While the Philippines is still closed to Israeli tourists, the local government has recently eased entry restrictions on visitors from low-risk countries such as UAE and Thailand, and sources say the country is preparing for the return of tourism, launching a new campaign to unveil some of the Philippines’ most pristine beaches.
The beauty of these islands has already captured the world, with Palawan Island named one of the 30 Best Beaches in the World by Conde Nast Traveler, while Boracay was recognized as one of the World’s Best Island Beaches in the 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards.
According to Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, the Philippines Department of Tourism (DOT) has been hard at work during the pandemic. “Once international travel resumes, we are ready to welcome visitors again to our famous beach destinations like Boracay and showcase our undiscovered gems and other improved tourist attractions that are just as beautiful and relaxing.”
Visit Philippines recently tweeted that around 50% of tourism workers across the Philippines are now vaccinated against COVID-19.
As reported by CNN Philippines, DOT is studying the Sandbox Pilot adopted by the Thai government in opening Phuket to fully vaccinated foreign tourists. Furthermore, Secretary Romulo-Puyat is optimistic that all tourism workers will be vaccinated “before Christmas.”
In the spirit of optimism, here is a list of some “undiscovered gems,” namely seven secluded beaches offering wide open spaces and the ultimate escape from confinement. Save these recs for your next visit to the land of magical islands.
Bantayan Island, Cebu
Located at the northernmost tip of Cebu, the island boasts stunning sandy beaches and eco-tourism. The Mactan Cebu International Airport is easily accessible by bus, and the journey will take you on a scenic drive, then a short ferry ride to the island. Activities on the island include swimming, cliff diving, kayaking, and even skydiving. You can also soak up the local culture by visiting local fishermen, producing savory dried fish as their primary source of livelihood.
Kalanggaman Island, Leyte
Crystal-clear waters surround this long stretch of beach, with a white powdery sandbar just perfect for a long stroll and taking lots of photos. There are no big resorts on Kalanggaman Island, and crowds are kept at bay as the local municipality caps the number of tourists that can visit per day. If you want to spend the night, you can stay at native cottages or set up camp along the strip of beach and watch the starry skies.
Secret Beach, El Nido, Palawan
Framed by towering cliffs and turquoise waters, this hidden El Nido paradise awaits discovery by travelers who want to experience the thrill of finding a true gem. The beach is accessible only by swimming through a crevice, with limestone rocks protruding just above the water.
Sugar Beach, Sipalay, Negros Occidental
This aptly-named beach in the province of Negros Occidental is mainly known to locals, who love to spend their lazy summer afternoons swimming in these azure waters. Here, you can catch a beautiful sunset while listening to the waves lapping the warm brown sand. Activities include snorkeling and paddleboarding, or you can take a refreshing dip in the calm blue waters.
Mantigue Island, Camiguin Province
A 20-minute scenic boat trip from the eastern side of Camiguin Island will bring you to this gleaming white sand island framed by lush greenery. This 4-hectare slice of tropical wonderland is famous among divers due to the endangered hawksbill turtle frequently sighted here. It is indeed a diver’s dream come true, as the clear waters are teeming with colorful and rare marine creatures, including colorful clownfish, nudibranchs, frogfish, sharks, and dense schools of fish swimming against a backdrop of amazing gardens of corals.
Guyam, Daku, and Naked Island, Surigao del Norte
Siargao is fast becoming a favorite surfing destination for locals and tourists alike, but if you want to experience the more idyllic side of the province, book a boat tour that will take you on a day-long island hopping among small secluded sandbars. Guyam is a small circular island with swaying coconut trees and beach huts, while Naked Island, as the name implies, is a bare beach with deep waters suited for scuba diving. Daku, meaning ‘big’ in the local dialect, is large enough to be home to a small, amicable fishing community.
Calaguas Island, Camarines Norte
This island’s white sand and blue seawater in Camarines Norte have become a popular destination among local beach lovers who want a quick getaway from urban life. Among the myriad activities available for travelers are swimming, catching unobstructed sunrise and sunset views, and heading to the neighboring Tinaga island to trek on its rolling hills.