Boracay is world-famous for its White Beach. In 1997 though, it became infamous for severe pollution in its waters, mainly because of resorts dumping its sewage waste into the sea (according to a Discovery Channel publication).
Ten years after that, Boracay gradually treated its waters, and bacterial content hasn’t been as grave as before
(although plastic litters are still a perennial problem in the beaches).Today, the Department of TOurism is aggressive in its campaign to advertise Boracay as a premiere beach getaway that could equal Phuket, Thailand whose beaches are flocked mostly by Americans and Europeans at any given time.
Like many other tourist paradise, Boracay was unknown for the longest time until it was “discovered” in the 60s by puka shell collectors (there’s a Puka Beach on the northern side of the island, where shells cover the sand).
In an instant, adventurers and backpackers wasted no time in exploring the island in the 70s, when only nipa cottages dot the shoreline. One could imagine their thrill for the fine white sand, blue-green waters, rich diving sites, forrested areas and gentle waves. The 80s saw the springing of hotels, and the 90s ushered in the boom of tourism industry with resort hotels, villas, restaurants, bars and shops.
Today one can go para-sailing, motor boat-skiing, wind-surfing, kayaking, helmet and scuba diving, island-hopping, or simply beach bumming.
Shopping can also be addictive here as in in the city. There’s D’Mall, where one can find shops and eateries, and its counterpart, D’ Talipapa (market), where souvenirs are similar to those sold in D’ Mall, only cheaper.
Foodies may indulge in sea foods, pasta, pizza, grilled meat, and fruit delights. Restaurants and bars cater to different markets, from the masses to elite. Andoks chicken grill eatery, for instance, is famous among backpackers because for 50 pesos one can satisfy a day’s hunger with a rice meal of chicken or barbecue or porkliempo, while hotel restaurants such as Crown Regency exude an ambience exclusive to the well-heeled and well-scrubbed lot. Walking the long stretch from Station 1 to 3 in the evening, one can find a number of buffet style eat-all-you-can al fresco dining for as low as php250, with bottomless iced tea.
Boracay changes at the signal of sunset. Make shift restaurants are set up just above the sand bars and fire dancers add mystic to the night. Different bars have their own performers, from acoustic singers to rock bands. As the party island approaches midnight, cocktail drinks and bottles of beer flow bottomless. Meanwhile, in some dark alleys, prostitutes can be seen negotiating with prospect clients, usually foreigners.
Once or twice police can be seen patrolling the area. In the morning, vendors of everything are everywhere, and they don’t easily accept a “no” for an answer. The positive side to this is, whenever you feel the urge of buying a wide-brimmed hat or riding a sailboat, you can just stand outside and a native will approach you. These natives, by the way, seem to have studied their market so well for they can greet wanderers in different languages, with accent and all.
While some people like their Boracay experience loud and wasted, many like it quiet and breezy so the beach is never without a single person; from morning till evening till dawn, beach bums lie on the sands: having sound trip near some live performance, story-telling, making sand castles or star-gazing.
What’s important in a Boracay experience is one’s capability for awe in the face of nature’s grandeur, together with a willingness to lose oneself in the middle of all the world’s chaos.