Boracay compared to Cebu-Mactan Island

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White Beach - Boracay, Philippines

White Beach - Boracay, Philippines

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.

Mactan Island Resort, Cebu, Philippines

Mactan Island Resort, Cebu, Philippines

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.

Comments (9) Write a comment

  1. I am looking to retire in Boracay but I am finding it difficult to find condos for long term rental. Cebu on the other hand has many options regarding long term rental. Any suggestions regarding long term rentals on Boracay.

    Reply

    • It’s not really a comparable situation. Boracay is a tiny, overdeveloped island whereas Mactan is part of a major city so many more housing option are available. That said there are condos and other rentals on Boracay. We had a friend who rented there for several years. I believe his apartment cost P15,000 per month. Sorry I can’t add any specific options.

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  2. Pingback: Trip Report: Boracay Island | My Philippine Life

  3. you missed out the beaches of camotes, sumilon, malapascua, bantayan, san remegio, and daanbantayan in cebu.

    if panglao and boracay were in a party with these kick-ass cebu islands, they’d be in a dusty corner talking only to each other.

    Reply

  4. comparing cebu to boracay has many factors. boracay offers only white beaches and that means leisure solely. cebu has a lot to offer not just leisure. foreign tourists can do business as well. can easily access to many islands as it is located in the middle part of the philippine archipelago. +++ the big effort cebu market globally, enticing foreign tourists and giving access to balikbayans to their home islands outside cebu. for example, filipinos working abroad drop by cebu on holidays. from cebu they can easily get boat tickets to return to their home islands like bohol, leyte, negros, even mindanao. That means cebu is a tourist hub, a gateway to a thousand journey. thats what make cebu beautiful. beautiful not just a white sand beach. wherein, one is not just trapped by white beaches, BUT OPEN TO MANY ADVENTURES!

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  5. but have you ever wondered why boracay did not make it to the asia’s best islands in trave + leisure? Cebu made it and no other philippine city made it to the top 10 asia’s best island destination. Cebu is a mixture of leisure and business. not ony leisure as that of boracay.

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  6. You nalied it! That’s exactly what I thought. I lived in Cebu for 5 years. There is no beach in Cebu that is even close to Boracay. It’s like a little Manila. We were in the export business before so you can only do it in Cebu. Everytime we get a chance, we go to Panglao, Bohol. They have some nice beaches there, with white sugary sand similar to Boracay. It is also a tourist destination. It was nice then and very inexpensive. I went there 10 years after, but the place is too overcrowded and too expensive. Local people are not as nice as before.
    Boracay, everything is available, even Andok’s is there. My kids got sick, too much acid. Not used to drinking too much fruit juices. I went to the clinic, the Doctor even came to our hotel room. That is service! The best thing is, if you are sick of eating restaurant food, you can always go the back area where the locals live and buy the local food. I always walk around and buy fruits and bakery, cheaper than buying in the beach.

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  7. Pingback: Trip Report: Boracay Island, Philippines at goILOILO.com

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