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Alternative Beaches to Boracay
Let's get real. If you hate the crowd and you feel you're not young anymore for parties and nightlife, remove Boracay from your travel bucket list. If you want to enjoy an island getaway but have limited budget, forget about the exclusive islands of El Nido. Wait what? Why am I telling you this?
My first article "10 Most Beautiful Beaches in the Philippines" was a huge success in that it garnered a lot of traffic, however, some people were still looking for places that are less popular but equally stunning. To be honest, I totally get it. We want to see beautiful places and it is perfect when we enjoy the views all to ourselves. Going to Boracay, for example, is probably one of the most exciting travel plan you'll make but when you get there and see that the beautiful beach is crowded and you can barely have your own private space, it can be really frustrating.
So, for all those beach bummers out there who love off-beaten tracks, pristine turquoise or emerald waters and a lot of private space, this article is for you.
1. Hinugtan Beach, Malay, Aklan
This is very close to Boracay but only a handful of tourists know about this place and that it can be accessed from Boracay by boat. We didn't go to this place by boat though. We were on the mainland and we had our motorbike that time and we just saw a little sign on the road that led uphill towards a beach. So we followed the sign and the road until we were stopped by a rough road leading downhill. That must be the beach we figured so we walked all the way down the muddy rough patch. It is not safe to ride on a motorbike on that road, I swear. So better to ditch your motorbike somewhere safe and flat. There is no one there anyway...After, 15 minutes of muddy walk into a little jungle, the paradise was waiting on the other side...When I say paradise, it is really that and more...there was no one else there but a few fishermen and at the end of the long stretch of white beach, there is a resort but no one was there except for one foreign family...
I thought how beautiful it was and how lucky we were to have stumbled on that road sign. I almost prayed that tourists will never hear of this beautiful place and just stay in Boracay because the place is so unspoilt and clean and tranquil and everything Boracay isn't. I'm sure Boracay was much more beautiful before it was discovered and developed for tourism...but I hope Hinugtan Beach will never suffer Boracay's fate.
How to get there:
Hinugtan Beach is accessible by boat from Boracay or from the town of Alegria and because it is not a common island destination included in tours, the boat rental may be a bit pricey but very negotiable. The easier way to get to the beach is by land. The sign board to the beach that we saw is along the national/provincial road located in Buruanga. From Caticlan, hire a motorcycle and ride to Buruanga. Travel time is about 15 minutes. Follow the road sign (it can be easily missed so focus on the right side of the road - if you are from Caticlan).
2. Calaguas Islands, Camarines Norte
Calaguas Islands dot the Pacific coast of Vinzons, Camarines Norte. It is accessible by boat and travel time is 2 hours from the main land. Going to this secluded island is arduous but it is well worth it. The reason why it remains pristine up to now is because it is remote and not readily accessible by a lot of tourists. If you are strong enough to brave the journey, the reward will surely take your breath away.
There are quite a few resorts already on the island and a number of cottages to stay in for the night but majority of the tourists prefer to stay in a tent because it is cheaper and more rewarding.
Now, Boracay has set the bar so high that almost all Philippine beaches with white sand are compared with Boracay. So many beaches were called Boracay of the North or the South but none of these beaches really came close to the white powdery sands of Boracay until Calaguas. The white powdery sands of Calaguas is very similar to that of Boracay. What makes it better than Boracay? There are less crowd (mostly local tourists in the weekends) and not a lot of commercial establishments.
How to get there:
From Manila, you can either travel to Calaguas by air or by land. There are daily flights from Manila to Naga and from Naga you need to take public transport to Daet. Travel time is 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Manila directly and endure 8-10 hours of travel and then get off at Daet terminal. From Daet terminal you can take a public jeepney to Mercedes or Vinzons and from there, a boat will take you to Calaguas. You can also go to Paracale from Daet terminal and in Paracale you can ask a fisherman to take you to Calaguas.
3. Caramoan Islands, Camarines Sur
Just like the Calaguas Islands in Camarines Norte, Caramoan Islands on the other side of the Bicol Province are equally stunning and still unspoilt. The beauty of the island debuted in the international scene when Survivor used the island as a backdrop or setting for their TV series. There are a lot of beautiful islands to choose from in Caramoan and each island has its own distinct beauty and character more alluring than the next.
Caramoan also offers more activities and opportunities for diving and surfing. There are limestone cliffs to climb as well for adventurous seekers. The peninsula is a series of natural wonders on its own. Explore different islands and you will surely fall in love with its natural splendor. Matukad island is the most popular among tourists. Lahos island is spectacular and Sabitang laya offers diving and snorkeling opportunities and twin beaches for you to conquer. Gota beach is where Survivor village is located and the cottages there can be rented..
How to get there:
From Manila, you can either travel to Caramoan by air or by land. There are daily flights from Manila to Naga and from Naga you need to take public transport to Sabang Port. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Manila directly and endure 8-10 hours of travel and then get off at Sabang Port. Sabang Port is the jump-off point for Caramoan. There are ferries and trigger boats every hour from 6am until 11am only and if you miss the last ferry, you can hire a private boat which is pricey and can range from 2500 to 3500 depending on the size.
What to do:
Each island in the Caramoan group offers different activities. Aside from island hopping, other water activities can be enjoyed like snorkeling, swimming, diving, and surfing. There are also limestone cliffs to climb and hills to trek.
This Video is for everyone who likes to visit the Philippines and has no idea where to go and what to do...
4. Kalanggaman Island, Palompon Leyte
Kalanggaman Island is a remote gem located 20 kilometers west of Leyte province. Although it is fast becoming a popular island destination, the tourists are mostly locals and infrastructure on the island is still down to the bare essentials like toilets, dressing rooms, few cottages here and there, multi-purpose hall and one or two tree houses. All boats leave the island before sunset and they won't be back until after sunrise.
So what's with the island? Local travel bloggers and mainstream media put the island on the travel map and since then a lot of local tourists flock to the island to get a glimpse of its natural beauty. The government is promoting Kalanggaman to be one of the popular island destinations in the country but they still try to observe responsible tourism by limiting the number of people that can set foot on the island everyday.
How to get there:
The fastest way is by air to Ormoc city via Cebu. Flights from Manila to Ormoc is not yet available as of writing. From the airport, head towards the city ark or behind the pier. There are buses and vans there that you can take to go to Palompon. Travel time is 1.5 hours. Get off at Palompon at the Eco Tourism Office. Pay your fees and hire a boat to the island. Travel time is more or less an hour and it is totally worth it.
5. Panampangan Island, Tawi-tawi
Located in the southernmost part of the country, Tawi-tawi is part of the Sulu archipelago and is still largely unexplored because of the remoteness of the place and the on-going tribal clashes in Mindanao.
Somehow, the hefty price tag for boats and the remoteness of the place coupled with the inherent danger in some places in Mindanao helped in the preservation of this paradise. With 3km of white powdery sands (as in powder-like and no crushed coral roughness) Panampangan island offers the longest sandbar in the country. Here, there are food stalls and convenience stores anywhere. Visitors to the island have to bring their own food and water and they have to coordinate with the Philippine Marines before visiting the island. Once there, be prepared to be blown away by the natural beauty of the island.
How to get there:
Panampangan Island is 13 nautical miles from the jump-off point which is Batu-batu, Panglima Sagala- a town located in Tawi-tawi mainland. Travel time is 2 hours with an outrigger boat and less than an hour with a speed boat. Before going there, one must coordinate first with the Provincial tourism office to ensure safety.