Sunday, August 21, 2011

Seven of the Most Beautiful Virgin Beaches of the Philippines

I have added another seven virgin beaches in this list. Find out here: Seven of the Most Beautiful Virgin Beaches of the Philippines (Part Two).

In the few years that I have been traveling, I have seen the most beautiful beaches here in the Philippines. It is what we are known for and I do believe we live up to our reputation. You think tropical paradise and you need not really go far. Some of the best beaches in the world are within an hour-long flight from Manila, the Philippine capital.

But I am not here to talk about Boracay or whatever is first on the list of beaches in the Philippines. In fact, being the non-party-goer that I am, I tended to avoid popular (which usually translated to party) beaches. I tend to go for the quieter, middle-of-nowhere, you-probably-did-not-know-existed type of beaches, that is, virgin beaches in the Philippines.

Below are seven of the best virgin beaches of the Philippines I have seen thus far. The list does not at all claim to be comprehensive nor representative of all the regions of this country. All I am saying is, of all the virgin beaches in the Philippines I have gone to, these seven are the ones I found to be the most beautiful.

1. Puntod Island (Bohol)

An hour boat ride away from the very famous Panglao beach in Bohol is Puntod Island. I do not really know why it was called that—puntod, which in Tagalog means "cemetery grave." Maybe locals used it as a cemetery at one point or another, I am not sure. What I am sure about, though, is how stunningly beautiful this place is. I mean, look at it! It is the definition of paradise!

Puntod Island, Bohol

I found that Puntod Island looked best at high-tide when the water envelops the sandbar just deep enough for people to wade in. At that point, you can clearly see how white the sand is and how clear the water is. It is a virgin island, one of the best examples of a virgin beach in the Philippines. In fact, the locals call it a virgin beach most of the time. So there is a high chance that you will feel really isolated here. Given the beauty of Puntod Island, I think I wouldn't mind.

(See post about Bohol: Photo Essay: Best of Bohol)

2. CYC Beach (Coron, Palawan)

The next two virgin beaches are about five minutes away from each other by boat and about 15 minutes away from the main port of Coron in northern Palawan. Upon setting out from town, the first beach you will come upon is the Coron Youth Club Beach or CYC Beach. What I remember most about this virgin beach is that most of it is about three feet underwater. As we were approaching the beach, I remember seeing a woman about 10 meters away from land and yet water was only up to her waist. In fact, our boat had to stop about 15 meters from the beach because it wasn't deep enough. We had to wade our way into the island. It's alright. That's clearly part of the CYC Beach experience.

CYC Beach

(See post about CYC Beach: Coron: Waddling at CYC Beach)

3. Banol Beach (Coron, Palawan)

Not too far from CYC Beach is Banol beach. It is a private beach but not private in the usual sense. No corporation or businessman owns this land. Our guide said the island was property of the indigenous Mangyans, some of whom still lived in the island. There are no infrastructures here, just a few native beach huts. Also, the virgin beach is not that big. The draw that Banol beach has is, I think, the rock boulders sprawled around it, the lovely flower trees on one side, and its unmistakable crystalline turquoise water.

Banol Beach

(See post about Banol Beach: Coron: Boulders at Banol Beach)

4. White Island (Camiguin)

I am really having a hard time calling White Island an island because in reality it is just a sandbar, a long wide sandbar jutting out from the western coast of Camiguin island. There are no trees, therefore no shade, and no soil. Just sand. To me, though, the part that makes it a beautiful virgin beach is its unusual geological make up. Most of Camiguin island is made up of dark volcanic rock and sand. There is after all a volcano in its interior. And yet, here is this island, not 30 minutes away from it, with its fine white sand and clear water. Many may not agree on what to call it but everybody will certainly concur that it is astoundingly picturesque.

White Island, Camiguin
Photo by Leah Layson

(See post about White Island, Camiguin: Camiguin: Early Morning at White Island)

5. Salagdoong Beach (Siquijor)

Salagdoong Beach may not be as virgin as one may hope it to be. There is a hotel and a restaurant here after all. However, because the whole of Siquijor island is fairly away from the much beaten tourist path, Salagdoong beach can be very quiet and isolated. Come here on the off-peak season (i.e., not March to May) and you got yourself a beautiful virgin beach. There may be many rocks in and around the beach, but walk four to five meters towards the water, you have this wide open space, like a natural pool, shallow enough to wade through but deep enough to swim in. The deep blue-green hue of the sea doesn't hurt one bit.

Salagdoong Beach

(See post about Salagdoong Beach, Siquijor: Siquijor: Salagdoong Beach)

6. Calaguas Islands (Camarines Norte)

Of all the virgin beaches in the Philippines I've gone to, Calaguas is perhaps the most untouched. Not surprising really. It is a good two-hour boat ride away from the eastern coast of Camarines Norte in Bicol. That's on a good weather. As this region faces the vast Philippine Sea towards the Pacific Ocean, Calaguas sits right along typhoon alley. In fact, when we came here, we had to face strong winds and eight-foot waves. It is the most uncomfortable three-hour roller coaster ride I ever had to take. However, the pay-off is extremely rewarding. Upon reaching the virgin island, the sun was up and I completely felt like I was in an unknown, isolated tropical paradise, with the finest white-sand beach I ever sunk my feet into.

Calaguas, Camarines Norte

(See post about Calaguas Island, Camarines Norte: Camarines Norte: Calaguas Islands)

7. Sangat Island Reserve (Coron, Palawan)

Of all the seven virgin beaches in the Philippines listed on this post, this is the one I most like. And I did not even spend a night here! One whole day exploring the whole area of Lusong and Sangat was enough for me. You need to charter a boat in Coron town to take you there. The ride, taking two hours, will take you to some of the most beautiful coves in the country. And that's just on the surface. Swim underneath the water and get some of the best snorkeling and diving experiences you can ever get.

Beach on Sangat Island

But what took the cake for me really was that upon reaching the place, there was no one there but us! And it's a resort! Sangat is a resort, complete with native beach huts for hotel rooms, a restaurant and a bar. But they did not overdo it. There are no fancy beach chairs, no beachside infinity pools, and no designer furniture, earning them, I think, the right to use the "Reserve" part of their name as well as a spot on my virgin beaches list. So while it is convenient, it does not feel at all poshy nor touristy. You still get to feel nature at its finest.

I don't think they allow daytrippers to visit Sangat Island Reserve now. You need to pay for a hotel room if you want to see it. And they quote in US dollars. Quite expensive. But one day I might splurge it up a bit and go back. If not, there is always the other six I can revisit.

(See post about Sangat Island, Coron: Coron: Lusong and Sangat)

* I have added another seven virgin beaches in this list. Find out here: Seven of the Most Beautiful Virgin Beaches of the Philippines (Part Two).

Do you know of any other untouched virgin beaches in the Philippines? Visited any of the beaches here? Share away!

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