I went to Boracay for the first time in 1989, and went several times over the next few years. Last year, after an absence of almost 10 years, I went back, expecting to find that it had been commericalized or developed beyond redemption. I was proven wrong - it’s still gorgeous. I’ve been to every significant destination in the Gulf of Thailand, and several other islands in the Philippines, so I have a good idea of what’s available in terms of island paradises. Boracay has a good balance of isolation and commericalism, quaintness and luxury. Basically, you can find what you’re looking for over there, whether it’s 5 star or 1 star.
I prefer to stay at Sand Castles, as I think it’s great value for the money, but if you think it’s too expensive, you can always try Serina’s Place. It’s spartan, but good enough. The fax number for Serina’s Place is 036-288-3224.
About Boracay, well White Beach has just about the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen. The water is calm, the beach has white sand as fine as sugar, and a very gentle grade, so parents can play with kids without too much worry. There’s a disco scene there too, but it’s not too raucous. The sleazy hooker thing is fairly subdued compared to almost anywhere in Thailand. If you’re looking for that kind of good time, forget Boracay, although there are always a few girls plying their trade at Bazura, the local disco.
Snorkeling is quite good, scuba diving is ok. It is a good place to learn, and if you want, there are numerous places that allow you to get your PADI in about 2 or 3 days of “intensive” class, which usually means two dives a day, and some very loose classroom instruction. Safety standards are not what they would be in other parts of the world however, so be warned.
There are numerous motorbikes for hire, which can be a fun afternnoon, especially if you go off to the Bat Cave on the far side of the island… There are no private cars on Boracay, and no motorized vehicles are allowed anywhere near the beach. If you don’t want to walk, you can take a bicycle taxi up and down the beach. It’s a great way to get home after you’ve had one too many San Miguels…