January 25, 2011
I love beaches!
The travel bug bit me while I was sitting and watching the 270-degree view of the sea and sky on Kota Beach in Bantayan, Cebu in 2006. The feeling was surreal -- I couldn’t believe that nature could be so awesome that no words could fully describe it. (You’ll know the feeling when you experience it.)
I realized that if there is a place like that one in Cebu, there must be a lot more places like it hidden in the 7,107 islands of the Philippines. This inspired Our Awesome Planet’s advocacy to inspire and touch Filipinos’ hearts and minds, to make them realize that our country is truly a beautiful place.
I’ve been to most of the best beaches in the Philippines, except for one (which is reserved for our 10th year wedding anniversary). Now, I would like to share with you our beach discoveries (after 4 years of traveling almost every other week!)
These are the Top 10 Beaches in the Philippines:
1. White Beach, Boracay Island
Boracay will always be the BEST beach place in the hearts of many Filipinos. The island is a feast for the senses – there’s gourmet food, a variety of cuisines, luxurious hotels, exotic spas, adventure sports, and the best nightlife on any island.
People go to Boracay not only for the powdery white sands and the energetic nightlife, but also to experience the bohemian beach spirit. This spirit lives on in the people who have decided to stay in Boracay despite the overdevelopment on this small island off the coast of Caticlan.
The people of Boracay are now more eco-conscious, and eco-friendly programs are being rolled out to protect the beauty of Boracay for the next generation.
2. Entalula Island, El Nido, Palawan
Entalula Island is the best beach island in the Bacuit Bay group of islands in El Nido, Palawan. It is a small, secluded area with limestone cliffs protecting the beach.
It is a private island owned by El Nido Resorts, but a small portion of the beach can be publicly accessed by island-hopping tourists from El Nido town.
The beach has sugar-fine, white sand that could very well match Boracay’s famous sand. I'm glad they decided not to build a resort on the island to maintain its pristine charm.
The best part of the Entalula Island experience is that you can request the resort to arrange lunch or dinner there for you. That way, you get to enjoy the beach privately and you can savor the time spent with your group or just your special someone.
3. Long Beach, San Vicente, Palawan
Long Beach in San Vicente, Palawan is said to be the last beach frontier in the Philippines, boasting a 14-kilometer stretch of white sand that can rival the best beach destinations in the world. Its beauty is raw and undeveloped (no big resorts yet).
The runway of the area’s international airport has already been developed, meaning it can accommodate the big international planes. People are just waiting for the terminal to be built so that the first official flights to San Vicente can commence.
A lot of people have already invested in the beach lots, but its future remains speculative. On a positive note, this time, we get the chance to develop a beach destination with resorts far away from the shoreline and constructed in an eco-friendly way.
One day, I hope to run barefoot across that entire 14-kilometer stretch – from end to end!
4. Daplac Cove, Boayan Island, San Vicente, Palawan
Daplac Cove is relatively undiscovered and rarely talked about, except maybe for the controversies regarding its ownership. I had the pleasure of visiting the island and the small solar-powered house built by Ditchay Roxas. I was blown away by the beauty of the entire cove.
Just imagine: fine, white Boracay-like sand beside aquamarine waters. You can actually open your eyes underwater and it wouldn’t hurt since there is a mix of fresh and seawater.
Daplac Cove also has a vibrant marine life. Sometimes, you can view the cove’s sea inhabitants very close to the shore.
The island is also a nature preserve for the endangered Tabon Bird and the vulnerable Palawan hornbills and eagles. The people of Boayan are protecting the island from illegal fishing and illegal cutting of the kulasi trees.
5. Matukad Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur
Matukad Island offers a wonderful combination of the great features of other beaches. Its sandy beach can be compared to Boracay; its limestone cliffs are like those in Palawan; and its location in a group of islands is similar to that of Hundred Islands. It is located across the popular Gota Beach, which is the location shoot for the TV show Survivor. I like how the island is undeveloped and that it will remain that way.
From Matukad, Laos Island can be found nearby. This is quite a unique place because it has two beach coves that face different sides of the island. You can stand in the middle of the intersection of the beach and you'll have different beach views on your left and on your right. Two limestone cliffs anchor the beach, adding to a visual feast you'll never forget.
6. Mahabang Buhangin, Calaguas Islands, Camarines Norte
The next beach frontier: Calaguas Islands. The place is far from being developed but a lot of backpackers are already visiting the island. You have to cross open seas for two hours onboard a big fishing boat (which could carry a carabao from one island to another).
Once you arrive in Mahabang Buhangin, you'll be captivated by its raw beauty. Its long, uninhabited cove gives you the feeling that you have arrived on the set of The Beach. If you plan to swim, be careful because the beach slopes down drastically. If you want to stay overnight on the island, you have to pitch a tent.
This is perfect for groups of adventurous people who want to bond while enjoying nature. Your only source of entertainment would be your shared life stories and funny misadventures along the way.
7. Club Paradise Beach, Coron, Palawan
The Calamianes Group of Islands in Coron, the northern part of Palawan, is known for its dive spots instead of its beaches. However, there is one island that seems to be blessed with all the white sand that surrounds the area.
The island has a fully developed resort called Club Paradise, which offers urban amenities like good buffet food and modern beach huts (that open to the beach). There, you can also find a dive resort, a videoke room, a jungle bar, and conference rooms for team building sessions.
But the best parts are the hiking trail to the topmost part of the island, the little nature museum, and the secret beach. :)
8. Balesin, Polillo Islands, Quezon
Balesin is a forgotten island. This used to be a popular beach escape during the Marcos era. All developments stopped at one point in time and the island became less accessible. There were only two ways to get there: via a 4-hour boat ride or a cost-prohibitive charter flight.
The Balesin resort was not well-maintained and the food needed a lot of improvement. Soon, the island resort was forced to cease operations. With its halted development, the beauty of its beaches became the centerpiece again.
Balesin’s beach is safe for kids because it slopes gradually. I was actually able to visit the place before it closed down. I remember hopping from one secluded beach cove to another on foot. It was very relaxing -- all I did was lie down on the beach and enjoy nature’s splendor.
One of my best beach photographs was taken in Balesin. I’m glad to know the entire island is being developed by Alphaland in an eco-sustainable way. For sure, a lot of beach lovers can't wait for its opening.
9. Kota Beach, Bantayan and White Beach Malapascua Island, Cebu
My first beach love: the twin island beaches of Malapascua and Bantayan. We would often go on an inter-island boat cruise on a rented banca just to experience both beaches on one trip.
Kota Beach in Bantayan is like a corner beach. There, you can view nature on both left and right sides – a great muni-muni spot to reflect on your life and its many aspects.
Malapascua Beach, on the other hand, is the “undeveloped Boracay”, where you can enjoy the beach without the noise of overdevelopment and the nightlife. It's a place where you can escape, write a book, or simply lounge around incognito.
10. "Blue Lagoon" Maira-ira Beach, Pagudpud
Blue Lagoon in Maira-ira was once the hidden beach that was considered the “Boracay of the North”. It has a natural cove that turns turquoise blue when seen from a high vantage point. The lush foliage and rice fields surrounding it made its pristine condition even more charming.
However, such beauty was not able to escape enterprising developers. A big resort was built very close to the beach, promising urban amenities and beach sports activities. The resort started to destroy the Blue Lagoon by pouring cement over the rice fields and cutting down all the trees in its path.
I wouldn't be surprised if, one day, most of the rice fields are cemented and, soon, Blue Lagoon will just be a distant memory for those who were lucky enough to experience its raw beauty.
UP NEXT: Amanpulo, Pamalican Island, Palawan
Amanpulo is the ultimate beach destination for beach lovers like me. With promises of secluded beaches, flawless service, and an experience that your mind, heart and pocket will never forget, who can resist?
I've never been to Amanpulo, though, so I'm still not including it in my Top 10. I'm reserving this experience for our 10th year anniversary. :)
Live an Awesome Life,
Full Disclosure: Nothing to disclose. I'm not related to, connected with or compensated in any way by any of the beaches and establishments featured in this blog post. I'm not connected with, compensated by, or represented by any PR firm.
P.S. This article is one of the awesome articles in My Awesome Life Book in 2011 (a Travel Log Planner). Since only 1,000 OAP friends will get a copy, I decided to share the article with all the loyal readers of OAP. :)
My Awesome Life Book 2011 (a travel log planner - collector's edition) - P599
It will be available in Mercato Centrale by mid-February. For any questions, please email me directly at email@example.com.