It’s the start of the hot and dry season — often referred to as “summer” — in the Philippines, and normally the time to go beach-bumming. Not for those of us in Metro Manila, however. Because of COVID-19 the metropolis is on quarantine status — a “softer” term for lockdown. As a result we cannot travel outside the National Capital Region for a month (subject to ongoing review).
Even before Metro Manila was put on lockdown health officials were already discouraging people from visiting crowded places. That would include many of the country’s popular beach destinations. With more than 7,000 islands, however, the Philippines still has numerous beaches that are relatively unknown and consequently less risky to visit during times like this. Here’s a list of some of those beaches that we’ve had the opportunity of exploring for the past 8 years and perhaps something to wet your appetite once travel becomes normal again.
Bitaog Beach is just one of the numerous beaches in Dinagat province. We were hard-pressed to choose which beach to include here as there are just too many potential “best beaches.” The beach at Babas Cove (photo below) is also too good to pass up. So if you’re not too excited about visiting nearby popular Siargao then head to Dinagat’s beaches.
Ticao Island, just north of Masbate Island, is home to Halea Nature Park and San Miguel Island with its stunning turquoise waters, rich marine life and white sand beaches. There are practically no resorts anywhere near which makes this place a cool escape.
Burias is the third major island of Masbate and it’s where we found Tinalisayan Island and its white sand beach and sandbar. Add its rust-colored rock shelf and crystal-clear aquamarine waters and you get a perfect hideaway.
Romblon province has 3 major islands. We only got to one of them – the island with the same name – but were almost overwhelmed by the number of white sand beaches and sandbars it has including those of smaller islands offshore. The best of the lot, however, is Bonbon Beach with its long, snaking sandbar.
El Nido and Coron in Palawan are no longer the offbeat destinations they used to be eons ago but San Vicente town and the village of Port Barton still is. The small islands off this barrio not only include pristine white sand beaches and crystalline turquoise waters but stunning underwater life including sea turtles.
Located almost at the southernmost tip of Mindoro island, Bulalacao is the launching pad to a handful of islands offshore that are home to beautiful and remote white sand beaches including Suguicay (pictured above), Aslom, Silad, Alibatan and Buyayao Islands.
Sorsogon is the farthest of the Bicol provinces from Manila and therefore home to some remote beaches that were relatively unknown in the past. In recent times, the pink sand beaches of Subic and Tikling Island (shown above) in Matnog have become more popular but their location is still well off the beaten track.
Kalanggaman Island and the Cuatro Islas of Leyte province have broken into the tourist radar the past 3 years or so but little Biliran province just to the north has often been overlooked. Although that province’s Sambawan Island is not unknown anymore, the same cannot be said about other beaches in Biliran such as the beaches and sandbar at Higatangan Island (shown above).
Frequented mostly by foreign tourists in the past, Siquijor is now a popular destination even among local tourists. During our last visit we were surprised that even deserted beaches like Paliton are now becoming commercialized. Not so for Kagusuan Beach in Maria town.
Marinduque isn’t that far from Metro Manila but for some reason its beaches have been rarely visited until lately. Accessibility is probably a factor but even though it took a little more effort to get there, Maniwaya Island and its beaches, plus the Palad Sandbar, was worth the hassle. You won’t see waters this clear at locations this close to Manila.