We’re back from our first visit to Boracay. While we’ll have a complete account of our trip there, we can’t help comparing Boracay to Cebu City/Mactan Island as destinations for the foreign tourist seeking a beach resort. To our mind, Boracay wins hands down.
We are speaking from personal knowledge of both places. We lived in Cebu City for months and really like it. We’ve stayed at Maribago Bluewater Resort on Mactan.
Mactan and Boracay have two things in common. The foreign tourist can fly in and go more or less directly to a beach resort without having to experience practically any of the inconveniences of travel in the “real” Philippines. This is unlike other places like Bantayan Island or Malpascua which involve the rigors of real travel in the Philippines, for better and for worse.
Here’s what we like better about Boracay:
- Even through Boracay is a major international beach resort destination with hordes of tourists, the people you come in contact with there, residents, workers alike, sunglass vendors and all the rest there are so pleasant, so friendly, so polite, so much like provincial Filipinos. I don’t know how Boracay does this but it’s a major contrast to Mactan where vendors, trike drivers and others near the resorts can be so aggressive and unfriendly.
- Boracay has a fabulous beaches. Frankly speaking, Mactan beaches are limited, mostly with sand hauled in from other islands.
- When you’re at a Mactan resort you are pretty much of trapped there, dependent on the resort restaurant, often over-priced. It’s not easy to go out to other restaurants or go into the city. If you want to do so you have to deal with surly trike drivers, limited taxis or overpriced resort transport.
Boracay is infinitely better, completely open. You can choose from and stroll to hundreds of restaurants. Your strolling will be on a white sandy path with the fabulous beach on one side and resorts and restaurants on the other. I’ve tried to stroll from one resort to another on Mactan. I don’t recommend it.
So, what are the advantages of Cebu? It’s really part of the second largest city in the Philippines. If you want to escape your resort you can go into the city to see the many sights. It has big shopping malls. It has a very active girlie bar scene, for those so inclined.
Our our prejudices showing? Definitely! We lived in Iloilo City for two years before venturing to Boracay. We had the impression that it was an over-hyped, over-touristy, over-run place that had long ago lost its allure. We were wrong. While we love the more solitary islands (and there are so many) Boracay remains a fabulous destination.