Though the Philippines has never really been able to hitch itself to the Southeast Asian backpacker trail, its crown jewel island of Boracay has been consistently voted the world's favorite tropical island, and some of Boracay's beaches crowd top ten lists each year. So what else does Boracay have that the rest of the Philippines doesn't?
Boracay's sights are few in number but this doesn't seem to bother the people who love it here, as they tend to travel here for the sun and the sand. The dramatic landscapes of other parts of the Philippine archipelago are not particularly common here though the beaches are routinely rated among the very best in the world.
The two main things to do in Boracay are surfing and swimming. Behind that are activities such as lying on a beach towel in the sun, or lazily snorkeling just off the beach. Boracay's entertainments are few but the quality of the beach life here is so high that there is a lack of demand for any new developments.
Naturally, fresh seafood is the specialty of this tropical island that was a fishing village in a previous life time. There are some very upscale places to eat in the five- star resorts of Boracay but in general, food is a pretty casual affair with snacks like coconuts on the beach or plates of fried rice and tomato sauce served over the counter at beer bars.
Boracay has grown up as a cosmopolitan place with influences from all over the world. People have returned here year after year from northern Europe and North America while the surfing scene has brought industry in from all over the world. English is widely spoken and routes in and out of the island are well traversed and inexpensive.
Though continually praised as a sandy beach resort world capital, Boracay is never going to win any awards for its shopping. Shell jewelry and beer by the case are pretty much the only two big buys in Boracay. There is only one shopping mall on the island and many convenience stores stock only the basics, especially during the wet season when shipping lines are constricted.