Return to Borawan Island and Dampalitan Beach

We’ve been here before when these two destinations and Pagbilao’s Puting  Buhangin Beach were largely outside the tour radars of most local travelers. Five years ago. We had not considered coming back until recently when we visited Nina’s aunt and uncle in Tiaong, Quezon. Since Padre Burgos town – the jump-off point for a trip to Borawan Island and Dampalitan Beach – was just two hours away we decided it was time for a return visit. Back in October 2011, we had both destinations practically all to ourselves. Five years later we were curious how Borawan and Dampalitan have fared after both received their share of exposure in the blogosphere.

Borawan Island

the emerald waters off Borawan
Approaching Borawan’s white sand shores

Approaching the shores of Borawan via a motorized outrigger from Barangay Basiao in Padre Burgos it was immediately apparent that the place has not lost its beauty. The emerald green waters and creamy white sand beach framed by towering limestone rocks are just as magnificent as when we last saw them almost 5 years ago.

mainland Quezon vin the background as viewed from Borawan
Padre Burgos and the Quezon mainland viewed from the beach at Borawan

There’s a slight confusion for us about the name of this place. The island before was actually called Lipata Island (after the name of the barangay in Padre Burgos which has jurisdiction over Borawan). But locals kept referring to it as Borawan for reasons mentioned below; the resort here also carries the name Borawan Island Resort. However a quick look at Google Maps shows the name of the island as Pagbilao Chica Island (actually an extension of Pagbilao Grande).

the emerald waters off Borawan
Borawan’s sand may not be as fine and as white as Boracay’s but the place is beautiful nonetheless

Borawan supposedly got its name from Boracay and Palawan – because it is said to possess Boracay’s white sand and Palawan’s karst topography. Truth to be told, the sand here is not as fine nor as white as Boracay’s. And having also been to both Coron and El Nido in northern Palawan, we do not find the limestone rock formations here comparing favorably to the latter. But that doesn’t mean Borawan is not beautiful. It is also just 4 to 4.5 hours away from Metro Manila – making it an ideal destination for people looking for a quick respite from the stresses of city life.

boats anchored off the beach at Borawan, Lipata Island
The price of popularity: more visitors and accommodations on Borawan since we last visited in 2011

Once we touched down at Borawan’s beach we immediately saw the impact of its increasing popularity. It was a weekday during the beginning of the rainy season but there was a considerable number of people on the beach. There were cottages for rent, a sari-sari store, a canteen that serves meals, comfort rooms, kayaks for rent and colorful tents pitched at various locations on the beach.

visitors swimming at the beach at Borawan
Swimming at Borawan; the waters are not as clear as we’d like it to be but it is still relatively clean

We do not remember the appearance of the water here in 2011 but now it was looking a little murky, probably churned up by swimmers at the beach. However – and to our relief – the beach and water was largely free of garbage. Climbing the tall rock formations at Borawan is no longer allowed. Swimming is only permitted in areas enclosed by a protective netting to guard against jellyfish intrusions.

the quiet northern beach of Borawan
The quiet northern section of Borawan

We did not plan to swim at Borawan so we spent our time here exploring the beach area. We sauntered off with our relatives and a friend to the quiet northern part of the island away from the crowded central section. Here the views were more magnificent, the atmosphere serene and the crowd practically non-existent.

emerald green waters at the northern section of Borawan
Serene emerald green waters at the northern section of Borawan

Lunch is available at a canteen on the beach, although they sometimes ran out of supplies. In our case they could only serve chicken but some enterprising folks were around to sell crabs and fish (and cheap ones at that) that the canteen cooked for a fee. We had planned for a light lunch but ended up enjoying a feast of crabs, bangus (milkfish) and fried chicken.

Dampalitan Beach

Dampalitan Beach in Padre Burgos
Dampalitan Beach has several evergreen trees mixed in with coconut palms

The first place we visited back in 2011 among the 3 destinations here, Dampalitan ended up as our final destination this time around after our visit to Pagbilao’s Puting Buhangin Beach. The white sand beach here is longer than Borawan’s and characterized by several evergreen (agoho) trees reminiscent of Anawangin and Nagsasa Coves in Zambales. The sand here is also finer than Borawan’s.

approaching Dampalitan Beach, Padre Burgos
Approaching Dampalitan Beach

Unfortunately much of the coral cover has been destroyed or damaged by illegal fishing practices. The areas for swimming with protective nettings are still there. Leo got a bad sting from what we thought was a box jellyfish here back in 2011, when he absent-mindedly stepped outside the protective zone.

white sand beach at Dampalitan Island
More white sand. The existence of white sand beaches in Quezon were unknown to many 10 years ago.

Back in 2011 there were a few cottages already in place here along with dining tables for guests – all for rent. The number of cottages do not appear to have increased significantly and the place looks the same as it had 5 years ago. Since it was almost 4PM when we arrived at Dampalitan we chose to just hang around long enough to take pictures without having to pay the entrance fee.

How to Get There

The small fish port at Barangay Basiao in Padre Burgos is perhaps the best way to access Borawan and Dampalitan Beach. Motorized outriggers capable of sitting 10-15 people may be rented to take you to both destinations and Puting Buhangin Beach/Kwebang Lampas on Pagbilao Grande Island for P1,700-1,800.

boat docked at the central section of the beach at Borawan
Our boat docked at the central section of the beach at Borawan

To get to Barangay Basiao in Padre Burgos from Metro Manila, take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) all the way to Sto. Tomas, Batangas. Follow the Pan Philippine Highway through San Pablo, Tiaong, Candelaria, Sariaya until Lucena (take the diversion or bypass roads at Tiaong and Candelaria to avoid traffic at the town centers). From Lucena continue on the Pan Philippoine Highway to Pagbilao. Past Pagbilao’s town center the road will divide into two: the Pan Philippine Highway will continue on to Atimonan and the Bicol region while the other road will lead to Padre Burgos and the Bondoc Peninsula. Take the road to Padre Burgos (there is a sign at this point) and continue on to the town until a point where the road goes down to Bgy. Basiao. There is a poster on the left side of the road promoting Borawan and Dampalitan and pointing in the direction of the port at Bgy. Basiao. You can rent your boat at this port. There are safe parking spaces nearby.

If commuting, take a bus to Lucena and alight at the LucenaGrand Terminal (travel time is about 4-5 hours). From Lucena Grand Terminal, take another bus heading to Unisan. Alternatively you may take a van that goes to Padre Burgos. Look for the port at Brgy. Basiao at Padre Burgos and rent a boat from there to take you to Borawan, Dampalitan and Puting Buhangin in Pagbilao. (Another option for the boats is at Barangay Marao.)

12 thoughts on “Return to Borawan Island and Dampalitan Beach

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  1. I haven’t been to either of these beaches, only in Kwebang Lampas which I believe is just a boat ride away. Personally I think I will be heartbroken to see that what was once a remote beach is now a common local destination. Maybe it’s just nostalgia. Anyway it’s great that there wasn’t any garbage in both beaches and that locals are able to keep the areas clean somehow.

    1. Yes both these beaches are just a boat ride away from Kwebang Lampas. Borawan is less than 30 minutes away. We’ll be posting about Kwebang Lampas/Puting Buhangin in our next blog. Sadly, we saw a bit of trash in that beach amidst more “development.” Hopefully the garbage was just because of the number of people on that beach but it seems the folks at Borawan do a better job of keeping their beach clean.

  2. Been here last April for the first time, and unfortunately, Borawan beach have jellyfishes that stung one of my colleague..

    1. Thanks for visiting this site. This is one of the reasons we decided not to swim here; in 2011 I got stung by what might have been a box jellyfish in nearby Dampalitan Beach. (I still have the scar on my left leg.) It seems safer to swim at Puting Buhangin/Kwebang Lampas.

    2. My wife and I are are also “amateur” bloggers so we’re just learning more as we go. Your blog looks good. I like the video especially. My only advice would be to break up your post on Quezon into smaller segments – perhaps separate blogs for Dampalitan, Borawan and Kwebang Lampas/Puting Buhangin. It makes for easier reading, results in more posts and gives your readers something to look forward to when you tell them you will be featuring more on the next post.

      1. hi, thank you! will definitely follow this advice.. and hoping for more tips from you.. thanks! 🙂 will follow your blog too…

  3. hi good day.
    Every beaches po ba have entrance fee?
    Planning to go there this coming holy week.

    1. Yes all 3 beaches we featured on this site – Puting Buhangin in Pabilao, Borawan and Dampalitan – all have entrance fees. Unfortunately we can’t remember the exact amounts but we remember that they’re not that expensive.

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