Philippines’ Boracay Island is voted the ‘world’s best island’, but is it worth the hype?

Is Boracay Island is listed as the best in the world. Pic: DiegoMariottini/Shutterstock

IT’S a universally acknowledged fact that the Philippines’ is home to some of the best islands in Asia, if not the world.  

The archipelago of the Philippines is home to 7,107 islands for you to dive, snorkel, pitch a tent, get a sun tan, wallow in aquamarine waters, and be a general beach bum.

Islands like El Nido, Cagayan, Cebu and Zambales attract a slew of tourists all year round, and make up a significant contribution to the state’s tourism revenues.

SEE ALSO: This ‘best in the world’ Philippines island attracts Hollywood A-list

Recently, travel guide Condé Nast Traveler voted Boracay Island the “best in the world”, describing it as an “itty-bitty island in the Western Philippines [that] is as close to the tropical idyll as you’ll find in southeast Asia with gentle coastlines and transporting sunsets”.

The guide added, “The aptly named White Beach is Boracay’s main draw, with powdery white sand and shallow azure water ideal for swimming and snorkeling.”

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Philippines performed strongly in this year’s list with Palawan coming in at number two, and Cebu clinching fifth spot.

In July, Palawan Island was named “best in the world” by Travel + Leisure readers, was quoted by a voter as “every beach lover’s dream destination”, and a “wonderful and magical” place. Palawan also attracts Hollywood A-listers such as Madonna, Brad Pitt and Jeremy Renner.

Zenn Pallugna of the Philippine Department of Tourism in New York accepted the award on behalf of the country and commented that the international recognition of the Philippines’ top three island destinations is a big boost to sustained tourism efforts aimed at encouraging more travelers to visit the country.

Boracay Island may get the recognition on paper, but do travelers feel the same way? We scouted the web for travelers’ accounts of their experience on the island, and the sentiment towards Boracay seems to be… mixed.

Aussie on the Road

“I stayed in the island’s center in the station two area. If you’re unwilling to spend US$100 a night for a beautiful hotel in the north of the island you’ll end up in a place in a back road with sewage smell issues.

At nighttime, wherever on [the] white beach you finally decide to sit down and have your meal and drinks, you will hear a mix of loud music from different sources trying to drown each other out.”

Justine Wharton

“Even if you remove the crowds of people then Boracay beach is pretty, but it is not the best beach I’ve ever seen. There, I have said the unsaid.

I’ve been to better in Koh Kradan in Thailand, Malaysia, Mauritius, and even closer to home in Europe.

It was just packed. But not of fish. Despite the transparent sea, the masses of boats mean that there aren’t any fish to see unless you swim very far out. It was packed with people.”

Adventurous Miriam

“The beach feels big enough for everyone and it’s not packed with sun chairs or parasols like Patong beach in Phuket or other crammed places. On Boracay, they are planting palm trees that you can lie under when you need a shadow.

It makes the beach seem much more untouched and uncrowded. Also, there’s a walkway with restaurants, stalls and shops, so the beach is reserved for tanning and quietness.

They have massages for 600 pesos per hour, great restaurants with everything from Western to Asian dishes, and did I mention – the sunsets are INSANE! I have never ever seen sunsets so amazing.”

Anna Everywhere

“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.”

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Hungry Partier

“The tourists didn’t bother me at all.  Not like other touristy islands.  There are many places in Boracay to escape on the beach where you will be the only person around.

Also, you have to remember that destinations are touristy for a reason — because Boracay is as close to paradise as you can find.   The same thing applies to Bali — one of my other favorite places on earth.

In fact, Boracay is so tiny that you can walk the entire length of the island in just a few hours. The main beach has soft white sand and crystal clean turquoise water.

If you want to adventure off the touristy beach, then you can find Puka Shell and Lapuz beaches on the other side of the island — a lot less touristy and still as beautiful.”

If you’ve visited Boracay recently, do you share the thoughts of any of these travelers? Let us know in the comments below.