Proceed with caution :)
I love beaches and when I got hold a copy of Philmap's beaches of the Philippines, I immediately looked for a beach area that is a driving distance from Manila but still exotic (or unexplored). I fell in love with the pictures of Honey Beach which is located in Sawang,Lobo, Batangas. Finally last Independence Day weekend, we had a chance with my wife's balikbayan friend, Espie. Yes, Lobo batangas beaches are not popular -- I can't find any google info about these beaches and nobody talks about them and I now understand why. Aside from the Philmap's article, which focuses too much on the positive and don't give you the negatives, I intend to give you local travelers, adventurers and beach lover like me what to expect and how to have a fun time in Lobo beaches.
Here are some of the key highlights:
Honey Beach Accomodation is OK for family/friends specially if you have kids! The place is a private resort (recently opened to the public) owned by the Macalintals who shuttles back and forth between the US and their retirement place in Honey Beach. There is a whole article on the background of the place in Philmap's article and I don't intend to replicate it here. There are only 2 airconditioned rooms (suppose to be good for 5 each but from experience one can have 4 and the other 3 persons that could sleep comfortably) and 2 cottages (suppose to be good for 12 there are only two beds and the rest should sleep in a banig or mattress). Resorts should be more truthful on the maximum capacity of the rooms considering that people are not skinny girls and people needs to sleep comfortably. Having said that, since the place is a little private it is ideal for kids because it is not crowded, there is a putting green where the kids can play with the golf balls, and the service is warm + personalized.
You would spend P3,500 for the airconditioned room and P600/person for 3 meals (lunch, dinner, breakfast). Service Charge is not included and they have a song and dance number when you arrive that encourages you to provide the staff tips if you feel happy about their service.
This is definitely a great place to relax and breath fresh air with your family and friends!
There are alot of negatives (consider yourself warned!)
1. The road going to Lobo is terrible (although it has improved alot from a few years ago) -- 20km of rough roads sporadically spread throughout your journey to Lobo. Bring a big car or SUV -- highly recommended.
2. The Lobo beaches sunrise is behind the mountains and sunsets in front of the resorts but still behind the mountains (not the horizon). You have a feeling that there is something wrong with your location and wanted to move the mountains. So this is not an ideal place for sunrise/sunset shots.
3. Although they would say that the beach area in front of the resort is already protected recently (proclaimed as a marine sanctuary)-- the catch is the corals are alread DEAD! It is so sad that the fisherman killed the vast corals and snorkeling is a sad experience. It's like looking through grey dead corals.
4. The beach area in front of honey beach is disappointing. It is definitely not white, lots of rocks, and it is only clear in the morning but looks murky in the afternoon. Don't expect a stretch of white beach along a cove. Although, there are nearby resorts which have the kind of beach (submarine, and lily) -- This would be next on our lists of places to explore.
Some tips on how to make your trip exciting and fun.
1. Since it is a private resort, there are only a few things you can order. We can't even order san mig light, peanuts, and the like. Since there are no corkage anyway, bring the drinks and junk foodies you need to make your stay alot more exciting. Drinking by the beach is definitely a must!
2. There are two ways to go to Lobo, one is via Batangas City and the other one via Rosario which is 30 minutes shorter. Both have a long stretch of rough roads. I would suggest to go via Batangas city (just follow the road going to Ponte Fino which leads all the way to Lobo) and on the way back go via the Rosario Batangas route. I suggest that you make Ponte Fino as a stop over and savor the nice view of the pool in this hotel. If you don't know your way to Ponte Fino, just go via Startoll-- exit batangas city-- turn right after the exit toll-- just go straight past the batangas pier and makro batangas-- turn left going to ponte fino and follow the signs. Email me if you need directions.
3. This is an ideal getaway from all the hussle and bussle of manila. So bring your close friends and family and enjoy the night away.