The year 2013 looks very promising for the Philippines in terms of tourism. Why not? DOT did an amazing job in launching and promoting the "It's More Fun in the Philippines" tourism campaign in 2012. It's no wonder that the country is recently getting the limelight it deserves as major international publications agree that Philippines is one of the top destinations in the world for 2013.
To name a few: Condé Nast Traveller included Philippines on its list of top 10 "Destinations to watch out for 2013", Travel+Leisure Magazine also named the Philippines as one of the 13 “Hottest Travel Destinations of 2013”, Lonely Planet included the country, specifically Palawan, among the top 10 "Best regions to visit in the world for 2013" and most recently, New York Times placed Philippines at number 17 on its list of "46 Places to Go in 2013".
Needless to say, our countless, incredibly beautiful beaches are among the 7,107 reasons why tourists from different corners around the globe love to come and visit our country. That's why instead of making my usual year-end post (just like what I did for 2011), I decided to list my top 15 personal favorites from among the numerous beach destinations I was fortunate to visit in 2012, which I also recommend for you to visit this 2013 (in case you haven't).
Philippines is not only about Boracay which is why I encourage everyone to explore these other beach destinations as well. Aren't we lucky to have these wonderful beaches just within our reach? I sorted the list in order of my visit as it's really hard to choose which one is better over the other. :)
1. Guisi Beach, Guimaras
One of the nicest beaches I've visited in January was Guisi Beach in Guimaras Island. This was the first time I set foot in Guisi and I was instantly held captive by its charm. The crystal clear water in varying shades of green is really impressive and the seclusion it offers as compared to other public beaches in the island makes it a must-visit for a relaxing and peaceful beach getaway. Also, don't forget to take a glimpse of its history by visiting the Guisi old lighthouse and ruins.
2. Alubihod Beach, Guimaras
Alubihod Beach took me by surprise when I came to see it again after a decade. This was not the kind of beach that I was familiar of (when I was still living in Iloilo City) because it looks more beautiful now -- the immaculately clean sandy beach makes my admiration of the place grow even more. It is also the jump-off point if you plan to do island hopping in Guimaras. You can read more about my trip to Alubihod here.
3. Banol Beach, Coron, Palawan
February is the month of love and I definitely fell in love once again with Palawan. Setting foot in Coron for the first time, I never knew what to expect but I was blown away by the beautiful lakes, amazing marine life and superb beaches in this part of Palawan. One of the beaches that stood out for me was Banol Beach simply because of its powdery white sand and warm turquoise water. Due to the unfavorable weather condition, we weren't able to visit the other beaches but had we pushed through with it, Malcapuya and/or Banana Island could have probably made it on my list. If you're looking for a budget accommodation in Coron, I recommend Patrik and Tezz Guesthouse.
4. Cagbalete Island, Quezon
One of my solo trips in 2012 included the trip to the majestic island of Cagbalete in Mauban, Quezon Province. The island is famous for the occurrence of low tide where water can recede up to one kilometer from the shore. The trip to Cagbalete Island is a combination of peaceful vacation and adventure due to its remote location and the different type of activities it offers. I advise to go there on weekdays just like what I did -- I was the only guest in Villa Cleofas during my entire stay in March. You can read more about my solo adventure and travel tips here.
5. Sumilon Island, Cebu
I did not know about Sumilon Island until a few days before my solo trip in Central Visayas in April. Sumilon is popular for its shifting sandbar that changes shape and shifting location depending on the season. My jaw literally dropped in amazement when I saw the astoundingly crystal clear, turquoise waters surrounding the island. Sumilon is actually a private island where the luxurious Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort is located. If you can't afford to stay there overnight, you can explore the island by availing their Day Tour package. The trip can also be combined with the whale shark interaction in Oslob.
6. Salagdoong Beach, Siquijor
The vibrant turquoise waters of Salagdoong Beach in Siquijor absolutely impressed me. I can't remember how many times I said wow when I laid my eyes on it. I must admit I was disappointed by the commercialization but one cannot deny its natural beauty. I did not know Siquijor has some of the best beaches in the country. In fact, the impression about Siquijor (that scares off most visitors) was off my mind while I was there. Its overwhelming beauty has completely changed my perception about the island.
7. Snake Island, El Nido, Palawan
El Nido, Palawan is probably one of my top favorite Philippine destinations. It has some of the most stunning beaches, enchanting lagoons and interesting caves in the country. It isn't called the Philippines' Last Frontier for nothing. One of the islands in El Nido that holds such alluring beauty is the Snake Island, or Vigan Island, that features a sandbar that shapes like a snake. The view from the top of the island is definitely marvelous. This was my second trip to El Nido but my first time to visit the island. I don't mind coming back again and again.
8. Cudugnon Beach, El Nido, Palawan
One of the less popular island hopping destinations in El Nido, Palawan is the beach found near Cudugnon Cave. The main attraction here is the cave (which is part of Tour B) but I find the beach truly gorgeous for my taste. I could stay here all day long and let myself soak up the serenity and pristine beauty of the place. Ahh.. paradise found. If you want to know some tips on how to travel to El Nido on a budget, click here.
9. Pinagbuyutan Island, El Nido, Palawan
Pinagbuyutan is another charming island in El Nido, Palawan. From afar its shape is striking and it has one of the most spectacular landscapes in El Nido. The towering limestone walls and massive rock formations are remarkably breathtaking. Its long stretch of very fine white sand feels so good in the feet. It's a beach lovers haven. You can watch the short clip I took at the farthest end of the beach here.
10. Simizu Island, El Nido, Palawan
This was my second time to visit Simizu Island (or some call it Shimizu) but it never failed to wow me. This time we docked in the less crowded part of the island where we enjoyed the privacy for a moment. The island has some interesting landscapes because of the massive limestone mountains and impressive rock formations. What truly captivates me is its pristine tropical waters that's why it's a popular location for fish feeding and snorkeling activities in El Nido. The underwater marine life is as amazing as the landscape and seascape above the water.
11. Nacpan-Calitang Twin Beach, El Nido, Palawan
Found in the lesser known part of El Nido is the Nacpan and Calitang twin beach in Barangay Bucana. It's unspoiled, scenic and breathtaking that it truly defines paradise. It's probably one of the most gorgeous beaches I've seen. About one hour way from the town center, the road to this destination is quite a challenge but it's the kind of trip you won't regret to take. You can read more about my trip to Nacpan-Calitang beach here.
12. Bantayan Island, Cebu
It's my second time to travel to Cebu in August (the first time was only in the southern part) so I made sure to explore the beautiful beaches in the northern part this time. The popular Sta. Fe beach may not look good during rainy/windy season but we discovered that the other side (near the pier) is completely the opposite, that means it looks nice, which we least expected it to be. We enjoyed the calm, clean waters and fine white sand that we never minded basking under the sun. Another thing that makes me want to go back to Bantayan is the tranquil and laid-back ambiance of the island.
13. Bounty Beach, Malapascua Island, Cebu
After an overnight trip to Bantayan, we found ourselves in the unspoiled island of Malapascua. I was totally mesmerized by the azure-blue green water and ivory-colored sands of Bounty Beach. The beach has striking resemblance of Boracay (maybe about 20 years ago) -- without the crowds and rowdy nightlife. I don't dive, but just in case you do, Malapascua Island is known as one of the best diving sites in the Philippines. Island hopping and snorkeling are also recommended activities in Malapascua if you want to explore the astonishing coral gardens and other interesting snorkeling spots in the island.
14. Marcos Island, Hundred Islands National Park, Alaminos, Pangasinan
There are literally at least a hundred islands (124 to be specific) found in Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos City, Pangasinan. It is one of the Philippine destinations that I've been wanting to visit and see in person (not just on Elementary and High School textbooks). Out the many islands we've visited, Marcos Island is one of those that captured my attention. The compact fine sand and emerald green waters are very inviting. Another interesting attraction in the island is the Bat Cave where you can jump into its pool of blue-green water. If ever I return to Hundred Islands, I would prefer to visit the islands that are less commercialized and less crowded.
15. Patar Beach, Bolinao, Pangasinan
I was surprised by the number of awe-inspiring attractions Pangasinan has to offer -- and that includes the unspoiled beach of Barangay Patar in the municipality of Bolinao. What makes Patar beach unique from other beaches in the country is its golden-colored sands. Click here for the closer look of the sand. If you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, Patar Beach is one of my easy recommendations for a relaxing weekend trip.
I originally thought of highlighting only the top 10 but some are too good to be left out. So from among the list above, how many have you been to? Which of these are you planning to visit soon? Share in the comments below!