ISLANDS NEAR MANILA

MINDORO

Mindoro (a short ferry ride and four hour bus ride from Manila) is a lovely tropical island with rice paddies with water buffalo, lakes, jungle, palm trees, nice beaches, rain forests, and unusual tribes. It is a welcome relief from the congestion and pollution of Manila. The roads are poor and not so many travelers come here.

Mindoro is the Philippines’s fifth largest island. The main attractions are the beaches around Puerto Galera, which itself doesn’t have that much to offer. Sabang Beach attracts the party crowd. White Beach, Small or Big Laguna beachers and Coco Beach are quieter and more laid back. There is good diving in the reefs off the coast. In the interior you can visit rain forest and Mangyan tribal villages.

Mindoro Island , which is separated from the Southern Luzon mainland by the roughly 30-kilometer-wide wide strait called the Verde Island Passage, is divided into two provinces: Occidental Mindoro Province in the west and Oriental Mindoro Province in the east. These two provinces are separated by a mountain range, running through the entire length of the island, which serves as a natural and political boundary.

Occidental Mindoro is situated south of the province of Batangas in Southern Luzon. On the north, it is bounded by Verde Island Passage, on the west and the south by Mindoro Strait, and on the east by Oriental Mindoro. Oriental Mindoro is located 20 kilometers off the southwest coast of Luzon. It is bounded on the north by Verde Island and the Verde Passage, on the east by Maestro de Campo Island and Tablas Strait, on the south by Semirara Island near Pandarodan bay, and on the west by the province of Occidental Mindoro.

Oriental Mindoro Province

Oriental Mindoro Province (eastern side of Mindoro Island) has an inverted-J-shaped shape and is endowed with some of the Philippine Islands’ best naturescapes. Choose your own beach among the many that abound, from fawn beige to powdery white. Then match the experience with interesting mountain lairs, lakes, rivers, rain forests, wild animals, rare flora and fauna, and pocket communities of the existing ethnic groups. It has maintained its unspoiled environment, all within a rustic agricultural setting.

Oriental Mindoro Province is home to about 850,000 people and has a population density of 200 people per square kilometer. It is located 15 kilometers off the southwest coast of Luzon. It lies on the eastern portion of the island. It is bounded on the north by Verde Island and the Verde Passage, on the east by Maestro de Campo Island and Tablas Strait, on the south by Semirara Island near Pandarodan bay, and on the west by the province of Occidental Mindoro. It has a total land area of 4,364.7 square kilometers with 39 named and 89 unnamed islands and islets, leaving much of its attractions virgin to visitors, and an untrammeled area to explore.

Oriental Mindoro enjoys a climate favorable to vegetable growth throughout the year and has neither a dry season nor a pronounced maximum rain period. The location and topography of the island on the western side of the great ocean body is another contributing factor in the rainfall pattern of the province. China Sea, fed by warm water from a branch of south equatorial current, passes between Singapore and Borneo thus keeping the water bodies surrounding the island warm year-round and consequently providing excellent sources of moisture.

The people are mostly of Tagalog stock. The ethnic Mangyan tribe consists of various smaller tribes like the Iraya, Alangan, and Tadwanan. The lifestyles of Mindoreños are basically simple and rural. 70 percent of the populace engage in land and sea agriculture, with only 30 percent living in urbanized centers. The ethnic tribes, Mangyans, are gentle and withdrawn but many of them have managed to integrate into the cultural mainstream, largely in the municipalities of Mansalay, Baco, Puerto Galera, Roxas, and Bongabong. These Mangyans are skilled weavers and craftsmen, producing intricate tribal finery, including baskets, mats, and other items, both functional and aesthetic.

Tagalog is predominant language. Other language-dialects spoken are Ilocano and Cebuano. Strains of the Mangyan dialect spoken are Arayan, Alagnan, Buhid, Hunuo, and Tadyawan. The working population can read and speak Filipino and English. Oriental Mindoro is composed of 15 municipalities, with Calapan City as the capital of the province. The municipalities are Baco, Bansud, Bongabong, Bulalacao, Naujan, Mansalay, Pinamalayan, Pola, Puerto Galera, Roxas, San Teodoro, Socorro, and Victoria Gloria.

Tourist Office: Calapan Satellite Office, Department of Tourism, Unit 23 La Filipiniana, Commercial Complexm Barangay Sto. Niño, 5200 Calapan City, Tel: (6343) 286 2378

Sights in Oriental Mindoro Province

Oriental Mindoro greatest attraction is Puerto Galera, a beautiful, protected natural harbors. Known as the Pearl of Mindoro, it is world-famous for splendid beaches, coral reefs, and exquisite dive sites for new and experienced divers alike. There are shallow coral gardens, interesting rock formations, and colorful species to watch, like crabs, shrimps, sea anemones, moray, and trumpet fishes.

Alibatan Island in Baco, noted for its white sand, serves as a breeding place for seagulls and turtles. Corals and oysters can be found all around the area. Also in Baco is Mt. Halcon, the country's third highest peak and a favorite destination for nature tripping and mountain climbing. In Puerto Galera, 423-foot Tamaraw Falls is a series of asymmetrical falls, leading to a grand fall, dropping to the frothy waterbed below. Another attraction within the area is Sabang Beach, a portion of which is tourist-flocked for water sports and a cluster of nightspots popular for evening socials. Beside Sabang Beach is Small La Laguna, with amazingly beautiful coral reefs, and water ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Among the activities that can be enjoyed in the province are mountain climbing, trekking, hiking, camping, butterfly watching, game fishing, and adventure trips to the wilderness, scuba diving, snorkeling, and swimming. Visit the Mangyan settlement areas, explore a natural cave and waterfall and go island hopping."

Occidental Mindoro Province

Occidental Mindoro Province(western side of Mindoro Island) is endowed with mountains seas, virgin forests, white sand beaches, islands and islets rich in marine life, coral gardens, caves and cascading waterfalls Occidental Mindoro is located south of the province of Batangas in Southern Luzon. To the north, it is bounded by Verde Island Passage, to the west and south by Mindoro Strait, and on the east by Oriental Mindoro.

Occidental Mindoro Province covers 5,865.71 square kilometers and is home to about a half million people and has a population density of 83 people per square kilometer, making it one of the Philippines’s more sparsely populated provinces. The topography of Occidental Mindoro is generally rugged, with narrow strips of coastal lowlands. Its terrain is characterized by successive mountain ranges, valleys, and elongated plateaus, with rolling lands along the coastal region.

The province has two pronounced seasons: the dry season from November to April, and the wet season during the rest of the year. It is shielded from the northeast monsoon and tradewinds by mountain ranges but is vulnerable to the southeast monsoon and cyclonic storms. The average annual volume of rainfall is 2,000 mm. Temperature ranges from 30.7 to 16.4 degrees Celsius.

Tagalog is spoken by 70 percent of the people. Other language-dialects are Ilokano (10.63 percent), Hiligaynon (6.47 percent), and Kinaray-a (5.84 percent). The working population can read and speak Filipino and English. Occidental Mindoro is divided into eleven municipalities: Abra de Ilog, Calintaan, Looc, Lubang, Magsaysay, Mamburao, Paluan, Rizal, Sablayan, San Jose, and Sta.Cruz.

Sights in Occidental Mindoro Province

Occidental Mindoro’s primary draw is diving. There are several unexplored shoals and atolls. The areas around Ambulong Island, Ilin Island, White Island, and Pandan Grande are all excellent diving areas with coral reefs, colorful marine life, exotic fish and exquisite seashells.

Apo Reef is accessible from Occidental Mindoro. It is regarded as one of the largest reefs in the world. This 34-kilometer reef in Sablayan, which is located in Apo Island, is acclaimed as one of the best in Asia. Apo Reef Marine Park includes the bird-populated islands of Binangaan and Cajos del Bajo, which are surrounded by waters with over 500 species of marine life and 400 to 500 coral species.

Mt. Iglit in San Jose is a game sanctuary for the tamaraw, a wild animal found nowhere else in the world, bearing a resemblance to the Philippine buffalo, commonly known as carabao. Mamburao boasts of an elongated strip of beach with natural and rustic surroundings. In Lumang Bayan, Sablayan, a five-hectare park overlooking the sea, known as Presing Park, is frequented by promenaders.

Every 25th to 27th of April, residents of San Jose celebrate the Saknungan, a three-day thanksgiving festival highlighted by streetdances and parades. Saknungan is a Mangyan term which means ""bayanihan"" or the spirit of cooperation, brotherhood, and unity at work — the spirit portrayed by the Mindoreños day-to-day, especially during the planting and the harvesting seasons.

Apo Reef

Apo Reef (north of Palawan Island and southwest of Mindoro Island) has some of the clearest water and healthiest coral formations in the Philippines. It is located near the Calamianes, group of islands north of the main island of Palawan. One the main dive operations is Discovery Divers, run by a German named Gunter Bernert. He offers tours in which you can fly by ultra-light craft to diving areas, paddle a kayak to actual dive site and put on scuba gear for the dives among pristine reefs with crinoids, lizard fish, parrot fish, brain coral, anemones, butterfly fish, clown fish, angelfish and puffer fish

Apo Reef was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2006 According to UNESCO: “Apo Reef is the second largest contiguous coral reef in the world and the largest one in the Philippines. The Apo Reef Natural Park consists of the three islands. Apo Reef is the largest among the three islands. It has a shallow lagoon with a depth of 2 meters to 10 meters surrounded by mangrove forest which serves as source of food, nursery and spawning ground of several coastal and marine species of fauna and sanctuary of birds. Its diverse corals are approximately 34 square kilometers of reef where different species of fish, marine mammals and invertebrates thrive.

“Apo Reef, the largest atoll like reef in the Philippines, is a submerged platform that is a submerged of a 34-square-kilometer sub triangular northern and southern atoll like reefs separated by a 30-m deep channel that is open to the west The channel runs east to west from 1.8 m to 30 m deep with a fine white sand bottom numerous mounds and patches of branching corals under the deep blue water. The main geographical features of Apo Reef is submerged. There are three islands that mark it on the surface, the Apo Island, Apo Menor (Binangaan'; and Cayos del Bajo Tinangkapang). The largest is Apo Island (22.0) hectares which harbors mangroves and beach vegetations, whereas Binangaan is rocky Iimestone island with relatively few vegetation and Cayos del Bajo (200-300 sq.m.) is a coralline rock formation with no vegetation.

“Apo Reef was proclaimed as Protected Area under the category of Natural Park and it Surrounding waters as buffer zone by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 868, dated September 6, 1996. The Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP) and its peripheral Buffer Zone covers an area of 15,792 hectares and 11,677 hectares, respectively, totaling 27,469 hectares in all.”

Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park

Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2006 According to UNESCO: Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park (MIBNP) “encompasses at least eight major river systems and has a rugged terrain composed of slopes, river gorgers and plateaus. Portions of the Park are covered by upland hardwoods, such as Anthocephalus chinensis, Artocarpus blancoi, Ficus nota, Hawili, Alibangbang and Balinghasai. The larger plants indigenous to the site which are rarely seen in some other regions are Kalantas tree, Tindalo, Almaciga and Kamagong. The Park also harbors the endangered Jade vine. [Source: UNESCO]

“The Park is the habitat of the endemic Tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis), which is one of the most seriously endangered large mammals. Because of the endangered Tamaraw, the Park was initially established as "game refuge and bird sanctuary". The Park has been declared as an ASEAN Heritage site. Other forms of wildlife can also be found in the Park like the Phil. Deer, Wild Pig and Mindoro Cloud Rat as well as a number of bird species which are endemic to the island such as Mindoro Imperial Pigeon, Mindoro Scops Owl, Black-hooped Coucal, Scarlet-collared Flowerpecker and Heart Pigeon.

“Mount Iglit-Baco National Park covers large areas of the central part of the island of Mindoro on the Philippines. It is situated near Mt. Baco (2,488 m a.s.l.) and Mt. Iglit, the latter reaching 2,364 m a.s.l. Unfortunately, the island is among the most deforested parts of the archipelago. Less than 3 percent of primary forests have been preserved there. Remnants of lowland rain, mountain and cloud forests with critically threatened endemic animal species are protected in the national park.”

Romblon

Romblon is famed for its rich marble deposits. Marble, however, is not the province’s only treasure. Existing in relative isolation from the rest of the Philippines, Romblon retains much of its Spanish legacy and largely unexplored natural sites. Lining the shores of the province’s three major islands — Romblon, Sibuyan, and Tablas — are some of the best, most unspoiled beaches in this part of the country. Ringed by palm-fringed white sand, these beaches boast a wealth and variety of marine life offshore. Inland, there are a number of waterfalls and an inland salt lake.

Romblon Province covers 1,356.9square kilometers and is home to about 300,000 people and has a population density of 190 people per square kilometer. Located almost at the center of the Philippine archipelago, the province of Romblon lies in the Sibuyan Sea and is composed of three islands: Romblon (main island), Tablas Island, and Sibuyan Island. It is bounded on the north by the province of Marinduque, on the south by Panay Island, on the east by Masbate, and on the west by Mindoro. From Manila, it is about 187 nautical miles or 169 air miles. Largely mountainous and rugged in terrain, the islands of Romblon are volcanic in origin. The highest peak is 2,057 meters above sea level.

The climate in Romblon is characterized by seasons that are not very pronounced. November to April is relatively dry and the rest of the year is wet. The people of Romblon speak a variety of Visayan dialects, notably a mixture of Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Aklanon, and other minor tongues. Tagalog is widely understood, and English stands as the medium of communication in business and trade. Romblon has 17 municipalities, which are further subdivided into 213 barangays. The main island of Romblon comprises the municipalities of Romblon, Banton, Concepcion, Corcuera, San Jose; Tablas Island comprises Alcantara, Calatrava, Ferrol, Looc, Sta. Fe, San Agustin, San Andres, Odiongan, Sta. Maria; Sibuyan Island comprises Cajidiocan, Magdiwang, San Fernando.

Mount Guiting-Guiting is known for its wildlife. According to UNESCO: Mount Guiting-Guiting, Romblon- Because of its isolated location, this impressive mountain has protected some of the rarest species of trees and wild animals, such as fruit bats, large monkeys and a hundred species of birds. [Source: UNESCO]

Marinduque

Marinduque is one of the smallest provinces in the Philippines. From outer space it looks like a green human heart floating on a clear blue sea. The island province is characterized by undulating hills, picturesque valleys, sheer seaside cliffs, interspersed with patches of flatland on different parts of the island. The soil is fertile but marked in certain spots by large stony areas, making wide continuous farming difficult. Deposits of iron, copper, and lead are found and mined in the province.

Marinduque province covers 952.6 square kilometers and is home to about 235,000 people and has a population density of 250 people per square kilometer. The heart-shaped island of Marinduque rests on the Sibuyan Sea and is located south of Manila between the Bondoc Peninsula at the southeastern portion of Luzon and Mindoro Island. It is bounded on the north-northeast by Quezon, south by the island of Romblon, west-southwest by Oriental Mindoro, and west by Batangas. The island province has an aggregate land area of 95,920 hectares, including four major islets and eight minor ones. Marinduque consists of the municipalities of Boac, Buenavista, Gasan, Mogpog, Sta. Cruz, and Torrijos.

During the yearly Lenten season, a myriad of tourists, from the ardent devotee to a mere observer, flock to Marinduque to witness the very popular Moriones Festival. A biblical character in the person of the Roman centurion, Longinus, comes alive as the towns of Boac, Mogpog, and Gasan celebrate Moriones. It is a religious festival, which links the story of Longinus with Christ’s Passion and Death. It is celebrated during the observance of Holy Week, or the week before Easter, which also happens to be in the middle of the Philippine summer.

The Marinduqueños speak a unique blend of Tagalog and Visayan dialects, with traces of Bicolano. The working population can read and speak Filipino and English. Marinduque has two pronounced seasons: dry form December to May, and wet from June to October. The average monthly rainfall is highest in October, and lowest in April.

Boracay

Boracay (off the northwestern tip of Panay Island, one hour flight from Manila) was voted by "Beach Bum" magazine as one of the best beaches in the world. It was also voted as having the 5th Best Hotel in the World, and the Top Hotel Spa in Asia by Travel & Leisure. Travel & Leisure also voted Boracay as the “World’s Best Island,” ahead of Bali, Santorini, and the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef.

Situated in Malay, Aklan, Western Visayas, Boracay is just seven kilometers long, and less than a kilometer wide at its narrowest point. It features sugary white sand beaches and azure blue waters, shaded by tilted palm trees. Its main attraction is the four-kilometer-long White Beach, touted as the “finest beach in the world.” The water surrounding the island is shallow and the sand is finer and brighter than most beaches in the archipelago.

Boracay’s attractions include silky white sand, wonderfully clear water, palm trees, good restaurants, fun clubs, caves, boat trips, cheap bungalows and beautiful women which such tiny bikinis they get arrested. Huge flying foxes which sleep in the trees on the north side of the island during the day and fly up and down the beach at sunset. One the down side, Boracay can be crowded and many of the have been reefs badly damaged by dynamite fishing. If you’re going to stay at the world’s best island, you might as well stay at the island’s most recognized resort, | Shangri-La's Boracay Resort, which has been judged better than the Bangkok Peninsula and the Four Seasons Hualalai, Hawaii.

A paved road runs the length of the island. Several footpaths and secondary roads link the road to coastal areas. Passenger tricycles (small Japanese motorbikes with a sidecar) and pedicabs provide public transport. Rental bikes, mountain bikes, quadbikes and motorbikes are available. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), PDF, 2012]

Pricing information: Items Price
Accommodations — Hostel room Php 1,500
Accommodations — Hotel room Php 3,000 & up
Accommodations — Family room Php 7,000 & up
Accommodations — Resort cottage Php 8,000 & up
Dining — Seafood dishes Php 400 & up
Dining — Kebab Php 150 — 350
Dining — Fruitshake Php 100
Transportation — 10 minute tricycle ride Php 20.00 per person
Transportation — 10 minute jeepney/multicab ride Php 20.00 per person
Transportation — boat ride Ph 25.00 per person
Shopping — souvenir t-shirt Php 150
Shopping — handmade accessory Php 200 — 300

Tourist Information: Boracay Field Office, Balabag, Boracay, Malay, 5608 Aklan, Tel. No.: (6336) 506-0094, Fax: (6336) 288 3689, Website: www.boracay.com.ph

Boracay, The World’s Best Party Island

Jun Ventura wrote: “It’s really hard to match Boracay as a tropical paradise and a party island. Its main beach stretches seven kilometers with glistening powder-like sand, and the cool water is as clear as drinking water. The sandy bottom also slopes so gently that several meters away from the shore, the depth is just chest-high — and that’s throughout the entire shoreline!

“All along this magnificent beach are resorts, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, retail outlets, and even masseurs that will give you a massage with local coconut oil right there on the beach. Imagine, getting a tan while having a massage! To get you started, there’s a long list of things to do from banana boat rides to the latest craze in the island: kite surfing and cliff diving. One of the best thrills is simply riding a local sailboat called the paraw. It’s cheap, eco-friendly, and a fine way to escape from the crowds.

“Looking for a place to eat? Just walk along the beach and choose. You will surely enjoy dining under the stars while listening to serenades or watching fire dancers. You can have any meal that you crave for, whether it’s Greek, Moroccan, Austrian, Mexican, or vegetarian. But you should try one of the island’s favorites: fruit shakes loaded with tropical fruits like banana and mango...Then it’s time to party....As the sun dips, the famous nightlife of Boracay comes alive bar after bar. Listen and dance to pop, acoustic, reggae, world music, and the latest house music all in one night. But if you want to immortalize your name, head to Cocomangas Bar, located in Station 1. Drink their 15 concoctions and they will put your name on a brass strip and place it on their Wall of Fame for all to see.”

Boracay Beaches

The paradise-like photographs of Boracay that you have seen are likely to be from the White Beach — four kilometers of white, powdery fine sand dotted with resorts, shops, and restaurants — on the White Beach is composed of three sections: Station 1) the northernmost section, the widest beachfront, with the best (and most expensive) resorts and hotels; Station 2.) The center of White Beach, where people come to eat, shop, and party; Station 3), the southernmost and quietest section.

Because the waters off White Beach are calm during Amihan season (November to May), tourism is at its peak during these months when the northeastern winds blow. Conditions reverse during the rainy season, when the Habagat or monsoon winds blow.

White Beach is the primary tourist destination. Beachfront Path separates central section of the 4 kilometers long beach from hotels, restaurants and etc. A foot path at the northern end of White Beach runs to Diniwid Beach. Bulabog Beach, on the eastern side of the island opposite White Beach, has large waves and strong winds year-round. This makes it a hotspot for windsurfing and kiteboarding. In fact, Bulabog Beach is considered Asia’s top kitesurf destination.

Whichever side of the island or end of the beach you choose, there’s a room for every type of traveler here. Budget accommodations start at around US$ 17, and can go all the way to US$ 300 per person at prime resorts like Discovery Shores. And because Boracay gets tourists from different parts of the globe, you’ll find a wide variety of food choices: Chinese, Indian, American, Mexican, French, Italian, Swiss —even Moroccan food! Fresh seafood is a given.

Boracay Activities

There’s no shortage of activities for you at this island paradise. Boracay has around 25 dive sites that cater to all levels of divers You can go parasailing. Take a paraw (native outrigger boat) for a tour of the island. Go waterskiing. Or cliff diving.

After all the sports, indulge in a luxurious massage right on the beach or at one of the spas. Enjoy a healthy fruit shake at Jonah’s. Take a relaxing dip at the infinity pool of the Shangri-La Resort and Spa, with its mesmerizing view of the sea. Shop for shell jewelry. And when the sun goes down, you can head to any of Boracay’s bars for a taste of the island nightlife. Cocktails, draft beer, and imported ales flow nightly as live bands and pounding disco music entertain you. Most importantly, don’t forget to soak up some rays and lounge around on the fine white sand that made Boracay famous.If you’ve had too much to drink and just dozed off inside a bar, no problem. A Filipino waiter won’t drive you out. Another reason Boracay is the best island in the world.


Activity — banana boat Php 250 per person
Activity — helmet diving Php 600
Activity — parasailing Php 1,000
Activity — island hopping Php 750 per person
Activity — intro scuba diving Php 3,000
Activity — wind surfing EUR 45
Activity — parasailing Php 2,500
Activity — fly fishing Php 600

Boracay Closes for Six Months for Clean Up

In 2018, Boracay was closed for six months for a cleanup operation after the island called a "cesspool" by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. The island reopened after hotels made upgrades to their sewerage systems and these systems were approved by the government, which also imposed news law in an attempt to keep the island clean. When it reponed in November 2018, tourism numbers were strictly limited for the next 12 months — reduced from 19,000 at one time, which the island had previously been able to accommodat, to 6,000. There were also a lot of new rules, which seem to completely go against everything the island was supposed to be. [Source: Euan McKirdy, CNN, October 26, 2018]

Helen Coffey wrote in The Independent: “The popular tourist destination was shut to visitors after President Duterte visited the island and was reportedly outraged by “environmental violations” that had left the island a “cesspool”. After an initial six-month clean up, government officials have confirmed Boracay will have a “soft opening”, with only certain hotels allowed to operate, offering around 5,000 beds in total Rebranding as “a haven for health wellness, soft adventure and authentic Filipino cuisine”, Boracay still has a way to go before its full rehab is complete. “Six months is not enough to try to bring back the natural splendour of Boracay, regarded by many as one of the best beach destinations in the world,” said Romulo-Puyat. [Source: Helen Coffey, The Independent, October 11, 2018]

“There are three phases to the plan – phase one ends on 26 October, phase two will follow on immediately, and phase three is due to be completed by the end of 2019. Romulo-Puyat added: “It’s a long and arduous process, but if there is one thing we are going to guarantee our trade partners and our visitors, you will all surely experience a ‘better Boracay’”. In the meantime the Department of Tourism has been promoting other Philippines destinations, including the islands of Palawan and Cebu.

“The tiny island of Boracay, just four miles long and less than a mile wide, is the latest in a string of high profile victims of over-tourism. The Independent reported in early October that Maya Bay, which shot to international fame when it featured in The Beach, is closed until further notice. It closed in June 2018 due to the damage excessive numbers of tourists were doing to the local ecosystem, including coral reefs. The plan was for the beach to reopen in October 2018, but experts say the bay has not recovered sufficiently yet. “Four months’ closure was not enough,” Songtham Sukswang, the director of the Office of National Parks, told Traveller. “We need at least a year or even up to two years or maybe more for the environment to recover – this includes the coral reefs, mangrove, and the beach.”

New Rules at Boracay: No Longer The World’s Best Party Island?

When Boracay opened there was an effort to make it different kind of place. . “No more party island 24/7 and loud music,” said secretary of the department of tourism, Berna Romulo-Puyat told The Independent “No smoking and drinking by the beach and as a matter of policy, only environment friendly and safety compliant facilities will be allowed to operate on the island.” She said the aim is to make the island, which previously attracted two million visitors a year – more than 17,000 of them from the UK – more appealing to families and couples, rather than hard partiers. [Source: Helen Coffey, The Independent, October 11, 2018]

Boracay's new dos and don'ts (mostly don'ts) According to to CNN: 1 ) Do show your government-approved hotel reservation when arriving. Travelers need to have booked with an accredited hotel that's had its sewage system signed off by the government. 2 ) Do observe the correct zones for watersports. Powered watercraft like jetskis are now banished to a zone at least 100 meters offshore. 3 ) Do get around by e-jeepney. The iconic Philippines' public transport has had a green upgrade, and rides are free until December. [Source: Euan McKirdy, CNN, October 26, 2018]

4 ) Don't party on the beach. Beachside drinking (and the trash it creates) is now banned. 5 ) Don't bring an umbrella, beach bed or deckchair to the sand. They're all contraband now. 6 ) Don't bring pets onto the beach. Sorry pooch, no frolicking in the water for you. 7 ) Don't litter. Police will be handing out hefty penalties to offenders. 8 ) Don't BBQ on the sand. Grilled meats, including the iconic Philippines ihaw-ihaw skewers, are out. 9 ) Don't have a firework display after 9 p.m. Pyrotechnic displays are now under strict curfew.

10 ) Don't use single-use plastics. Plastic cups, cotton buds and the humble plastic straw, pariah of the environment, are now banned. 11 ) Don't gamble. You'd find it hard to anyway, as casinos have been banned from operating on the island. 12 ) Don't build an unregulated sandcastle. All sand-based seaside structures are subject to official approval. 13 ) Don't vomit in public places. Keep it classy (and to yourself), people.

Getting to Borocay

The fastest way to Boracay is to fly from Manila to Caticlan Airport in Panay island. Asian Spirit and Pacific Airways specialize in flights to Boracay Two airports on Panay Island also serve Boracay Island: Kalibo International Airport, located in Kalibo City in Aklan Province; Godofredo P. Ramos Airport, located in Malay in Aklan Province. Also known as Caticlan Airport. From Caticlan, a 15-minute tricycle ride takes you to the port, for your 30-minute boat transfer to Boracay island. From Kalibo, you will have to take a 1-2 hour van ride to the same port.

There are also many flights to Kalibo, one may also take the Manila-Kalibo flight however, travel time is 1½ hours by bus from Caticlan. Flight time from Manila to Caticlan is approximately 50 minutes. From Cebu City, flying time is also about 50 minutes and 30 minutes from Tablas, Romblon.

By Sea: An adventurous but more leisurely and romantic way to travel to Boracay is by ferry from Manila to Caticlan or Dumaguit, near Kalibo. Travel time is about 17 hours. Boats operating out of Caticlan jetty port provide transport from Boracay Island to Malay Province on Palay Island. Buses from other areas of Panay Island and car ferries from Roxas in Oriental Mindoro Province provide transport to Caticlan jetty port.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Philippines Tourism websites, Philippines government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020


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