Six years ago, on a 2-day tour around Siquijor by trike, we asked our tour guide and driver to take us to a secluded beach in the northern coast of San Juan town. Paliton Beach was mentioned by only a handful of blogs back then and was almost unknown compared to the popular destinations of Salagdoong Beach and Cambugahay Falls. At that time we rated it as the most beautiful beach in the island province.
Forward to late 2019 on our return visit to Siquijor and we were very curious to see how Paliton’s new-found popularity would impact the beach itself.
In 2013 we made our way to Paliton via a rough road that detoured away from the coastal highway. We remember stopping at a private property where visitors are allowed to pass thru on the way to a short stretch of white sand beach. That beach is called Pontod on Google Maps today. We traversed length of Pontod, rounded the coral rocks on its northwestern tip and ended up at Paliton Beach.
On this, our return visit, we used a different road that left the coastal highway at a point farther north. This time the (newly paved) road ran straight to Paliton Beach. One of the first things we noticed upon reaching Paliton was a big sign at the entry to the beach marked “Paliton Marine Sanctuary.” Just beyond the entrance are a number of huts and food stalls where only docked fishing boats used to be six years ago.
It was early in the morning when we came to Paliton and there was already a small number of visitors – majority of them foreign tourists – basking on the beach. In 2013 we were the only ones in Paliton for almost 2 hours before leaving an hour before lunch. If ever it’s an indication of how popular Paliton had become in recent years.
Some things haven’t changed however: the powdery white sand, the long line of towering coconut palms and the crystalline waters. And despite the increased attention Paliton continues to be resort-free (it might not stay that way in a few years however; Paliton is owned by Coco Grove Resort).
Walking the length of Paliton Beach from north to south we came back to Pontod Beach; it looked almost the same as it did back in 2013. Here there were no stalls or huts, only fishermen preparing their boats for the next trip.
Upon reviewing our 2013 photos of Paliton we did notice a significant change. The volume of sea grass in the waters just off the beach had increased markedly. More sea grass, as far as we know, simply means a healthier ecosystem. However, we did notice a growth of algae in some areas – almost like an algae bloom – particularly at the boundary with Pontod Beach. If sea grass points to a healthier environment, abundant algae presence is the exact opposite. It’s not like the algae bloom in Boracay at its peak a few years ago, but it seems like a worrying trend.
Although a little disappointed with these changes, we’re still hopeful that people responsible for the health of Paliton Beach – visitors, locals and the owners – would do their part in keeping this beach clean and beautiful for future generations to enjoy.