Boracay may be a small island, but it was once considered as one of the liveliest islands in the world.
In 2017, the place was flocked by 2.1 million tourists. The increasing tourism activity of the island is a big help to the local economy but sadly, Boracay got too crowded and comes the question of safety.
To bring back the beauty and serenity of the island as well as to improve the safety concerns, the government decided to close down Boracay last April 2018.
The island had to go through massive rehabilitation for six months. Aside from improving its roads and sewerage system, the government also implemented policies that will help the island’s environment and tourism business.
Boracay reopened last October 2018, but how safe is Boracay after the recent rehabilitation? Is it still too crowded? Are the waters still polluted?
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Is Boracay still crowded?
No. To avoid the problems that caused the island to close down from happening again, the government is now strictly regulating the entry of tourists. Presently, only 19,000 tourists are permitted to stay in Boracay at any given time. A maximum of 6,405 tourists may be allowed to enter the island daily.
Before, there are more than 12,000 rooms available for rent in Boracay. This went down to 6,000 to 9,000 rooms because of the rehabilitation. Because of the limited number of accommodations, it is easier for the local government to control the number of tourists entering the island.
Are the accommodations safe?
You will be required to present proof of your hotel reservation before entering Boracay. Make sure that the place you’re staying in is accredited by the Department of Tourism. If not, you may not be able to enter the island.
Only bookings made with DOT-accredited hotels are honored. This may cost you a bit more than expected but this policy will make your stay safer. Aside from the guarantee that your accommodation is doing business legally, you also have the assurance that the government is strictly regulating the hotels and guests in the island.
Is it safe to roam the beach?
If you’re the kind of tourist who prefers to enjoy a serene moment at the beach, the new Boracay will capture your heart. Since the rehabilitation, the ambiance of the seaside is noticeably cleaner and calmer.
Smoking and drinking of alcoholic beverages are now prohibited on the main beach. The once-famous beachfront parties of the island are now banned. Even the sandcastles are being regulated by the local government. Don’t worry! All these policies actually improved the scenery of the island. You can now roam the stations without being bombarded by peddlers.
You can happily lie on the sand without having to remove scattered cigarette butts and plastic cups. You’ll get to enjoy the true beauty that the island has to offer.
I’m afraid of being robbed/scammed in Boracay. Should I worry?
The new Boracay is considerably safer, but there are still thieves and scammers that prey on unsuspecting tourists.
Fortunately, the number of police in the area has doubled since the island’s reopening. More than 400 cops are currently deployed in Boracay. Aside from the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Coast Guard are also helping in keeping the island safe. Most establishments in the area are also required to install CCTVs for added security.
A common scam that you’ll need to watch out for is expensive tricycle rides. It is the main public transport vehicle in the island. If you’re not well-informed, some of the drivers tend to overcharge.
To avoid this, inform your driver where you’re headed and ask how much is the fare. A “special trip”, where you or your group is not taking any more passengers for the entire trip, will mostly cost you Php100 per trip.
If you’re willing to share a ride with other guests, you’ll have to pay Php20 to Php25, depending on how far is your destination.
If you’re planning to tour the island, you can also try renting a tricycle per hour. It usually cost you Php250 to Php300. Don’t be afraid to bargain. And if you think they’re charging you too high, just say no. There are a lot of tricycles roaming around so you won’t have a hard time finding another one.
Are the boats used for transport safe?
If you’re taking the Caticlan-Boracay or Tabon-Boracay route, you’ll have to ride a boat to reach the island. Because of the strict policies of the Philippine Coast Guard, it is a guarantee that all boats arriving and departing Boracay are safe and regulated. If the weather is hazardous, the agency does not allow boat trips to and from the island.
The government is also working with the locals to implement its Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program. Boat owners are required to gradually modernize their current boat fleet to fiber glass boats. Wooden-hauled boats will be phased-out in the long run.
If I’m going on a rainy season, is the island safe from flooding?
The island’s drainage system is still undergoing construction. It is eyed for completion by next year. Because of this, there are still a few low-lying areas that are affected by flooding during heavy rains. The Department of Public Works and Highways is working closely with the water utility companies to ease the flooding on the island.
By the end of the third quarter of 2020, road improvements and sewerage works will be completed. After that, flooding will be greatly minimized. The construction of new roads and the widening of old ones will also contribute greatly to making your land transport easier.
Are the waters still polluted?
Following the closure of the island last year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources also closed down water utility companies who discharge non-treated water in the sea. The government agency placed a cease and desist order to the said companies. It can only be lifted once the company complies with the water quality and standards set by the government.
The strict implementation of the government with this issue greatly improved the water quality of the island. Aside from that, the local government is also monitoring all establishments near the shoreline to ensure that their wastes are properly managed.
The clear waters of the island, which was once clumped with green algae due to improper waste disposal, is clean and safe for swimming.
Are water activities safe?
Water activities in Boracay are safe, although accidents occasionally happens as in many cases around the world. Because of this incidents the government is constantly improving the safety on every activity on the island.
The recent incident involving the Boracay Dragon Boat Team raised the concern of the government. The boat carrying the team capsized. Seven people died.
According to the report, some participants were not wearing life vests. Because of this, the government is now working with the island’s water sports association to create unified policies to follow.
A comprehensive emergency response program is also being reviewed. As of now, dragon boat activities are suspended in the island until training protocols are finalized. We suggest you book your water activities with boat operators that have trained personnel. Make sure to abide with their given rules, and establish a hand signal that will help you in communicating with them during your activity.