Being an archipelago comprised of a staggering 7,107 islands, the Philippines has no shortage of beaches. The capital of Manila is a great hub to island hop and find the ideal beach destination to match your preferences. Our advice: First fly into Manila and stay in a hotel for at least a couple of nights, since the capital has so much to offer in forms of food and exploration, such as the Pagsanjan Falls Tour or the Traditional Dinner and Show, both of which we highly recommend.
Our best advice is to use Manila as your base camp and explore from there. It’s a cheap flight out of Manila to any of the surrounding islands, all of which have much better beaches. A couple of which are, Dumaguete and Santa Lucia. Santa Lucia is a secluded beach just north of Manila and is a quick drive away from the legendary hanging coffins in Sagada. If you’re in the mood to get away from everyone and have a beach to yourself, this is the spot. Dumaguete is a 45-minute flight south of Manila and makes a lovely day trip. The beaches offer access to cooler water, and more importantly, whale sharks. Most of the major diving trips to swim with whale sharks leave from Dumaguete. It’s also a ferry hub to Siquijor.
Viewfinder Tip: Bring your own sunscreen as it can be scarce on Siquijor.
Our trip to the Philippines was primarily to explore a very unique and magical island. Siquijor, the island once labeled, “Isla del Fuego,” translated “Island of Fire” by Spanish explorers, got its nickname from the eery glow that hovered above it. This glow was said to be from the abundance of fireflies that once inhabited the isle. The fireflies have since vanished, but the island still maintains its bewitching aura. Said to be home to healers and witches, the island is renowned for its enchanting inhabitants.
Our first glimpse of Palitan Beach
Unlike the boisterous, more popular islands in the Philippines, Siquijor has a quiet lethargy to it. That’s what makes its beaches just as magical as the healers and witches that inhabit the island. You can only get to the island via ferry from nearby Dumaguete. Since it’s not packed with tourist bars and a hopping nightlife, it remains a place of sheer relaxation. One doesn’t need to fight for prime beach space with a million other sunburned tourists. The sand is pristine and the water crystal clear. Combine that with the coral reefs that surround the island and you’ve got yourself some of the best diving in the country.
The stunning sunset on our last night in Siquijor
Palitan Beach is a true gem of the island. Lined with bowing palm trees, Palitan’s white sand and clear water enticingly beckon you to join them. Apart from a local family, we were the only ones there upon arriving. We quickly found ourselves sharing stories with the parents over bottles of rum as we watched their small children frolic in the waves. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the beauty of the island and make friends with the locals.
The beaches of Siquijor aren’t only alluring during the day. It was on our last night on the island that we were awed by one of the most ravishing sunsets we have ever laid eyes on. As it cast its pink, red, and orange rays across the sky, the reflection from the ocean lit up the entire beach in front of us. It was at that moment that we realized that “Isla del Fuego“ remains a perfect moniker for the island.
Keep in mind that there are literally thousands of beaches in the Philippines. When visiting, take your time to sample as many as you can around Manila, but we would encourage you to head over to Siquijor Island to have an experience that is truly enchanting.
What are your favorite ways to explore the beaches of an island?