The Twins of Subic Beach

Matnog, Sorsogon is a sleepy little port town that serves as a jump-off point for ferries going to Northern Samar and other destinations in the Eastern Visayas. Arriving at the unassuming town late one afternoon we realized just how remote and underdeveloped the place is. There were very few tourist accommodations and no fancy cafes or restaurants, just a few dining places in the public market and at individual homes. All of which suited us fine because it offers a clue about how possibly pristine the attractions around this town are.

Large Subic Beach, Matnog, Sorsogon
The larger of the two Subic Beaches
Subic Liit or Small Subic Beach
The smaller of the two Subic Beaches

Our primary reason for going to Matnog was to visit the Juag Lagoon marine sanctuary and the pink-sand beaches of Tikling and Calintaan Islands. All of these destinations are just off Matnog town. To reach them we arranged an island-hopping tour with the Boatcrew and Operators Organization of Matnog the following morning. Of particular interest to us was the twin Subic Beach in Calintaan Island.

view of Subic Beach from our approaching boat
Approaching Subic Beach at Calintaan Island

Our first destination was the Juag Lagoon marine sanctuary. From Juag Lagoon we headed for Calintaan Island and its sea caves and rock formations just north of Subic Beach. The waters of the San Bernardino Strait were rougher than normal due to an oncoming tropical storm and we found it practically impossible to sail near the caves due to the crashing waves. After a few minutes of silently enjoying the scenery we were off to nearby Subic Beach.

crystalline waters in different hues of blue, Subic Beach
The clear and colorful waters off Subic Beach

Subic Beach is actually divided into two segments that are separated from each other by a small strip of land. The locals call these Subic Laki (Subic Big Beach) and Subic Liit (Subic Small Beach). We landed first at the bigger of the two as our outrigger boat glided slowly through the beautiful cyan waters. The water is so clear we could easily observe the sea bed sloping down at a steep angle from the shore.

close-up of the sand on Subic Beach showing red coral particles
Subic’s white sand contains particles of crushed red coral giving it a pinkish hue

Viewed from a distance, the sand at Subic is of a pinkish-white color. On closer inspection it is easy to see why: interspersed among the fine grains of white sand are crushed particles of deep red coral. Along with nearby Tikling Island, this pinkish sand is the unique trait of the islands here in Matnog.

children at play on Subic Beach
Children at play

At Subic we found a few visitors from other parts of the Bicol region who must have known about these islands since way back… some kids enjoying their innocence and building small castles of pink sand… our lead boatman swapping sea stories and reminiscing about life back when he worked in Manila.

pinkish-white Subic Beach, Matnog, Sorsogon
Subic Beach looking south

There were very few visitors to Subic on this day so we practically had it to ourselves. The beach is still pristine although we did notice the increasing pace of development with several huts and cottages sprouting up along the beach front. Subic Beach is now better able to handle overnight visitors as a result though we are keeping our fingers crossed that somehow the folks here would be able to maintain the pristine nature of the beach.

Subic Liit or Small Subic Beach
Subic Liit, the smaller of the two Subic Beaches

Subic Liit or Subic Small Beach is adjacent to its big brother, separated by just a short stretch of land. This beach appears less developed and quieter compared to Subic Big Beach. There are a few huts, with benches for picnics here and none of the air-conditioned cottages you find in Subic Big Beach.

Subic Liit
Boats at Subic Liit

Though we were itching to land and explore this beach we ended up sitting at our boat not too far from shore and enjoying Subic Small Beach’s beauty from a distance. Having spent a good deal of our time at Juag Lagoon and Subic Big Beach we were in a hurry to get to Tikling Island then back to Matnog town proper to beat the last ride to Irosin town.

For tips on how to get to Matnog and Subic Beach in Calintaan Island, click here.

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