One of the all time great Philippine beaches, White Beach on Boracay Island, though a bit overused and undercared-for in places these days, but the water’s still calm and warm, the sand still superfine and ultracool and the prices still low. Photo by dayanetang. More Boracay
Philippines Beaches: ‘The Pearl of the Orient’
The Philippines is an archipelago of 7, 107 islands. Combining all its shores would make it one of the longest coastlines in the world. Bugbog believes that these islands contain more of the world’s great beaches than any other country, and low cost too – but it’s just not that easy to get there!
Although this has been one of the world’s best beach holiday destinations for many years there is still plenty of undiscovered paradise potential among these lush and lovely islands.
The Philippines is a hot and humid tropical country in southeast Asia, populated by attractive, relaxed people and scattered with tropical jungles, hideous cities and glorious beaches considered by many professional travelers to be the world’s top seaside spots.
The country costs little to travel in unless you stay at a fancy beach resort, and that’s not necessary as there are plenty of cheap hotels and down market guest houses available.
Manila, the capital, is polluted, uninteresting and not short of crime, but you’ll probably have to stop over briefly en route to your chosen island paradise. Unless you have a lot of time you’ll fly and possibly boat (banca) too.
Friendly locals; low-cost travel, accommodation and beach life; sand is perhaps the best in the world – soft white coral sand that never heats up; live coral and marine life is also superb and much loved by snorkelers and scuba divers.
The humidity is a killer; Manila is a grimy pain; the Philippines is not as safe as neighbouring Malaysia; pricey planes and bouncy boat rides may be necessary to reach your perfect strand under the palms.
January – February is the very best beach season, and up to April generally pretty good .
The dry season runs roughly from January – early June. November to February is quite cool, while March to May is the hottest period. Normal humidity is an energy-sapping 85%, while average temperatures run from 22°C to 38°C (71. 6°F-100. 4°F ).
The rest of the year is wet, though that could mean just a shower once a day or a full-on typhoon, but there are considerable regional variations.
Towards the end of dry season tourist often experience regular power-cuts due to the water supply decrease and consequent failure of regional hydro-electric power systems.
North Philippines. On or near Luzon Island, the ‘mainland’ and home to the capital city Manila.
Saud Beach, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, far northeast Luzon
Situated on the north tip of Luzon Island, tranquil Pagudpud (aka Tongotong) offers three wide white beaches; Saud Beach was picked as Asia’s best beach by an Aussie newspaper; the calm, blue Maira-ira Point (also know as Blue Lagoon or Malingay Cove), and Pansian Beach which sees hardly any tourists.
Accommodation, food and drink are affordable, the sea is clear, the sand is as white and fine as Boracay, but there is no party scene there.
To enjoy more of scenic Pagudpud, hike to Nacatnagan Cliff, or drive along the winding Patapat viaduct, the Philippines’ 4th longest bridge for a spectacular coastal landscape.
Best weather: December-April.
Getting there: Take a 45 minute flight or 9-12 hours drive from Manila to Laoag City, then another 1. 5 hours from there by whatever land transport you can find.
Puraran Beach, Catanduanes Island, just off southeast Luzon
Catanduanes lies in the Pacific Ocean just off southeastern Luzon and is one of the Philippines’ major surf venues. White sandy Puraran Beach is very appealing, with panoramic views, but its waves – known as majestics by international surfers – are fast, huge and close to shallow reefs so can be very dangerous in the surfing season July – September. Experienced surfers only.
There are more white sand beaches such as Pamangal Beach near San Andres town or Igang Beach.
Getting there: An hour and a quarter flight from Manila to Virac, the capital of Catanduanes plus two and half hours from there or a long long journey by land and water is also possible.
Best Catanduanes weather: March – June, the driest, with April – May being the hottest.
Catanduanes is called ‘the Land of Howling Winds’ and this is one of the wettest provinces of the country.
Worst: July – August with gusty winds and November-January rains.
Central Philippines, south of Luzon
Cebu and islands near Cebu
Bounty Beach, Malapascua Island
This tiny island (2. 5km long, 1km wide), situated at the northeast tip of Cebu Island, is relatively new to the international market, but already rates highly on the the list of world’s best beaches – some say it is the (another) new Boracay.
Malapascua has become a major dive centre with superb coral gardens and underwater plateaus; dive sites including Gato Island, Deep Rock, Pioneer Wreck and Monad Shoal are famous for thresher sharks and manta rays using the marine highway between Cebu and Leyte islands.
Take a day trip to Bantayan Island (see below) or Kalanggaman (Calanggaman) Island for its two gorgeous sand bars longer than the island itself. It’s a two hour boat trip from Leyte Island, normally as part of dive safari. Go early to avoid the strong winds and currents in the late afternoon.
Best Cebu weather: Driest February-May.
OK the rest of the year too with mostly short spells of rain.
Getting there: Fly to Mactan-Cebu International Airport and take a 4 hour bus ride to Maya, the northernmost tip of the Island, then a 30-40 minutes boat ride.
Bantayan, 15km from the northern tip of Cebu is well-known for its powder white sands and crystal clear water, especially along the island’s southeast coast, such as Sugar Beach and Kota Beach – named after their resorts.
Bantayan is a low-key, laid-back place with friendly locals offering some of the country’s most inviting and reasonable beach resort hotels in native style, particularly around Santa Fe. If you looking for an untouched paradise, try nearby the islet of Puo or Virgin Island, via a short boat ride.
Best Cebu weather: see above.
Getting there: Take a half hour flight from Mactan-Cebu International Airport or take 3 hour bus ride plus one hour Island Express Ferry crossing to Santa Fe.
Far south Philippines: Mindanao
White Island (also known as Medan Island), off Camiguin Island
Located just 2km off from the coast of Mambajao, the beach is an idyllic sandbank of dazzling white with a fine view of the main island mountains. Go early because there’s no shade on the beach.
Best Mindanao weather: November-June.
OK July-October; an occasional typhoon may bring rain, wind and rough seas for 2 or 3 days.
Getting there: Camiguin’s ‘Garden of Eden’ can be reached from Manila by air to Cagayan de Oro in the north of Mindanao Island; or travel from Cebu, then take an hour ferry trip. Motorized bancas (outrigger boats) can be hired at some resorts to get to White Island in 10 minutes.
Gumasa Beach, Glan, Sarangani
Nicknamed ‘Small Boracay’ or ‘Boracay of South’, Gumasa has a crescent shaped, 6 km long powder white sand beach lined with a few simple, laid-back resorts, like Boracay used be 30 years ago.
Best Mindanao weather: see above.
Getting there: Despite being only an hour away from the international airport in General Santos City, Glan is little visited due to the province’s reputation for terrorist activities, but is a great place to unwind and nosh on fine seafood.