Ever since I’ve started this blog, I’ve been waiting for Google to obtain high-resolution satellite imagery of Boracay for Google Maps. And that’s because I would then have plenty of new sights to feature here in Vista Pinas, Boracay being the tourist hotspot it is. I’ve actually featured White Beach way, way before since it’s quite visible in the default low-resolution Landsat satellite imagery in Google Maps. Unfortunately, you can’t see much more detail in there.
So if you’re looking for a good online map of Boracay, you can’t rely on Google Maps right now. However, you can with OpenStreetMap! Check it out below, or you can explore it on the main OpenStreetMap website. I believe that OpenStreetMap has the most-detailed, freely-available online map of Boracay anywhere.
I’ve mentioned OpenStreetMap (OSM) a couple of times before (like when I featured People’s Park in the Sky), and it is basically a worldwide crowdsourced mapping project. If you know Google Map Maker, it’s somewhat similar except that the OSM data is free for you to use under share-alike terms. You can build on it, combine it into countless mashups, create Garmin GPS maps with it, and do whatever you want (even sell the data), as long as you attribute the data to OpenStreetMap and tell people that the data is share-alike.
OSM mapping in Boracay has a pretty interesting history. The island’s major roads and many of its POIs (points of interests, like hotels and resorts) have been mapped by Mike Collinson, a British national, back in 2007 when he was in the country. Some other details on the island have been added by Bill Mitchell, an American who retired to Boracay.
Then earlier this year, the guys at Enthropia, who run Boracay.com.ph (which aims to be the premier directory site for Boracay hotels and resorts, bars, and restaurants), decided to sponsor a mapping trip to the island in order to improve their website. The lucky guy was Jim Morgan, a British expat and OpenStreetMapper, whom I’ve met back in March. He flew to the island and basically filled in the details and verified the work started by Mike. He also added some visual aids by approximating the area of each hotel and resort so that the map will not look empty.
To be clear, the Boracay map on OpenStreetMap definitely needs more mapping. There are plenty of walkways, paths, and more detail that could be added and the approximated shapes could use a lot more refinement. In addition, new resorts and hotels need to be added as well. But because this is OpenStreetMap, anyone can do it!