Boracay side trip
BURUANGA, Aklan — Australian Phillip Arthur Farmer and his Filipino wife, Brigida “Hayde” Araiz, were vacationing on Boracay Island in Malay town in 2012 when they decided to check out the beaches of neighboring Buruanga town in Aklan province.
“I wanted three days of peace and quiet,” said Farmer, a health and physical education instructor in Perth.
When they saw the pristine white beaches, crystal clear waters and forested mountains, they fell in love with the place.
After managing a private resort in Alegria village, the couple in 2015 bought a 2,500-square-meter property in Hinugtan Beach along a 500-meter cove in the adjacent village of Bel-is.
At first, they envisioned the place to be a private resort where they would stay when on vacation from work in Australia. They later decided to build and rent out cottages to help maintain the resort.
Last year, they posted White Beach Front and Cottages resort on the online accommodation booking site Airbnb and on Facebook, hoping to get guests once every two months.
“We were surprised with the number of bookings, and we soon needed a full staff,” Farmer said.
White Beach Front and Cottages is among four privately owned resorts that offer day tour or stay-in accommodations.
An increasing number of tourists looking for a hideaway and avoiding popular but crowded beach destinations has been going to the Hinugtan Beach along the western coastline of Aklan on Panay Island.
The beach is accessible to guests only by boat from Alegria because the road connecting the beach to the municipal main road is still being constructed.
It has become a favorite side-trip destination for tourists visiting Boracay Island about 30 to 40 minutes from Hinugtan. Many of the tourists stay for several days or weeks.
Rich, diverse marine life
“It’s a perfect place, a paradise. We have coconut trees and forests, largely untouched marine life, crystal clear waters and flat white beach,” Farmer said.
The cove also has a rich and diverse marine life.
A professional diver has recorded at least 1,200 species of sea slugs in the area, according to Farmer.
The beach is ideal for snorkeling, scuba diving with fish and other marine life visible just a few meters from the shoreline.
Visitors can also trek the mountain, which has several caves, and visit popular diving sites nearby.
Farmer said he had been limiting the number of guests, even turning away large groups at times, so that guests can enjoy tranquility in the resort.
Even during summer, a visitor can have the beach by oneself or with a few companions and be charmed by stunning sunsets. At night, guests can stay at the cabana and listen to waves lapping on the shore.
Hinugtan Beach is ideal for those seeking to de-stress and disconnect from work as mobile phone signals are almost nonexistent.
“I always tell the people how lucky they are to have a place like this and how important it is to preserve the beauty of this place,” Farmer said.
He cited the need to regulate tourism activities to preserve the environment and to avoid the problems being encountered by popular tourist destinations like Boracay.
Mary Ann Perjes, Buruanga tourism officer, said the municipality had been drawing up programs and regulations to ensure that the beach would be protected.
Surprised by the interest the town generated last year, tourism officials were set to meet with property owners to come up with measures that would ensure the protection of the place’s natural beauty, Perjes said.
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