AltBoracay: North Luzon beaches beckon as Boracay signs off | Inquirer News

AltBoracay: North Luzon beaches beckon as Boracay signs off

[Editor’s Note: This series, called “AltBoracay,” introduces readers to alternative sites they may explore in different parts of the country, following the six-month closure and rehabilitation of Boracay Island in Aklan province, the Philippines’ top tourist destination.]

First of a series

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Magalawa Island

FEATURED STORIES

This summer, bask in the sun and have a brisk, scenic quiet walk along the cream beige, powdery sand surrounded by turquoise waters off Magalawa Island, a tourism jewel in Palauig town, Zambales province.

Facing the West Philippine Sea, this secluded island getaway is found in northern Zambales. For urban dwellers who crave for some time off from city life, Magalawa is off the beaten path—a perfect tropical alternative to rather more popular but crowded beaches across the country.

Magalawa Island’s calm and clear waters are teeming with marine life. —JOANNA AGLIBOT

The 56-hectare island barangay, situated 6 kilometers northwest of the poblacion (town center), is accented by calm and clear water teeming with marine life. Mangroves, sea grass, coral reefs and lukewarm water with a gentle surf are found here.

Visitors can snorkel in clear water 10 meters off the shore that offers magnificent view underneath.

“You will be amazed by the starfish underneath. It was like stargazing under the sea,” said Ellen Manuel, 18, of Metro Manila.

The island also boasts of a picturesque sandbar that spans about 100 meters, perfect for those who want a leisurely walk while soaking up sunshine in the morning or watching the sunset in the afternoon.

There are overnight and day-trip cottages, shower rooms with toilet, a “sari-sari” (variety) store, and a beach volleyball court. Among the big draws are the banana boat or dragon boat ride and jet skiing.

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Have lunch on a floating restaurant or floating cottages pulled by a small motorized boat.

GETTING THERE

Take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) then Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) to Iba, Zambales.

As one p asses by Iba market, keep right toward Banlog Triangle. From Banlog Triangle keep right and head north to Pangolingan in Palauig town, crossing a bridge in Barangay Salaza where you see the “Welcome to Pangolingan” signage.

Take the Veritas Road going to Luan Port where one can take a boat going to Magalawa Island. Travel time is about 10 to 15 minutes.

For commuters, take a Victory Liner bus bound for Sta. Cruz or Iba, Zambales, from Pasay, Cubao or Caloocan terminal. The trip will take from six to seven hours. Get off in Barangay Pangolingan where tricycles are available.

Take a tricycle going to Oslet Armada Fishdealer Compound in Barangay Luan. Ride a boat to Magalawa Island. Travel time is about 10 minutes.

Pangasinan white sand beaches

With a 286-kilometer coastline connecting 14 towns and cities from San Fabian town to Infanta town, Pangasinan’s white sand beaches are comparable with Boracay.

In Sual,  Masamirey Cove at Barangay Baybay Norte is described as the town’s hidden paradise, with its white sand beach and clear waters.

A resort there offers water activities such as snorkeling, jet skiing, kayaking, coast line fishing and a boat tour to the Hundred Islands National Park in neighboring Alaminos City.

In Bani, Olanen Beach in Barangay Dacap Sur is a long white sand beach facing the West Philippine Sea. The town also boasts of  Surip Beach where visitors can enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling and recreational fishing.

Bolinao town has Patar Beach, which is known as the “Boracay of the North” because of its cream sand and blue waters ideal for swimming and other water activities.

Pangasinan’s only island town of Anda has  Tondol Beach in Barangay Tondol at the northern tip. The beach is famous for its long fine white sand. Resorts and accommodation facilities are available in the area.

Farther west, Burgos town’s short rocky shoreline has a patch of white sand beach stretching on the shores of Barangay Ilio-ilio. The beach is often visited so resorts and accommodation facilities are readily available.

Cabongaoan beach in Burgos town is perfect for tourists longing for a quiet escape. WILLIE LOMIBAO

Aside from its white beach, another tourist draw in Burgos is its depth pool, a natural tidal pool in the rocky coast north of Ilio-ilio.

In Dasol town, the white sand beach straddles the villages of Tambobong and Osmeña, 18 km from the main highway. Aside from swimming in Dasol’s calm waters, visitors can take a boat ride to  Colibra Island, or Crocodile Island or simply watch the sunset.

GETTING THERE

By bus, Sual, Burgos and Dasol towns may be reached by taking a Victory Liner bus in Dagupan City for Sta. Cruz, Zambales. Regular buses and vans bound for Bani and Bolinao are also available in Dagupan City. A bus regularly travels to Anda from Metro Manila.

From the Alaminos-Sual Highway, the Masamirey Cove is 17 km away or a 32-minute drive via the Sual thermal power plant access road.

Patar Beach is 15 km from the Bolinao town center and can be reached from there in 30 minutes by car.

From the town center, the beaches in Sual can be reached in 30 minutes. Tondol Beach in Anda is a 30-minute drive via well-paved roads. The beach in Barangay Ilio-ilio in Burgos is 22 km from the town center, and can be reached by car in 45 minutes.

Badoc to Pagudpud

Tourists from Metro Manila and nearby provinces frequently stop at Badoc town, Ilocos Norte province, for its picture-perfect welcome arc inspired by St. Augustine Church in Paoay town, listed as one of Unesco World Heritage Sites.

Just a few meters from the Badoc gateway is the entrance to a beach cove with floating cottages ideal for swimming and picnic at Barangay La Virgen Milagrosa.

On the same site stands an open-air chapel built to commemorate the arrival of  La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc. The image was believed to have come from Japan and was sent floating into the sea by missionaries fleeing that country.

Families and groups can stay at floating cottages in Barangay La Virgen Milagrosa, Badoc. —LEILANIE ADRIANO

For those looking for adventure, a boat ride for 15 to 25 minutes can take them to Badoc, a privately owned island with powdery white sand that is open for swimming.

Also the birthplace of painter Juan Luna, Badoc has other tourist spots, such as the Juan Luna Shrine, a reconstructed two-story house of the painter, revolutionary Gen. Antonio Luna and violinist Manuel Luna, and St. John the Baptist Parish Church, also known as  Badoc Church.

From Badoc, tourists can visit the Pangil coral rocks formation in nearby Currimao town. The area, which serves as a fish sanctuary, is also ideal for sightseeing and swimming.

A resort and several cottages are accessible should they want to watch the sunset and stay for a night. The beautiful landscape has been used as one of the settings of television series “Bagani.”

The town of Pagudpud is also a haven for foreign and local tourists for its white sand beaches, which, some say, are comparable with those found in Hawaii.

Take the clean and traffic-free roads and head for Pagudpud’s blue lagoon. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of nature on top of a ridge similar to the rolling hills and rock formations of Batanes.

For those who need to stay away from crowded beaches, Pagudpud has Saud and Caparispisan beaches. Resorts, houses that offer homestay services and restaurants abound in the area.

GETTING THERE

From Metro Manila, take a Farinas or Florida bus going to Laoag City or Pagudpud. Alight at the new market in Badoc town, ride a tricycle going to Barangay La Virgen Milagrosa, about 8 km away. Visitors can hire a boat going to Badoc Island.

Next to Badoc is Currimao town. From the Gaang crossing, get a tricycle going to Pangil coral rocks formation, about 2-3 km away.

From Manila, take a bus to Cagayan, get off near the still being constructed Pagudpud market in Barangay Maoini. Saud and Caparispisan beaches can be reached by tricycle from the town proper.

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