Mahal, Tuz and I have just spent 16 days and 15 nights in Boracay and boy, oh, boy, were we so glad we finally visited this paradise I consider one of my second homes! (Siargao and Oslob are the other two).
Here’s a little background on how Boracay became my second home: https://wp.me/p7jAsu-pa
If you were like me who haven’t been to Boracay right after it opened again last October 26, 2018, there are a few important things you might need to know before visiting this paradise again. After all, Boracay is touted to be the best island in the world according to the following:
Gulf News –
“Boracay landed the first place in Conde Nast’s “Best Island in the World” category, while “Cebu and Visayan Islands” and Palawan ranked second and third place, respectively.” – https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/philippines/its-official-worlds-top-3-best-islands-are-in-philippines-1.2177580
Top 2 in Asia according to 2018 Readers’ Choice Award –
“The aptly named White Beach is Boracay’s main draw, with powdery white sand and shallow azure water ideal for swimming and snorkeling.” – https://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2014-10-20/top-30-islands-in-the-world-readers-choice-awards-2014
BORACAY BEFORE OCT. 26, 2018
Just to refresh your memory, here’s a little trivia about Boracay’s closure from Wikipedia:
Date: April 26 – October 26, 2018
Duration: 6 months
Location: Boracay, Malay, Aklan, Philippines
“The closure of the Philippine resort island of Boracay, one of the nation’s major tourist destinations, was set for six months starting April 26, 2018 as part of the government’s efforts at the island’s environmental rehabilitation.
The closure of the Philippine resort island of Boracay, one of the nation’s major tourist destinations, was set for six months starting April 26, 2018 as part of the government’s efforts at the island’s environmental rehabilitation. As part of the closure, Boracay would be closed except to registered island residents and employees of its business establishments.
In a business forum held in February 9, 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte called the island of Boracay a “cesspool” and announced plans to close the island to tourists and conduct a rehabilitation on the island in June 2018 to resolve the worsening sewage conditions there. Duterte has directed Environment secretary Roy Cimatu to resolve the environmental issues in the island. Boracay is part of the jurisdiction of the town of Malay of Aklan province. Three of Malay’s barangays are in Boracay.”
Did you read that? Cesspool indeed it was! If you’ve been following me since my SexyNomad days, I’ve been swimming in this cesspool since 2004! And I didn’t even know it! I didn’t know that the algal bloom that I’ve always seen in the waters of Boracay was because of how dirty it was! Eeeeewwwwww…
You can check my SexyNomad Boracay Posts here.
Look at these pictures below when Mahal and I were just best friends and I took him to this favorite island of mine back in Dec. 2012. These shots were taken at Willy’s Rock, one of Boracay’s iconic coral structures. We didn’t know that the summer heat and the microscopic waste in the water makes good food for the green algae that’s why they were thriving. We were literally swimming in poop! And so were you if you’ve been frequenting Boracay before as well. Lol!
Here is another set of pictures of us when we vacationed in Boracay back in March 2017, exactly two summers ago.
Eeewwww, right???!!! When I asked the Boracay residents about the green algae, they would always tell me that it’ what’s making the sand white. And I believed it. OMG.
BORACAY NOW AFTER ITS REHABILITATION
Because of the closure of Boracay and its rehabilitation, the water is now clean. No more algal bloom from Angol beach all the way to Station 1 (except towards the end of the 4-kilometer stretch heading to the now-closed Spider Cafe where there were other establishments that were closed down because of lack of proper sewage treatment facility).
Even from up above, you can see that the stretch of white beach is so pristine, right?
Here are some photos showing how clean the water is now. These below were taken in Willy’s Rock:
These below were taken in Angol Beach, beyond Station 3.
These below were taken in Station 2:
Such a huge difference from before, right?
These below were taken at the end of Station 1, where I told you some establishments were closed down, most probably for not having a proper sewage treatment facility. And so, whatever trash they have there, is still probably polluting the water, hence, the existence still of the algal bloom, although it doesn’t look as bad as before.
So aside from Boracay’s beach being mostly clean now and its waters being clear, clean and algae-free for the most part, here are some other things you need to know —
BORACAY DO’S AND DON’TS
- Dispose your garbage properly. There are trash bins everywhere for biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials.
- Smoke on the designated Smoking Areas only.
- Avoid using single-use plastic bags. Instead, use an eco bag. We experienced this first-hand when we did our groceries at Budget Mart in D’Mall and Save More in City Mall. Both times, we were forced to buy eco bags because we forgot to bring our own.
- Use public restroom, toilet and lavatory.
- All establishments maintain the cleanliness on their respective areas
- Litter on the beach and in other public areas.
- Smoke on the beach and in other public areas.
- Extract or collect sand and pebbles in beach areas.
- Carry/clutch glass bottles of any beverages in the beach areas. I actually saw a commotion one night while we were dining in Calypso. Apparently, a foreign guy was carrying a bottle of alcohol by the beach and he got reprimanded to his embarrassment and frustration.
- Urinate and or defecate in any public place.
Violators will be fined up to P2,500 or 30-day imprisonment.
OTHER THINGS TO NOTE
Based on our own experience during our recent two-week stay in Boracay, let me share with you the following things which will be useful for you should you decide to visit Boracay soon:
WHERE TO STAY? HERE’S AN UPDATED LIST OF AUTHORIZED AND ACCREDITED HOTELS FOR 2019
There’s a list of establishments operating in Boracay who are allowed to accept guests and tourists, right? Let me share with you this list below (taken from https://www.myboracayguide.com/info/en/boracay-opening-2019-6240.html):
CAN I STAY AT NON-ACCREDITED LODGING PLACE?
But what if you want to stay somewhere that is not included in that list yet like what happened to us? The usual cheap Boracay accommodation (Bonueva Homes) I go to has already complied with the LGU but the processing of their DENR requirements was still ongoing at that time so I thought we’d be forced to stay in one of the accredited hotels (which is beyond our planned budget because of the more expensive rates nowadays after Boracay’s cleanup.) It turns out, the family who owns Bonueva Homes are Boracay residents too. And local tourists can stay with residents provided that the resident will pick them up at the Caticlan Jetty Port. So what they did was their son picked us up at the Caticlan Jetty Port, and after we paid for all the fees (environmental fee, boat fare, terminal fee), he was the one who filled out the forms for us at Caticlan Jetty Port which is a requirement for all tourists coming to the island. He rode a different boat from us though. He rode a boat for Boracay residents, while we rode a passenger boat for tourists (we chose Oyster Ferry instead of the usual wooden ferry). And every time someone would ask us where do we stay, we’d just respond, “We’re staying with a resident.” And as it turns out, it seemed like we were their only guests at that time. Maybe it was because they haven’t really marketed their establishment again. I’m just glad that we were able to contact them and they gave us a very good rate once again (only P750/night) for an aircon room with a double bed, hot and cold shower, cable TV, toiletries, table and chair (plus another extra table), free wifi, inclusive of change in bed sheets and towels every few days, water heater for drinking water, free use of kitchen and dining ware and free use of extra mouse for my computer (coz mine got busted). Below are the photos of the room we rented for cheap. And the best part, they are just 50 steps away from the beach! You can read about my 2017 blog post about them here: https://momtraneur.com/2017/03/08/bonueva-home-guesthouse-boracay-cheap-room/
It’s not bad, right? I mean, if you’re budget travelers like us who want to stay in Boracay for weeks at a time, and it’s the beach and scenery you’re after, and you want to spend your money elsewhere like in nice food places, shopping, tours, and what-not, then maybe you can do it like we did. You may contact the owner of Bonueva Homes, Ervin, at 0920-917-5673 and his wife, Jet, at 0927-877-3691 to inquire.
HOW TO GET TO BORACAY AND WHAT ARE THE FEES?
We took a Cebu Pacific flight from Cebu to Caticlan. But you can take any major airline that flies to Caticlan if you want.
Once you get to Caticlan airport, get your checked-in baggage if you have any and exit the airport. You will notice there will be people outside who will call on you to ride their vehicle. As for us, we chose a guy who was carrying a sign “Tricycle”. He led us outside across the airport (it wasn’t too far a walk) where we lined up to get tickets for a tricyle ride.
Tricycle Fare from Caticlan Airport to Caticlan Jetty Port – P50.00
When we reached Caticlan Jetty Port, we went to 7-11 to meet with the son of the owner of Bonueva Homes. He then led us to the Jetty Port. Outside, he signed a form for us. Then afterward, I went to the window outside the port selling tickets for an environmental fee, terminal fee and the ferry we will ride.
Environmental Fee – P75
Terminal Fee – P100
Boat Ticket – P25
Total: P200 / person
*Tuz, being 3 years old is still free. When he turns 4 years old, we already need to pay for his fare.
There are two kinds of ferries you can ride from Caticlan Jetty Port to Cagban Port in Boracay:
- There’s the usual wooden ferry boat which is only P25.00 per person.
- Then there’s Oyster Ferry which is P75.00 per person.
We rode the latter, Oyster Ferry, to and from Boracay even if it was more expensive. It is air-conditioned, with nice, cushioned seats, and it’s just generally comfortable. There’s an area for luggage and its crew were very helpful in terms of helping us carry Tuz and our bags up and down the boat which we appreciate very much since we were carrying 8 bags in total (I don’t know how to travel light anymore, lol!)
Once in Cagban Port, just go outside, at the right side of the port, where tricycles are lined up. Fare is P120 going to your accommodation in Boracay, at least until Station 3. Maybe it will be a little more expensive if your accommodation is farther than Station 3.
WHAT IS THAT FLOATING BOARDWALK IN STATION 3?
Okay, so here’s a booboo we made the day we arrived in Boracay. That rubber boardwalk in Station 3 we thought was for tourists like us to just step into, turns out to be a boardwalk where tourists coming from a cruise ship can walk on from their ship to the island. And so as I was taking a video of this boardwalk, a policeman whistled at us because what we were doing was prohibited. Lol! So be wary!
CAN WE STILL WEAR SKIMPY BIKINI ATTIRES IN BORACAY?
Uhmmm… yes. Need I say more? ^_^
THEY SAY THERE ARE NO MORE NIGHT PARTIES IN BORACAY, IS THIS TRUE?
In a way, the answer is both yes and no. Yes, because the parties we’ve been used to before are no longer allowed. Parties before usually happened near or by the beach, right? People smoked and drank anywhere they pleased, even had sex in darker parts of the beach (I know someone, lol!) Well, these are now prohibited. However, there are still live bands and music playing at night in some bars and restaurants but it happens inside their establishments. The beach at night is actually very peaceful. It’s nice to just hang out there, lie down on the sand and look at the starry sky. Just don’t sleep there, lol!
CITY MALL IS NOW OPEN IN BORACAY
We were happy when we found out there’s already a mall in Boracay. That was the time the mouse of my computer broke and I needed to buy a new one. But when we got there (P20 fare each from Station 3), it’s just a basic mall with Save More, a cafe, fast food restaurants, I’m not sure how many cinemas, plus some other shops. There are no computer shops to my dismay. Oh well.
WATER TAXIS IN CAGBAN PORT
Aside from the usual ferries, there are also now water taxis in Cagban Jetty Port. According to their website:
“How does one get to this pristine white sandy beach of Boracay? The Caticlan Boracay Transport Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CBTMPC offers their outrigger motor bancas from 6am to 10pm and three (3) fiberglass boats on 24/7 basis to its patrons to and from the Island. Then again a more convenient and faster way of transportation is made available to everyone – the BORACAY WATER TAXI!
This first ever Water Taxi Service is conceptualized with the intent of rendering fast, convenient, safe and personalized sea transport service to tourist and visitors going to Boracay Island and vice-versa. It is a transport service utilizing speedboats with capacities of (10) to twenty-eight (28) passengers at a cruising speed of no less than 25 knots, which can only be availed through charter basis.”
Read more here: http://www.boracaywatertaxi.com/?page_id=16
WHAT ELSE IS IN STORE FOR BORACAY?
We will surely be looking forward to the Balabag Wetland Park when we come back to Boracay.
All in all, these changes in Boracay aren’t so bad. Actually, they’re awesome! I remember my sister and I talking about going to Boracay last November which never pushed through (and we ended up going to Siargao instead) because we thought it would be so boring and so prohibitive. My sister and her gf are smokers and drinkers so it would be hard for them to enjoy the island if these activities were totally prohibited. At least there are designated areas for these things.
And more than that, Boracay’s ecosystem and its environment are now protected. Hurray to President Duterte for his iron will about cleaning up Boracay! Nothing is impossible indeed!
For non-smokers, non-drinkers and environmental activists and enthusiasts, you will totally enjoy this newly cleaned paradise like we did!
Watch out for my future Boracay posts about what to do, where to go and where to eat. Until then… Ciao for now and enjoy your summer!!!
P.S. You might want to check my VLOG about this: