Boracay lies limp, fragile like a soggy French-fry.
The moccasin-shaped island sits just two kilometers from Panay Island in the Philippines’ western Visayas.
Traditional bancas – wooden Flipino boats with outriggers designed for increased stability – line the pier waiting to ship truckloads of tourists over to the seductive sliver of sand.
I have arrived in the rainy season and venomous clouds have amassed over Panay and look ready to strike little Boracay, only seven kilometers long and one kilometer wide.
A motorized rickshaw drives me from Boracay’s harbor to my hotel. For a minuscule island, the traffic is intense. Exhaust fumes billow from parked vans and motorbikes; horns wail as piggish-coloured tourists dart across the island’s only road. Filipinos bustle about trying to get on with their day. Of all the photos I had seen of Boracay’s palm-fringed, chalk-white beaches, none of them showed what transpired on the other side: Raw life. Unlike other idyllic isles, Boracay seems a functioning albeit chaotic place but, perhaps, on its last legs.
I drop my bags and head to the beach. And yes, it is alluring: the sand’s white powder massages feet, the sea a million shades of green. Countless palm trees lean towards the water as if wanting to cool themselves. Retreating waves leaves the sand softer and polisher, a shiny coating. Dozens of blue sailboats wait at the sand’s edge daring visitors to head out into the darkening skies.
I walk the sandy pedestrian strip past dive shops, chicken restaurants, bar, tourist stalls, nightclubs, resorts, budget hotels, bungalows, travel agencies, hawkers, internet cafes, coffee joints and any other of the innumerable business dedicated to the sighing and sun-bathing tourist.
I talk to one Filipino man who reminisces about the island twenty years earlier when only a half-dozen hotels and a handful of foreigners graced it. It was intimate, hidden – an adult’s playground, he muses, eyes fixed with romance and nostalgia. A veritable Eden.
At night, the bars pulsate and shake with awful music and indecent inhibitions. It is perpetual spring-break. Mostly white bodies occupy the dance floor while those of darker complexion spin the tracks and serve the drinks. Cops patrol the beach trying to keep a semblance of order to an island where people do work and do live.
The island’s segregation intrigues me the most. The interplay between tourists who have come here to escape their lives and the locals who call here home remains fascinating. I wonder if the people who live here find the island a Paradise.
I later learn the island’s excrement is dumped on their side of the island.
As more and more people come to the island to live, to work and to play, these pressures could very well push this pretty strip of sand and trees and sea past its capacity.
A shame. But a story well-trodden. The rain starts to fall.
This is one of my favorite islands in the Philippines, but I could name many. Malcapuya has a fantastic sandy beach and there are no hotels, hostels or houses to spend the night. It is a perfect place to forget about civilization and spend a day with complete relaxation and enjoyment. It has some small bamboo houses where you can sit and eat while admiring stunning scenery. It is perfect for relaxing and unplugging.
If I thought the Philippines was already under control, I was wrong. Camiguin, Mindanao. I can still sense my jaw dropping against my chest. This island features coral white sand, the water moves, changing its shape, and the size is perfect: You can get away to be alone, you can spend an evening with the tide .. . Or you can be happy, period. You can see more at ... Www.Trips.Dsldiesel.Es / camiguin /
While traveling in Malaysia, during a trip round Southeast Asia, we stayed in Sipadan, an enclave famous for its fauna. After several days of awesome dives, I wanted something more laid back, so I took a boat trip that was going to a lonely island for snorkelling. When I arrived I could not believe what I was seeing- it was a tiny island inhabited by some Aboriginal families wearing very few clothes and living in huts made out of palm trees. I lay on the sand and the children approached me, a strange character so different from them who was wearing strange things, sunscreen, of which I gave a little to each one of them and they smiled throughout day. Perhaps the most beautiful and peaceful place I've ever been to.
One thing you can not miss if you go through Bohol in the Philippines is the Virgin Island. From Panglao, Bohol's little sister, you can go on day trips: I went dolphin watching, diving in Balicasag, and went on a visit to an island for a really low price. It was the perfect dessert island. The bangka left me, barely able by low tide, at the end of a crescent of sand that meant I had to walk there. Inside there are palm trees and you could sleep really well. The silence there is one of the scariest things I've ever heard. Neither waves nor distant rumors.
When one approaches the island from a boat, you get the feeling that there can not be so much real beauty. It's an island full of white sand and palm trees with few buildings. There are only a few huts where divers serve lunch between dives. The width of the island is no more than about 200 meters and one kilometer long. It is protected as fish sanctuary by the government, and therefore the dives are very good.