Thinking of doing a boat trip in Boracay in the Philippines? You might want to reconsider.
We booked an island-hopping excursion with Shingley Tours which included snorkelling, lunch and drinks. We envisaged a relaxing day on the boat, exploring the islands and swimming in turquoise water. Maybe a beer or two.
What we got was nothing short of chaos: hundreds of tourists crammed into dozens of boats, all heading to the same place. This made snorkelling near impossible and highly dangerous.
Swimmers clung to the edge of the boat, trying to navigate waves – and each other – in a bid to catch a glimpse of non-existent coral.
One girl almost got hit by a boat as she bobbed about in the water, assuming she was in a safe area to swim.
Another traveller, Kate Park, got stung by jelly fish and couldn’t get out of the water because the ladder was broken. When she finally did emerge – covered in stings – our captain merely shrugged and asked for the 20 pesos environmental fee.
Each island we visited incurred more costs: Crystal Cove Island was 200 pesos; Magic Island was 150 pesos.
There was no communication about pick-up times, no head-count to ensure all passengers were accounted for and no information about the places we were visiting. As a result, a French girl got left on one of the islands. Another 7 were left waiting on Magic Island until 2pm, thinking they’d missed lunch.
Instead of a delicious barbecue on the beach (as promised) we were herded to mainland Panay (!!), piled into jeepneys and taken to an old port in Caticlan for rice and chicken.
One traveller said he felt like ‘cattle being taken to slaughter’. Another just said they wished the day was over.
Something needs to be done about the sheer volume of tour boats in Boracay and Shingley Tours need to step-up their services. It’s clearly a tourist trap designed to make maximum profit with little consideration for anything else.
Boracay, what a shame.