It made headlines when Boracay was announced to be closed for six months last year, April-October 2018: the coliform levels surpassed millions per milliliter (mL) of water, when the standard quality for swimming is only 400 most probable number (mpn)/mL. Coliform is the bacteria found in human feces; in the words of President Duterte, Boracay had indeed become a “cesspool”.

Boracay was, after all, one of the Philippines’ hardcore party capitals, with around 500 businesses centered around tourism, producing an annual revenue of $1.07 billion (P55,736,300,000) in 2017.

However, after its re-opening, Boracay was rebranded to “a haven for health wellness, soft adventure and authentic Filipino cuisine”, geared towards families and couples rather than wild parties, according to the secretary of the department of tourism, Berna Romulo-Puyat. Additionally, coliform levels were reduced to 8-18 mpn/mL in October 2018, with the highest recorded coliform levels being 40 mpn/mL in April earlier this year.

But how do these facts pan out when you’re actually in Boracay?

The Boracay of old is nowhere to be seen: the beach is cleaner and there is barely any debris to be seen.

But even more striking is the change in lifestyle and policy. Rules aren’t just pretty words anymore: ice cream vendors ask for your wrappers, blankets and plastic beds are prohibited outside the vicinity of hotels, and the signature booze and flame-dancers are banned.

Cars are less common, and in their place are e-jeeps and e-tricycles. Boracay is clean now, and it intends to stay that way.

Moreover, Chinese and Korean tourists can expect to feel at home, as a large number of stores have Chinese and Korean symbols for names, and many of the businesses are run by Chinese and Koreans. Some boat and water sports guides, as well as food vendors, are also fluent in Chinese. All in all, the community in Boracay is more culturally inclusive and respectful, with certain marketplaces avoiding the sale of meat in consideration for their Muslim neighbors.

A marketplace in Boracay.

But just because there’s been a crackdown on excessive parties doesn’t mean you can’t have fun in moderation. Los Bravos Indios offers the widest selection of craft beers in Boracay, so sit back, relax, and sip a cold pale ale in the sunshine.

So, what do you prefer: Boracay as a wild party, or as a clean and green haven?