Philippines’ Beaches: What’s Not to Love?

The Philippines, being an archipelago, is dotted with innumerable pristine, sparkling beaches. Some white, others black, a few brown, and surprisingly pink too! We have beaches that are as fine as talcum powder to gritty, sandy ones, while others are pebble lined. Majority of these tropical paradise boasts off crystal clear water that comes in azure to turquoise colors. Regardless of the color and texture of beaches’ sand and water, Philippines’ seashores will make one’s “beach escapade” memorable and fun!

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Besides the obvious aesthetics of our beaches, here are other reasons why bumming around the beaches of the Philippines is a must doPhilippines’ beaches have a laid-back vibe, especially the small-town beaches and the off-the beaten ones. They are the ultimate relaxation zones perfect for experiencing serenity and peace of mind. One can go for an afternoon walk along the shoreline or sit down under shady palm trees while reading a book. Or just lie down, let the crashing waves touch your feet and the gentle wind kiss your lips. Totally relaxing and an awesome escape to a stressful life!

Philippines’ beaches have a laid-back vibe, especially the small-town beaches and the off-the beaten ones. They are the ultimate relaxation zones perfect for experiencing serenity and peace of mind. One can go for an afternoon walk along the shoreline or sit down under shady palm trees while reading a book. Or just lie down, let the crashing waves touch your feet and the gentle wind kiss your lips. Totally relaxing and an awesome escape to a stressful life!

Philippines’ beaches are home to various water sports and activities. From surfing, to snorkeling to SCUBA diving, kitesurfing, kayaking, island-hopping and many more. Plus, the marine life is teeming with wonders.  One will never run out of things to do. These activities can keep you fit and make your vacation more fun-filled.

Philippines’ beaches showcase some of the most jaw-dropping sunrise and sunset views. Everything turns into a picturesque, surreal nature art once the sun starts to rise. It is even more dramatic during sundown. Sunset by the beach is one thing I look forward the most.

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Philippines’ beaches are generally cheap. While some of our beaches are becoming more and more commercialized, I want to believe that majority of our beaches are still inexpensive, and some even for free. One could spend some time along the beach without worrying about spending much – paying for entrance fees or buying pricey food because again, the cost isn’t really high.

Philippines’ beaches are home to good and hospitable Filipinos. I want to think that Filipino hospitality is evident in almost all parts of the country – whether at the mountain villages, to seaside towns, and various rural areas. Most Filipinos are willing to lend a helping hand in whatever ways they could. Some families would invite you their homes, some would even cook the freshest sea catch of the day for their visitors to have a sumptuous meal.

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They say “life is a beach”. Whether you have a beach bod, dad bod or whatever kind of body figure you have, the beach is one welcoming place for you to experience life, to live life.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Calayan Island (Cagayan, PH)

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Calayan, an island municipality that make up one of the five major islands of the Babuyan Group of Islands in the province of Cagayan. It is located south of the Batanes Group of islands and north of Cagayan mainland. The island has a rough rectangular shape with rolling hills, rugged cliffs and some heavily forested areas. It is believed that the island is of volcanic origin and has rich deposits of greyish white rocks called perlite. And Calayan Island is one of the Philippines best kept treasures.

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How to Get to Calayan Island:

From Manila, there are no direct transportation going to Calayan. However, there are three points where one can take a vessel to Calayan Island: Claveria Port, and Aparri Port — both of which are in Cagayan Province. To reach these ports, you may opt for the following:

By plane: One may take the plane from Manila to Tuguegarao (Cagayan), Cauayan (Isabela) or Laoag (Ilocos Norte). From among the 3, Laoag is nearest to Claveria Port while Tuguegarao is nearest to Aparri Port. One may opt to take a bus or a van going to the three points mentioned above.

By bus: There are several bus companies in the Greater Manila Area that have direct trips to the three points mentioned above. GV Florida bus have direct trip to Claveria (P730, 13-14 hours).

Once in Cagayan:

Aparri Port: There are vessels coming from this port that usually leaves early in the morning. That’s all I can provide since I didn’t personally get the chance to see this port.

Claveria Port: This is the closest to Calayan in terms of distance and travel time (although it sometimes depends on the condition of the waves). “Lampitaw”/ vessels usually leave between 5 am to 9 am. These vessels usually contains cargo and only offer a few space for people (so it is best to have your contact in Calayan reserve you a space in the lampitaw). Travel time is between 4 to 6 hours (or more). The availability of these vessels is not assured hence it is important to ask your Calayan contact.

  • As a passenger, fare is P500 or you can hire the vessel from P8,000 – P15,000 depending on the size or your haggling skills.

NOTE: Planning a Calayan trip requires a lot of precautions. Rainy season or not, the sea condition is pretty much unpredictable, and getting stranded on the island is very much of a possibility.

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WHAT TO DO IN CALAYAN: 

  1. Go trekking. The Nagudungan Hills is a spectacular place to go for an early morning trek and wait for the sunrise.
  2. Go beach-bumming. Calayan is blessed with beautiful coves dotted with fine, white sand. From Caniwara to Cababaan to Cibang – all 3 coves are worth experiencing.
  3. Chase some waterfalls. You can do this by either trekking your way to the waterfalls or you can hire a motorized boat to see them like Malangsi Falls at Cabubadan Falls.
  4. Snorkel at Punta Magsidel, then wait for the sunset at this side of Calayan.
  5. Just walk or bike your way around the Poblacion and mingle with the locals.

*** Getting around the island: Since roads are unpaved within the island, land travel can be long and difficult so some spots are best reached by boat. Motorized boats can be hired from the port in poblacion area where the rates vary. P2000 to P3000. This works best if you are with a big group. You may also opt to rent a tricycle or a motorcycle or even a bike.

Where to Stay

There are no hotels in Calayan however, there are several homestays. My friends and I stayed at Ate Connie’s (San Jose Inn & Mini Grocery Homestay) where we paid Php250/night.  Contact Number: 0907-544-7692 or 0921-534-9231.

Another option is the TPS First Homestay of Calayan. It is considered the first homestay in Calayan owned by Tessie Pimentel Singun, a long-time kagawad and now tourism head of Calayan. Contact Numbers: 0939-9158667 or 0929-8375737.

Where to eat & other things to consider:

There are no restaurants in Calayan Island.  You can ask Ate Connie prepare your meals for a minimal fee. There are several sari-sari stores where you can buy your other needs. Please note that there are no ATMs or credit card machines in the island so it is essential to really make a budget outline for your trip.

Signal is very patchy with only Smart & Sun as available mobile networks in the island.

Since the boat ride to Calayan is long and wet, make sure that you use dry bags for your gadgets or better yet, waterproof everything in garbage bags. One may also be exposed under the sun for a long time so prepare your sunblock, cap, shades or anything that can protect your skin.

Electricity is not 24 hours. During our stay, electricity schedule is from 12:00 nn to 12:00 midnight. Some have generators but are only used during special occasions.

And as I always tell my friends who ask me about Calayan, get ready or be open with the idea that you will be stranded for several days.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

 

Punta Magsidel (Calayan Island, PH)

“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.” ― William Shakespeare

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Ruggedly beautiful.

When my friends and I learned that we are stranded for an indefinite number of days in Calayan Island (a remote, typhoon-battered island between Batanes and mainland Luzon), the thought of exploring some of the island’s not so frequented places came about. With the suggestion of our hosts, we decided to go and see the coastline of Brgy. Magsidel, known for a ruggedly beautiful seascape called Punta.

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We took a tryke ride to Punta Magsidel. We were greeted by a small, old church (that’s hardly noticeable to be one) since it does not have a cross on top. Instead, you only get to see the cross when you walk your way to the back part of the church. The church humbly stands on a cliff, and behind it is a coastline strewn with various rock formations. Some of these are coralline in nature, and a number of them are obviously basalt type – evidence that at one point, the island may have been a result of volcanic eruptions as igneous rock abound the area.

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My friends decided to take a swim in the shallow, pool like part of the area while I opted to walk along and take as many photos as I could. Despite the gloomy weather that day, the craggy beauty of the place is still indubitable. The sea, and the sky, extended from distance to horizon seem endless in this Philippine gem.

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After spending more than an hour at this side of Calayan, we went to satiate our thirst by drinking some fresh coconut juice courtesy of some locals near the place.

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Calayan is love.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan”derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan.

Caniwara, Cibang & Cababaan (Coves of Calayan, PH)

Because travelling has molded me; it has made me. Because I have always been and will always be moved by the absurdity of wanting to do, see and gather it all. Because I can’t sit still, sleep still or stand still. Because I can’t stop dreaming of beautiful seascapes and landscapes while I stare out the window.

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Before 2015 culminated, I and some friends decided to explore one of the Philippines’ hidden gems up north – Calayan Island of the Babuyan Group of Islands. It was a planned 3-day getaway, but destiny had a different plan – we were stranded for 4 days, hence we stayed in this island for a week.

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We took advantage of the situation that gave us an opportunity to explore more of Calayan Island.  Almost every space your eyes gaze at in this island, is stunning. Some of the most beautiful ones are the islands coves – Caniwara, Cibang and Cababaan. Each of these coves are found in Barangay Dadao. They are separated by some rock formations beautifully sculpted by nature. And each of these 3 coves have unique features.

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Nearest to the island town’s pobacion is Caniwara Cove – the cove nearest to Nagudungan Hill. Viewing it from Nagudungan, it appears to be a tidal flat with seaweeds and coral-like stones. Cibang (also Sibang) Cove, is the middle cove and is the most popular. It is said that it has the finest sand and more calm waters compared to the 2 other coves. This could be the reason why it is the most frequented from among the three. A huge, sentinel-like rock formation separates Cibang from Caniwara.

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The farthest cove is Cababaan Cove. To me this is the most unspoiled and charming, despite having stronger waves. At the far end of this cove is a stunning rock formation the locals simply call “puraw”. My friends and I decided to name it Dadao Rock Formation to have a more distinct identity. Upon looking at it, you’ll immediately be reminded of Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Ilocos Norte. However, “puraw” is more gigantic and relatively more delightful to me.

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If you want to see all three coves, the best vantage point would be Nagudungan Hills. And if you stay a little longer, you will be mesmerized by the beauty of the setting sun at this side of the island.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Nagudungan Hill (Calayan Island, PH)

Through this post, allow me to take you to the surreal Nagudungan Hill.

Nature’s work of art is something beyond remarkable. The Philippines’ landscape and seascape are authentication of nature’s spectacular creations. Our beaches are some of the best in the world, and what makes our coastline more picturesque, are amazing rock formations.

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The Babuyan Group of Islands in Northern Luzon boast off some of the most scenic seascapes in the country. One particular site that will leave you in awe is the Nagudungan Hill. I was speechless for a moment when I saw it the first time. It was like love at first sight.

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The easy trek to the windy hill is one of my most treasured experiences. Having scene several hills across the country – from the Vayang Rolling Hills of Batanes to the verdant Quitinday Hills of Albay, to the famed Chocolate Hills of Bohol (with which each of them are unique and special) – on a personal point of view, I find the hill the most beautiful and romantic, perhaps one of the most stunning, picturesque landcsape-seascape at this side of the Philippines.

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Upon reaching the top of the hills, you’ll be lost for words. You get to see a spectacular view of three white-sand dotted coves — Caniwara, Cibang and Cababaan; jaw-dropping rock formations everywhere, a simple lighthouse perched atop that adds charm to the place, and a number of Causarina/Australian Pine Trees that have withstood the strong winds that frequent the place. I am not very good with describing how beautiful a place is so I am leaving the photos in this write up to give justice to Nagudungan’s beauty.

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It felt surreal standing atop the rocks I have climbed. For a moment, I felt my heart beating triple time whenever I dare myself to walk through the edge of the beautiful cliffs of Nagudungan. I found myself at lost in finding the most appropriate superlatives. One of my favorite spot is a humongous hollow space resembling like a pit. Looking down, one will be mesmerized by some naturally formed nooks, striations and indentation. More rocks are found below with which large waves continuously batter.

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A visual spectacle indeed!

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Again, I’ll leave some of the photos I took for you my readers to get a glimpse of what this amazing place offers.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.