This volcanic rock formation in the middle of Boracay’s White Beach is as odd as its name – Willy’s Rock. The castle-like structure’s profile makes for a perfect photo subject. In fact, it is the most photographed spot along the picturesque Boracay shoreline.
All the beaches of Boracay have white sands but none of them is more stunning than the White Beach, the resort-island’s main attraction. For local tourists, when you say “Boracay”, you mean the White Beach, also called “Long Beach” by Boracay residents. It is a 4-km stretch of blinding white sand that blends perfectly with the turquoise sea and reflects even the faintest moonlight in the evenings. At Station 1, Willy’s Rock disrupts this scenic white stretch as it protrudes from the shallow waters, about a hundred meters off the shore.
White Beach is divided into three stations, Stations 1, 2 and 3. Since there are no physical markers dividing the stations, locals point to Willy’s Rock to assist tourists searching for Station 1. The volcanic formation can be seen from any point along the long beach. On top of the rock is a grotto of the Virgin Mary, a testament of the Filipino peoples’ religiosity. Placing a religious icon there makes this already-magnificent natural formation even more heavenly and the area even more tranquil, especially for the mainly Roman Catholic local population.
Passing tourists are normally drawn to the famous rock. From the southern tip of Station 3 at the other end of the beach, people could see the rock and casually make it a point to walk towards or jog to it at least once during their stay in Boracay. Its natural formation is shaped in such a way that people can’t resist climbing it either.
Tourists are also lured to swimming and playing around it for the shade it offers from the scorching tropical heat of the sun. It is never without a tourist clambering, swimming around or taking a photograph.
But who is Willy? Does he own the rock? And why not call it Virgin Mary’s Rock instead, since that would be so much easier to explain when talking about the history of its nomenclature?
Some legends say Willy was the first Filipino who discovered Boracay, while others say it was the name of a sunken volcano that still exists underground. Local residents, however, know for a fact that Willy is a local businessman and owner of Willy’s Beach Resort along White Beach, fronting the rock itself. Through the years, the rock has been closely associated with Willy’s resort and somehow people began referring to it as Willy’s, hence the name.
“Tito” or Uncle Willy is himself a local legend in the area, since residents and visitors know him to be very friendly and gregarious. His reputation and the rock’s popularity make his hotel one of the most visited ones in the area. From his resort, guests, photo junkies and photo enthusiasts can enjoy taking magnificent pictures of Willy’s Rock from sunrise to sunset. The most dramatic ones are usually taken as the sun is setting behind the rock.
While Boracay is the most popular island paradise in the Philippines and White Beach is its identifying attraction, Willy’s Rock is the enigmatic but irresistible icing on the white-sand cake.