4 underrated beach destinations in the PH for balikbayans
Beaches in the Philippines are some of the most beautiful in the entire world. The likes of Palawan, Boracay, and Siargao are all alluring spots that have won international acclaim for their beauty and hospitality. People from all over the world converge in those places to bear witness to their natural beauty and enjoy a piece of the island life.
With their rise in popularity, though, comes lots and lots of tourists.
For balikbayans who want to enjoy the fruits of their hard-earned labor, spending a holiday in these places is a fantastic way to do so. But, there are other, less crowded beaches in the motherland that are equally as appealing and worthy of attention.
Some of these places are truly off the beaten path—meaning it’ll take a few hours to a half a day to get there—but that’s what makes them even more special.
When people think of Cebu, beaches always come to mind. For most, though, the beach they’re thinking of is Mactan—an island about 45 minutes away from the city center. Bantayan is farther away, around a four hour trip (three hours by car and an extra hour by barge) from the city. After the journey, you’ll be treated to one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in the world. Sugar Beach is one of the most beautiful spots on the island. The sand is just like the powdered version of its namesake, and the accommodations and food aren’t expensive at all.
Batanes is the northernmost point of the Philippines. To many, it’s considered one of the final frontiers due to its distance and difficulty to get to—well, at least until a few years ago. There are now flights that go straight to Batanes from Manila.
Sprawling natural landscapes like cliffs, wide open fields, and of course, beautiful beaches abound in Batanes. The region is not only rich in natural beauty but also culture. The Ivatan people call the region home, which means you can visit their traditional bahay na bato structures while you’re there.
The waters surrounding Batanes can be quite choppy, but you can go for a more tranquil swim at Homoron Blue Lagoon and the nearby White Beach. The water is a little more shallow, but safety and peace should be the top priority, especially if you’re not the strongest swimmer.
Bohol was a popular vacation spot in the early 2000s, but its popularity has since fallen in favor of places like Boracay and Palawan. Still, Bohol’s beaches are worth the trip—especially since the droves of crowds probably aren’t the same as you remember.
Panglao specifically offers a beautiful white sand beach experience that can rival the other popular beach spots in the country. There are various resorts in the area that offer more simple accommodations or a full, five-star luxury experience depending on how much you want to save or splurge on the experience.
If Panglao is still a little touristy for you, Anda is another option. Anda is a municipality about a three-hour drive from Tagbilaran, but you’ll be too busy swimming in its pristine waters and frolicking on its white sand beaches to feel travel-weary once you get there.
For a really off the beaten path experience, you can check out Dumog Sandbar. It’s a small patch of sand in the middle of Bohol and Cebu that gives off the feeling that you’re the only people in the world. Tour companies organize trips to the sandbar from both Bohol and Cebu, so you can choose where to disembark from. It can get a little crowded during the summer season, though, so keep that in mind.
Camiguin is an island in Mindanao located in the Bohol Sea. It’s close to Cagayan de Oro in terms of distance. You can get to the island via a direct flight from Cebu or a ferry that departs from Cagayan de Oro.
Next to Batanes, Camiguin is the smallest province in the Philippines. According to travel guides, you only need 48 hours (or even less if you ask the locals) to fully experience everything the province has to offer. Aside from its pristine white sand beaches, you can explore mountains, waterfalls, and even some seven or so volcanoes in the area.
Mantigue Island (or Magsaysay Island) is a beach and dive spot located a short boat ride away from the main island. You can go snorkeling along its coast and see the bustling marine life under the water’s surface. If you get tired of swimming all day (the operative word being if), you can also explore the lush greenery of its nature park.