By the time you read this I will be sunning myself on the beach enjoying the hot, humid weather of Boracay in the Philippines… I know, it’s a tough life but someone has to do it…right? 🙂

We left for Seoul on Wednesday, which is an easy 14 hour flight, followed by a quick stopover before flying onto Manila – another 4 hours distant.

Overnighting in Manila before a lunchtime flight to Caticlan airport on the island of Panay Island in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. This last leg is a mere 1 hour and 15 minutes south west of Manila.

So, what to do on such a small island?

My first thought is to relax and catch up on my sleep, I’m sure most afternoons you’ll find me on the resorts private beach, asleep under a coconut palm.

Well, maybe just for the first few days anyway. 🙂

As you know I can get pretty antsy if I sit still too long, so will have to explore the island to its fullest, and given that it’s only 7 kilometers long by one kilometer wide, I can’t imagine it will be too hard to walk around the entire island in a day.

Of course I’m taking my camera(s), and just bought myself an early birthday present – a GoPro 7 black which I’ll be able to take snorkeling with me on the abundant reefs surrounding the island.

In fact the only thing I actually packed in advance was my camera equipment. My Canon 1D MkII, a couple of lens’, a portable hard drive, laptop and small tripod were all sitting ready in my office ready to go the weekend in advance.

Clearly, you can see where my priorities lay. 🙂

Why Boraçay you ask?

Well for my birthday I wanted to go somewhere that I hadn’t been plus it had be exotic. Just cos!

Initially I thought of going to Bora Bora in Tahiti, but for $20,000 USD for a weeks accommodation this was out of the question, not to mention the $6,000 airfare. Yikes!

Next on my list was perhaps either the Maldives or Seychelles islands, but these were also ridiculously expensive as well coming in at around $12,000 USD for the week each. By this time I was admittedly feeling a little bummed about trying to find an island paradise that I could actually afford.

Yep, Boraçay was next on the list that came up in my search… And as they say, the rest is history!

Although to be honest after reading up on the islands recent and somewhat chequered past it I was a little hesitant until I read the new rules for visiting the island.

Often regarded as one of the most beautiful and picturesque islands in all of the Philippines the infrastructure was unable to continue supporting the volume of tourists and visitors and had become a “cesspool” (according to the Philippine President).

Clearly, not good!

So at the start of 2017 he closed the island to everyone who didn’t live on the island and began an extensive revitalization plan.

They spent the next six months laying new roads, upgrading the island sewerage system, power grid and cleaning up the beautiful white sand beaches and coral reefs.

When the island reopened late last year it also brought with it a series of new bylaws that are being strictly adhered to by the local authorities.

Firstly, to get on the island you need a certified confirmation of a hotel stay, including passing through a strictly monitored police entry checkpoint which means that there are no more day trippers going to the island. In addition, the number of rooms available for a stay on the island has been cut in half.

Second, all beach front parties are now banned, the three casinos closed permanently, fireworks are banned, no smoking or alcoholic beverages are allowed on White beach (main beach). In addition, there are strict guidelines on hawkers, street vendors and sand castle building plus jet ski and scuba diving bans.

I know the sandcastle ban sounds a little harsh, but there was a contingent of locals prior to the island being closed who would build large and ornate sandcastles on the beach and then extort money from anyone who took a photo of them… Hence the police crackdown on this practice.

Draconian you say? Actually, it sounds like the government stepped in at the right time to help preserve the fragile island ecosystem. I guess time will tell.

Definitely can’t wait to fill you in on all the details of Boraçay when I’m there. After such a long, cold and grey winter in Toronto, I looking forward to feeling the sun on body and sand between my toes!

Until next time