Hide Away in These Beach Hideaways

As we slowly bid goodbye to the cold, our season undergoes a metamorphosis that transforms it into an event unlike any other — summer! Our mornings are now bathed in invigorating sunshine; and the rest of the day filled with picturesque details embodying the allure of God’s finest creations in nature — a delightful dreamlike scenery that lingers in our subconscious, almost too magnificent to be real.

Summer is also a season of sweet escape. Of course, there are many places you’d want to hie off to in a snap. On top of the list? Beaches!

Choosing a beach destination may be the easiest part when planning a summer getaway; and sometimes, we just don’t wanna be caught up with too much of the nitty-gritty, that sticking to an established summer vacation routine can be attractive — translation: Let’s just go to where everybody else is going. But, life is no fun without a little spontaneity, dontchatink?

This summer, get out of your comfort zone and visit instead some of the “other” equally enchanting beaches in the Philippines. For a change, focus on finding new experiences in these lesser-known beach destinations and forget about the specific ones in your daydreams. Don’t limit yourself to the uppity up locations everyone else is Instagramming about. My top picks do not even require you to book an airline ticket! By the way, I intentionally did not include Calaguas and Caramoan in my list, since these are already “famous” destinations in Luzon.

Palaui Island
Sta. Ana, Cagayan

Palaui Island is nestled at the eastern-most tip of Sta. Ana, Cagayan in Northern Luzon, and is easily reached by land or air through Tuguegarao City. Palaui is a postcard-perfect image of serenity, offering intrepid adventurers a much-needed solitude, while soaking in nature’s grandeur.

You can take an uphill trek to Cape Engaño Lighthouse for a better view of the coast; or motorboat your way to Crocodile Island for a quick dip in its pristine blue waters; or simply, beachbum at the many coves around Sta. Ana — Anguib, Siwangag and Engaño. If you want some cardio-exercise, you may want to traverse Palaui, starting from Punta Verde — the southeast tip of Palaui — to Cape Engaño. This hike takes about 3.5 to 4 hours of trekking through verdant scenery.

Apuao Grande and Apuao Pequeño Islands
Mercedes, Camarines Norte

Before Calaguas became a byword among beachcombers, Apuao Grande Beach Resort was the place to be when in Camarines Norte. Sadly, the establishment — locally ran by the Swagman Hotel Chain Malate — fell on hard times and closed up shop… but, with the growing popularity of backpacking trips in the country, more and more travelers are seeking alternative beach destinations, those unmarred by commercialism; thus Apuao is slowly regaining its lost glory. As the saying goes: A thing of beauty cannot be kept forever.

Just a short motorboat ride from Mercedes town proper is Apuao Pequeño, or ‘small’ Apuao (‘grande’ being big), a suitable campsite reminiscent of Anawangin Cove with its soft powdery sand and pine trees. The two Apuaos, by the way, are connected by a ‘serpentine’ sandbar, which is a sight to behold t sunrise! Taking a motorized banca around the island is definitely a major highlight when in Apuao. You can marvel at its impressive rock formations; lounge about in its white sand beaches; ogle at the magnificent underwater scenery rife with corals and a variety of seashells and fish. A visit to Canimog lighthouse and unexplored Canton Cave will surely add flavor to your trip.

Apuao Grande and Pequeño, with the islands of Canton, Quinapaguian, Caringo, Malasugui and Canimog — each boasting spectacular sea and landscapes — make up the Mercedes Group of Islands.

Tikling Island
Matnog, Sorsogon

Aside from having the distinction of being Luzon’s gateway to the Visayan Isles, Matnog in Sorsogon is a haven for aquanauts like me.

Hands down, the pinkish sands of Tikling Island is one of the best sights I have ever laid my eyes on! … and, apart from its strawberry milkshake-like beach, its clear torquise waters and seemingly secluded nature are some of the other things that set Tikling Island from the rest. A leisurely walk along the coast, or a quick dip in its warm waters, will reward you with breatktaking under- and above-water sceneries. A short trek inland will take you to the other side of the island and into what looks like a perfect replica of the magnificent rock formations of Biri Island in Samar.

While in Matnog, don’t fail to visit Subic Daku and Subic Liit coves, and the Hidden Lagoon of Calintaan Island; the Parola along San Bernardino Strait; and Juag Fish Sanctuary.

Paguriran Island
Sawanga, Bacon, Sorsogon

Hidden deep within Bacon, Sorsogon lies a pinkish-beige-sand-covered beach sprawling with corals and seashells in a wide array of colors, shapes and sizes, interspersed with mangrove clumps. This sleepy coastal community of Sawanga is also home to a unique and enchanting land formation, Paguriran Island — with its charming lagoon tucked nicely within jagged rocks and massive coral architecture.

A picture of tranquility, Paguriran is an idyllic hideaway protected by natural barriers of mangroves, rocks,and seas — handcrafted by God himself, offering a weary backpacker an escape from the hustle and bustle of a fast-paced urban life.

Baler
Aurora

So what if you don’t surf? There are a thousand and one reasons still why you should include Baler in your must-visit destinations in Luzon — a trek to Ditumabo Falls; swimming on the beaches of Ampere, Cemento and Sabang; photographing the sunset in Cobra Reef with its spectacular rock formations; or simply, take a stroll down Baler’s history-rich town proper.

Baler, located in Aurora — a province bearing the name of the late President Manuel L. Quezon’s lady-love and wife (How romantic!) — is considered by many as a surfer’s paradise and Central Luzon’s last frontier.

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About Seeing with Brahmin eyes
My sense of humor can be keen, sarcastic, silly or corny -- sometimes all at once. I enjoy meeting new people with no preconceived ideas about what or what is not possible. You get much more out of life by being open minded and willing. I'm an easy going, good-natured person who loves life and loves people. I'm both optimistic and realistic and pretty objective when it comes to assessing situations, events, etc. In general I am a very positive person and you'll usually find we with a smile on my face.

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