MANILA, Philippines – Craving for a far-off paradise? Take flight and land on one of Visayas’s islands. You might just find a whole stretch of beach or an island to yourself if you go looking. Let travel bloggers guide you in your search.
Here’s part two of our beach series, featuring some of the best pristine and white beaches in the Visayas — again, in no particular order:
1. Kagusuan Beach, Maria, Siquijor
One of the more quiet beaches in an already quiet, laid-back province, this beach in the southeastern part of Siquijor, is “quite the little secret,” as Eileen Campos found. Not only does it not get crowded like the more popular Siquijor beaches like Salagdoong, but it is also out of the way from the main road.
“You have to go through some woods, park in what seems like the end of the road, and go down a slightly hidden set of stairs,” Eileen relates.
Aside from having no problem finding your own shaded patch of sand in this beach, there is a marine sanctuary off the shore where you can snorkel or even walk in. “You could very much dip your head in thigh-deep water and find Nemo,” Eileen says in wonder.
2. Guisi Beach, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
There’s more to Guimaras than the Philippines’ sweetest mangoes. White beaches punctuated with rock formations are part of its draw, the most secluded of which is arguably Guisi. Even though there are a few resorts along the beach, the place maintains its tranquility.
“My friends and I had with us the whole stretch of the beach and the horizon,” Kenneth Lagaña recounts. “It’s not one of those frequented beaches in Guimaras so its beauty is still raw.”
There is also a nearby lighthouse which you can climb to see the sea’s expanse from above, and to catch the sunset.
3. Islas de Gigantes, Carles, Iloilo
Iloilo is more known for its churches and heritage structures, especially Miag-ao Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This province, though, has its share of pristine white islands, particularly in the northeast. Islas de Gigantes, accessible by a two-hour boat ride from the mainland, has white islands, a lagoon, and a sandbar.
A crowd favorite and common landmark photo of Islas de Gigantes is the view of the white Cabugao Gamay Island from its cliff. And, beyond that classic photo are other picturesque views from the cliff.
“On my right were azure waters, and on my left was an endless sea transitioning from sea foam to green, to turquoise, and to deep blue,” Kat Torres says, spellbound.
Aside from Cabugao Gamay, Islas de Gigantes has more white beaches, like the white island of Antonia, and the sandbar of Bantigue.
4. Olotayan Island, Roxas City, Capiz
Roxas is not just known as the seafood capital of the Philippines – there’s beauty where those fish and shellfish come from. Olotayan Island, about an hour’s boat ride away from the mainland, is one of Capiz’s hidden gems.
With waters so clear you can see corals and fish without snorkeling, a white beach of crushed shells, and abundant greenery, Olotayan would be a strong contender if there were a beauty pageant of beaches.
And, she would be Ms. Congeniality, too. Olotayan locals are warm and down-to-earth. With just one barangay living in a 53-hectare island, the locals pretty much know one another. During my visit, we talked easily about life on the island. One even climbed a coconut tree for me, and later also gave free coconuts for the group I traveled with.
5. Caluya Islands, Caluya, Antique
Just like Olotayan, Caluya Islands have a stunning white beach and friendly locals. To Marcos Caratao, this is one of the best beaches he has been to and the 3-hour boat ride from Antique mainland was worth it.
Sibato Island, 15 minutes from Caluya’s mainland, has white and powder-fine sand comparable to Boracay’s. “Strolling along the shore made me reminisce about the beauty of Boracay I experienced during my visits there when I was still a kid, at a time when White Beach was still pristine and undeveloped,” Marcos says in nostalgia.
Marcos also talked to the locals in the mainland, and he swears by their friendliness. He was also happy to visit one home and see locals at work – seaweed farming, the main livelihood in Caluya.
6. Sumilon Island, Oslob, Cebu
One of the best beaches in Cebu’s province fringed with beaches is Sumilon Island, 15 minutes by boat from Liloan. Upon seeing the sky blue waters and the white powdery sandbar, Chyng Reyes was breathless. “It was an ‘I’m a proud Pinay’ moment,” she recalls, claiming that this is one of the best Philippine beaches she has seen.
See more of Sumilon’s marine sanctuary here:
While there is one resort in Sumilon, Chyng attests that “they really tried to keep the natural settings of the island.” In fact, during her visit, Chyng experienced camping, albeit the glamorous way – still in tents, but with creature comforts like a soft bed and an electric fan.
Another plus for Sumilon is that it is a great snorkeling and diving spot, too.
7. Marabut Beach, Marabut, Samar
Eastern Visayas is the off-the-beaten path route in the Visayas. This region has so much to offer, with peaceful and picturesque white beaches among them.
One such beach is Marabut in Samar, an hour away by van from Tacloban, Leyte airport. Aside from the white beach, gray rock formations with vegetation rise from the sea. While there are some resorts along the beach, expect to find stretches of the beach to yourself. Mervz Marasigan describes the beach as “uncrowded and peaceful.”
“It’s only you and the beach,” Mervz shares. “It gives you time to re-connect with nature.”
8. Higatangan Island, Naval, Biliran
Another understated beach is Higatangan Island in Biliran, a Philippine province some Filipinos might not even be aware of. Also in Eastern Visayas, Biliran is two and a half hours by van from Tacloban. Higatangan is about 45 minutes by boat from Biliran mainland.
At Higatangan Island’s tip is a sandbar which changes shape depending on wind direction, and which changes color depending on the time of day. On the other side of the island are towering limestone formations. There are a few resorts on the island, but Higatangan remains quiet and slow-paced.
Here is a video on Higatangan Island:
The locals are friendly and hardworking – fishing, making copra from coconuts, and fetching water from either one of two wells, the only water sources on the island.
At night, the island has arguably one of the starriest skies, given its remote location and power shutdown after 10pm.
9. Limasawa Island, Limasawa, Southern Leyte
More than just a historical location during the Spanish colonization, Limasawa Island has its share of virgin white beaches. Located at the southern tip of Leyte, around 5 hours of land transport from Tacloban, and a 45-minute boat ride, Leyte local Ephraim Arriesgado says the trip is worth taking.
And, like the island locals mentioned above, the locals from Limasawa are friendly. Ephraim says his arrival was “made more delightful” as he was welcomed by “cute and smiling pupils” at a school there.
Limasawa also has marine-rich snorkeling and dive sites. In fact, there are occasional whale shark sightings, the highest number of which was in 2010. Whale sharks were spotted again just this summer.
Here is a video of whale sharks at Limasawa:
Have YOU been to any more unspoiled white beaches in the Visayas? Tell us about them by posting your comments below! – Rappler.com
Claire Madarang is a writer, traveler, and seeker. Her wanderlust takes her on adventures like backpacking for 7 weeks straight. Her seeking leads her to different wellness practices like meditation and healthy (mostly vegetarian) eating. Follow her adventures, tips, and epiphanies at her blog, Traveling Light.