third world countries. No matter how long we have travelled, it is easy for us to judge a place based on what we think from a Westerner’s perspective. I am totally guilty of it myself and I hit a few nerves when I was out there just for being honest. But I did find that meeting locals and spending more time in a place was the best way to truely understand and discover more whatcould be viewed as initial perceptions ofa destination, and certainly how tourism is affecting beautiful parts of the world.

    Either way, it’s refreshing to see a backpacker writing an article on a place in a way that is not just for their own poularity in the eyes of others. Your being honest and thats what makes a true and authentic storyteller and writer.

    Happy travels!
    James

  9. Hey James,

    It’s good that there seems to be a lot more travellers out there who have a similar opinion of these kinds of places.

    I didn’t get the locals perspective when there as just wanted to get the hell out so didn’t hang around long enough! But all these places seem the same (Hat Rin) etc, some worse than others. Not all travellers are disrespectful obviously but many that I am sure you have witnessed in other areas, just get drunk and trash the place and just act like its there own place. And over time the people get wary and jaded at the tourists. I mean if you have so many people coming to there island why the fuck should they care about you right? You tend to lose some of the warm and friendly welcomes that you get in less touristed areas. I totally agree about spending more time in places, especially more remote areas, to get to know the people better. In Boracay however your just another in the thousands that visit!

    Safe travels mate! Maybe see you in a quiet chilled out and genuinely friendly island sometime πŸ™‚

    Jonny

  10. Hey Jonny,

    Yes I couldn’t agree more. I don’t mean to go off-topic here but I have never seen such arrogent backpackers than in South East Asia. I met some great ones, but few that weren’t either into the whole drug-scene, getting drunk, or not really taking time to venture off the tourist path and shape their own perceptions of a place and its cuture. But I also think it’s an age thing as most of what I am not interested in doing as a 31 year old probably would have been the experience of a lifetime ten years ago!

    Its funny what you say about the locals not giving a fuck. And I think you raise a great point there because they are so dependent on the influx of tourism, that it kind of gives tourists free reign to do as they please which could be what has caused a growth in popularity for some of these destlinations. This certainly would affect my view of tourists if it was my home!

    I was doing some writing today and I was thinking about your article. I thought about my time in Cambodia and how the locals don’t see us so much as coming from certain countries, but rather just a Westerners. But getting away from the tourist path as I am sure you have experienced in the past, I discovered people who had no clue about us, our lives, and the societies that we come from. So it was intetesting to get a locals perspective on the madness on many levels!

    I spoke with a friend of mine yesterday who is from Boracay and asked him how he feels about tourists in the city. He said that the summer is always crazy and popular with travellers who are into beach parties, etc, which he felt gives the city a bad rep. But he recommended Palawan and a place called Panal Reef- a small paradise island which is pratically deserted and you can pay a boatman to take you across. Sounds like there are a few hidden gems worth checking out if you do a bit of digging!

    Where are you now Jonny? Would be great to cross paths one day, so i’ll keep track and I hope your enjoying your latest venture. Oh and Angloitalian_Followus have just posted an interesting article on ‘Should We Visit Controversial Countries?’. Just thought i’d give it a mention as you have experienced places such as Iran during your travels.

    Take care,
    James

  11. Hey,

    Yeah I agree. A lot changes over time and places you may love now could be ruined come 10-20 years from now, which is why we have to try and protect the unspoilt ones.

    I loved going out to Apo Reef in the Philippines, remote and some of the best snorkelling I have done.

    Will check out that article you mentioned.

    Safe travels and maybe see you somewhere πŸ™‚

    Jonny

  12. Hey Jonny,

    Saw your tweet after #AdvTravelChat and came to check out your post. On one hand, we totally agree because we too are sick and saddened by the overdevelopment. Beautiful white-sand beaches are quickly becoming one of the most endangered things on the planet.

    We started traveling even earlier than you, so memories of Zanzibar, Koh Phi Phi, and Boracay when they were pristine paradises that cost $5 dollars a night on a perfect beach are especially painful. But the reality of the 21st century is that those days are gone (very sadly).

    But we have had to realize that we need to look as hard as possible for what is left. When we got to Boracay in 2010, our first impression was, “Get me out of here.” But we were so sick of moving at that point that we ended up renting a small house just off a tiny stretch of beach towards the end of White Beach that still had some palm trees and made the best of it. The food was good on Boracay and we loved Puka Beach at the tip of the island. Sailing around the island on a catamaran was fun too.

    Is Boracay past its prime? Absolutely. But it has it’s moments. By the way, if you find that pristine paradise, let us know where it is. The last ones we found that felt like the old days were Kanawa and Seraya near Komodo, Indonesia in 2011. But we’ve heard those have now changed as well.

    By the way, here is our post on Boracay with some pics of what it looked like when we were there in 2010. It was already majorly overdeveloped, but there were a few pretty spots.

    http://www.contemporarynomad.com/2010/08/boracay-fantasy-vs-reality/

  13. Hey Guys,

    Cheers for checking the post out especially as I love hearing from old school travellers. I even put at the end of the post about travellers from the 70’s and 80’s and how much more change they would have seen. So sad seeing it changing.

    I’m sure Boracay has its moments but I just can’t stay in those kind of places any longer than needed and avoid them altogether if I can.

    The search for the perfect beach goes on. There are still a few spots I want to check out in Indonesia far away from any tourist trail…

    I’m sure I will see you on #advtravelchat again.

    Safe travels.

    Jonny

  14. Jonny, I’m totally with you. We went to Boracay in 2010, and it was already more than saturated. We also were ready to leave after a day. Luckily, we made the decision to stay and rented a little house for a couple of weeks at the quietest part of the beach. We ended up having a great time.

    Now, five years later, I can’t imagine what Boracay must be like…

  15. Yeah from now on even if I am with friends I will not be going to see places that I know are done as far as being the paradise they used to be. I’m sure there are some more chilled out spots on Boracay other than the main area, but then again there are plenty of other islands in the Philippines to go to that don’t have the tourist crap going on like Boracay.

  16. Hey Jonny, it’s been a while since I caught up on your blog, and I’m glad I just encountered this one! It’s an issue which is a constant niggle for me when travelling: going to places which are popular (for good reason) but also deprive you of what can be considered unique experiences, and going out of your way to beat your own path. There are some countries which are much easier to do this in than in others (I’m in Paraguay at the moment, after a few months in Argentina, and this is plain to see!) There is one thing that I would like to add to this conversation though: it is that I have encountered a lot of snobbery on this topic (or maybe better to call it reverse snobbery!) I agree almost entirely with what you write, and Boracay has never been on my hit list for these very reasons, but there are some backpackers who look down with disdain on those who chose to go to these more popular destinations. As a personal recent example (although there are many more) I ended up staying 4 months in Buenos Aires because it is a fantastic city, but when I tell some of “the more adventurous” backpackers about that, they invariably make this kind of snort, and place me in a box which says “not a real backpacker”. It’s very wearying, especially when I compare my own experiences with theirs.

    Now that tourism in many exotic parts of the world is more accessible to many more people, overdevelopment seems to have a painful inevitability about it. It’s very difficult to find anywhere with something worth seeing which is not flowing with backpackers. This doesn’t make it a bad place, but overdevelopment certainly does. There seems to be a tipping point, and Boracay is an extreme example.

  17. Hey James! Yes I agree with you. It sometimes seems like there is a competition to see who can be the most extreme backpacker or something. Fuck man if I like somewhere I like somewhere, but I have a certain disdain for naturally beautiful places that have been destroyed by over-development without any thought for the environment but just “How much money can we make out of this”.

    The reason I wrote this was for the travellers with a similar mindset to me who I know wouldn’t like Boracay and so I would save them the time and trouble going there to find out themselves.

    I even wrote in the post that some people would like the place but that more adventurous travellers wouldn’t, and that’s just the truth of the matter, most of them wouldn’t as it’s a tourist trap.

    I think there has to be a careful line of what people should say is acceptable in development or not. If people flock to white beach on Boracay that gives the green light to other places more interested in making money than actually having a unique atmosphere, that would then just over-develop there place.

    And yes different backpackers will like different things, I loved Buenos Aires myself, others didn’t, like you said. I love Bangkok while others hate it. Etc. It’s just a matter of opinion. If some backpackers say don’t go somewhere because the development is out of control and the place has been ruined by it then I most likely wont go. If they say don’t go because it’s ‘just not cool’ to go, then fuck that I can make my own mind up on that.

    I love getting off the beaten path for more unique experiences but can appreciate places that aren’t as well very much. It’s not the fact that Boracay is well on the beaten path, it was the over-development.

    But people who read my blog generally understand what kind of travelling I am about and would be most likely of a similar mindset. Doesn’t mean they wouldn’t go to Boracay and places like it, but it does mean I can give them a fair heads up warning before they do!

    I saw the photos on your Facebook page about South America πŸ™‚

    Take care mate.

    Jonny

  18. I’ve had the opportunity to go to Boracay before but it doesn’t really appeal to me so I turned it down. It seems too much of a party place (I heard about giant pub crawls…), and someone once described it to me as the St-Tropez of The Philippines…yeah, not for me!

  19. Yeah for certain people it’s just not the place to go. Like I said in the article some people will love it for that, but the more adventurous travellers and those looking for a more chilled out vibe should stay away.

  20. Boracay certainly is not every person’s cup of tea, but it does appeal to a certain crowd. In order to avoid getting duped, some truth in advertising is required … thanks for providing a refreshing dose of it!

  21. Yes some people will like it and others wont. This post is mainly to warn other travellers who may have a similar mindset to me to stay away.

  22. Good to know. You hear ‘over-developed’ and you sometimes can’t fathom how over-developed a place can get. especially in SE Asia. Phi Phi an example of a place that has turned into absolute shit. I was there back in 2001 and 2002 – came back in 2008 and the place went to absolute hell. Now I see photos of Maya Bay jam packed with tourists. I was on this beach by myself back in 2001…incredible.
    The world is changing. More and more trashy Western kids vacationing in SE Asia…joined by more and more Asian travellers who have more disposable income.
    Shame.
    Frank (bbqboy)

  23. Yeah S.E.Asia can be quite bad for that. I was on the beach in Phi Phi in 1998 so I can only imagine how bad it is now!

    Still there are beaches away from it all. My favourites are in Indonesia πŸ™‚

  24. We were in Boracay about a year and a half ago and although we thought the actual beach was nice and powdery, we’d have to agree with you that it is completely overrun and overdeveloped. Great if you are a package tourist on vacation but for budget backpackers, not the best. I like how Jasper in Canada has restricted development in order to keep the beauty intact. Most sites just see dollars and turn into Boracay or Phuket.

  25. So so true and it describes in a perfect way what I am thinking when seeing the overdevelopment everywhere πŸ™
    Thanks for this great article and warm regards from a german couple.

  26. Hi Johnny,

    “But then this is just my personal opinion and you have yours, each to their own.”

    That’s why I sometimes refrain from hearing personal opinion especially when one is giving it based on his personal preference. The result of which is sometimes unpleasant.

    Obviously, you didn’t like seeing McDonalds in Boracay. But, let me just say this from a Filipino perspective, McDonalds is probably there because we love fastfood. McDonalds, Jollibee and Pizza Hut have been a part of our lives since childhood. Did you know that sometimes, our parents would use it as some sort of reward if we were good enough?

    Mom: “If you behave today, I’ll bring you to McDonalds later.”
    Me: “Yey!”

    What I’m saying is, although overdeveloping Boracay will surely dissuade people who may have a preference like yours, what you think as a sore in the eye may have a more beneficial impact than what meets the eye.

    I’m not aiming to defend Boracay but I’m just trying give a reasonable answer to some “whys.”

  27. The whole point of blogs is that you follow it for the person behind it and if you don’t trust their opinion then that kind of kills the point. I wrote this post for followers who know how I travel and what I enjoy and they follow because they feel the same.

  28. Hey Jonny,

    I’m from the Philippines and Boracay left me an impression less desirable. I was there eight years ago and never plan on going back. You were right its crowded and too develop. I like Nacpan beach in Palawan and hopefully it wont be as crowded as El Nido town proper in the coming years inshaallah. I still know of beaches in the Philippines with less tourist. When I was there it was only me and my friend and 3 film crew from KR doing a documentary of the natives.

  29. Nice! Always happy to know others feel the same. And yeah I loved Palawan in comparison. Still plenty of places I want to explore in the Philippines in the future.

  30. The whole thing is not about McDonald but an indicator as how it is overdeveloped.

    Like Bali, a lost paradise now turns into paradise lost.
    Have you check the overdeveloped dolphin watch in Lovina, whoever see a poor dolphin, the rest 50~60 fishermen boats carrying tourists will trap that dolphin as close as 1 meter. And you will still see sponsored/non-sponsored tourists left their enjoyable reviews. There is zero protection to wildlife.

    And bloggers need those photos/posts to polish. They would cover up the bad.
    They need a positive, charming, enjoyable lifestyle to demonstrates to followers.
    There is a demand for such image, readers need that stories as if seeing fashion models wear stylish garments, cosmetic ad to attract women. They wanna become them.

    I’ve never/rarely see such people mentioning sustainable tourisms in their posts.

    Paul is one of whom would agree to preserve the place reasonably. I hope he could achieve so.

    As long as strong growth of network media, we will lose more paradises faster without the concept of sustainable tourism.

  31. Well said. Hate these snowflake backpackers. Forget the locals trying to earn a living. Don’t disturb me as I winge about spreading the wealth while spending thousands on airfare

  32. Really sad. And for me a personal thing. I was a Peace Corps volunteer near San Jose, Antique, living in a small barangay from 1979 to 1981. We went to Boracay in 1980 for a little vacation and it was beautiful. There were a handful of small bamboo hotels and a few local places to eat. That was it! The place was totally uncrowded with no hint of tourism. Then I heard some Germans “discovered” the place in the late 80’s and now it is how it is. Really sad for sure. At least I got a chance to experience it in a more virgin state.

  33. Hey jonny as a bloger you need to study the island for whole year, not just travel in a week and right alot at trush talk.

  34. You’re right, Cyril. One should observe a place for a representative period of time, such as a year. Let me give my perspective about Boracay over a 55-60 year timeframe. I first visited the island in the late 1950s as a preschooler. I remember an island with no development at all: just peaceful white beach, with balmy breezes and family togetherness. Fast forward to the 1980s when development was just starting to blossom, mostly fueled by people from the province of Aklan, where Boracay is located. Many were simple huts and good eats restaurants. Then came the 1990s/early 2000s: it was still bearable, there was a mix of Filipino and foreign ownership; small family businesses and mega hotels. And on my recent, and LAST visit in Dec 2017, I saw an island that was overrun with people (both tourists and locals making a living); dominated by buildings and overbuilding; and groaning from the weight of “progress,” greed, corruption, and opportunism, with very little regard for the health of the ecosystem. It was a sad day to see the innocent island of my youth looking like a worn-out whore, way past her prime. The worst part is that I don’t really know if there is a solution to the problem, other than using Boracay as a dire warning to other islands in the Pacific: Have a vision for the future, implement zoning and planning initiatives, and think of your island as a live being, which it is.

  35. Hi Jonny, thanks for the great travel tips, the reviews, and the hints, and why you should not go to the island of Boracay.

    Pictures are really excellent also.

    It certainly helps when we can read a blog such as yours, and be guided by it. Many adventures to be had by all.

    Cheers Sharon…

  36. Jonny, thank you so much for writing this! My partner and I are currently travelling in the Philippines. We have zero plan and just taking it day by day. After searching for less touristy places and picking places on a whim, we ended up in a couple towns with nothing to do… Great local experience but wear from travel and feeling lost, we starting thinking about heading back to the beaten path and go to Boracay. You literally just saved us!! We would hate it. We were in El Nido last week and weren’t even such a fan. We stuck with our wanderings and today we discovered Pandan Island and it’s amazing!! Going to stay put here a while. Thanks again Jonny! If you have any recommendations of places you loved elsewhere in the Philippines please let me know! πŸ™‚

  37. Have you guys every thought that the fact that you blog and publish and make a living out of telling people where the best sights are and where not to go, means that you are actually contributing to the environmental degradation of these wonderful places you talk about? By telling people to visit in the thousands and millions all these wonderful places which were not in the first place meant to deal with tourism? And telling them not to visit one place which you deem already ruined and to go to another place to ruin? Please, get a grip on the contribution you guys are giving to the eventual degradation of these places. Maybe you should consider just enjoying your visit, take your photos and you trash away and leave it at that. Why tell millions of people to go visit these places and then complain that they get ruined?? You should know better if you are truly an adventurer.

  38. “Millions of people” damn I wish I would be loaded from blogging πŸ™‚ Trust me I have my secret destinations i only share with a select few other travellers. Places I recommend many people don’t plan anyway as they are too adventurous for most, such as hiking in Afghanistan.

  39. Thanks for the great post! I really wanna go there, but it’s a pity that it is closed for its preservation. The sustainable and responsible tourism should be promoted to raise traveler’s awareness or else so many beautiful places on Earth will be closed.

  40. I lived on Boracay for three weeks in ’90; back then, there were only two bars that even had generators, and most of the tourists were Israeli and European backpackers. It was magnificently free of Americans. Reading this makes me so sad. Unfortunately, in my experience, the Westerners who have the money to travel are very rarely also the Westerners we would tap to be our ambassadors. Alas . . .

  41. I’m an ‘Old School’ traveller I suppose – Pre Lonely Planet – a year around Africa and another around Asia .
    We travelled in Boracay and Ko Samui in 1981 – revisiting some of our old haunts now but obviously need to stay away from the places that were wonderful then!
    Fortunately we have time again to get a bit off the beaten track, but that is the dream of all travellers isn’t it?

  42. Hi Jonny,
    thanks a lot for this post. When I travel somewhere, I really like to get a realistic picture and not the glossy travel ad impression.
    My wife grew up on Mindoro and worked in Puerto Galera for some years (I know, lucky her :-)). I never understood why her family and friends were so into this Boracay hype, considering the beautiful, quite deserted beaches I have seen on that island. In her home town, in the South-East, there were only 2 other Westerners – also married to a Filipina – so the locals always knew where I was *haha*.
    I think Boracay is hyped so much, because it is also a symbol. A symbol for “hey, we are not only an overpopulated, impoverished country in SE Asia that has to export people all over the world because they can’t make a living at home – we also have BORACAY!”. A symbol of national pride.

    From what I see, it is so popular among Filipino tourists because many of them like to party when they are on vacation. Shoot selfies with the beautiful beach in the background and crank up the karaoke machine in the afternoon. Mix in like-minded Westerners and you have the crowd that creates this development.

    Fortunately, this seems to change lately. Last time we were on Mindoro, in 2018, the government installed protected beaches and fish sanctuaries. We ended up on one of those by accident and were approached by 2 guards who sent us away. Hopefully, this is a sign for a new approach and the clean up orders in Boracay and Puerto Galera / Sabang are able to reign in the worst developments, to the benefit of everybody.

  43. Hi Jonny,

    During the time of your visit, you’re definitely correct. Our president Duterte even called it a cesspool. What’s good about him is that he did something about it. He had it closed for 6 months for rehabilitation last year. Plenty of establishments were closed and the beach water was cleaned by groups of divers. They’re now limiting the number of visitors coming on the island and they have stricter environmental policies. It improved a lot after the rehabilitation but it won’t be the same as before. My aunt who went there during the 80s told us that it was really a paradise back then.

    I agree that El Nido and Coron are better options but I hope that they don’t get damaged like Boracay.

  44. Thanks for writing this, I wish I had read it before my 5 nights in Boracay. It is still a total S***house – taxi mafia, prices 5 times those in Palawan, potholed roads and lots and lots of derelict buildings. Oh and trash everywhere, except the beach but there were glass shards. The beach is beautiful but the cons are too many. Much better places to go ie Nacpan, Port Barton and Coron.

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