I almost decided not to visit Boracay a few years back because I heard many people complaining that it was overrun with tourists and that it had become a sort of Waikiki Disneyland place.
Good thing my friends told me not to listen to those complaining ex-pats and tour expert wannabes, so I booked for a weekend breather and eventually found myself enjoying the habagat season on the island. I always try to listen to my gut feelings and in this case, it paid off in a big way.
Boracay was a huge surprise; it’s a tropical island with almost everything I want in a travel destination (except for a Cinema house, a nice hospital, and a huge shopping mall). I was a bit surprised to learn that a huge chunk of the local population are foreigners, and some of them have already established their own restaurants, resort, coffee shop, dive shop, and kite surfing clinics, while others are just simply living on the island with their families.
While it’s true that Boracay Island is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines, it’s not true that most of the tourists who come here are on package tours and stay pretty much in the same places and visit the same attractions.
More and more tourists visiting the island are now becoming more diversified. Thanks to low-cost airlines and affordable hostels on the island, Boracay is no longer a destination for the elite. Many tourists now come here without a specific itinerary and no pre-booked hotels. Believe me, there are all types of accommodations here for everyone except, I guess, during peak season.
Before tourists come into the airport, they go to the resorts at White Beach, they take a couple of tours, mainly water sports adventures to one or two of the biggest and most accessible places, and then they lounge on the resort properties drinking expensive cocktails, to souvenir shops, getting massages, and in general, having a good time.
That kind of travel isn’t for me, though. I found a nipa hut where only a handful of foreigners seemed to be very mellow and cool. My small nipa hut hostel room sits about twenty meters from a white sand beach, the proprietors are happy to make both tasty and delicious meals, and they even let me go into the kitchen and show them how I like to make pizza! (I wish I have ample time)
So far, with the help of my new friends Kyung-soon and Kim, both Korean divers who are more knowledgeable than the local tourism officer, I’ve managed to see some fantastic secret coves, cruise around sparkling reefs on a pump boat, and swim in verdant waters where there was no one else in sight except some adorable kids waving from the shore.
While reading destination guidebooks is really helpful, I still suggest you talk and befriend a local – they know the place more than most travel guidebook writers. Best of all, they can recommend cheaper alternatives for any requirements you have while enjoying your vacation on the island.
I realized that If you really want to enjoy the island, you must spend more time in each tourist spot. Enjoy and be one with nature; after all, it’s the best thing the island can offer. Roam around the island; behind these crowded resorts, you can finally find real life that beats anything you have seen on other tropical islands.
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