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7 Secluded Escapes in the Philippines for People Who Hate Crowds

by Annicca Albano
March 4, 2019

In a country blessed with 7,641 islands and sunny weather (almost) all year round, a seaside getaway will always be an alluring option for that much-needed vacation.

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Picture this: your toes buried in the sand, sunshine warming your face, palm trees swaying in the wind, a refreshing drink in hand, and unobstructed views of the ocean that stretch as far as the eye can see. You’d be packing for that trip by now except you’re probably not the only one who’s dreaming of the same thing—the thought of squeezing through the crowds makes you think twice if it’s truly the escape you seek.

Lucky for you, there are more Philippine islands than days in a year to cure your wanderlust. If your idea of a perfect vacation is where sea, sun, and solitude are guaranteed, there will always be a paradise out there waiting to be discovered. But don't just take our word for it! Below, seven under-the-radar beaches and island escapes you should visit, as told by travelers.

1. Dicasalarin Cove in Baler, Aurora

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“If you dream of being on top of the world while taking in a breathtaking view, you should book a trip to Baler’s Dicasalarin Cove. The pristine, white lighthouse that sits on the tip of the cliff that surrounds the cove already provides a gorgeous sight from a distance. When you arrive at the cove, the beauty is even more unbelievable. It’s definitely worth spending a day sitting along the white sand of the cove, coconut in hand, surrounded by majestic rock formations that hold small caves within their crevices. The highlight of the trip to the cove comes when you make your way up to the lighthouse. The trek up looks daunting but the actual moment you lose your breath is when you make it to the top and you are enveloped by a majestic scene—the grand Pacific before you and the vast mountainous terrain behind. This is absolutely a must-visit for travelers who chase after picture-perfect views and isolated hideaways.“ —Ainna Antiporda

HOW TO GET THERE:
If you prefer not to take a private car to Baler, you can hop on a bus at the Genesis Transport Service station in Cubao. In Baler, hire a van to take you to Dicasalarin Cove from Costa Pacifica or Cube Baler. When you arrive at the gate of the property, you’ll need to pay a small fee depending on the size of your party. After which, a habal-habal will take you the rest of the way down to the cove.

For a convenient and hassle-free trip, check out our available Baler deals here.

2. Solangon Beach in Siquijor

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“Tucked away in the barangay of San Juan is where you'll find one of the finest sand and clearest waters in the region. Solangon Beach allows you to be lazy as you bask under the sun with time passing by real slow. If you’re up for a little adventure around the island, spots such as Cambugahay Falls, the century-old Balete tree, and Lazi Convent are only a tricycle ride away. If you’re looking for a place to unplug from city life without the crowd and the night life, this beach is for you. And where to stay? Try out glamping as this in an experience on its own!“ —Marc Amoranto

HOW TO GET THERE:
From Dumaguete airport, hire a motorcylce to take you to the port. Once there, ready yourself for a 1-hour ferry ride to Siquijor and a 15-minute tricycle ride to the barangay of San Juan.

3. Sibang Cove in Calayan, Cagayan Province

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"Sibang Cove is one of the unexplored beaches in Northern Luzon. It features a beautiful rock formation, powder-fine white sand, and crystal-clear blue waters. Going here is an adventure itself and not for the faint of heart! A plus is that once you get there, chances are you’ll enjoy Sibang all to yourself. Aside from Sibang Cove, you can also trek the nearby Nagundungan Hill where one can enjoy the vast seascape and have a breathtaking view of the sunset." —Nicole del Rosario

HOW TO GET THERE:
Take a 12-hour road trip from Manila to Aparri where a 6-hour lampitaw ride will take you to the open seas of Babuyan Channel. A quicker option is to book a flight from Manila to Tuguegarao, then hire a van to take you to the Aparri port.

4. Apo Reef Natural Park in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro

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“If you’d like to explore more of the underwater world of the Philippines, Apo Reef Natural Park will make you feel like you’re worlds away. It houses the second largest contiguous reef in the world, next to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and is a Marine Protected Area—a zone wherein potentially harmful human activities like fishing are legally restricted.

It’s quite remote—there’s no proper electricity and water source. But you get to experience an unusual complete summer experience: sand texture that’s comforting, a sunset/sunrise work basking in, a quick yet fun trek to a nearby lighthouse and lake, and a momentous stargazing experience. You would need to camp out with a hammock or tent but if you’re up for the adventure and thrill to see pilot whales, turtles, sharks, and shipwrecks, you’re in for a treat in this underrated diving haven.“ —Dom Rodriguez

HOW TO GET THERE:
• From San Jose airport, ride a tricycle going to the bus terminal. Hop on a bus for a 2- to 3-hour trip to Sablayan. Once there, have a tour arranged by the local government of Sablayan (you may email them at amazingsablayan@yahoo.com or ecotourism_sablayan_occmdo@yahoo.com.ph) to get to Apo Reef.
• Alternatively, from Manila or Alabang, get on a Dimple Star Bus en route to San Jose. A ferry ride to the Batangas Port will take you to Sablayan Island.

5. Ocam Ocam Beach in Busuanga Island, Coron

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“Nestled in the northwestern coast of Busuanga island, Ocam Ocam is a pristine beach lined with palm trees. The transparent blue water complements the light golden sand, a welcome change from the white sand beaches that we usually encounter in the Philippines.

About a 2-hour scooter ride from the port of Busuanga, a serene escape from all the tourists is what you would come to expect from this beach getaway. If you’re looking for a break from all the tours and the crowds in Coron, lounging around on the fine sand of Ocam Ocam will surely make the trip worth it.“ —Enzo Arceo

HOW TO GET THERE:
From Busuanga Port, take a 1.5- to 2-hour ride via scooter, which you can rent downtown.

Book a relaxing stay at any of our partner resorts in Coron here.

6. Lake Holon in T’boli, South Cotabato

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“Although this isn’t technically a beach, the vast and clear waters of this idyllic crater lake will make any beach lover fall head over heels (hopefully not literally though!). Getting to Lake Holon is quite the adventure—and perhaps the amount of time and effort it takes to reach this magical lake is what makes it all the more unforgettable. The best time to arrive at the campsite is right before sunset, then leave the next morning right after sunrise. What’s there to do in between, you may ask? There are kayaks for rent, but nothing beats just floating idly in one of the country’s cleanest waters (the government has said so themselves!), and having tilapia caught from the lake for dinner.“ —Ysa Syyap

HOW TO GET THERE:
From the city of General Santos, hop on a bus or van to get to the town of T’boli in South Cotabato. After 2 hours plus a 1-hour habal-habal ride, you'll reach the starting point of the trek. Local guides would recommend taking the 6-hour Kule trail with a jaw-dropping viewdeck as your route to the campsite of Lake Holon, then the less challenging Salacafe trail on your way down.

7. Calaguas in Vinzons, Camarines Norte

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“At Calaguas, you’ll be welcomed by a long stretch of beach with very fine white sand and turquoise waters with the mountains as your backdrop. Through the years, meager houses have been built to accommodate tourists—still with options to camp on the beachfront—but the place is still not as developed and crowded as Boracay (don’t expect hot shower and bidets)! This off-the-beaten beach getaway is perfect for adventure-seeking travelers, and those looking for respite and a complete hideaway. There’s not much to do but eat, bond with friends and family, walk in the sand while playing with the dogs, take all the selfies you want, marvel at the beauty of the sunset, soak in the water for hours, and get those sexy tan lines.“ —Chai Moral-Isla

HOW TO GET THERE:
• Take an 8-hour bus ride from Cubao to Daet, Camarines Norte from Cubao. From Daet jeepney terminal, catch a jeepney bound to Paracale or Vinzons Port. A 2-hour boat ride from the Port will bring you to the main island of Calaguas.
• From Pili Airport in Naga, you may ride a bus going to the Naga terminal. From there, get on a tricycle to the LCC mall where you’ll find a terminal of vans en route to Daet. Upon arrival in Daet, take another tricycle ride to go to Calaguas port.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and grab your sunglasses—adventure awaits.

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About Annicca
Always the designated trip planner but never the navigator, Annicca loves crafting travel itineraries with a mix of city, island, and cultural exploration. At age 21, she authored an ethnography on spoken word poetry in the Philippines, the first of its kind in the country. Follow her Instagram @anniccalbn to know her whereabouts.

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