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Introducing Boracay

While only 7km tall and 500m wide at its bikini line, tiny Boracay has rapidly become the Philippines' top tourist draw, fueled by explosive growth and a tsunami of hype; in 2013 the readers of Travel & Leisure voted it the second best island destination in the world after Palawan. The centre of the action is dreamy White Beach, a 4km, postcard-perfect stretch of sand lined from one end to the other with hotels, restaurants, bars, and dive shops now several blocks deep. The beach path is typically awash with visitors, including large groups of package tourists drawn from all over Asia – most commonly Korea, Taiwan and China. The ocean is full of romantic paraws (an outrigger sailboat) giving rides; colorful parasails fill the air. After perfect sunsets, live music breaks out, and firedancers twirl their batons. The party goes on all night. All of this can be great fun, à la Waikiki, and can easily occupy your entire visit. Just don't expect the Boracay of 30 years ago, when visitors revelled in the fact that their dirt-cheap nipa hut had no electricity.

Beyond White Beach the island continues to undergo unchecked growth. New multimillion-dollar properties rub shoulders with tin shacks. Construction continues on the massive Newcoast development, a planned community aping Santorini, Ibiza and other brand locations, which has swallowed 14% of the island. If you're looking for authenticity, however, you can still find it. Head north to peaceful Diniwid Beach for a break in the action, or east to Bulabog Beach, home to the local watersports crowd, with its welcoming community vibe. All things considered, Boracay is a place where you can find whatever you want if you know where to look. Otherwise grab that weng weng cocktail, sink into your waterfront beanbag chair, and just marvel at the spectacle of it all.