I’m a contributing writer for lifestyle and travel website When In Manila and I wrote this piece on a remote, undeveloped beach in a province in the Philippines. Sharing this with my readers (all three of them)— despite the “third-worldliness” of this country, I love living in the Philippines and places like Calaguas being within reach is just one of the reasons why.
When in Manila, ask any urban-dweller about the best beach in the country and you are guaranteed a popular answer: Boracay. And why not? Boracay’s blindingly white powder-fine sand and its clear, azure waters have spoilt us Filipinos. The Philippines’ top tourist destination has set the bar for beach-goers who cannot help but compare other beaches they visit with that of Boracay’s sand quality and the clarity of the water.
However, Boracay’s popularity comes at a price. With throngs of tourists flocking to the beach, it has been called “Manila with sand,” capturing the essence of what Boracay is like during peak seasons where the beach is so crowded that running into someone you know from Manila is a regular occurrence. With the influx of more and more foreign tourists due to the Kalibo airport now an international gateway, and the degradation of the beach due to unsustainable tourism practices, people have started looking for alternatives. Fortunately, with over 7,000 islands to choose from in the Philippines, there are plenty, and you don’t even have to fly from Manila to get to some of them.
These are the easy and obvious choices: drive down south of Manila for the beaches in Batangas, a destination known for scuba-diving. A little further south of Batangas and a boat ride away is White Beach in Puerto Galera, Mindoro. Go north of Manila and there’s Anawangin Cove in Zambales, where you can camp on a beach fringed with pine trees.
But if you’re willing to go further and off the beaten path, away from the crowds, lying off the coast of the province of Camarines Norte is a group of pristine, virgin islands called Calaguas, a reward for those who make the time and the effort to journey into the typhoon-battered region of Bicol.