Because the summer heat is zapping the life out of me and I haven’t been to a beautiful beach in a while. These are some of the memorable beaches I’ve been to in the last couple of years.
The-beach-that-must-not-be-named (Puerto Princesa, Palawan)
It was so beautiful we ditched a climb just to stay there. Everything was postcard-perfect: powdery white sand, deep blue waters, no intrusive structures and best of all, we had the entire beach to ourselves. The locals want to keep it that way so they asked me not to disclose the name and exact location of the beach to keep it from being overrun with tourists.
Dahican (Mati, Davao Oriental)
Dahican Beach is growing in popularity as a surfing destination in Mindanao. I went there during off-peak season and, while I missed out on the surfing lessons, I still got to enjoy snorkeling and bumming around on the quiet beach. Davao Oriental has the most amazing coral reefs. Unfortunately, its fishing grounds are plagued by illegal activities such as dynamite fishing and compressor diving.
Morong (Sabtang Island, Batanes)
This is a favorite stopover of tourist groups after a day tour of stone houses in Sabtang. Its icon is a naturally formed stone arc which is probably one of the most photographed landmarks on the island. I only got to stay there for a couple of hours and what I remember most was the scorching heat but the stunning view still blew me away. The influx of tourists though has brought in a perennial problem: garbage. What do people have against proper trash disposal?
Malamawi Island (Isabela, Basilan)
The weather was bad when I was there but the beach was packed. It was the annual Fiesta Santa Isabel in Isabela and a lot of locals celebrated by heading to the beach. Because of atrocities committed by the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, Basilan is often depicted as an anarchic no man’s land where abductions and armed attacks are everyday dangers. On a rainy Sunday in Malamawi, flocks of local beachgoers enjoying the holiday showed a sense of normalcy. It was a slice of local life that doesn’t make it on primetime news but shows how people quietly strive to lead normal, peaceful lives even in a place with such an unsavory reputation.
Puraran (Baras, Catanduanes)
It was that time I went on a solo trip to Catanduanes with no plans whatsoever. I stayed in Puraran Beach, a surfing spot known for its gigantic waves, and spent my days sleeping, reading and staring at the sea. I can’t balance on a surfboard to save my life (believe me, I tried) so I really don’t know why I often end up in surfing spots. I didn’t dare go swimming because the waves looked scary. It didn’t help that the resort owners told stories of how a number of surfers have already died there.
Cinnamon Island (Socorro, Surigao Del Norte)
After a tour of Sohoton Cove National Park, a beautiful inlet in Bucas Grande Islands, I got to stay in a rustic cottage by the beach and was lulled to sleep by the sound of the crashing waves. The accommodation in Cinnamon Island is managed by a local people’s organization, part of a concerted effort to implement a community-based eco-tourism program in the area. The island has no electricity but has lots of fireflies.
Pandan Island (Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro)
While the beach was beautiful, the resort turned me off for some reason. I found it to be a little too hoity-toity but maybe it’s just me. The saving grace was an unexpected encounter with a couple of sea turtles while I was snorkeling. It was my first time to see one up close and they were so magnificent that I was choking back tears while in the water. The coral reefs and diversity of marine life around the island were also impressive.
Apo Island (Dauin, Negros Oriental)
This was the second time I swam with sea turtles and the experience was still just as awe-inspiring. The beach is rocky and not ideal for swimming but if you’re going snorkeling or diving, then you’re in for a treat. Sea turtles hang out in the shallow parts while coral reefs become increasingly abundant in the deeper areas. The local eco-tourism management, however, would do well to conduct better training of their so-called snorkeling guides. I saw some guides who were standing on massive corals, which is a basic no-no as it can damage the corals.
Carabao Island (San Jose, Romblon)
A quiet beach in a quiet town. Carabao Island is only less than an hour away from Boracay but it couldn’t be more different from the loud, bawdy atmosphere of the country’s party island. There were no flashy resorts, rowdy clubs and pricey water activities. We stayed with a local family, played patintero on the beach, drank cheap brandy, lost and gained money in a game of cards, and had a great time.