For decades, the central Philippine island of Boracay, about 200 miles south of Manila, was a closely guarded secret — but now, the secret is getting out.
The Filipino spa scene reflects a mix of indigenous healing traditions and European, Chinese, Indian and American influences. Open-air massage pavilions and small spas along White Beach offer styles like Swedish, reflexology and Thai. Fragrant body scrubs incorporate local ingredients like lime, pomelo, sand and Sampagita (the Philippine national flower), while the traditional hilot massage uses strips of banana leaf and virgin coconut oil to help ease sore tension.
The social scene
Families, honeymooners, divers, partiers — sooner or later, they all converge on White Beach. During the day, stroll through the open-air D’Mall shopping complex or weekend craft market, taste a fresh fruit shake at Jonah’s or pop into the Real Coffee for all-day breakfast, including homemade calamansi lime muffins. For dinner, try beachside barbecues with live entertainment to Mexican, Greek and even German fare. Then later, hit one of the several lively, DJ-fronted, sandy-floored “clubs” where the house drinks are potent.
Tucked between the Sulu and Sibuyan seas, Boracay boasts plenty of crystal-clear, blue-green waters for swimming and snorkeling; multiday water sports courses are available for newbies. Boracay’s vibrant underwater world and its variety of dive sites — think deserted islets and abandoned wrecks populated by sponges, sea fans, barracuda and reef — have helped rank it among the world's top scuba sites.