Zombie apocalypse. Imagine it happening in Manila. Over 12 million people in one dense megacity. The chaos. The desperation. The paranoia. The nagging stress.
Sounds familiar? If your life in the city feels like you’re in an episode of The Walking Dead minus the zombies, you probably need a little break. (Or a long one, if your tired routine slowly turns you into a walker day after day.) The bad news is, there really isn’t any beach in Manila that wouldn’t try to poison you with trash. (Cue: “Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura?”) The good news is, Manila’s friendly neighbors are here to the rescue!
Metro Manila’s surrounding provinces are blessed with miles of gorgeous beaches! The usual crowd-magnets — Laiya in Batangas, Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro, and Anawangin Cove in Zambales — are popular for a reason and are still worth a visit (if you don’t mind the thick swarms of tourists especially during summer). Others are yet to be “discovered” by most urban dwellers.
Save those airfare bucks because here are 13 beach destinations that do not require you to fly and are all within 5 hours of the metro.
But first, here are time saving tips:
- Be an early bird. Leave in the early morning not just so you could have more time at the beach, but also to avoid the heavy rush hour traffic. You’ll be surprised how much time you will be wasting just to get out of the city if you leave when the sun is out. (Or maybe that’s not surprising at all.)
- Take the Expressway. This one’s obvious if you’re driving but not if you’re taking public transportation. Choose the bus that takes the short cut. For example, if you’re Batangas City-bound, there are two routes that transport companies use. The first one passes through the cities of Tanauan and Lipa, which entails braving the traffic and making a dozen stops. This makes the travel time a lot longer. The other takes the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (what they commonly refer to STAR Tollway or CALABARZON Expressway), which goes straight to Batangas City and bypasses all the others. Board the bus with the CALABARZON sign and you’ll be in your destination in 2 hours or shorter.
And now, here’s the list:
1. San Antonio, Zambales
Beaches: Nagsasa Cove, Silanguin Cove, Anawangin Cove, Talisayin Cove. Their coasts are blanketed with volcanic ash straight from the guts of Mt. Pinatubo. It’s a Baguio-meets-Boracay world out there; thanks to the agoho trees rising from the ashes (literally).
Don’t miss: Fishing! The waters of San Antonio are rich. If you have the skill and the patience (or you just want to give it a try), ask your boatman about fishing tours.
How to get there: Travel by bus to Iba or Sta. Cruz, Zambales and get off at San Antonio Public Market (P250-P270, 4 hours). Take a tricycle to Pundaquit (P30, 10-15 minutes). From here, boat tours cost P1000 for Anawangin, P1500 for Nagsasa, and P2000 for Silanguin. Add P500 if you want to make a stop at Capones and Camara Islands.
Tour package? Contact Harry Balais of 7107 Islands Tours at +639176274945.
More info here –> Anawangin and Nagsasa Cove Travel Guide
2. Calatagan, Batangas
Beaches: Burot Beach is the best beach in this part of Calatagan.
Don’t miss: Cape Santiago Lighthouse. Built in 1890, it is one of the oldest lighthouses in the Philippines that continue to function. The construction began on December 15, 1890, led by Engineer Magin Pers y Pers, and was completed by Guillermo Brockman.
How to get there: At EDSA-Taft, there are vans and buses that carry passengers straight to Calatagan (P200, 3-4 hours). From the town center, take a tricycle to the lighthouse (P150-P200, 20-30 minutes).
More info here –> Calatagan Lighthouse
3. Malabrigo, Lobo, Batangas
Beaches: Malabrigo Point. No white sand here, either, but its beaches are strewn with smooth medium-size pebbles.
Don’t miss: Submarine Garden, where the water is so crystal clear, you can see live corals and other life forms even without goggles. Also, the Malabrigo Lighthouse can be easily accessed from Malabrigo!
How to get there: Board the bus to Batangas City and alight at Balagtas or Diversion (P150-180, 2-3 hours). From here, ride a jeepney or tricycle to SM Batangas and get off at the Batangas-Lobo terminal. Board a jeepney to Lobo (P53, 1 hour), then a tricycle to Malabrigo (P100, 15 minutes).
More info here –> Malabrigo Beach
4. Nasugbu-Lian, Batangas
Beaches: The sand at Bamboo Beach and Tali Beach in mainland Nasugbu isn’t sparkling white (not white at all), but it doesn’t make it any less relaxing. It is also home to Olive Ridley turtles that visit to nest each year. Hamilo Coast is also a good spot.
Don’t miss: Fortune Island, a short boat ride away. It is surrounded by shipwreck diving sites including the Dutch warship Mauritius, which sank on December 14, 1600. Also, the Greek-style ruins are perfect beach selfie setting. (We got you at selfie, yes?)
How to get there: From EDSA-Taft, take the BLTB bus to Nasugbu (P155-170, 2.5-4 hours). All the beaches are accessible by jeepney or tricycle. If going to Matabungkay, take the bus or van to Calatagan and tell the conductor to drop you off at the junction to Matabungkay (3-4 hours).
5. Laiya, San Juan, Batangas
Beaches: Laiya Aplaya, laced with White sand spread over a long stretch!
Don’t miss: Batangueno dishes. You’re in Batangas, dig in to a bowl of sticky lomi and sinaing na tulingan!
How to get there: Take the bus to Lipa City and get off at the bus terminal (1.5-2 hours). Ride a jeepney bound for San Juan, and when you reach the town market, take another jeepney to Laiya.
6. Anilao, Mabini, Batangas
Beaches: Anilao is more of a diving mecca than a powdery paradise — it is widely regarded as the birthplace of scuba diving in the Philippines — but there are pockets of white sand hidden in between its rocky promontories.
Don’t miss: Mt. Gulugod Baboy! It’s an easy, fun climb with breathtaking views of Balayan Bay. Or, conquer the deep blue sea and learn how to scuba dive!
How to get there: Ride the bus to Batangas City Grand Terminal (P150-170, 2-3 hours) then a jeepney to Anilao (P35, 45 minutes).
7. Tingloy, Batangas
Beaches: Masasa Beach, Sepoc Point, Sombrero Island. They’re all completely isolated from the rest of Batangas. Masasa Beach, for example, has no resorts on site. It could give you the peace of mind you’ve always been chasing!
Don’t miss: If you have more energy, climb the nearby hill and meet Mag-asawang Bato, a curious rock formation on top of it!
How to get there: Ride the bus to Batangas City Grand Terminal (P150-170, 2-3 hours) then a jeepney to Anilao (P35, 45 minutes). From here you have 2 options. If you’re staying overnight, try to catch the 10:30am public boat to Tingloy (P70, 50 minutes). If not, charter a private boat for an island hopping tour for P2500.
8. Subic, Zambales
Beaches: It may not be as fair as Boracay or Laiya, but Halfmoon Beach is a decent beach getaway with grayish sand hugged by gentle waves.
Don’t miss: Duty-free shopping! Aside from the beaches, you might want to take a look at the stores on your way back to Manila. Beach + retail therapy. No other formula is more effective in relieving stress.
How to get there: Travel by bus to Olongapo City (P207 via Old Olongapo-Gapan Road, P235 via SCTEX, P280 via SCTEX non-stop). Travel time is around 4 hours. Take a jeepney to the freeport.
9. Morong, Bataan
Beach: Nagbalayong Beach
Don’t miss: Pawikan Conservation Center. Morong celebrates Pawikan Festival every November, but you might still want to visit the center for more info about our turtle friends!
How to get there: Take Victory Liner or Bataan Transit bus to Olongapo City ((P207 via Old Olongapo-Gapan Road, P235 via SCTEX, P280 via SCTEX non-stop; around 4 hours). Take another bus or jeepney to Morong, Bataan (45-60 minutes).
10. Padre Burgos-Pagbilao, Quezon
Beaches: Dampalitan Island and Puting Buhangin (Kuwebang Lampas) are your usual white sand beaches, but Borawan Beach has something else to brag about, karst cliffs! Borawan, however, can get too crowded during peak season.
Don’t miss: Stargazing. No electricity, you won’t have that many options at night.
How to get there: Board the bus to Lucena Grand Terminal (P250-P260, 3.5 hours) and another bus to Unisan (P35-40, 45-75 minutes). Get off at QCRB Bank in Padre Burgos and take a trike to Aplaya (15 minutes). You’ll find boats for rent here.
List of Expenses: Borawan Budget Travel Guide
Tour package? Contact Harry Balais of 7107 Islands Tours at +639176274945.
11. Ternate-Maragondon, Cavite
Beaches: Marine Base/Boracay de Cavite.
Don’t miss: Aside from swimming and lazing on the beach, this part of Cavite is popular among hikers and mountaineers for its rugged terrain (Parrot’s Beak, Mt. Marami, and the rest of Maragondon Peaks). Also, Mt. Palay-Palay National Park is worth a visit.
How to get there: Saulog Transit offers direct rides from Manila to Ternate, Cavite (P94).
12. Hundred Islands, Pangasinan
Beaches: Governor’s Island, Quezon Island, Children’s Island. Hundred islands, man. Can’t enumerate them all.
How to get there: Victory Liner, Five Star, and Dagupan Bus are among bus companies that have daily trips to Alaminos (P393, 3.5-4.5 hours). Take a tricycle ride to the Lucap Wharf (10 minutes).
13. Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro
Beaches: White Beach, Sabang Beach, Haligi Beach, Bulabod Beach
Don’t miss: Dolphin watching! In 2007, a study by the Smithsonian Institute described it as the “center of the center” of the world’s marine biodiversity citing the high concentration of marine species. The best places to see marine mammals here are the Lubang Islands and Batangas Bay, but most dolphin and whale watching tours are offered in Puerto Galera.
How to get there: Take the bus to Batangas Pier (P150-P170, 2-3 hours) and board a ferry to Puerto Galera (P250-P280, 60-75 minutes).
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