The island paradise of Boracay in the central Philippines is one of the few remaining unspoilt places on earth. It has remained largely untouched by modern civilization despite the droves of tourists that visit it every year.
The first hint of this idyllic hideaway's remoteness comes upon arrival: there is no airport or pier. Travelers are taken on small, wooden outriggers to the island, where they disembark by jumping into thigh-deep water and wading ashore.
Located at the northwestern tip of Panay in the Western Visayas region 345 kilometers from Manila, Boracay boasts 30 beaches and about 200 private resorts that cater to the more than 300,000 tourists that descend on the 630-hectare island annually.
It's not clear how the island emerged from obscurity to become one of the world's best beaches. But it's said that a group of foreign travelers stumbled upon the place by accident in the early eighties and word quickly spread about the modern day Eden tucked away somewhere in the central Philippines. .
Boracay has since become a beacon attracting sun-worshippers from the four corners of the world. Its crystal-clear waters and powder-fine white sand make it second to none.
Boracay offers more than just sun, sea and sand.
The mouth-watering smell of barbecue and freshly cooked seafood lingers in the air as tourists sample the local culinary taste. Fruits are also in abundance. And for those who prefer foreign food, international cuisine is always available.
There's also a host of relaxing activities for all kinds of tourists, including sailing on an outrigger to the other side of the island, diving, exploring by bike and hopping from one beach to another.
If you're the less energetic type, you can comb the beach on horseback, lie in the sand and soak up the sun or simply watch the sun set while you finish a cocktail or a beer.
The fun doesn't stop after nightfall. In fact, the action is just beginning as travelers get ready for a night of dancing and partying until the wee hours of the morning.
If you're a sun-worshipper, Boracay is the place. If you want to forget about the cares of the world and be close to nature, Boracay is the ticket. If you just want to get away from it all, Boracay is the answer.
Indeed, Boracay is paradise on earth.
But it may not remain one for long. Civilization is fast catching up. Already the island has access to cable television and the internet.
In a world of instant communication and jet travel, the isolation that the island has enjoyed for centuries is finally coming to an end.
This has raised fears that Boracay will ultimately become a victim of its own success as development takes its toll on the once virgin territory. That day may just be around the corner.
But for the island’s residents and the many foreigners who have come and made it their home, Boracay will always remain a paradise.
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