Archive for the 'Siquijor' Category

24
Jun
12

Philippines: The Top Beaches


I have always loved rankings of world beaches but when no Philippine beach appears on the lists, I would surely get disheartened. How could someone produce the list of the top 10 beaches in the world when in fact they have not seen all! They could have just come up with the title, “The best beaches we have seen so far!” Sometimes, you cannot understand why a beach in filthy Kho Phangan in Thailand is ranked higher than the immaculate beach in Playa del Carmen in Mexico. CNN produced a list of the world’s 50 best beaches and it created overwhelming disapproval when beaches in the Greek Islands, in Bermuda and in the Philippines’ Palawan were missed out. Also, Yahoo Travel featured an article ranking the Philippines’ best beaches and I thought it was not so properly done, placing El Nido at the top without specifically singling out any of El Nido’s famed beaches.

That’s why I came up with my own ranking of the Philippines’ best beaches.  This is supposed to be a counter post to the Yahoo Travel article and a counter punch to the CNN article that only had one Philippine beach. In this post I have ranked the Philippine beaches that are so underrated when it comes to world rankings. I have included in the list only the beaches that I have visited so far and those that are not private. At the end of this post, I have also mentioned beaches that could have been included on the list if I have visited them.  You can click on the hyperlinks that I have provided for more information and photos on the area or beach included on the list. Here goes the list of the top Philippine beaches that mesmerized me.

16. PINAGBUYUTAN ISLAND, EL NIDO, PALAWAN

el nido

Survivor closed this island for months and I missed stepping on its beach when I first visited El Nido. I was extremely disappointed because it was not easy traveling 6 hours by bus to reach the stunning Bacuit Bay only to find out that one of your target island destinations has been shut off to the public. Anyway, this island took my breath away during my first visit even when we were just passing by it. The white sand beach shimmered at the base of the limestone island towering high above everything else in Bacuit Bay. It was indeed a memorable experience to spend some time on this island during my second time in El Nido.

15.  BULOG (DOS), CORON, PALAWAN

Getting off the boat for a short stop at the tiny, inhabited island of Bulog Dos in Coron, I immediately blurted out that it would be a perfect site for a beach wedding upon seeing an abandoned, huge hut.  Definitely, there will be no gate crashers!  I had a hard time choosing this over its neighboring Banana Island but I chose Bulog Island to be in the list because of its small size, double beach of fine white sand and a sand bar that connects it to a neighboring island.

14. LONG BEACH, SAN VICENTE, PALAWAN

long beach2
Hailed as the next major beach destination in the Philippines, Long Beach in San Vicente, Palawan has an incredible 14 kilometers of unadulterated beach, reputed to be the country’s longest.  Lately, land prices have risen five times in value as the area gears up for development. An air strip is already being constructed as San Vicente is currently a grueling 4 hours drive away (some on unpaved roads) from Palawan’s capital city of Puerto Princesa and 2 hours away from the world famous El Nido. Although the beach is not as white as the other beaches on this list, it is included mainly because it is still naturally pure as we encountered dragonflies and dolphins when we were hiking some seven kilometers of the overwhelmingly long beach. And I am not finished yet :  we had the entire stretch of Long Beach to ourselves!  Talk about a really remote beach.

13.  SIQUIJOR ISLAND

Just an hour away from Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental is the island province of Siquijor. Known for its witchcraft, magic and sorcery tales the island surprises every first time visitor. Coco Grove Resort owns approximately 800 meters of the finest stretch of white sand beach in the island. Be careful though as eager sea urchins wait to prick your feet as the beach guards do not clean them away to preserve the abundant aquatic life surrounding the island.  Diving is also excellent. To top everything else, the unbelievable sunset is the best and most fiery I have experienced ever!

12. DUMALUAN BEACH, PANGLAO ISLAND, BOHOL

Bohol boasts of unique attractions like the world-famous Chocolate Hills and the smallest primate in the world, the Philippine tarsier. Dumaluan Beach is located south of Panglao Island in Bohol.  A great stretch of the beach is fronting one of the exclusive resorts in the island, Bohol Beach Club.  A better alternative than the crowded Alona Beach 2.5 kilometers away, Dumaluan Beach is also a great spot for romantic sunsets.

11. LAHOS ISLAND, CARAMOAN, CAMARINES SUR

Caramoan Peninsula is composed of gorgeous islands scattered around its bay.  Lahos Island is one of them and it is one of the islands used for the Survivor series shoots. In fact, Survivor has inked a contract with the local government to use the islands for 10 years calling Caramoan the Home of the Survivor.  Lahos Island’s short beach area is actually double sided and is accented by limestone formations at its ends. It is quite a trip to Caramoan. From Naga City in Camarines Sur, you can take a 1.5 hour ride to the port of Sabang.  From the port of Sabang, you need to take a 2-hour boat ride to the port of Guijalo.  From Guijalo you need to take a 20-min land trip  to get to the other side of the peninsula that is a short boat ride to the different islands of Caramoan.

10.  MALAPASCUA, CEBU

malapascua2
malapascua
The northern part of Cebu island, the most visited island in the Philippines, has a number of great beach holiday choices.  One of them is Malapascua Island which can be reached from Cebu City in 4 hours.  Although the island is more famous for its world-class diving, the white sand beaches lining its shores are equally amazing especially the other side of the island where there are no resorts. 

 

 

 

9. PUKA BEACH, BORACAY, AKLAN

PukaNot as spectacular as White Beach in Boracay, Puka Beach has fans of its own though. This is a very good alternative when you want to get away from the crowd in White Beach. I have enjoyed solitude on this beach many times.  Just a 15-min ride from White Beach, it has no resorts fronting its shores but only tiny souvenir stores and a long-standing restaurant that easily became my favorite base in the area.

8.  BANTAYAN ISLAND, CEBU

Taking almost the same north bound route of the 4-hour land travel from Cebu City to Malapascua, taking a left detour will lead you to Hagnaya Port. From there, Bantayan Island is a short boat ride away.  Compared to its neighboring island, Malapascua, a diving haven, Bantayan is larger and has more mainstream beaches with wider shores.

7. HELICOPTER ISLAND, EL NIDO, PALAWAN

With scenic views of neighboring Cadlao Island and the rest of  the islands around El Nido’s Bacuit Bay, the beach at Helicopter Island is for me the golden beach of El Nido.  A regular stopover for one of the 4 El Nido island tour packages, Helicopter Island does not have the usual white sand beach but the clear jade waters are so irresistibly inviting.

 

 

 

6. SECRET BEACH, MATINLOC ISLAND, EL NIDO, PALAWAN

Not a secret anymore to those who have visited it, the beach’s secret remains on where it is hidden. The only way to access the beach is by swimming through a very small opening beneath limestone cliffs that could be dangerous during monsoon season when the sea current is strong as the waves could bump you into sharp rocks when going through the small opening.  However, when you get inside, you could probably utter that you have never seen and experienced anything like it before! The short stretch of  white sandy cove at one end of the area enclosed by towering karst formations is said to be the inspiration of Alex Garland’s The Beach. Secret Beach in El Nido deserves to be in the top 5 for its uniqueness. It is a beach like no other.

 

 

 

5. ENTALULA ISLAND, EL NIDO, PALAWAN

entalula2

entalula

I have visited Entalula Island only during my second visit to El Nido but the beaches surrounding this island truly took my breath away.  Glass-like waters, soft white sand and stunning views of Bacuit Bay were the factors why I rated this beach so high.  Some part of the island is private and owned by Ayala Resorts but there are still parts of it that is open to the public so I still included this in the rankings.

 

 

 

 

4. CALAGUAS, CAMARINES NORTE

Calaguas Island‘s Long Beach is mostly drawing local tourists who want an absolute beach getaway especially during the summer months.  The tough two hours trip on mostly choppy seas can easily be shrugged off once you get off the boat and set foot on the amazing beach. There is no electricity, no resorts and no potable or running water. You need to bring your own food and drinks, your own tent and your own sane self.  During Holy Week, the beach becomes alive with organizers bringing generators, lights and speakers for that once a year Reggae Night.

 

 

 

3. KALANGGAMAN ISLAND, PALOMPON, LEYTE

kalanggaman

One of the islands creating great impressions lately to first time visitors, Kalanggaman has gorgeous waters surrounding it, the clearest I have seen anywhere else. Its stunning main beach and two sand bars are worthy of the one hour journey from either the port of Palompon town in Leyte or Malapascua in Cebu. Palompon is around three hours drive away from Leyte’s capital, Tacloban City and one hour drive away from Ormoc City. Malapascua is 4-hour drive away from Cebu City. An overnight stay here is needed to experience the island spreads its wings like a bird when it reveals its two sand bars located at its eastern and western tips. Kalanggaman got its name from “langgam” which means bird in Cebuano dialect.  Like Calaguas Island, there is no running potable water, no electricity and no resorts so the tiny island can give you a perfect natural beach experience. A full moon experience in the island will surely be unforgettable too!

 

 

 

2. WHITE BEACH, BORACAY, AKLAN

bora2 bora

Boracay’s White Beach has been consistently making the world’s best beaches list and it has been the standard of a beach in the Philippines. I only gave the number 2 spot because of the massive crowd especially during peak season.  It is one thing to enjoy people watching but it is another thing to be annoyed by the noise and commotion of eager tourists. I either escape to Friday’s or Boracay Terraces Resort located at the end of White Beach or hie off to nearby Puka Beach to escape the crowd. I still love White Beach after all these years. What made it almost to the top position in my list are its incredible qualities that also propelled it to the top of the world’s best beaches list: the gentle slope, the amazingly clear turquoise waters and its signature sugar-fine white sand that is probably the finest, softest and whitest I have ever seen.

1. MALCAPUYA ISLAND, CORON, PALAWAN

malcapuya

Topping the list is a beach on an island located one and a half hours away by boat from Coron mainland in Palawan. Malcapuya Island has the best beach in the Philippines for me, for now. Pristine, lovely, unadulterated, tranquil.  The underwater scenery is also spectacular. One of the reasons why it maintains its natural beauty is that no boats are allowed to dock on its shores. The docking area is located at a rocky area at the back of the island a few minutes walk to the main beach.

So that’s how I have ranked the Philippine beaches I have visited.  What do you think?

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The following 4 beaches are surely to be included in the list if I have visited them.

SABITANG LAYA, CARAMOAN, CAMARINES SUR

 
Sabitang Laya has probably the best beach in the Caramoan Peninsula.  The island is triangular in shape with two sides forming a V-shaped beach meeting at a unique formation of black limestone.We missed this island during a recent visit to Caramoan. You just have to get the right timing that the island is open to public and not used by Survivor shooting (yes Survivor’s the culprit again!).  Survivor has rented the Caramoan islands for 10 years but during shooting breaks the islands are opened to the public.
 

PULO BEACH, PAMALICAN ISLAND, PALAWAN

A stunning island among Cuyo Islands in Palawan’s north east coast, Pamalican Island has been chosen by Aman Resorts as the site for its only property in the Philippines, Amanpulo Resort.  The island boasts of powdery, white sand beach lining its entire coast!  It is quite a challenge to reach this island as only chartered 19-seater planes can land on the private air strip and only guests of the exclusive resort can set foot in the island with room prices starting from US$1,000 per night.  This island resort is often visited by famous Hollywood and local stars. Naomi Campbell, Mariah Carey, Claudia Schiffer, Tom Cruise, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert de Niro, and Diana Ross were among the past guests.

CAMIGUIN ISLAND

The island province of Camiguin is one of Mindanao’s paradise island destinations.  The volcanic island boasts of pristine white sand beach, cool waters and untouched jungles.  The island can be reached via Cagayan de Oro City with a short drive to Balingoan where you can take a boat to the island.

CALAYAN ISLAND, CAGAYAN VALLEY

Recently featured in Cebu Pacific Air’s SMILE magazine, Calayan Island is a stunning revelation.  Although it is a long journey to the island, the island is worthy of a visit with its clear waters, secluded coves and spectacular cliffs.
Philippine beaches rock, don’t you think so?
26
Oct
11

Philippines : Island of Siquijor


We were on a trip to Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental province in central Philippines, when I saw a tempting advertisement at the reception area of Coco Grande Hotel, where we were staying in Dumaguete.  It showed a stunning white sand beach destination at Coco Grove Beach Resort, Coco Grande’s sister hotel, located in the island of Siquijor, less than an hour by ferry from Dumaguete. As a beach lover and a crazy adventurer I, together with my other friends, gave in to temptation and all our travel schedules had to be adjusted for that sudden trip to Siquijor.

The next day when we were supposed to return to Cebu City, we side tracked to the island of Siquijor.  We took a ferry from Dumaguete port and arrived in Siquijor after less than an hour. It was a rather smooth ride on a notoriously known super choppy, narrow straits between Negros Island and tiny Siquijor.

Our group (Regal and party) was welcomed by the hotel staff at the Siquijor jetty terminal.

We were fetched by the hotel van for the 15-min drive to the resort.

Currently the best resort in the island, Coco Grove Beach Resort was where we entirely spent all our time while in Siquijor, an island known for its magic spells and witchcraft.

Macky-the-parrot-the-mango-eater was well positioned at the resort’s entrance to welcome guests with his antics.

After check-in we passed by some beautiful villas on our way to our own villa.

Our villa was a standalone 5,000-peso per night sanctuary.  This was not the cheapest nor the most expensive. This was actually expensive by island’s standards but this was the cheapest villa for 5 persons available at the time of our stay, as the hotel was almost fully booked by a huge entourage coming in from Negros for a wedding ceremony.

Anyway it was a huge two-level villa…..

…with a living area…..

…and a huge queen size bed on the first level and three single beds on the second level.

We got out of our hotel after a quick rest and toured the resort.  It is a quite huge resort….

…with two pools.  After a 10-min stroll we were back near the resort’s entrance at one of its restaurants.

We have a breathtaking view from the restaurant area.  Shown here is my friend Cristina with her son, Kyle….

….my friends, Regal and Phines…..

…and myself.

The restaurant was still closed for lunch as it was still too early.  So some rested below coconut trees….

…and some by the sea inside open-air cottages.

Finally the restaurant opened and we had a taste of the restaurant’s international cuisine. I had Thai chicken red curry. Amazing!

This was another view taken from the restaurant area.

After lunch, we were ready to swim!

We positioned ourselves near the restaurant and the beach.

Later we ordered the unique Philippine dessert, halo-halo while enjoying the…

….stunning view of the beach.

Then it was time to step on the beach under the hot afternoon sun….

…for those memorable shots.

We then explored the sea urchin-laden turquoise waters surrounding the resort.  As a step to protect the marine life around the area, sea urchins are not cleaned away.

One of the tropical, non-edible fruits in the island.

As the white sand beach was starting to turn into a golden beach because of the setting sun, we went down to the beach once again.


We got on a raft docked around 20 meters from the shore….


…and got our pics taken.

Then we had fun and more fun.

While our dear friend Regal, lazily strolled on the shore.

Sunset came, we went back to the shore for the amazing shots.  Probably, the best sunset sky shots I have ever taken were from here.  Lucky Regal, I took her picture with the sky opening up to take in the sun for the night.

The fiery red-orange sky casted a melancholy and mysterious effect on the place.

How could I not take allow myself to have a portrait with the sunset.

We had real, wet fun.

It was an emotional farewell to sunset.

After which we dipped in the alluring waters once again.

And continued to have fun!


And more fun on the waters.

After freshening up, we positioned once again by the beach for dinner.

Kyle’s back after missing for 2 hours.  We thought he had been engaged on some witchcraft antics but he actually played basketball in a neighboring place.

After dinner, we just stayed a little more near the hotel pool.  Some went to doze off and I went to have some wine at the wi-fi area (called Coco Net) before retiring.

It was time to say goodbye to Macky, the mango-eating parrot…..

..and to some dark creatures.


As we waited for our transportation to the jetty it was fun to wait in the resort’s reception area….


….and in the resort’s wi-fi area (Coco Net).

Our free transportation arrived and we were whisked to the jetty.


One of those private villas nestled by the shore near the jetty area.

Getting off the hotel van, somebody was still walking on cloud 9!

Obviously, we had real fun as we smiled our way back to Dumaguete.

Kyle was the main reason we were in Dumaguete for his impending enrollment in one of the Philippines top universities, Silliman University.

Goodbye Siquijor! See more of your beauty next time!

This was one of the few unscheduled trips I have had in my entire traveling career.  It was short, awesome and unpredictable!




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