Flood Engulfs Boracay Island, 90% of Roads Hit by Floodwaters

Paul Fournier

Update October 26, 2018: Phase 1 of Boracay’s rehabilitation has finished, and the island is now open to visitors again. Much has improved, both the island infrastructure and hotel waste disposal systems, as well as the look.

Update December 22, 2017: The situation in Boracay is back to normal, most of the flood was already gone on the 19th, and running water has been fully restored on the 22th.

Posted on December 18, 2017:

“The Malay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that 90 percent of Boracay Island has been hit by floodwaters.” – Manila Bulletin

The 444.08 millimeters of rainfall that fell from December 14 to 18 (as measured in Kabulihan, a coastal village 5 kilometers from Boracay) was extreme and set a new record.

Flooding issues in Boracay are not new or exclusive to when big storms hit the island though. In particular, the frequent flooding of several smaller areas on the island during normal rainy days is a recent development.

The heavy flooding of the island during tropical storm Urduja is likely to have been exacerbated by that development.

Part of the cause of the flooding, according to locals, is the lack of an adequate drainage system, and over development. In particular the development on natural wetlands that previously functioned as a natural sponge, soaking up excess water.

Tourist arrivals have also steadily grown, increasing the load on the already overloaded drainage system.

The entrance from D’Mall to White Beach

Aside from the damages caused by tropical storm Urduja, the habitual flooding of several smaller areas on the island poses a health risk to residents and tourists visiting Boracay. The flood water is not clean, locals have reported that it often stinks.

In other recent news several establishments were issued violation notices for disposing their waste water directly into the drainage system, though most have already committed to comply with regulations.

A picture taken during a normal rainy day, not during tropical storm Urduja.

More pictures of the flood in Boracay caused by tropical storm Urduja:

Pictures courtesy of the Boracay community on Facebook.


  1. I guess my days traveling to Boracay are over… Been there about forty times in the past thirty years. It was beautiful at first, but has declined every year. Too many people and large tourist crowds from Korea and China–you all know how disturbing they can be. Hardly anyone is going to spend the money to bring back the infrastructure, so it will be years before it is safe to go there. Hope that they are still not trying to develope ‘Puka Beach’!

  2. It’s a storm. It’s not just Boracay that’s like this the mainland Aklan is just as bad I have friends there that are flooded also so making it just a Boracay issue is just not right now not to set aside that Boracay s infrastructure is very very bad and outdated but that’s most of the Philipines until the government does something it’s never going to change. The water company broke my water lines abd my water bill was over 100 k php now I’m a first world area the water company would have taken responsibility but not in Boracay I had to pay the bill and pay to fix the lines. Who’s the one that will make a difference?

    • Boracay is an island, it’s not land locked like the mainland. Small islands normally have the natural ability to disperse rain water back to the sea with efficiency.

      Here’s a quote from someone who can explain it better than I can:

      “Small islands have the natural ability to disperse rain water back to the sea with efficiency, since rainwater does not need to travel far from Mountains to streams, to rivers and then plains (or flood plains where humans love to thrive and live!), and only then does rainwater exit to the sea.

      Only Tsunamis, Storm Surges, King Tides, or other similar coastal anomalies are supposed to affect a small island like this.

      Development in Boracay was not geared to support the natural ability of the island to ‘heal’ itself. And the current state of infrastructure cannot handle the amount of rainwater – AND SEWAGE- anymore.

      We have created our own ‘Locked In’ dilemma. And now, the turn of events seems to be a self fulfilling prophecy.”

    • Most of the flood has receded. It shouldn’t be long until Boracay returns to normal, though of course damage has been done, but that shouldn’t affect you much if you’re just visiting.

  3. Government should know, when to stop issuing Permit for construction. Like over construction of high rise in Manila and there is only one EDSA.

  4. I guess it’s time to expand tourism and infrastructure development in nearby beautiful islands and areas,like Carabao Island, Buruanga and Romblon. Just like in Manila, development has to spread to other areas, in order not to choke or overcrowd a single place or island. Plus you’re also helping other areas to prosper and give tourists more choices. This is probably one of the best ways of saving Boracay.

    • I agree, there are many beautiful places in the Philippines, it would be wise to actively start diverting some of the tourist to other great destinations in the country to lessen the environmental load on Boracay.

      On the other hand, building proper infrastructure to support the island’s load, and strictly enforcing environmental regulations would also go a long way.

  5. The development in Boracay is so fast, that the roads and drainage system can’t keep up.
    I’m sure it will take a long time before the local government can come up with a good solution, just like in Manila.

  6. We are pkanning to fly from Cebu to Boracay on tge 31st dec but hearing thw news about the flood we are concernwd about iur safety. Shall we altwr our journey and just stop travelking in the philippines? Since arriving to El Nido on the17 is just poyring down! Very disappointed alrealy! Just sraying indoors with no activity is super boring 🙁 Thinking to srop and just fly back home to beat least safe. Any suggestion?

    • Hi Lilla, Boracay should be fine by then. It’s unlikely that you will notice much or anything from the flood that has happened by that time, unless another heavy rain storm hits in the mean time. So I’d just keep an eye out on the weather and any other storms that may approach Boracay closer to your travel date.

      No-one died or was seriously injured as far as I know. The flooding only caused damage, and water outage.

      • Hi paul. I booked to go there in Feb 2018. First time trip. Shocked to see all the flooding. I am a bit concerned. Whats your advice.
        Whats weather like in Early feb. Really appreciate any advice you can give.

      • Hi Mas, the flooding was already gone days ago, and February is in the middle of dry season, so I wouldn’t worry about it. Have a good vacay 🙂

      • Hi Paul. Thanks for your reassurance. Really appreciate it.
        Do u have any general advice for a first timer like me.. I am an asthmatic i was advised to get some sun to help the asthma.

      • You’re welcome. I don’t know much about asthma, but the main road can sometimes be a bit dusty during dry season, so maybe take that into account.

  7. This is very sad news to my favorite getaway island!!!
    I really hope the gov’t & the Aklanons get their act together regarding environmental issues and please once and for all PUT TRASH CANS IN EVERY 10 METERS at least along the beach and the roads???!!! You can’t even find trash cans when you want to throw your trash?!

  8. I too have been coming for many years (maybe 30 -) to the once pristine & wonderful Boracay. I have seen the slow erosion of what over building & over commercialism & lack of planning has done to this once special spot.
    At this point the most we can hope for is that this serious weather event is a wake up call. Maybe some sort of effective planning group will be formed to make the required changes including limiting future growth. With the projected level of millions of visitors headed to Boracay, over the next few years something needs to occur to address these and many other issues & problems.

    • I agree Larry, too much attention is given to tourism growth, and far too little to sustainable development. It’s a shame really. Boracay is a great place to be, but if we keep going like this, it will go into decline.

      It has already started to decline when you consider the heavy increase in algae blooms, and the frequent flooding of several smaller areas on the island in recent years, during normal rainy days.

      “Maybe some sort of effective planning group will be formed to make the required changes”

      That is a thing on my mind now also.

  9. i see that most of those commenting are aware of the beauty that was Boracay., and are suggesting that the solution to the problem is to stop development there AND to develop other areas and islands BUT the one thing that is being missed here is that if other areas and islands are developed the same problem will still exist in Boracay AS WELL AS THE NEWLY DEVELOPED AREAS. guess its Catch 22

    • Yes, that’s why it’s important that we actively start promoting and practicing sustainable tourism right now, and not later. The situation in Boracay can be prevented from happening in other Philippine destinations if appropriate attention is given to the sustainable development of those places.

  10. Hi Paul, I’ll be travelling to boracay with my hubby and my 6months baby this January wondering whats the sanitation situation in boracay right now.


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