Underdog Sands: 5 Philippine Beaches to Visit on a Budget

There’s only such a small window of time in the transition from winter to summer before what is wet and cold becomes too hot and humid. This perfect window of time and temperature calls for the perfect vacation at the perfect beach – and Boracay isn’t the only safe bet in the Philippines.

SAUD BEACH – THE HIDDEN PARADISE OF THE NORTH

Saud Beach

Pristine waters, pearly white sands and the refreshing sea breeze – everything is just so perfect at the beach. However, with beaches always being tourist spots, they have their cons; and nowadays finding a quiet beach can be a pain. Fear not though, for the beach of your dreams still exist. Located in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, Saud Beach is a serene haven for those who seek a fun but peaceful vacation.

The beach at Saud Beach in Pagudpud

Saud Beach Philippines

There are two ways to get from Manila to Saud Beach. If you want to get there by land, then you have to take a bus to Laoag. Travel time takes around 10-13 hours, and the fare varies between bus companies. You may also take a plane to Laoag airport from Manila. Although it is more expensive, flight time only takes approximately 45 minutes. After arriving in Laoag, you can take either a jeepney or a bus to reach Pagudpud. The most convenient way to travel around town is by tricycle, as they’re usually cheaper and they’re all over the place.

Tricycle

Tricycle Pagudpud

As one of the less commercialized beaches in the Philippines, Saud Beach is a great escape from our hectic city lives. It is such an underrated favorite that some have dubbed it as the “Boracay of the North”, due to its vast stretch of white sands. The overall ambiance of the seashore facilitates better beach activity experiences such as sunbathing, swimming, and surfing. The sunset is also spectacular and the night sky is usually good for star gazing. And after satisfying your eyes with the beautiful beach scenery, it’s only right that you satisfy your stomach as well. You may choose to eat at the nearby carinderias, or dine in at BergBlick, one of the best restaurants in Ilocos Norte.

BergBlick Restaurant


This photo of BergBlick Restaurant is courtesy of TripAdvisor

One of the things that makes Saud Beach stand out from other beaches is its geographical location. Ilocos is home to many other places of interest, that’s why choosing Saud Beach is more convenient and economical – ‘sulit’ is the word Filipinos would use. One example would be the Bangui Windmills, which can be seen from the beach, a sight that many tourists enjoy.

Bangui Windmills

Bangui Windmills

There are a lot of resorts and hotels near Saud Beach, and choosing the best place can be very tricky. If you’re on a tight budget, then the Northridge Beach Resort is for you. The price ranges from Php 1000 to Php 2500 per room, depending on the number of people to be accommodated. The Palm Grove Saud Holiday Complex is also a good one for a 3-star hotel, as it is still worth it for the many amenities provided. However, if you want the best vacation experience, then the 5-star Saud Beach Resort and Hotel’s your definite go-to. The rates may be more expensive, but you are guaranteed a comfortable stay in their hotel.

Palm Grove Holiday Complex

Palm Grove Saud Holiday Complex

PUERTO GALERA – PARTIES AND BALSAS

Puerto Galera is one of the Philippines’ most favorite beaches. The place is located in the province of Oriental Mindoro, on the verge of the Isla Verde Passage.

White Beach at Puerto Galera

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To commute to this paradise, one should take a bus straight to Batangas Port; most of these busses can be found in the bus stations of Buendia. From Batangas port, a short ferry ride will take you to Puerto Galera. You can book tickets online to get into Puerto or you can buy tickets at the venue itself. If you’ve got your own car and are planning to have a road trip to Puerto, head straight to Batangas port through the South Luzon Expressway or South Superhighway.

Puerto Galera Ferry

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There‘s a lot to do in Puerto Galera. Be it a beach party or a simple vacation, the Puerto is sure to meet your needs as there are clubs for those who want to enjoy the beach while partying and the white beach is as calmly relieving as always. You may also find souvenir shops here that usually sell anklets and shell jewelleries. Some of the most popular activities that can enjoyed here include snorkelling, banana boating, balsa boat tours, and regular boat tours. You can also make your days meals interesting by opting to eat on a balsa while in the middle of the sea. It should come as no surprise that most restaurants here offer seafood – a lot of it. Le Dan Seafood Restaurant and Verde Divers are among the popular picks.

Nudibranch (Sea slug) seen from a dive in Puerto Gallera

 

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One thing unique about this beach is the people. One may find an inexplicable aura of “freshness” coming from the locals and tourists alike; possibly a side-effect of taking regular dips in the pleasantly clear waters.

Puerto Nirvana Beach Resort

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An affordable beach resort in Puerto Galera is the Sunset at Puerto Nirvana Beach Resort going at P1,396 per night. A fancier three star hotel, Aninuan Beach Resort, goes at P3,300 per night. And even fancier, The Manor at Puerto Galera starts at P4,100 per night.

EL NIDO BEACHES  NATURE’S FINEST

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El Nido is a Philippine city on the Palawan islands. It is known for its white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and it serves as the opening to the Bacuit archipelago, a group of islands containing sharp karst cliffs. The sleepy town, has now woken up to a massive influx of tourists. Only recently, El Nido was like a playground for the rich, who vacationed on these private island resorts. It comes as no surprise as to why they couldn’t horde the islands to themselves for long: enchanting El Nido is truly breath-taking and those who are fortunate enough to experience its beauty will surely have their lives changed by it.

Beautiful rock formations in El Nido

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To get there from the Puerto Princesa Airport, walk for a few minutes out of the airport to the streets and hunt down a P50 tricycle to the bus terminal. The bus conveniently leaves the terminal every hour to accommodate the tourists. Taking a regular bus would cost P280, sacrifice a little extra for a more comfortable and air-conditioned 6-hour ride to El Nido for P380. Prices vary depending on the season, how ‘foreign’ you look, and of course, on how well you negotiate. Feeling a luxurious? Fortunately, there’s an option to get a van shuttle for P400, which also saves an hour of the journey.

Bus from Puerto Princesa to El Nido

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Palawan is made up of various islands that are all equally majestic, and the island-hopping tours make sure you get a sight of each of them. You can opt to be dropped of anytime at different islands. Each island specializes in different activities and attractions, which include deep-sea diving, skydiving, cliff climbing, waterfalls, kayaking, cave explorations, windsurfing, and a tour of the other land attractions. You can experience the wonders of Palawan’s sky, land, and sea – definitely capturing the best of all worlds. Seafood is a local specialty. In fact, countless fish are exported to Manila, and then to other countries from this area. There are various restaurants dispersed around the cities, which offer various foods to suit most appetites; from seafood to meat dishes, stews, pastas, and salads, there is always something for everyone.

Paddle your own kayak or be with a group

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El Nido is a magical place. Its unfading gigantic marble cliffs and its white-sand beaches, along with its crystal clear waters combine to form quite a paradise – and many do refer to it as so. There are over 40 beaches to discover, and there are times when you would feel as if you are on your own secluded private beach. Another novelty of El Nido is its enchanting lagoons which hold tranquil turquoise-green waters, and caves that lead to hidden beaches, each with its own diverse wildlife. Other than a paradise, El Nido is known as “The Final Frontier”, a term which only people who have experienced its wonders may understand.

Accommodations for even the smallest budget

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As soon as you arrive at the town proper, it wouldn’t be too hard to find a place to crash, considering the overwhelming number of hotels. It would just be a matter of matching it up to the budget allotted and the amenities needed. Renting a room in town would mean that you’d be close to most restaurants and bars along the beachside, but also closer yet to the everyday sights and sounds. 

Orange Pearl Budget Resort

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One notable resort named Orange Pearl Resort offers beachfront rooms, but there is also an option to rent out tents for people who wish to sleep under the stars and in front of the ocean waves. These accommodations are located at Marimegmeg Beach.

El Nido Two Seasons

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On the other hand, those willing to give their all for the ultimate experience could lodge at some of the most luxurious hotels El Nido can offer, including Two Seasons Coron Island Resort & Spa, and El Nido Resorts Lagen Island which go at about P30,725 per night.

El Nido Diving

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El Nido is not just a typical “beach paradise”, it’s a place unlike any other in the world. With breathtaking views over and under the sea, it would seem like Mother Nature went overboard – and that’s not a bad thing.

ALONA BEACH  – THE PERFECT GETAWAY

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As raindrops fall on our roofs, we finally accept the fact that the rainy season has descended upon us once again. The time for warm, sunny beaches have passed, and as we go on our daily activities, we are greeted with muddy sidewalks and flooded streets. Oh, how great it would be to frolic under the sun on white-sand beaches! But fear not! As much as we want our vacation to happen now, planning it in advance can greatly lessen our burden. The Philippines has an immense number of beaches, and there are quite a number of famous ones, such as Boracay, Palawan and Puerto Galera. For many, these beaches may seem like the ultimate destinations, but for others who want to explore something new, Alona Beach is the place for you.

Panglao Beach

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In the province of Bohol lies Panglao Island, which is famous for its breathtaking beaches; that includes Alona Beach. Panglao beach is located about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Tagbilaran. If you travel from Manila, you can reach Tagbilaran in an hour and 15 minutes by plane. After your arrival, you can take a tricycle to Alona Beach. Mind you, there’s plenty of them at the airport and seaports, so you shouldn’t worry about not getting a quick ride to one of Philippine’s spectacular beaches.

Dive here and find Nemo at Alona Beach

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At the end of your tricycle ride, you’ll find yourself getting off at one of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines. There are tourists buzzing from one place to another, and you find yourself getting swept away with them, immersed in the beauty of the white sand beach and rocky cliffs of Alona Beach. It is the perfect place to relax and bathe under the sun, but many activities are done underwater as well! Known as one of the best scuba diving spots in the world, Alona Beach is home to magnificent coral reefs with amazing marine life. With over 24 diving spots to choose from, boredom is non-existent in your stay here, especially if you are a diving enthusiast. Some of these diving spots feature moray eels, barracudas, and giant black corals. One of the recommended diving spots is Balicasag Island, and you can take a boat ride from Alona Beach to reach it.

Massage by the beach

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For travelers with weak hearts who cannot take on the thrill of diving just yet, do not fret! You have so much more to choose from. If you still want to try glimpsing what lies in the waters of Alona Beach though, you can try snorkeling. Dolphin watching is also a must for marine life enthusiasts who wish to visit Alona Beach. Aside from activities in the water, tourists can also relax and sunbathe on the sand. Massages are available at cheap prices, and masseurs/masseuses can give you massages right on the beach. Good food is also what makes Alone Beach one of the best tourist spots; aside from the native dishes, they also offer Swiss, Italian, and Thai dishes as well. Linaw Beach Resort and Restaurant is a must-try as it is recommended by most of the people who have dined there.

Say “cheeeeeese”

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With the vast array of activities to choose from at Alona Beach, there is no wonder that this beach is one of the best tourist spots. Its diving spots alone are enough to show its uniqueness, but Alona Beach has more up its sleeve. It brags of its huge biodiversity, which showcases the beauty of the Philippines and gives us a glimpse into the life of the marine world. In Panglao and Balicasag alone, which are places near Alona Beach, an estimated number of 1,500 to 2,500 different mollusks are found. According to the work of the Panglao Marine Biodiversity Project, Panglao Island has more marine biodiversity than Japan and the Mediterranean Sea.

Amorita Resort

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As one of the top tourist destinations, Alona Beach offers hotels that cater to the different budgets of tourists. Some people spend a fortune on their vacation to milk the best experience out of it, and their choice of hotel could range between 4-star to 5-star quality. The Amorita Resort is one of the 4.5-star hotels in Alona Beach, and it was awarded the 2016 Travelers’ Choice Award by TripAdvisor. It is deemed expensive but worth it by many of its clients, and its price rate ranges from ₱8,000 to ₱13,000.

Alona Golden Palm Resort

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Vacationers on a budget, worry not! Alona Beach has plenty of 3-star hotels, and one of those is the Alona Golden Palm Resort. Although it is a 3-star hotel, it has garnered many positive reviews because of its cleanliness and its service. It might not be as luxurious as the Amorita Resort, but it helps you stick to your budget with a price range between just ₱2,600 to ₱4,700. On another note, a more budget-friendly hotel for those who wish to save a lot more is the Eco Hotel Alona, which has a price range that starts with a mere ₱1,300.

Great diversity of marine life

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Alona Beach is a beach that has many activities and amenities, and it is considered as one of the best places to have a vacation. With its relaxing beaches, huge biodiversity, budget-friendly hotels, delicious food, and magnificent diving spots, it is a place that deserves to be written on your bucket list of beaches to visit in the Philippines before you die. Granted, storms may pass and we may get tired of this gloomy weather, but as we remember the promising Alona Beach and what it has in store for us, we can eagerly surpass each rainy day with the hope of going to a perfect getaway in summer.

LAIYA – THE PRIDE OF BATANGAS

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When it comes to finding a quick escape from the bustling streets of Metro Manila, a majority of people always include Batangas in their list of top choices. Unquestionably, the beauty that can be witnessed in this part of Southern Luzon is simply comforting and breathtaking. Words can only do so much justice to this tourist attraction.  

Located in Batangas, Laiya is the one of the most visited beaches by Manila residents because of how accessible this place is.

If you will be driving a private vehicle from Manila, head to South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) and exit at Ibaan/San Jose. Turn left when you see a fork in the road. Turn left once more at the corner where the Ibaan Municipal Hall and Park is situated. Make a right turn on the next corner after passing by the Ibaan Central School and Queen Mary Hospital. When you see the San Juan Municipal Hall, turn right and that road will lead you directly to Laiya Beach.

Getting here the cheaper but longer way

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However, if you will be commuting from Manila; start with a bus from either EDSA, Cubao, Pasay/Taft/LRT Buendia or MRT Taft/ LRT EDSA Rotonda in Pasay that can take you to Lipa, Batangas. From Lipa City, search for a van or shuttle bus to arrive in San Juan. Flag down a jeep at San Juan and proceed to Laiya. It will take approximately 3 to 4 hours to reach Laiya, San Juan, Batangas, depending on the traffic and you mode of transport.

Team building at sea

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Aside from the primary activity, which is to swim in the sea, each beach resort offers a wide-range of activities that you can engage in. Team-building activities can be done here. Indoor activities include billiards and table tennis. Beach volleyball also attracts many tourists. You can go all out with parasailing or relax as you explore in a yacht. Other water sports and activities include diving, jet skiing, surfing, rafting, and boating. If you’re not interested in water sports and activities, you can always go on a walk in the beach and leave footprints in the sand – even you deserve to get sentimental sometimes. You can also bathe in the sun and read an entertaining book to keep your mind from everything that has been bothering you.   

Try the local food

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Laiya Beach is one of the places that Batañgueos are proud of because of its white sand. And you can immerse yourself in the culture of this proud province when you visit this place, as well as get yourself a pot belly by tasting the local dishes such as Gotong Batangas, Tamales ng Ibaan, and Bulalo.  

Balai sa Laiya

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Balai sa Laiya Resort offers an overnight stay for two near the seaside at around 2,000 pesos per night. However, 5,000 pesos is the preferred budget if you want to rent a room at Beach Coral Resort. And for a more luxurious alternative, with outstanding reviews, Acuatico Beach Resort and Hotel is claimed to be the most recommended place to stay in when in Laiya. A room here costs approximately 8, 000 pesos.

Whichever beach you end up with, this picture shows how everyone in the group will feel after a trip here. Happy beach jump.

laiya-jump

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