Boracay is one of those “must-go” tourist places in the Philippines. Every year, millions of tourists would descend upon the gorgeous White Beach (seriously, that’s the name of the beach!) of Boracay, prepared to relax or die trying.
Because of these tourists, a huge industry has spun up around the once sleepy island. Beach side resorts, hotels, restaurants, pubs, cafes and (of course) souvenir stores dot the entire stretch of White Beach.
And those are just some of the reasons why we were prepared to hate Boracay.
Over the course of the past few months of travel, we’ve come to develop an aversion towards “tourist-y” places/things. I’ll be honest, part of this is because of a (rather unhealthy) “We don’t travel like normal (roll eyes) Tourists” snobbery, but a large part actually comes from our previous experiences of tourist places being overcrowded, overpriced and severely underwhelming.
To make matters worse, our planned arrival was during the peak season of November – April. Apparently, this period of time is known to the locals as “Amihan”. I am not that good with my Tagalog, but after a month of travelling in the Philippines, I kinda deduced that that means “Tourist Hunting Season”. During Amihan, the weather conditions at White Beach is calm and perfect for chilling at the beach or to dip in the water for some water activities.
Of course, MILLIONS of foreign and domestic tourists know this, and the shop owners on Boracay know it too. That’s why prices of everything would be double what they normally were.
To put a cherry on top of the proverbial pudding, we’d decided to arrive in Boracay on a Friday. (Ok, it’s not so much “decided” as it was “stumbled our way into”)
As we squeezed onto the VERY crowded pump boat, I was already thinking,”Ok, we’ll go in, see what the fuss is all about and we’ll leave on the next ferry out if we don’t like it here.”
My steel-like resolve to hate Boracay lasted all of ten minutes on the White Beach.
Beside our obligatory ogles at all the tourists along the Beach, there were just so many other activities going on! Every few steps we took, there were street musicians singing their hearts out, touts peddling their island hopping tours, fire dancers gyrating to thumping beats, beach volleyball players prancing about in the fine white sand. There was literally something new to see around every corner. That’s saying a lot, considering the White Beach stretches out for more than 10km.
And the best part of it all? The people doing it were doing it in their bikinis… except for the touts, of course.
That would just be plain wrong.
I don’t want to sound like a creepy old man, but even though I already tried my best to avert my glances because of a certain Mrs Toh, it was hard to not get a serious case of cleavage overload. (That’s what she said) (And yes, I do realize that line was impossible to pull off without sounding like a dirty old man).
Sure, Boracay is a tourist place. There is a lot of tourist-y things to do at tourist-y prices. But there is also a certain… vibe to the place. To us, it has a unique brand of energy that sets it apart from other tourist traps. We felt alive. We felt happy. We didn’t feel like we are being fleeced all the time (even though we probably were).
Of course, when all else fails, we can always find our little stretch of sand, grab a (rather expensive) beer and just chill. And because the beach is so big, it was not hard to find our own relatively private slice of paradise.
And did I mention the sunset at Boracay are crazy gorgeous too?