Summer hasn’t officially kicked off yet, but the blue sky and the sun beating down hard outside are nature’s way of reminding me that my favorite season is just around the corner.
I love summer, but don’t we all do?! It’s the season we see flowers in full bloom, the skies clear and the beaches are postcard-perfect; we get lazy basking under the warm summer sky and get much longer sleep; we go out at night for firefly-watching, camping, and road trips; and doze off to sleep in the cool afternoon breeze while on a hammock underneath a mango tree. For most of us, summer is synonymous to vacation. It’s the time of the year when we plan out getaways, travel with our family and friends, and head to our summer refuge –the beach.
With our endless coastlines, there’s definitely no shortage of white sand beaches we can go around here. But in the recent years, beach-goers have been mostly concentrated in the world-famous island in the Visayas– Boracay. Years after years, this paradise has been seeing huge man-made developments to cater to the demands of the growing influx of foreign and local tourists. Yes, huge amount of money goes to the island’s coffers, but I have to say that too much commercialism is also taking toll to this once pristine, quiet and immaculate island. I wonder how beautiful it must have been there before madness settled in.
This summer, my advise is to try to veer away from Boracay and explore the lesser-known but equally pretty beaches (without the party crowd).
After visiting the 80 (of the 81) provinces in the Philippines, I’m blessed to have been to many splendid beaches that boast of quality fine sandy shoreline, spectacular sunsets and sunrises, amazing dive sites, lush mangrove forests, and clear emerald-colored waters. The beauty of these beaches will blow your mind!
I’m sharing with you some of my favorite unspoiled beaches. I’m calling them unspoiled because these have not been marred by too much developments — the amenities are limited mostly to nipa huts, public restrooms, potable water from deep well and a few sari-sari stores from local communities.
Here, the idea of summer beach getaway is purely to commune with nature. Long days are spent lounging in the beach, reading under the shade of coconut trees dotting the shoreline; enjoying the breezy afternoon and listening to the ripples kissing the shores while waiting for the sunset. There’s nothing in between, just you and nature.
Things to remember:
1. Since most of these beaches have very basic amenities, it’s better if you plan your trip ahead of time. Note if you have to prepare for a tent accommodation or if there are huts or resorts where you can stay in.
2. It’s advisable to bring your own provisions and personal stuff since finding sari-sari stores may be a bit taxing.
3. Dispose your trash properly. If possible, bring home your spoils.
4. If there are local peddlers in the area, patronize them. The small income they get from tourism brings food on their table.
5. I do not encourage setting up bonfire near the beach. I suggest using a tray when setting a beach bonfire instead of directly starting the fire on the sand. Let’s protect our beaches. 🙂
6. Land or boat transfer going to and from these beaches can be very limited. Check out their schedule.
7. Take into consideration the weather condition. You don’t want to be stuck in these beaches/islands especially unprepared. It’ll surely dampen the beach experience.
8. Bring some beach/camp essentials: swimsuit, snorkeling gears, sun protect lotion, insect repellent, etc…
Note: To the local government, please, please, please keep these beaches away from over-development and excessive commercialism!
1. Camarines Norte’s Amazing Beach: Calaguas Island
I’ve been raving about this beach for a long time now. Definitely one of the best beaches I’ve seen and despite the attention it’s been getting lately, I still consider it unspoiled for the lack of infras near the beach front. There are nipa huts for rent but it’s advisable to bring your own tents and hammock. With no electricity, cp and data signal, the best form of entertainment you have is the beach. Frolic in the superbly fine sand and just be blown away by the crystal clear waters. Aside from beach-combing, other activities I suggest in Calaguas are: island-hopping, frisbee, volleyball, bird-watching, hiking. If on DIY, please bring your food, camping essentials and personal stuff since the sari-sari stores in the island have limited supplies.
How to get to Calaguas Island:
Take an 8-hour bus ride from Manila to Daet, Camarines Norte. From Daet, take a jeep going to Vinzons (about 20 mins away) and ask the driver to drop you off at the port. The boatride from Vinzons to Calaguas takes about 2 hours.
2.Cagayan’s “Boracay of the North”: Palaui Island, Anguib Cove
Northern Luzon is home to some of the beaches that you can still call “untouched.” Two of the best are Palaui Island and Anguib Cove which are both located at Sta. Ana, Cagayan. From San Vicente Port in Sta. Ana, you may rent a boat going to Anguib Cove, it has a white sand beach likened by many to the White Beach of Boracay.
Another option is to go to my favorite, Palaui Island, about 30 minutes away from San Vicente Port. Picture-perfect especially during the summer season, this tiny island will surely hit your inner travel spot because of the natural wonders there. Best things to do in the island: enjoy the beach, snorkel, hike to Cape Engano ( a Spanish-old lighthouse). There are virtually no accommodation in the island so it is advisable to bring your own tent and food supplies if you want to stay overnight, just ask permission from the tourism officer at San Vicente.
How to get to Palaui Island:
Plane ride from Manila to Tuguegarao City – Approx 1 hr
Van or bus from Tuguegarao City to Santa Ana – P180 fare – Approx 4 hours (last van going to Santa Ana leaves Tuguegarao at around 5pm)
Boat options from Santa Ana to Palaui Island– Rates: P1,800 straight to Cape Engano -approx travel time 30 minutes P750 to Punta Verde in Palaui Island then hike for 3.5 to 4 hours going to Cape Engano. Guide Fee is P250
Bus from Manila (Florida Bus and Victory Liner) has direct route to Santa Ana, Cagayan – approx travel time is 16 hours.
Hire a boat going to Palaui. Rates: P1,800 straight to Cape Engano -approx travel time 30 minutes P750 to Punta Verde in Palaui Island then hike for 3.5 to 4 hours going to Cape Engano. Guide Fee is P250.
3. Enchanting Beaches of Coron, Palawan: Malcapuya Island, Banana Island, Bulog-dos Island
Island-hopping is one of the things I recommend doing if you go to Coron. Save a day or two in your itinerary to laze on its off coast white sand beaches that has virtually zero or just a handful of people around. Revel in Malcapuya, Banana and Bulog-dos Islands’ crystal clear waters, awesome snorkeling spots, fine sand beach and quality sandbar.
How to get to Coron:
Take a flight from Manila going to Busuanga. From Busuanga Airport, hop on a van bound for the town of Coron which is about 45 minutes away. Boat rentals for island-hopping are available at the town proper.
4. Mindoro Occidental’s Dive Treasures: Apo Reef Island, Pandan Island
Imagine spending a weekend on a remote island, on a tent accommodation and surrounded by lush mangrove forest, a stunning lighthouse, a white sand beach, clear sea, and some beautiful rock formations? Superb right!? How about we throw in the picture the underwater gems that are a cut above the rest in the world — imagine swimming with sharks, green sea turtles, barracuda and diverse bright-colored fish and with colorful corals in the background! A recipe for a perfect weekend, indeed! Enough said, Apo Reef and Pandan Island are the places to be not just for divers, but also those gunning for a beach retreat!
How to get there Apo Reef:
Fly to San Jose, Mindoro Occidental from Manila. From the airport, take a trike going to the bus/van station bound for Sablayan. Once in Sablyan, head straight to the municipal tourism office and coordinate your trip to Apo Reef. They provide rentals for boats and camping essentials (tent, snorkeling/dive gears). If you need help in cooking, it’s on them, too (with a fee, of course).
Tip: Going to Apo Reef can be expensive especially for solo or couple travelers. If you’re up on a budget trip, I highly suggest you go there in group so you’ll have people to share the financial damages with. Regardless, the place is worth it!
5. Catanduanes’ Golden Sand Beaches:
Puraran Beach, Palumbanes Island, Mamangal Beach, Marilima Beach
How do I write about the beaches where I spent many of my weekends as a child? I grew up in Catanduanes, and our Sundays were about excursions to the nearest beach. Until these days, my favorites are still Mamangal and Marilima Beaches, about 45 minutes away from Virac town proper. These cream-colored sandy beaches provide a good vantage of Mt. Mayon on a clear day and a magnificent sunset. In the town of Baras, about one hour away from Virac, another must-visit is Puraran Beach which is a perfect haven for surfers. If you want to go to more isolated places, you may opt to visit the quiet Bitaog Beach in Palumbanes Island, Caramoran (5 hours away from Virac). Mighty proud to be a Catandunganon!
How to get to Catanduanes:
The fastest way to get there is by taking a commercial flight via Cebu Pacific. The flight from Manila to Virac takes only about 55 minutes. Cebu Pacific is flying to Virac four times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday)
Another option, though an arduous one, is by taking a 12-hr bus ride from Manila to Tabaco, Albay. From Tabaco City Port, you can take a ferry boat going to either Virac (4 hours travel time) and San Andres (3 hours travel time).
6. Romblon, Romblon’s Idylls: Tiamban Beach, Bonbon Beach
This province which is about 346 km south of Manila is composed of three major islands: Romblon, where the capital city of Romblon is located, Tablas, the largest island in the province, and Sibuyan, the easternmost island. It’s coastline is dotted with many white sand beaches that are not in the radar of most tourists. What I really loved most about the beaches I’ve seen in Romblon is that they’re close to the town proper, about 5- 10 minutes trike away. Very accessible!
Tiamban Beach– From the port, we asked a trike driver for the best beach near the town of Romblon (Fare: P 100). Our driver brought us to Tiamban Beach (Rate: P650/night/fan room), located at Barangay Lonos, about 15 minutes away from the port. The resort has two available rooms for overnight stay and most of the cottages are for day trips only. I fell in love with this beach! Just magnificent.
Bonbon Beach, a public beach that has a sandbar that connects the main island of Romblon to the neighboring Bang-ug Island during low tide. Entrance is free and just a trike away from downtown Romblon. Tell the trike driver to drop you off at the access path going to Bonbon beach.)
How to get to Romblon, Romblon:
The most economical way to get there is by boat.From Manila, take a bus going to Batangas Pier. At the port, book your ticket with Montenegro Ferry or MV Grand Unity.
7.Siquijor’s Magical Shores: Kagusuan Beach, Salagdoong Beach, San Juan Beaches, Siquijor Beach/Port
Siquijor has splendid beaches. When you touch down to this tiny island, you’d be welcomed by a panoramic view of the Siquijor Beach which lies adjacent to the port. It is, I must say, the best port view I’ve seen. About 30 minutes away from the town proper of Siquijor, you may rent a trike to take you to San Juan, the town where most of the resorts are located. San Juan boasts of some white sandy beaches, great sunset, and some limestone formations near the shore. If you want a more quiet place, you may rent a motorcycle — which is the best way to explore the whole island– and go to the hidden Kagusuan Beach. I still gush over this beach because I fondly remember how amazed I was to see a hidden paradise tucked securely away from many tourists. We had the beach all to ourselves when we went there.
How to get to Siquijor:
Coming from Manila, the easiest way to get there is by taking a flight going to Dumaguete City. From the port, hail a trike and go to the sea port (near Siliman University). Boats bound for Siquijor have regular trips there (travel time is about 1 hour).
8. Remote Islands of Sorsogon: Subic Beach, Tikling Island
I remember on several occasions when I was young, my mother took us to Northern Samar and the boat going to Allen, Samar passed by a tiny island near the coast of Matnog, Sorsogon. Even from afar, I noticed the white shore of that island and hoped to go there someday. That silent wish was granted when I finally stepped in at Tikling Island back in 2012. It was indeed a quiet, beautiful beach which remains off the tourists’ map. Another beach worth visiting in Sorsogon is Subic Beach, about 30-45 minutes boat ride from Matnog. An overnight camp near its pretty pink sand beach under a starry night is definitely a treat you may indulge in this summer.
How to get to Matnog, Sorsogon:
Those coming from Manila can take a bus going straight to Matnog — inquire at Philtranco, Raymond and Amihan (Cubao, Quezon City). Travel period can take about 13-15 hours so it’s advisable to travel at night.
Another option is to take a flight going to Legazpi City (Cebu Pacific, AirPhil Express, Zest Air). Then hail a trike going to the Central Terminal where you can take vans headed to Sorsogon City. From Sorsogon City, take a jeepney going to Matnog. Once in the town proper, you can take jeep or trike to go around.
To go island hopping (day trip), you could ask some boatmen at Matnog Port to take you around for P700 (1-2 pax) and P1500 (group). They provide life-jackets for safety and you could make arrangements if you wish you stay overnight in the island.
Contact boatman: “Arangkada” Camcaman, Bhrian Garcia Geneblazo – 0926-545-8648
9. Marinduque’s Best Finds: Maniwaya Island, Tres Reyes Islands
The main island of Marinduque has coastal areas that has grayish sand, but the islands off its coasts offer some finer white sandy shores. You may go to Barangay Pinggan at the sleepy town of Gasan and take a worthwhile daytrip going to the three islets facing its shores — the Tres Reyes Islands, from the three magis, Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltazar. I had fun soaking in the sun and the glorious sea during my quick stay at one of the narrow beach strips at Gaspar Island.
Other islands worth-seeing around Marinduque are: Mongpong, Maniwaya and Polo. These three have yet to rise from fame, and better catch them before everyone else does.
How to get to Marinduque:
Take the JAC Liner Bus (Php850) – Kamias Road Terminal, Quezon City to Dalahican Port, Lucena City (approximate travel time: 3 to 4 hours) Then RoRo ride from Dalahican Port, Lucena City to Cawit Port, Boac, Marinduque (average travel time: 3-4 hours).
10. Batanes’ Exceptional Seascapes: Vulugan Beach, Nakabuang Beach
People don’t really go to Batanes for the beach. Very often, the reason of travel to this dreamy northernmost province is to experience its well-preserved culture, to see the old stone houses and to laze on its magnificent rolling hills. But there’s something different about Batanes’ beaches– take for instance the boulder-filled shore of Vulugan Beach which is quite a visual example of the rugged uniqueness of this island. On the other hand, Nakabuang Beach in Sabtang Island offers a white sand beach with a panoramic vantage point accentuated by the famous arc rock formation that’s a geological wonder. These beaches are silent witnesses to the harsh weather conditions this province is known for, that when the storm is out, what remains are seascapes that truly calms even the most weary hearts. I love Batanes!
How to get to Batanes:
PAL Express has daily flights to Basco, Batanes. If you want to explore its neighboring islands, Sabtang and Itbayat, you have the option to go on a rough but exciting Falowa ride or take a chartered flight going to Itbayat.
11.Skim, Surf and Beach Bum at Mati, Davao Oriental: DahicanBeach
I didn’t know I was in for a treat when I arrived at Dahican Beach. The vast shoreline had nearly zero tourist, except for some local fishermen lounging near the beach for their afternoon siesta. The hues of the boats parked near the shore highlighted the turquoise and deep blue colors of the sea. I combed the beach further and saw very little developments. Yes, there’s a resort that offers comfortable accommodation there, but that’s about it. To fully enjoy the place, I suggest you drop by the humble abode of the Amihan Boys. They can offer you a space to pitch in your tent, and they provide services like island- hopping and surf/skim lessons and board rentals.
How to get to Mati, Davao Oriental:
From Davao City, take a bus bound for Mati City at Ecoland Bus Terminal. From Mati town proper, rent a habal-habal to Dahican Beach. If you’re on a day trip, you may ask the same habal-habal driver to fetch you on your return trip (P100).
12. Sarangani Bay is Little Boracay: Gumasa Beach, Glan, Sarangani
I looked forward to this trip to Sarangani for months, but you know how the weather sometimes gets in the way and becomes totally uncooperative like a real bummer. It was drizzling when we touched down in the main town, and from there we rented a trike going to Gumasa Beach in Glan. Despite the overcast sky and the stormy sea, the beach still looked amazing for me. The sand was the finest I’ve seen in Mindanao and I couldn’t even imagine how glorious it must be under the bright blue summer sky.
How to get to Gumasa Beach, Glan, Sarangani.
There are daily flights to General Santos City from Manila.From the airport proceed to KCC Mall and look for the van terminal for Glan, Sarangani (P80/person). When you arrive in Sarangani, hail a habal-habal going to Gumasa Beach and ask the diver to take you to the beach of your choice. Some of the beach-front accommodations there are: Rosal Beach Resort, Coco Beach Resort, and Brod Louie Resort.
13. Tawi-Tawi is Philippines’ Southernmost Frontier: Panampangan Island, Sapa Sapa
Tawi-Tawi is the new dream destination for many. Over the years, this remote province in the southernmost part of the country has been secluded from the prying eyes of travelers not only because it was challenging to get there, but also because of the negative reputation it’s been tagged. But thanks to the local budget carrier that now offers regular flights to Bongao, the capital town, the travel time going there was significantly cut down. As for the security concerns, I strongly suggest that you coordinate with the local tourism office before going there so you can easily and safely roam the main town and its neighboring islands. One of the best beaches there is at Panampangan Island which is dubbed as the perfect white beach comparable to Boracay.
How to get to Tawi-Tawi:
The easiest and more convenient way to get to Bongao, Tawi-Tawi is by taking a flight from Zamboanga City.
14. Zambales’ Favorite Cove: Nagsasa Cove
Although this cove has been recently included in the favorite trail among many of Manila’s weekend warriors, it still has retained much of its pristine nature. As of this writing, no solid man-made structures have been erected near the beach yet, besides a few nipa huts. Thus, visitors are expected to bring their own tent, foods and provisions. I consider Nagsasa one of my favorites simply because it’s near Manila, and the scenery is insanely beautiful. Tip: Catch the sunrise and sunset there. Oh, and the beach, enough said.
How to get to Nagsasa Cove:
Victory Liner has daily schedules bound for Iba, Zambales. Ask the conductor to drop you off at San Antonio, Zambales and from there, take a trike bound for Pundaquit. You may arrange boat rentals going to Nagsasa Cove.
15. Guimaras’ Secluded Beaches: Nagarao, Nauway, Inampulogan Islands
A few minutes from the vibrant Iloilo City lies another province ideal for silent getaways. Guimaras is so tiny that it can actually be explored in just a day. But its real travel gem lies in its coasts which can be enjoyed by renting a boat. Guimaras is surrounded by secluded beaches with rock formations perfect for people who are off to run away from the hustle-bustle of the nearby city. Truly, a sweet escape that is as sweet as Guimaras’ famous mangoes.
How to get to Guimaras:
Take a direct flight to Iloilo City and ride a jeepney or a taxi going to Iloilo City harbor (Ortiz Wharf), and then take a 15-minute pump boat ride going to Jordan Wharf, Guimaras.
16. A Window to the Pacific Ocean: Cagbalete Island, Mauban Quezon
A quiet escape near Manila where the sea bed is vast on low tide, and the water is divine on high tide. Cagbalete Island is a good option for company and family getaways because it’s relatively close to Manila and the expenses are just within budget. There are resorts offering comfortable accommodations like Villa Cleofa’s, Pansacola Resort, Villa Noe Beach Resort, among others.
How to get to Cagbalete Island:
From Manila, take a bus (JAC Liner) going to Lucena City (P218), then take another bus going to Mauban, Quezon (P54). From Mauban Port (pay the P70 Environmental Fee), ride on a boat going to Cagbalete Island (P50).
I’m writing this blog with a thought screaming off my mind — take me to the beach! As I compile the photos and type in the words, there’s the longing to be near the sea. Absolutely seasick now and I can’t wait for summer!
Enjoy, love and protect our beaches!