White sand beaches. Crystal blue water. Everything you need at your fingertips.
Borocay is the ideal vacation spot – for many. But it wasn’t for me.
Borocay is probably one of the best known island vacation spots in the Philippines. It’s a mecca for all sorts of travelers; backpackers, families, and luxury seekers. But it wasn’t for me.
Now that isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy my time in Borocay. I certainly did. We had a nice boutique hotel with great service, a beautiful pool, and amazing happy hour cocktail deals. Our hotel was a 2 minute walk to the beach. There was plenty of entertainment options on offer and I had a massage every single day of my stay. But compared to everywhere else that I visited in the Philippines, Borocay was my least favourite.
Disclaimer: this post is very much about my own personal experience, and I didn’t explore everything the island had to offer. I am definitely open to hearing suggestions of what I need to do differently if I ever am to return.
Now I have to say, our first day on the island was pretty idyllic. The water was crystal clear, the sand was white and soft, and everything was pretty chill. We spent the day lounging on the sun beds and getting a bit of a sun burn. My overall impression would have probably been pretty OK if the weather had stayed that welcoming. Now that’s not to say that the weather was bad, it just ended up being overcast and windy for the remainder of our trip – which was fine – but it sort of kaiboshed some of the activities that we were interested in doing. Weather can so easily put a damper on a beach location like Borocay, which is why it’s always important to have a variety of things on offer.
In terms of rainy day activities, we didn’t find that many around our section of the beach – ***. Our hotel had a pool, which was great for Jake, and there were plenty of spas and massage parlours to relax at, but not a whole lot else. To be honest though, we didn’t thoroughly explore the island, so it’s very possible that we missed something that was just a little further afield.
Now there are plenty of cafes and bars on Borocay, and we could have probably easily have spent our rainy weather time hanging out in these establishments in our single travelling days. But traveling with a 3 year old makes things a little more complicated, so a day of drinking was sort of off the cards. (We did have a couple nights of drinking though, and Jake was a pretty good sport about it – even getting up on stage and dancing to techno music with the fire dancers).
But weather aside, probably the most disappointing thing for me about Borocay was the lack of authentic culture, especially when it came to the food. We had spent the week and a half up to the this point indulging in only local food. We had been staying at small guesthouses in more remote locations, and often the menu was a choice between two or three local dishes. And to be honest, that is how I liked it. When we arrived on Boracay it was an all our assault of burgers and pizza and burritos, and now a single lick of traditional Filipino food. And funnily enough, it was on Borocay that we all got sick – while eating Western style dishes.
But look, I can see the appeal of Borocay. It’s got white sand and crystal blue water. It has every range of accommodation from dirty backpacker joints to all inclusive luxury to everything in between. It has party boats and bars at every turn. It has Western food and all the comforts of home. I get it. I do. And sometimes that is just the type of holiday you need. But for me – give me back the tree houses of Sagada or the rice terraces of Banaue, and I will be much more at home. Don’t get me wrong – I love a beach holiday. But I like the beach without the glitz and glitter. My favourite beach holiday location of all time is the quiet island of Savai’i in Samoa, where I like to rent little beach fales from local families. For me, that is the perfect beach holiday.
So readers, please, tell me what I did wrong in Borocay. Or better yet, tell me about all the hidden little beach paradise gems in the Philippines where I can escape the crowds and eat local food to my hearts content.