October 26, 2018 that was when the new Boracay welcomed tourists to its pristine beaches once again.
After a much publicized closure of the famous island last April 4, 2018. Boracay finally opened its doors errr shoreline to the public.
So what changed?
For this post we shall call the upgraded destination as the New Boracay.
But has the island significantly changed that much for it to merit the description of The New Boracay?
My First Solo Travel Experience:
Boracay will always have a special place in my heart. This is where I had my first solo travel experience back in August 2016. I never was given the opportunity to head back to the island up until this year.
For me to create a better comparison I decided to head to the New Boracay the same week as when I last step foot on the island 3 years ago.
Plus this was my birthday week. So happy birthday to me!
Caticlan Airport Heading to the Ferry Terminal:
I do not know if I am more conscious about my surroundings now than before but I think the Airport in Caticlan also got an upgrade. It is more spacious and less chaotic compared to the last time I visited.
There were now buses that would bring you from the plane to the arrival area.
Although the trip was only less than a minute but I understand the local government was after the safety of the tourists. But because of the very short ride you can’t avoid hearing sassy remarks from the tourists. Oh well!
Travel tip: How to Get to the Ferry Terminal
In the Arrival area you can see an aisle of van rentals that can take you from the airport to the Caticlan port. My bad I was not able to ask how much it costs but I overheard that it cost 100 Php per person.
However, if you plan on saving a few bucks then I recommend you take the trike ride which costs 50Php per person. For solo traveler’s you need to pay 150 Php for the trip but you get the whole tricycle for yourself.
You would need to walk a few meters to head to the tricycle parking area. But don’t worry there are people holding signboards to assist you where to go.
And it’s not that far people. I’m sure you won’t get lost!
Caticlan Port Bound to New Boracay– No change is a good Change
I allocated 300 Php for the Environmental Fee. As 1. I could no longer recall how much it cost based on my previous trip and 2. Boracay had an upgrade so I anticipated they’ll increase the fee to make up for the expenses of improving the island.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out I under shot my budget. The environmental fee only costs 25 Php while the boat ride to and from Boracay is at 30 Php per way.
Even if they increased the prices based on 3 years back I’m pretty sure it was not that significant. So this solo traveler was very happy with this budget save.
Confirmation Booking before Heading to New Boracay
For those who have never been to Boracay you must know that the plane lands on Caticlan airport which is in mainland of Aklan region. You need to ride a ferry to get to Boracay Island.
The Regional government has provided tighter rules on who can visit The New Boracy.
Government tourism employees would require your hotel confirmation booking together with a valid ID before you are allowed to purchase your ferry tickets and pay for the environmental fee.
If you are unable to show it then you are not allowed to visit the new Boracay.
The Main Event: The New Boracay
The famous white sand beach is located a few kilometers away from the Boracay port. And by few kilometers I would mean a 150 php tricycle ride if you are a solo traveler.
If you are up for some adventure you can rent motorbikes and haggle with the price. I’ve learned of this on my return trip to Caticlan.
The shoreline of Boracay before was very festive. Extended dining area for the restaurants at the beachfront. Acoustic bands playing and Poi dancers doing their deathifying stunts.
The new Boracay is the complete opposite. What you would see now is a long stretch of white sand beach.
The Shoreline of The New Boracay
The biggest change and maybe the only evident change on the island is the clearing of the beach front. The sight to see is just sand and the waters of the New Boracay.
The weather did not at all cooperate during my stay thus I was not able to witness the islands signature sunset. However, I imagine on a sunny day this stretch of beach is perfect for an early morning swim or a late afternoon chill at the beach.
Despite the rainy weather I still spent time at the shore and did people watching. Which is by the way, a favorite past time of mine.
Other Changes on the Island
This may sound political (but trust me it isn’t) but I applaud the efforts and the audacity of the government in closing Boracay for its rehabilitation.
How they were able to clear the shoreline from clutter and made it pristine again. Another thing I noticed were also how waste disposal by establishments are collected.
Since I go home very late at night err or at the crack of dawn (hey I needed some time off so don’t judge!). I noticed the garbage bags used in all establishments were made of transparent plastic were disposed properly.
The collection starts at 12 am. This was something I did not observe 3 years ago.
Safety at the New Boracay: Two Thumbs Up!
Finally, presence of Boracay police and security were noticeable. Although I have always felt safe when visiting the island but their visibility made the place a lot safer.
Furthermore, these men and women were always ready to assist tourists’ inquiries even at the crack of dawn.
I actually asked one police officer for direction- google maps went cray cray during that time and since the officer had no idea about the place I mentioned I got swarmed by other security personnel who pointed where I needed to go.
Some things Never Change
I spent 3 days at the New Boracay and while I saw evident changes especially at the white beach area. I can’t help but also be disappointed with the constant problem that the island has been battling.
Irresponsible Tourists A Never Ending Problem
I have witnessed Boracay changed. My first visit to the island was when I was just 9 years old. I can vividly remember the stretch of white sand beaches. Nipa hut establishments along the beach and how the sand was raked early morning.
Back then camera phones were a fantasy and kids during those days played outside instead of playing with their gadgets. So no I had no photo of those good ‘ol days.
There were even small crabs on the shore of Boracay back then!
I have also observed the difference in tourists throughout my visits on the island. How I feel right now the tourists on the island are too much to handle for a small island like Boracay.
Well this wouldn’t be a problem if all were responsible tourists.
New Boracay: The Struggle Continues
The New Boracay was not able to bring back the glory days that I remembered it to be more than 20 years ago ( if I give the exact years then you’d have a better idea of my age LOL) . But this is not because there was no effort to bring it back. Heck the island closed for 6 months just to rehabilitate it.
“The efforts of rehabilitating Boracay will not bear fruit long as we have irresponsible tourists visiting the Island. “
Despite the presence of garbage bins there were still a lot of trash on the ground and worst at the beach front. Due to a number of tourist flocking the island I fear that we would eventually end up full circle.
That after a couple of years Boracay would again need to be closed for another rehabilitation. Question is how many rehabilitations will it need before it loses it’s luster?
The New Boracay: Is it Worth A Second Look?
Boracay has always been my sanctuary and a place where I have my post birthday trip. I am not going to lie I expected a better Boracay.
I expected acleaner and better Island – but I was not entirely disappointed. I see that there were changes made but I am hoping what I saw when I visited the island was just the tip of the iceberg.
There were a lot of road construction going on all over Boracay during my stay so I am hoping those were part of rehabilitating Boracay.
Is it Worth The Visit?
So after visiting the new Boracay. Do I recommend tourists to visit the island?
The Island has always been beautiful. What made it “ugly” were the people who exploit its natural resources and the irresponsible tourist with a devil may care attitude.
So as long as you know what a garbage can is and are able to identify biodegradable and non-biodegradable. Then YES you should visit the New Boracay.