Summer 2017: 5 beach getaway alternatives to #LaBoracay

Kara Santos

Posted at Apr 28 2017 07:54 AM | Updated as of Apr 28 2017 07:55 AM

MANILA -- Labor Day weekend is coming up and no doubt hordes of tourists will be heading to Boracay for the biggest summer beach event in the country.

But what if you're not the type of person who likes to party all night or get wasted on a beach? The Philippines is blessed with a lot of beautiful beaches for those looking for a more tranquil and secluded beach getaway.

If you’re willing to buy a ticket to Boracay, you can book a flight (or easily take the bus) to these destinations instead. Here are five alternative destinations with bucketlist-worthy beaches around the country.

Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

Pagudpud, a coastal resort town in Ilocos Norte, has many beautiful resorts and beaches. This northernmost settlement on Luzon may be longer to get to than Boracay, but you’re sure to find a spot of beach that’s not crowded.

You can just enjoy the beach or try to learn how to surf in scenic spots like the Blue Lagoon, Maira-ira point and Saud Beach. The Blue Lagoon, in particular, has a powdery white sand coast and turquoise water minus the establishments crowding the shoreline. For a relaxing trip, book your stay at Kapuluan Vista Resort, an eco-friendly resort serves healthy and beautifully presented meals like kilawin, seafood sisig and dinakdakan, with herbs and vegetables picked daily from the resort’s garden.

How to get there: The fastest way to get there is to take a flight to Laoag City. By land, Pagudpud is about 90 minutes by bus from Laoag City. For those who don’t mind long land travel, several bus lines also serve the Manila-Laoag route, with travel time more than 10 hours.

Photo by Kara Santos

Potipot Island, Zambales

For those with limited time who want a beach getaway relatively near Manila by land, there’s the province of Zambales. Zambales is known for its surf spots and secluded coves like Anawangin and Nagsasa Cove, which have become popular for campers and weekend warriors.

A quieter but still accessible choice is Potipot Island, which has a beautiful white sand beach and plenty of trees providing shade. This beach-bumming paradise is a great place for family and friends to unwind. There are no hotels or inns on the island, but there are a few cottages and tents for rent. You can also bring your own tents for camping. Magalawa Island is another rising destination with a creamy white sand beach that offers a refreshing getaway.

How to get there: Drive (4 to 5 hours) or ride a bus (5 to 6 hours) bound for Iba or Sta. Cruz, Zambales. From the Luan Port, Magalawa is a short 5- to 10-minute boat ride away. For Potipot Island, the jump-off point for the boats are in the mainland shore of Uacon, Candelaria. The boat ride to Potipot also takes 5 to 10 minutes.

Photo by Kara Santos

Calaguas, Camarines Norte

For those based in Bicol (or are willing to take an overnight bus to get there), there are beaches accessible by land that you can visit during Labor Day weekend. But it’s the white sand beaches on the islands that are worth seeking out.

Mahabang Buhangin in Tinaga, Calaguas has a beautiful kilometer-long coastline of powdery-fine white sand and unbelievably clear waters. But this is not the only place with a great beach in the province. In the town of Mercedes in Camarines Norte, you can also visit the underrated Siete Pecados, a cluster of seven islands (Apuao Grande, Apuao Pequeña, Caringo, Canton, Canimog, Quinapaguian and Malasugui), each with their own unique features and stunning beaches. Some of the ecotourism activities here are mangrove planting or getting hands-on cooking lessons on seaweed gulaman (gelatin) from members of the community who practice wild seaweed farming.

How to get there: From Manila, take a bus to Daet from Cubao or Pasay. Get off at Talobatib Junction and take a tricycle to the town of Paracale. Travel time from Manila is 7 to 8 hours. From Paracale, you can charter a boat to Calaguas or around Mercedes Islands, though it is best to make arrangements ahead. Boat rides between islands can take one hour or more.

Photo by Kara Santos

Sumilon Bluewater, Cebu

While most tourists are familiar with the city sights and food in Cebu City, the rest of the province offers a wealth of attractions, including beautiful waterfalls, beaches and islands.

The northern tip of Cebu is dotted with beautiful islands with white sand beaches, including Bantayan Island. On the southeastern tip of the mainland, you have the secluded Sumilon Island which has a private resort and several white sand beaches where you can stay overnight in comfort or even go glamping. On the southwest side of Cebu, you can visit Moalboal with its own strip of White Beach. Moalboal is a laid-back backpacker town that serves as an excellent basecamp for diving and underwater adventures including the famed sardine run.

How to get there: Take a flight to Cebu. From Cebu City, the different towns are well connected by buses departing from either the Cebu North terminal or Cebu South terminal. From Cebu City, Moalboal is roughly 2.5 to 3 hours. Bantayan is 3 hours by land plus a 1-hour ferry ride, while Sumilon is 3 hours by bus plus a 15- to 20-minute boat ride.

Photo by Kara Santos

Sta. Cruz Island, Zamboanga City

Zamboanga’s Pink Sand beach recently landed in a list of US magazine National Geographic of the best beaches in the world. The shores of Great Santa Cruz Island just off Zamboanga City have a rosy hue due to the crushed red organ pipe coral mixed with the white sand. What’s great is that the number of visitors are limited per day to ensure the proper carrying capacity. Attractions here revolve around eco-tourism, culture and native cuisine, handled by the local community who call the island their home.

Aside from beach-bumming, you can go boating inside the lagoon, watch how seaweed is harvested and see stingless jellyfish up close. The highlight is getting to sail in a vinta, a traditional boat with colorful striped sails representing the colorful culture and history of the Muslim community. To preserve the island, overnight camping is not allowed and all trash is expected to be brought out by the end of the day.

How to get there: Take a flight to Zamboanga City. From the airport or anywhere in Zamboanga City, ride a tricycle to Paseo del Mar. From the tourist center, ride a boat going to Sta. Cruz Island. Travel time by boat is just 15 to 20 minutes.

Photo by Kara Santos

For more travel guides and tips, visit the author’s blog at www.traveling-up.com.