Image of Boracay shores just before its 6-month closure by Hector Periquin
Boracay is known to have one of the best white sand beaches in the world. Equal to its turquoise waters and powder-soft sand are images of wild beachside parties that, up until April 2018, were drawing over two million tourists onto its shores.
This unrestrained influx of tourist and lax regulation of the environment turned Boracay into a literal “cesspit” and the Government of the Philippines instituted an emergency 6 month shut down of the island for its rehabilitation.
The Boracay of today is very different from the Boracay of old. Boracay 2.0 is more pristine, focuses far more on the health of the island and in inculcating a “culture of sustainable tourism”. If you are planning a trip to Boracay soon, do take note of its many environment-friendly changes and regulations to avoid any nasty surprises!
Image by Ramon Kagie
Since reopening in March 2019, entry limits have been severely curtailed. Only 19,000 tourists are allowed to stay on the island at any given time, with a daily quota of 6,405 tourists allowed to enter per day. This visitor number is enforced by the government through the number of hotel rooms made available to visitors, which have been halved from 12,000 to 6,000 - 9,000.
Moreover, by-laws introduced now limit combustion engine transport and a ban on single-use plastics. All three of Boracay’s casinos are permanently closed. Deckchairs and tables, and beachside masseuses and food and drink vendors have all been banished from the beach. Boracay’s fire dancers will now use LED lights instead of their kerosene-soaked torches, while stray dogs, bonfires and the builders of the Insta-friendly sandcastles have been banned from the beachfront.
As for the hotels and restaurants themselves, nearly 400 of them were ordered shut for violation of local environmental laws. The Philippines’ Department of Tourism will commence accreditation for Boracay establishments on 16 August, whereby companies will only receive the necessary accreditation if able to show that they meet all environmental and legal requirements.
Image by Bambi Corro
Without a doubt, Boracay’s alcohol-fueled party days are long gone. Annual, multi-day beach parties known as “LaBoracay”, which tend to draw tens of thousands of tourists during the 1 May Labour Day weekend, will no longer run. Temporary bans are also in place for diving in waters surrounding Boracay, and no electric lights will be installed on the beachfront.
With so many new regulations now in place, we have come up with a list that all tourists should bear in mind below:
Fair warning to all: the Filipino police officers will be deployed along the beach to ensure that tourists are complying with Boracay’s new environmental guidelines. This includes littering, which carries heavy penalties, and definitely not something you want to incur when on a holiday!
Image by Sam Shin
With full rehabilitation expected to last up to two years, all tourists are advised to “manage expectations” in the intervening period. However, that hardly means that Boracay no longer holds any attraction.
For one, its beaches can now be enjoyed in a capacity that is arguably far closer to its natural idyllic state. The powder-like white sand and clear blue sea visage are postcard-perfect from every angle. Gone is the mass of water sports vendors that were once occupied Boracay’s shores. Almost 200 illegal structures that used to hug the beachfront have also been torn down to form a 30-meter easement from the waterline.
Couple that with the severe curb on the number of tourists allowed into Boracay, and you can see why the Boracay of today is far much appealing than the Boracay of old. Rather than feeling like you are caught in a constant vortex of swirling, alcohol-fueled humanity, you can now come to Boracay to enjoy its beaches just the way they were meant to be enjoyed. White Beach (with its 4 kilometer stretch of white sand), Puka beach with dramatic cliffs and forests hugging its sides, Diniwid Beach to catch the perfect sunset and Ilig Iligan Beach for its rugged coastline, caves and forests - there is an almost endless amount of beaches to now explore to your heart’s content.
If you want a break from exploring on land and beach, try swimming in its crystal clear waters. Top tip: Head over to Tambisaan Beach for its vibrant marine life; corals can be found as close as 25 meters from the shore!
While water activities are on a temporary ban, there are water-related activities available to ensure that your stay in Boracay is anything but boring: parasailing, helicopter beach tour, segway tours, mermaid lessons, horseback riding, banana boating (always a crowd-pleaser), stand up paddling, yachting, cliff diving at Ariel’s Point, sunset cruises and freediving are all activities still being offered. For a full list of accredited activities, visit the Philippine's official Department of Tourism MyBoracayGuide website here.
Still bored? Then don’t forget to try one of the many island hopping packages available. Some of these island tours can last up to 4 hours and include a sampling of local delicacies and visits to stunning snorkelling sites nearby.
Last but not least, don’t forget to check the premises of your government-accredited hotels and establishments to see what else they have to offer!
Image by Sai Kiran Anagani
While many might moan the loss of Boracay’s wild party heydays, we are glad that the Government of the Philippines has taken this step towards sustainable tourism. Tourism should not be done at the price of a damaged environment and while it will not be the crazy party island it once was, in many ways, tourists nowadays will get to experience the real side of Boracay just the way that nature had intended. This increased protection of nature is a growing global trend, with Thailand also looking to ease its tourist congestion at popular seaside destinations.
If you would like to visit Boracay, be sure to check out Mayflower.com.my for the latest offers, which will last from 20 July until 31 July 2019. Flights will depart from Kuala Lumpur to either Kalibo International Airport or the Caticlan Airport (also known as the Godofredo P. Ramos Airport), which is nearer. While it is a long journey, we promise that it will be worth it!
A faith-driven Sarawakian lawyer who believes that it is never too late to start crafting a socially impactful legacy. When not grappling with warranties and liabilities, she loves pursuing adrenaline-fueled adventures, improving her Español and playing the violin. You can find her at @vidadeliya or https://www.vidadeliya.com