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Boracay – The Worst Tourist Trap in the Philippines

Boracay – The Worst Tourist Trap in the Philippines

One of the most visited destinations in the Philippines, Boracay is famous for its beautiful beaches and great parties. The beaches are often compared to paradise lost because of their white sand that’s incredibly soft and nice. Well, at least this is what you can read in a tourist guide of the Philippines. I was quite hesitant to go there as I’m not much for partying, but I enjoy the beach a lot and I felt like Boracay would be quite a social place to be.

Unfortunately, Boracay turned out to be no more than a tourist trap and probably one of the worst places I’ve ever been to in South-East Asia. You may hate me for saying this and trust me, I was incredibly disappointed when I left the island, so before you crucify me, read my thoughts to understand why I hated Boracay.

Again, I might be totally subjective, so read the comments (both supporting and disregarding my opinion) under this article to make up your own mind. But remember how do you feel about 2.1 million tourists – that’s more than 40,000 on an average week, all cramped on a tiny island?

(UPDATE 2019) After 3 years it seems like someone finally agreed with my opinion and decided to close the island to tourists for 6 months. Boracay now has to contend with environ­mental degradation, traffic congestion, insufficient solid waste management, illegal construction, property disputes, illegal fishing. Not to mention that the most popular search term is ‘Boracay cheap prostitutes’ and ‘cheap sex in Boracay’. Multiple people reported food poisoning (myself included), so something clearly isn’t right…

Disclaimer: If you’re curious which other beach islands I can compare Boracay to here they are: Fiji, Cook Islands, Aruba, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, Bali, Galapagos, Maldives, Crete – Greece, San Andres – Colombia, Zanzibar and many others.


Boracay sand spots every 15m. Price: 50 pesos for a photo.

The Nightmare of Getting to Boracay Island in my Experience

Boracay is a tiny island, so when I arrived at Kalibo Airport, which is located further away than Caticlan Airport. I was aware of the fact that I had to take a bus for 2 hours and then take a ferry to the island. Following the advice of a friend, I ended up taking a Southwest service that organized everything. So far so good, right? Wrong.

To start with, I was on a bus with a group of teenage Filipinos that decided not to respect anyone else by playing their music incredibly loudly while screaming to it and throwing chips on others. When we finally reached the port, some local guys tried to carry my suitcases.

When I politely declined, they still asked for money and wouldn’t leave me alone unless I gave them something. I have nothing against tipping, but yelling “Give me a tip now!” isn’t going to make anyone give them more money, actually quite the opposite.

Why you can avoid this by going to Caticlan Airport, there’s also a ferry terminal…

The ferry terminal is like an airport where they x-ray your luggage and make you wait patiently to board your boat. Scratch ‘patiently’. I was trying to be polite while waiting for my luggage to be scanned when I was hit and pushed a couple of times by locals who absolutely didn’t care that I was standing there.

When we finally got to the island, nobody cared that Southwest left us all, around 40 people, in the pouring rain while they screamed out hotel numbers for at least 15 minutes before putting us in minibusses where we felt like sardines in a can. Suffice to say, it wasn’t a pleasant experience.10881537_10205324559135921_3414151674181460885_n

Crowds, Crowds and Trash…

Before heading to Boracay, I read on a blog that one of the best things about Boracay was the crowd and meeting other tourists. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I was surrounded by so many ignorant people. I might have been totally unlucky and it’d be different if I just stayed in a resort, but I think that if you’re staying only at the resort you won’t have a full experience anywhere.

The majority of people who come to Boracay are either Korean tourists who keep to themselves, or the worst types of backpackers who go there with one mission – to tick the Philippines off of their list, get wasted, and have sex with whoever comes along. Imagine a full moon party at Koh Phangan in Thailand, but every day!

I think most of these people had no interest or knowledge about Filipino culture and were only there to party. My hostel was full of random strangers sleeping over every night and the beach was full of drunken people from early morning onwards. I enjoy parties and drinking, but parties in Boracay were just too much for me. There was nowhere to escape from them.

boracay sunset

Some people didn’t believe that the beach was crowded – one of my readers sent me this what I couldn’t capture myself 🙂


Sunset is photo time!

Lack of Filipino culture in Boracay

I guess it’s not surprising then that Filipino people quickly figured out what kind of people come to Boracay and ‘adjusted’ the place to the crowd. There was nothing Filipino in Boracay, everything was designed for tourists in the cheesiest and most horrible way possible.

One of the biggest attractions was an expensive restaurant called Hobbit Place that hired only dwarfs (and call them midgets on their website) as waiters to take photos with while you eat your overpriced burger.

White Beach

White Beach

Later, I realized that the local Boracay Filipinos don’t really give a damn about visitors at all. I had a mermaid swimming class scheduled, as I thought it would be a fun activity to try and something interesting to write about on my blog.

Less than 10 minutes before I was supposed to show up for the class, I received an email stating that the class is canceled and can be rescheduled for next day. When I replied to ask what time the class is, I received two emails – one stating that it’s at

Less than 10 minutes before I was supposed to show up for the class, I received an email stating that the class is canceled and can be rescheduled for next day. When I replied to ask what time the class is, I received two emails – one stating that it’s at 10 am and another at 3 pm. When I showed up the next day at 3 pm there was nobody there.

Extremely popular spot in Boracay. As you can see it's very Filipino.

An extremely popular spot in Boracay. As you can see “it’s very Filipino”.

Annoying local vendors everywhere in Boracay

I knew Boracay was a place to party, but I thought that I could just enjoy the stunning beach during the day without having to interact with anyone. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The moment you step out of the hotel in Boracay, you’re practically under attack.

Annoying vendors are everywhere: the streets, the shops, and sadly, even the beach. A well-traveled reader might ask “what’s the big deal” as there are vendors everywhere in South-East Asia, but in Boracay, they aren’t just screaming at you ‘Madame, massage?!’ when you’re passing by.

While I was lying on the beach every 5 minutes I had a different guy standing on top of my head trying to sell me some crappy souvenirs or boat rides. The nice Filipinos I had read about before heading that way were nowhere to be found. and instead, the place was full of people who didn’t respect the fact that I wanted to enjoy the beach in peace.

Cool photo? This is what you can see when someone removed people from the background (beach is never that empty in Boracay!)

Cool photo? This is what you can see when someone removed people from the background ( the in my opinion beach is never that empty in Boracay!)

Boracay Philippines

Seeing this beautiful beach being destroyed…

The worst thing about Boracay was actually the beach. Not only because I was being bothered by annoying vendors, but because the beautiful island of Boracay is constantly being destroyed by consumerism.

The white beach in Boracay is really a nice one, comparable to those in Fiji or any other Pacific island, but how can you even enjoy its beauty when you’re surrounded by Starbucks, Pizza Hut, and other random restaurants right on the beach.

There’s no way to escape them, especially when every visitor is there just to get drunk, shop, and maybe overpay for some kitesurfing.

Beach in the morning - full of crap from the drunken night.

Beach in the morning.

Before you consider visiting Boracay think twice if this is really what you want to remember from the Philippines. I’d recommend going to another Filipino island instead, such as Bohol or Palawan.

Recommended places to stay if you choose to go to Bohol:

Resort: Panglao Island Nature Resort and Spa
Beach villa: Villa Formosa Bohol
Boutique hotel: Ocean Suites Bohol Boutique Hotel
Affordable hostel: Tr3ats Guesthouse

Disclaimer: I visited other places in the Philippines and they were nothing like Boracay. I really enjoyed some other places and would love to explore more of the wonderful country of the Philippines.

Before you place a comment remember that I don’t discourage people from going to the Philippines, I just don’t recommend Boracay unless you like places like this (and I know some people do). Safe travels!


Sunday 29th of May 2016

thank you for your blog mam, a Filipino i am very much sad of what is happening in boracay, I've stayed in boracay for almost 2years i was one of the engineers who work for Boracay Shangri-la Project, you only see the out side of boracay (along the beach and roads) but inside is even much worst...the island is slowly dying, most of the people only care about money, only to earn...but they don't care the effect of much establishment built along the beach....soon when its too late they will realized what they have done...its not only in boracay...other tourist spot suffer the same faith too...Palawan is much better as they imposed laws controlling too much consumerism...I also discourage tourist to patronized the butanding whale watching in Oslob Cebu, after going there last December of 2015, i cant help but cry, we are destroying the normal habitat of this beautiful creature, this people in Oslob running the show is destroying this animals, they teach this animals to be dependent to them so they will stay...its just so sad all for the money...and they forget that they are slowly killing this whale sharks...if only they will control it, allowing the fish to swim far to find good food, not the one they are feeding, and imposed seasonal whale watching..then it will be much better for this magnificent creatures...


Saturday 7th of May 2016

sad but halfway true, me and my wife has a house about 30 min ride from BORA. Yuo are velcome to stay here if you wanna see filipino culture :-) Like other posters i was on BORA the first time many years ago, Nigi Nigi was more or less the only bar at that time. Now its a circus, but i can handle it, maybe coz i been there many times and used to it, but i do understand that a first timer gets a chock. Vendors are not allow ar the beach anymore, but theyare every where else, to be honnest, i dont give a shit when girls a sreamming massage, in one ear out the other. Over crowded, yep but not so bad in the peak seson. Drunks..... i never seen that, dirty beach, they do clean the beach every morning. Stay in station 1 or you will hear disko musik all night. Its seems like somebody is trying to take all the cheap places away, so the island will be for the people whit a lot of cash. Old men vs young girls is part of the culture, im serious, get over it. Bohol, i stayed where all the tennis stars stay omg boring. One rule : no divers ---- white divers who only comes to dive are no longer there, dont go, my rule :-) Hope you will find a nice places one day, being from Europe, you wont find it there, same story like Boracay, nice places lots of people = lots of people wants our cash


Thursday 21st of April 2016

Thanks for finally writing about >Boracay - The Worst Tourist Trap in the Philippines | Anna Everywhere <Liked it!

Renee Rose Escueta

Monday 11th of April 2016

Sorry to hear about your trip here in Philippines. There is still a lot of nice beach here in Phil. Maybe you should try Kalanggaman Island. It is an Isolated island, and peaceful. They control crowd as they have limited person who can go there and you have to register before going there. I think about 100 tourist per day. Check Some videos from youtube. I would love to read your feedback on that Island. And thanks for sharing your experience in boracay. (Never been there as I'm not interested in a very crowded beach. )


Monday 11th of April 2016

Oh awesome, thanks for your recommendation :)

John Ragen

Sunday 10th of April 2016

Hi Anna, I'm writing this reply, sitting in my Beach House on at the Northern end of White Beach, Boracay, I'm holidaying here with my Wife, daughter, my Son in Law and my two young Grandchildren, we are all Australians. We have been here for one week and have thoroughly enjoyed our stay, in my view, Boracay has something for everyone. During our time here we have been Cliff Diving, Fishing, snorkelling in impossibly crystal clear waters where you can see forever, sailing, eating out every night at (sadly), ridiculously inexpensive restaurants, we have all had so much fun, especially my Grandchildren. When we went snorkelling, I volunteered to stay on the boat to keep an eye on everyone, I listened as my Grandchildren squealed and laughed and dived down amongst the thousands of fish, crabs, eels, they even saw a large Lobster. We were very late for our Fishing Trip, our fault, no problem, the every friendly host asked us if it would be ok for him to call in to his home village, when we got there we found out that he and his wife both worked and he was supposed to be home to look after his young family, he just needed to let his Brother in Law know that he wouldn't be there and would he look after his family. While we were there his children, took my Grandchildren, on a tour of his little farm, chickens, pigs, ducks, they had the time of their life. My only sad regret is, people like you, with your white skin and your sense of entitlement , give people like me with my white skin a bad name, and no matter how much I try to convince the locals that we're not all like you, nothing I can say can change their mind, and there my Dearest Anna, is where the problem is, you are the elephant in the room.

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