Some 350km south of Manila, and just off the northeastern tip of Panay, the island of Boracay is famed for picture-perfect 4km White Beach, a wild nightlife scene and activities from scuba diving to kitesurfing, Boracay has something for everyone. It may be only 7km long and 1km wide at its narrowest point, but there are over thirty beaches and coves, and the sunsets are worth the journey in their own right. A short walk along the beach takes you past restaurants serving a veritable United Nations of cuisines, including Greek, Indian, Caribbean, French, Thai and more. The beach is also dotted with interesting little bars and bistros, some of them no more than a few chairs and tables on the beach, others where you can now sit in air-conditioned luxury eating Chateaubriand and smoking Cuban cigars.
Of course, unchecked development has had its downsides and it can be hard to relax with the constant blare of music on the beach and the hum of tricycles on the island’s main road. The authorities are finally waking up to this and a new bypass will mean that Main Road should soon be one-way. A beach smoking ban has also been enforced, and threats to demolish resorts that have been built without permission may (eventually) come into effect. Many resort owners are aware of how fragile Boracay is and organize beach clean-ups and recycling seminars. Unlike the rest of the country, topless sunbathing is common at Boracay but the authorities are keen to keep the island as a family destination – in 2011 a “sex on the beach” ban was mooted after some Western couples were filmed being over amorous on New Year’s Eve.