Unspoiled white beaches: Mindanao

Rhea Claire Madarang

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Time to whip out your bucket list and add these pristine beaches

COCONUT FAMILY. An idyllic walk along Gumasa’s shore line can bring you to interesting scenery like this. Photo by Bonzenti Panganiban

MANILA, Philippines – Apart from commonly visited areas like Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City, much of Mindanao remains off the beaten path, open for discovery to travelers thirsty for adventure. And yes, it has its generous share of pristine white beaches.

As the last part of this beach series, let adventurous travel bloggers again be your guide in searching for the perfect beach in the Philippines’ south. Here they are, again in no particular order.

1. Kaputian Beach, Samal Island, Davao del Norte

CLEAR AND CALM. Kaputian’s waters are perfect for a dip. Photo by Jherson Jaya

Samal Island is already known for its white stretches of sand, and it is fairly accessible with some of its beaches just a 15-minute boat ride from Davao mainland. But if you’re looking for quiet, then Kaputian Beach in the south of Samal is the place for you. The boat trip from the mainland may be longer, at 40 to 60 minutes, but the reward is a pristine beach shaded with trees, with the comforts of a resort and quiet isolation.

QUIET RETREAT. Kaputian Beach in Samal Island gives you time to commune with nature. Photo by Jherson Jaya

“It gives you a chance to hear the sound of nature,” Jherson Jaya says almost reverently. During his stay, he says, he could hear the waves crashing and the trees’ leaves rustling.

READ: Unspoiled white beaches: Luzon

READ: Unspoiled white beaches: Visayas

2. Dahican Beach, Mati, Davao Oriental

7 KILOMETERS OF PARADISE. Find your own spot at Dahican’s long white beach. Photo by Earl Bolivar

A 7-kilometer crescent-shaped white beach, Dahican is the stuff of Earl Bolivar’s dreams. With only two resorts at each end of the stretch, this beach practically guarantees you your own spot of paradise.

“Not a few tourists have declared this beach as more beautiful than Boracay,” Earl says.

With the beach facing Pacific Ocean, the waves are perfect for skimboarding and some surfing too.

Mati is around four to five hours away from Davao City. And, from Mati town proper, Dahican beach is a 20- to 30-minute motorbike ride away.

3. General Luna, Siargao, Surigao del Norte

NAKED BEAUTY. Pure white sand is definitely not in short supply at Naked Island, Siargao. Photo by Cielo Lazo

Siargao does not only promise great surfing, but amazing beaches as well. Cloud 9, the famous surfing spot along the General Luna shore, has stretches of white sand bordered with wild shrubs and trees. Close by, just as picturesque, are Naked Island, Dako (Big) Island, and Guyam (Small) Island.

Naked Island is a beach bum’s paradise, an entire island of pure white sand, save for some sparse vegetation–thus, the term naked. If you’re lucky, you might even find migratory birds flying about the island and strutting down the shore. Dako Island also has a long stretch of white beach as well as trees and cottages perfect for idle lunches.

Guyam is a small charming island you can explore in less than 30 minutes. The rock formations here, more visible during low tide, are what add to Guyam’s character.

Here’s a video of an island hopping adventure in Siargao:

 4. San Jose, Dinagat Islands

The province of Dinagat Islands, formerly a part of Surigao del Norte, and accessible via a ferry boat from Surigao City, is abundant with towering karsts, white beaches, and other natural wonders. In fact, Dennis Dolojan says it reminds him of El Nido, though off the beaten path. A full day would not be enough to explore these natural attractions, as Dennis describes his trip as “bitingly short.”

SIMILAR BEAUTY. Dinagat Islands’ landscape and seascape bare a resemblance to El Nido’s in Palawan. Photo by Dennis Dolojan

Among San Jose’s beaches, Dennis is particularly amazed with Bitaug beach, which he says has powdery white sand “comparable to Boracay’s famous sand.”

More photos of Dinagat Islands here: 

5. Britania Islands, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur

Off the coast of Surigao del Sur are fine white beaches and rocky islets covered with greenery. Britania Islands, one of the province’s best-kept secrets, is “the Hundred Islands of Pangasinan and the Chocolate Hills of Bohol combined,” according to Olan Fernandez Emboscado.

Most of the 24 islets can be seen during an island hopping tour, and Olan swears they “look like green mushrooms that sprouted out of the sea.”

And what’s more, the white beaches Olan walked on are powder-fine. The islands “promise to give every beach fanatic a beach experience truly without equal.”

6. Gumasa Beach, Glan, Sarangani

SILENT STRETCH. Gumasa promises a quiet time with the sea and sand. Photo by Jeanette Panganiban

Over an hour away from General Santos City is the quiet white paradise of Gumasa Beach. Though Gumasa has resorts, this beach is still “unexploited and underdeveloped,” notes Bonzenti Panganiban. You can enjoy a quiet walk along its shoreline – barefoot, if you wish, as the sand is quite fine. Bonzenti also suggests lying down, listening to the birds chirp and the waves crash, or looking up at the starry night sky. In the morning, you can buy fresh fish straight from the fisher folk’s early catch at farm gate prices.

7. Sta. Cruz Islands, Zamboanga City

DISAPPEARING SAND. Stepping on Little Sta. Cruz’s sandbar at high tide. Photo by Rhea Claire Madarang

While there are direct flights from Manila to Zamboanga City, this city is not exactly top of mind for vacationers. Which is a shame, as it has many natural wonders, one of them the pink beach of Sta. Cruz Islands.

The sand is pinkish because of crushed red organ pipe corals mixed with the white sand, though you have to get close to appreciate it.  For a beach just less than 30 minutes from the city, the Great Sta. Cruz Island looks untamed and idyllic. Some spots are powder-fine, too – great for walking barefoot. As with Gumasa, you can also buy cheap and fresh seafood in the island.

ONE-OF-A-KIND BEACH. Great Sta. Cruz Island’s distinct feature is its pinkish white sand, colored by powdered red coral. Photo by Rhea Claire Madarang

Also near Great Sta. Cruz Island is Small Sta. Cruz Island, which has a sandbar that is sometimes visible even at high tide.

So, have you picked your next beach destination yet? Take your pick and find your own piece of paradise. 

Or, if you’ve been to any other unspoiled white beaches in Mindanao, feel free to share in the comments section. – Rappler.com

Rhea Claire MadarangClaire 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.

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Rhea Claire Madarang

Claire Madarang is a traveler, writer, biodiversity communications practitioner, and facilitator of nature play activities. Follow her adventures, travel tips, and reflections on her blog Traveling Light and on her Instagram