Philippine tourism

Where the crowds don’t go: Lesser-known beaches in PH for chill vacations

Rainielle Kyle Guison
Where the crowds don’t go: Lesser-known beaches in PH for chill vacations

The Great Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga

City Government of Zamboanga's Facebook Page

A relaxing and uncrowded summer getaway is all we need!

MANILA, Philippines – Summer may be ending soon, but beaches are never a bad idea for a quick refresher, any time of the year! 

When it comes to popular tourist beach destinations, Boracay, La Union, and Palawan definitely are top of mind, but with eased travel restrictions, guests surely flock to these tourist spots. Not a great idea if you’re still wary about COVID-19, right?

Fret not, for there are still some hidden domestic travel gems to discover! With these underrated places, you’ll still get a breathtaking view, clear blue waters, a relaxing stay, and a ton of instagrammable shots with no photobombers.

Let’s take a tour around beaches where the crowds don’t go!

Sibang Cove, Cagayan

Pack your bags and don’t forget your sunblock because we will be traveling from north to south, starting with Sibang Cove, Calayan Island in Cagayan!

If you like some adventure before completely relaxing, Sibang Cove is the perfect getaway for you. This secluded beach is quite hard to reach, requiring a 30-minute to one and a half-hour walk from the town proper, with a wooden bridge to cross and two hills to climb. Although Sibang Cove takes effort to reach, we assure you that the picturesque view at the end is one for the books.

The fine sand and azure waters will have you enjoying your own La Union further up north. But it doesn’t stop here – if you’ve recharged a bit and have the energy to explore, you can also visit Cababaan Cove, which is much more pristine.

Just note that the waves here are stronger and not really meant for swimming. If you want to see a panoramic view of the area, you can visit the other side, which is the Caniwara Cove. Bonus: fishermen get their seafood here so might as well prepare your tummy!

Talisayen Cove, Zambales

Next on the list is the Talisayen Cove in San Antonio, Zambales, located south. Nestled among the known coves along the Zambales coastline, Talisayen is a quieter destination. The serenity that Talisayen Cove brings is said to be incomparable with its neighbors, Anawangin Cove and Nagsasa Beach, so bring your camping bags because this trip is overnight-worthy!

One thing that Talisayen can offer is its ash-mixed sand due to the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption. You might even say that you’re walking on a piece of history while the clear waters touch your feet along its black coastline.

But how secluded is this beach? Three words: No cell reception. If you’re lucky and energetic enough, you might catch a signal if you hike up to the viewpoint. But why stress about instantly uploading photos? We advise you to turn off your data connection, take some photos, and enjoy the majestic landscape, because by midnight, electricity is turned off.

With no bright artificial lights, stargazing would be just perfect, especially if you’re with a special someone. Cozy up and count the stars or light up a bonfire to level off the cool evening breeze; the world is yours for the night.

Cresta de Gallo, Romblon

In the heart of the country, Romblon hides several marvels, and one of these is the Cresta de Gallo islet. The two beautiful white sandbars and the brightest blue waters surrounding it will leave you in a trance; you’ll probably be thinking that you are in the Maldives.

There is not much to do on the island, but the incredible sight is more than enough to satisfy. If you’re into videography or photography, it would be great to bring a drone on this trip because the view from above is even better. Be sure to put on your sunblock because walking along the sandbars will leave you sunburnt, but you can always take a quick dip in the surrounding ocean to cool off.

FYI: travel might be a bit costly because it’s a remote island, which means you’d have to rent a boat or two. The trick to this is to bring a big group, so you can split the costs. Boats can usually accommodate four to eight people.

Momo Beach, Bohol

Momo Beach is one of several beaches located in Panglao, Bohol. Panglao was listed as one of the 15 best secret beaches in the world in 2012 by Travel+Leisure magazine. Since then, tourists have visited the island for a relaxing getaway, and especially when Boracay closed down for renovation in 2018.

Momo Beach is quieter than the developed shores of Panglao, which are Alona and Dumaluan. The beach has fine white sand and crystal blue waters just like Boracay, but without the hustle and bustle of crowd-filled resorts.

If you want to stay overnight, there are some resorts nearby. If you only want a day trip, we advise you to bring some snacks and refreshers as there are limited food options outside the resorts. Don’t forget: clean as you go!

Our last tip is to stay until dusk because Momo Beach is known for its amazing sunsets. 

Great Sta. Cruz Island, Zamboanga

Down south is Zamboanga’s pink beach on the Great Sta. Cruz island! Back in 2017, the island was listed as one of the best beaches in the world by National Geographic

The sand’s blush color comes from billions of pieces of crushed red organ-pipe coral. The pink hue won’t really be as bright in person, but visitors say that the color is seen better when the sand gets wet.

Activities on the island can range from swimming to volleyball to snorkeling. If this is the kind of vacation you are looking for, make sure to secure a slot in advance. You may not have the island all to yourselves, but tourist capping can guarantee a limited number of visitors.

The Philippines has 7,641 islands and it’s no surprise that there’s more to explore during the summertime aside from the already-known tourist attractions. Now that you know some of them, book that well-deserved trip to your lesser-known dream destination! – 

Rainielle Kyle Guison is a Rappler intern.

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