The tropical paradise of Boracay in the central Philippines, which measures just under 4 square miles, consistently tops the list of best islands in the world. Known for its beach party vibes and sheer blue water, it’s sadly become an island rife with environmental law violations and overtourism, with some 2 million tourists alone in 2017.
In April 2018, the president of the Philippines ordered the island’s closure until its ongoing sewage, trash and hotel building violations could be fixed. Beginning on Oct. 26, a small number of visitors were allowed back onto the island to enjoy its newly restored beaches and water.
And now, there couldn’t be a better time to visit this tiny paradise, as you’ll be among the first to experience new measures put in place to keep it one of the world’s most stunning destinations. (The island will only allow 19,000 visitors at a time.)
Though there will be fewer hotels to choose from, places like the boutique Ferra Hotel will be compliant with requirements like mandatory building and sewage updates. Smoking, drinking, eating and hawking will also be prohibited on the sprawling White Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Boracay, so you’ll be able to relax and enjoy a quiet day on the sand.
All water activities, beyond swimming and kayaking, will also be allowed by December 2018 with continued initiatives in place to restore the coral and preserve the natural beauty of the island for as long as possible. Boracay will no longer be a wild party destination or a cheap diving spot; instead, it will become a chilled-out, family-friendly island great for a peaceful getaway.
The entire island shut down for six months to improve sustainability. Some of the new regulations they enacted to ensure a clean, litter-free environment for all are no drinking or smoking in public places or partying within the no-build zone easement. Other sustainable measures include prohibiting open fires and the use of kerosene and gas lamps.
Giving back to the community
The best thing travelers can do is help keep the island clean. Many in the community suffered during the island closure as they lost their primary means of income: tourism. So doing your best to keep the island clean by picking up your trash, throwing away your cigarette butts and limiting the number of plastic bottles you use, all while eating and buying local are the best ways to help the community.
The must-eat treat
The calamansi muffin, made of a small sour fruit native to the Philippines, is arguably the island’s most famous dish. The taste of the muffin reflects the fruit’s sour tones, but the texture is moist and delightfully grainy at the same time. For the best on the island, head to Real Coffee and Tea Cafe.