Boracay is a tropical island located approximately 315km (200 miles) south of Manila and 2km off the northwest tip of the island of Panay in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. It is one of the Philippines’s most popular tourist destinations. Boracay Island comprises the barangays of Manoc-Manoc, Balabag, and Yapak (3 of the 17 barangays which make up the Municipality of Malay), and is under the administrative control of the Philippine Tourism Authority in coordination with the Provincial Government of Aklan.
Boracay Island is located off the northwest corner of the island of Panay, and belongs to the Western Visayas island-group, or Region VI, of the Philippines. The island is approximately seven kilometers long, dog-bone shaped with the narrowest spot being less than one kilometer wide, and has a total land area of 10.32 square kilometers.
Boracay’s two primary tourism beaches, White Beach and Bulabog Beach, are located on opposite sides of the island’s narrow central area. White Beach faces westwards and Bulabog Beach faces eastwards. The island also has several other beaches.
White Beach is the main tourism beach. It is a bit over four kilometers long and is lined with resorts, hotels, lodging houses, restaurants, and other tourism-related businesses. In the central portion, for about two kilometers, there is a footpath known as the Beachfront Path separating the beach itself from the establishments located along it. North and south of the Beachfront Path, beachfront establishments do literally front along the beach itself. Several roads and paths connect the Beachfront Path with Boracay’s Main Road, a vehicular road which runs the length of the island. At the extreme northern end of White Beach, a footpath runs around the headland there and connects White Beach with Diniwid Beach.
Bulabog Beach, across the island from White Beach, is a secondary tourism beach and Boracay’s main windsurfing and kiteboarding area.
Boracay Island was originally home to the Ati tribe. Boracay is part of Aklan Province, which became an independent province on April 25, 1956. Formerly undiscovered, it wasn’t till the 1970s that tourism began to develop in Boracay, and the island became popular with backpackers in the 1980s.
Decades ago, Boracay Island was a well-guarded secret, almost possessively so that only a few knew of its existence.
It was only in the 70′s when, it is said, a foreign movie crew accidentally “discovered” this island paradise. Others maintain that it was the German traveller, Jens Peters’ book, which included rave reviews of Boracay that changed the island’s pace from that of being a quiet secret to eventually being voted (like many other beaches in the Asian region) as having the best beach in the world.
Whichever story is true, it was around this time that Boracay Island slowly ceased to be a private travellers hangout and eventually became a favourite tourist destination in the Philippines. In a span of a mere 10 years, the whole world, it seemed, discovered Boracay and the once, nearly deserted stretch of beach became a teeming vacation and leisure spot for upscale tourists from all parts of the world.
Weather in Boracay is generally divided into two seasonal weather patterns known locally as the Amihan and Habagat seasons. In the Tagalog language, Amihan means a cool northeast wind, and Habagat means west or southwest wind; south-west monsoon. Amihan and Habagat seasons are generally associated respectively with the El NiÃƒÂ±o and La NiÃƒÂ±a global weather patterns. The Amihan season is characterized by moderate temperatures, little or no rainfall, and a prevailing wind from the east. The Habagat season is characterized by hot and humid weather, frequent heavy rainfall, and a prevailing wind from the west. Boracay will be in the Amihan weather pattern from sometime in September or October to sometime in May or June and in the Habagat weather pattern for the remainder of the year. These dates can vary in individual years, though. Tropical Storms can impact Boracay at any time of year, but are most likely to be seen during the Habagat season.
A number of accommodation types are scattered all over Boracay, ranging from luxurious hotel types to budget, spartan rooms. Guests can also choose according to location–Station 3 is where most of the cheaper lodgings are located, while Station 2 is meant for those who want to be within close proximity of the bars. Station 1, meanwhile, is where you can find the more isolated accommodations, offering peace and quiet to those looking for a respite from the usual action-packed Boracay night scene. These are usually for the more upscale vacationers.
Boracay is the site of a world-class 18-hole par 72 golf course designed by Graham Marsh. In addition, Boracay now has in excess of 350 beach resorts with more than 2,000 rooms ranging in quality from five-star to budget accommodations, so tourists are sure to find whatever they are looking for. Boracay also offers a wide range of restaurants, bars, pubs, and nightclubs that bop until morning.
Boracay is one competitive venue for the Asian Windsurfing Tour, with the week-long Boracay International Funboard Cup competition usually being held on Bulabog Beach each January. The well-known Ati-Atihan Festival takes place each January in Kalibo on nearby Panay island. A much smaller Ati-Atihan festival is celebrated on Boracay, usually in the second or third week of January.
Dragon boat races are held annually on Boracay under the auspices of the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation, with teams coming from around the Philippines and from other Asian nations to compete. The races usually take place sometime in April or May. Since 2003, the Philippine Ultimate Association has been organizing the Boracay Open Asian Beach Ultimate Tournament, an ultimate frisbee event, which is usually held during summer. The Olympic Council of Asia has announced that Boracay will host the 2014 Asian Beach Games.
The Boracay Dragons, Boracay’s ultimate frisbee team, ranked #1 in the Philippines, and soon in Asia. They competed in Brazil for World Championship Beach Ultimate 2007. All of the players on the Boracay team were shorter than the shortest players on every other team combined, and only half of the team could afford to fly to Brazil. Nonetheless, the Boracay team took home the most awards undefeated against every other team until the final match in which they lost. Despite being second place in the tournament, the Boracay Dragons are considered to be 2007′s most formidable Ultimate Frisbee team.
Other than Filipino (Tagalog), English is widely spoken in Boracay. Aklanon or Akeanon, is also spoken, as Boracay is part of Aklan Province. The Ati language was spoken by the original inhabitants of the island.
On the island, the two main modes of transport are via motor-tricycles along the main road or by walking along the beaches. Pedicabs are also available for transport along the Beachfront Path. Other means of transportation include mountain bikes, quadbikes and motorbikes, all of which can be rented.
To explore around the island’s coast, motorized bancas and sailing paraws are available for rent. These are outrigger canoes and are common sight in waters around the island. The sailing paraw is a narrow hulled boat with outriggers either side and with passengers sometimes seated on a trampoline platform between the outrigger supports. These are extremely fast off the wind, but can be unwieldy for inexperienced sailors.