We already know that the Philippines is rich with beaches. It’s just a matter of choosing your preferred getaway, based on location, budget, activity, and-sand color? Give your beach trip a little twist by choosing sand in different hues.
WRITTEN BY MONIQUE BUENSALIDO
PHOTOGRAPHED BY RICA GARCIA, MARK JACOB OF STUDIO 100, AND RON MENDOZA OF STUDIO 100
With a coastline of more than 30,000 kilometers, it’s impossible not to find a gorgeous stretch of golden brown sand along the ocean in any corner of the country. With our tropical weather all year round, you can always find one and enjoy the sun, sand and surf whether it’s May or December. If you’re itching for a quick beach trip, Batangas is only a couple of hours away from Manila and home to several beaches. Anilao is famous for diving, and is lined with dive resorts. Laiya’s beaches are more laid-back and quiet, while Calatagan attracts a lot of active beach-goers looking to try watersports.
There’s just something about fine, white sand that signals “paradise,” and it’s usually the standard for the best beaches. Boracay and Palawan are obvious choices, and their picturesque beaches—as well as their other attractions, like Boracay’s party scene and Palawan’s Underwater River in Puerto Princesa—draw people from all over the world. But if you want to enjoy pristine, virgin white sand, head to the lesser-known beaches: Calaguas in Camarines Norte, Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte, and Caramoan in Camarines Sur. These places usually take a bit of an effort to get to and have Spartan accommodations, but the sand will be gloriously and almost blindingly whiter. Without five-star hotels or commercial areas, you’ll feel like this gorgeous slice of sandy, white paradise is all yours.
Red corals or bodies of red sea creatures (like clams and mollusks), when eroded and mixed with regular grains of sand on the shore, add a unique, pinkish hue to beaches. Some of the most popular blushing beaches can be found in the Bahamas, but the Great Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga is the only one with pink sand in the Philippines, created from crushed red organ-pipe coral mixing with the island’s white sand. This coral is now an endangered species, and their population around the island has sadly diminished because of illegal mining and fishing, which is why it’s important to see—and preserve— the beach while we can.
Black sand beaches are—quite literally—the dark horse of the lot, with alluringly deep, ebony grains formed when volcanic lava gets in contact with water and shatters into sand, or when volcanic rocks erode over time. You’ll find a lot of these beaches near volcanoes, which is why Hawaii (home to several active volcanoes) has a lot of them. In the Philippines, it’s the beautiful Mayon Volcano that has given the province of Albay several black sand beaches. You’ll find them in towns like Bacacay and Tiwi, but try the beaches in Sto. Domingo, where you can also see the Albay Gulf and Legazpi City from the shore.
These may not be ideal for swimming or gallivanting, but a shore filled with pebbles and stones (also known as a shingle beach) against crashing, azure waves is definitely a dramatic sight, like the ones in England, France, and New Zealand. Batanes’ Valugan Boulder Beach is one of the most unique beaches in the country, filled with smooth stones and boulders said to have come from the volcano Mount Iraya when it erupted hundreds of years ago. Forget building sand castles and writing your name in the sand; just choose a rock, then sit back and enjoy the majestic view.