A place is more than a location. It has its own identity, made up of past events and people’s memories. A backpacker knows that every destination leaves a distinct mark in his life. As American author Joan Didion beautifully wrote: “A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.”
Here are nine intimate beach stories from first-timers and seasoned Boracay visitors, and how the world-renowned destination changed their lives.
“A week after I passed the nursing board exam, I got news that my grandmother passed away. My Lola, a fisherman’s daughter, adored the seas like she loved her family. I suddenly felt the need to be near the sea after her funeral in the city. I told my sister about it, and without much thought, we booked a flight to Boracay. In the morning, we’d go island hopping and bond with the locals. In the evening, we’d share a bottle of wine and talk about our fondest memories of our grandmother. It was such a melancholic two-day vacation on the beach.” – Anna, pediatric nurse
“Unlike my friends, I’m not particularly fond of out-of-town trips. The idea of a backpacking vacation irks me—the scorching sun, the inconvenience, and the fatigue. In the summer of 2010, when one of our friends was about to leave to work abroad, we decided to throw a farewell party in Boracay. I felt relieved that we booked at Alta Vista de Boracay. No tents, no insects. We played board games and munched on Mexican food under Boracay’s blue skies.” – Andrea, graphic artist
“My husband asked me what I wanted for our 25th wedding anniversary. The first thing that came up in my mind was a new gas range. But my daughter suggested a Boracay vacation. I’ve never been to the place. My husband and I have been too busy raising five kids that we’ve been content with spending vacations in our respective provinces. I was so glad I took my daughter’s advice. Boracay is a paradise. Our room in Alta Vista de Boracay was just glorious. Since then, we’ve come back to the place for our annual family get-together.” - Sylvia, stay-at-home mom
“My dad asked me to choose between a debut party and an out-of-town vacation for my 18th birthday. I didn’t need to think long. I chose a trip to Boracay with three of my cousins. I was a Boracay first-timer so I did a lot of research about the place. I learned about the surrounding islands, the secluded diving areas, and other not-so-popular spots. It’s been five years and I still remember how happy I was throughout that week-long adventure.” - Mitch, engineering student
“As a US army serviceman, I travel a lot. I’ve been visiting the Philippines for two to three times every year for the past 10 years. After my third assignment, my colleagues and I decided to fly to Boracay. I wasn’t expecting much, just a couple of nights partying. After all, the island is known for its fun night life. Little did I know that that trip would change my life. I met a marine biologist at the airport as my group was waiting for our boat. She commented about the weather, and we started talking for the next hour or so. She was as enchanting as the vast seas before us. We’ve been together for 15 years.” - Frank, retired army serviceman
“What do you do when you learn that you have breast cancer at 25? No, I did not go over my bucket list. I locked myself in my room and analyzed my life. Where did I go wrong? It was as if I was slapped hard in the face. My family was devastated, but they were determined to give me the best treatment they could afford. Before my chemo sessions started, I asked my mother if I could go to the beach. I was thinking of a nearby province. I just wanted to be near the sea. But she surprised me with a trip to Boracay. There were no tears, regrets or fears. Somehow, the cool wind from the seas gave me a new perspective. I’m still undergoing treatment, but my life has somehow normalized over the past year. I can’t wait to fly to Boracay again.” – Liza, artist and cancer survivor
“I got married in Boracay. It was a dream come true for someone who has always been in love with the place. We booked our guests in a hotel away from the crowded tourist spots. Stories at Alta Vista de Boracay kept on coming even a week after the affair. Our family and friends simply adored the place!” -- Isabel, pre-school teacher
“I’m not a beach person. It’s not that I don’t like the sand and the waves. I just don’t feel comfortable with being in large crowds. I’ve read about Boracay testimonials in magazines and blogs, and most were about wild partying. Not my thing, really. Nevertheless, I took advantage of a travel package offered by my credit card company and flew to the island alone. Boracay, I realized, has so much to offer. There are ‘hidden’ destinations, including cozy accommodations, where introverts like myself can truly enjoy.” - Aaron, certified public accountant
“My boyfriend and I promised each other to visit four provinces each year. We are devoted backpackers. At first, we thought our budget couldn’t afford a trip to Boracay. The place appeared expensive with its restaurants and posh accommodation. We did a little research and found budget travel tips for backpackers. We enjoyed every moment of our stay in the island. We particularly loved the amazing beach stories from fellow backpackers. In fact, we have been celebrating our anniversaries in Boracay for the past three years.” - Joshua, freelance photographer
We have different reasons for traveling. For many, it’s a de-stressing activity, for others it’s a way of healing from an emotional trauma. Whatever your reason may be, go out and see the world!