Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where to Go: Beach Summer 2009

Let's assume most people still want to get out of the city despite the huge crowds outside Manila this Holy Week and other Summer holidays. Let's also assume that we can't spend that much (recession). And the travel time must only be 3 hours maximum. So, where do we go?

1. Anawangin/Nagsasa Coves with Capones/Camara Islands Combo (Damage: P3,500 per person for an overnight)

Since it will be full in Pundaquit, you can opt to take a day trip from Subic or even Olongapo. Stay there in the evening, since you really need just a day in Anawangin/Nagsasa. But stay for the sunset in Anawangin/Nagsasa and head back to mainland as soon as the sun tocuhes down. Anawangin/Nagsasa still offer the best nature and beach experience near Manila.

2. Bondoc Peninsula, Quezon (Damage: P1,000 per person)

The Quezon province is one of the most undiscovered beach areas near Manila. Aside from the already popular Polilio island group, the other option is the Bondoc peninsula. Around 15 minutes after Lucena, you'll come about a fork which has the sign, this way to the Bondoc Peninsula. Turn right there and drive down around 20 minutes more. Padre Burgos is the first town in the Bondoc peninsula which has good beaches. I like the Tamarind Tree because it is well-maintained, affordable but basic, and very eco-friendly. Again, it's not luxurious, and the huts are really just nipa huts. Most take the day trip here from Manila, since it's just a total of 3 hours away. I still have to go further into the peninsula. There may be more hidden beaches. If you do find some, let me know.

3. Morong, Bataan (Damage: P2,000 to P4,000 per person)

Morong offers a lot of beach options in various types of accommodations. The nearer ones from Subic are just after the forest road that you will hit after exiting the Morong Gate. Anvaya Cove comes after if you take the cliff road, all the way down inwards in the peninsula. You'll be hitting Baranggay Poblacion where more resorts can be found, such as my recommended White Corals Resort or Coral View Resort. These resorts are huge, and some of their rooms are expensive. But if you're a barkada, you can get their dorm type rooms, and spend just P500 per person. The beach is relaxing, and you can visit the Pawikan Conservation Center and nearby islands, including the beaches near the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

4. San Juan, Batangas (Laiya Beach and Beyond)

Well, it's turning out to be the most preferred beach nearest Manila, but I really think the rapid development is too much. I have visited Laiya when the road was still rough, and there were still a lot of trees lining the beach. Only La Luz and a few resorts were present. Nobody was around, except for some families living nearby. Now, Laiya is packed, especially during weekends. I don't recommend it at this time, so make sure you plan well, and visit during weekdays. La Luz is still there, and has the best location at the end of the beach. Virgin Beach Resort still has its charm but I think has gone way too expensive for its standards. Sabangan Beach Resort is your option if you want to rent an apartment style accommodation, with kitchenette and dining areas. There are also several other beaches on the same coastline, like in Hugom, where Palm Beach (La Frondosa) is located. It is a great resort for families and big groups. There are more cheaper resorts around, but the cheaper they get, the less value you receive.

5. Pagbilao and Sariaya, Quezon

Sariaya is the town adjacent to Lucena, and offers some beach resorts that are noteworthy. The beaches here are not excellent, but it's a good jump off point for the nearby islands, such as Pagbilao Grande, which has a nice and clean white beach named Puting Buhangin. There's even a cave at the end of the cove. You can take a boat from Sariaya to Pagbilao Grande. You can opt to stay for the night at Marina Azul Beach Resort. The boat trip can take almost an hour, but the trip is worth it. You can also head straight to Pagbilao which comes after Lucena.

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