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One of the Philippines’ most popular tourist destinations, Boracay island lies just off the coast of Panay in the western Visayas region. It is comprised of thirteen areas, known by the Filipino name of Barangays, including Manoc-Manoc and Balabag. Boracay became an independent state in the 1950’s, and was something of a secret until, it is said, a film crew "discovered" the island while filming in the area in the 1970’s. The secret was out: tourists began arriving and have continued to do so ever since. Boracay is probably most famous for its beaches, especially the White Beach – at around four kilometres long, it is the island’s main tourist beach known the world over. The sea is especially shallow here, which makes it safe for water sports. The beach is lined with hotels and restaurants - some directly on the waterfront, others separated by a long esplanade. There are other beaches, too, including the quieter Diniwid Beach and the second largest Bulabog Beach which, because it catches the wind, is popular with windsurfers, kitesurfers and kiteboarders. In fact, the brightly coloured sails are a part of the beach's identity. Boracay is also famous for its nature and eco-trekking, its bargain shopping in markets, diving, parties and the many spas found in its holiday resorts.
Relaxing on the beautiful beaches is, perhaps, the top choice of many tourists who visit Boracay, but there are many other attractions and things to do. Boracay, for instance, is a magnet for festival-goers and sport event enthusiasts. Special events include dragon boat races, the Paraw regatta (sailing race), and the open Asian Frisbee beach tournament held every summer – an important event for Boracay’s own top ranking team, the Boracay Dragons. Golfing enthusiasts can enjoy the world-class 18-hole par 72 Fairways & Bluewater Resort Golf & Country Club course, while nature lovers and walkers can explore the natural areas of rice terraces, waterfalls and lush plantations around the Tibiao whitewater river (the adventurous can even go whitewater rafting).
Boracay has a huge choice of restaurants to suit all tastes and pockets – from local eateries to lavish gourmet-style venues. Dishes like char-grilled chicken, meat cooked to perfection over coals accompanied by salads and local vegetables, or fish caught fresh from the sea, marinated and grilled, can be found on most tables. Try grilled prawns with bacon and avocado, fresh Oriental-style spring rolls or delicacies like seared tuna with soy sauce. The hotels and resorts tend to have a selection of restaurants too, serving both Filipino and International cuisine.
There are plenty of cafés and casual eateries to choose from. Some offer international foods like burgers, pizzas and kebabs,others specialize in local delicacies like spring rolls and rice dishes that are ideal as a light snack. Salads, often with fruit like mango or pineapple diced in amongst the lettuce, are eaten as light meals too. Fruit is also the main ingredient of the colorful, vitamin-packed smoothies - a drink very popular among both visitors and locals.
Boracay is the party capital of the Philippines. Taking a stroll along the waterfront at night will almost certainly mean stumbling upon lively beach bars and dance clubs. Nightlife establishments are usually rather informal (the dance floor/seating is often directly on sand), and attract locals and visitors alike. Stations 1 and 2 are known as the lively party areas, while Station 3 is better fit for those looking to spend a relaxed evening listening to the sound of the waves.
Shopping in Boracay revolves around its fabulous markets and speciality shops. As befits an island community, there are multiple corner shops selling items of beachwear, water sports attire, swimming costumes and the like. The island's largest market is Talipapa - a must-visit for local crafts and fresh seafood. Local craftsmen produce intricate wood carvings, leather items, musical instruments, and jewellery.
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