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These Pink-Sand Beaches in Sorsogon Truly Spark Joy

by Marla Miniano-Umali
January 19, 2019

If only for the allure of the unfamiliar, travel allows us to see the world through rose-tinted glasses.

In the serene beaches on the southernmost tip of Luzon, this phrase takes on a more literal meaning through the long stretches of soft, fine sand tinged with a pretty pink hue. As the pristine shores remain free from the buzzing of commercial establishments, with only the hum of the ocean, the crashing of the waves, and the laughter of locals and visitors puncturing the air, the beaches of Matnog, Sorsogon stand as reminders of life’s simplest, purest joys. Experience them for yourself with this quick guide.

The Islands

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The unassuming municipality of Matnog is home to not just one, but two, islands with pink-sand beaches. Calintaan Island, where you can find the beaches of Subic Laki and Subic Liit, is the livelier and more popular of the two, playing host to cheerful families and eager groups of friends in need of some time under the sun. For shelter, there are rental bamboo cottages lining the shore.

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Tikling Island is a lot quieter and more reserved, its bare-bones beauty shining through as soon as you step foot on its secluded shores. There are no cottages for rent here, but there’s a hammock swinging merrily between two trees, and plenty of space to lounge around and bask in the vivid sights, sounds, and smells of the ocean.

Both islands are a balm to the urban dweller’s exhausted and jaded spirit, their coconut trees gently nodding their heads in the breeze as if in encouragement. In Subic Beach, friendly dogs roam freely, while in Tikling, the curious presence of a couple of wild boars give you a story to tell; in both, the locals welcome you with a warm smile and the hope that you will be as enchanted with their home as they are.

What to Do

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The charm of island life lies in the fact that there are no rules apart from respecting the place and its inhabitants. Dive deep into a conversation with your companions, or lie on a blanket and bury your toes in the sand and your nose in a good book. Feast on tender seafood, grilled meat, and fresh fruit—there’s a wet market in Matnog town where you can stock up on supplies before your island hopping tour.

Swim and snorkel in the placid embrace of clear blue waters, or stroll along the powdery pink shores that derive their color from crushed red corals with an ice-cold drink in hand. Take refuge from the sun in the shade of a tree’s sprawling canopy, maybe take a rejuvenating nap while you’re at it. You can even pitch a tent and stay the night, blanketed by an inky starlit sky. The choice is yours, and delightful relaxation is ripe for the picking.

Getting There

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This tropical paradise rewards those patient enough to make the trip. You may catch a bus to Matnog port from major Manila bus terminals—check out the schedules of companies like Philtranco, DLTB, and Peñafrancia—or board a bus bound for Samar, which will make a stop at Matnog port. Land travel time usually takes 12-14 hours.

For those with less time and more cash to spare, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly to Legazpi, Albay daily. From the Legazpi airport, you’ll have to take a trike to the central terminal, then a bus to Sorsogon City, and a jeepney to Matnog. Alight at the Matnog Tourism Office so you can pay the registration and environmental fees of ₱80/head. The tourism office can also assist you in chartering a boat to take you island hopping for around ₱1,800 (good for 10 pax).

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Alternatively, from Legazpi, you can make the perfectly quaint city of Sorsogon your home base for the trip: stay at the picturesque Siama Hotel for a dose of eco-chic luxury and unparalleled service, or the more budget-friendly but clean and cozy Red Koi Residences in the town proper. From Sorsogon, hire a van to bring you to and from Matnog for about ₱4,500 for the entire vehicle; it’s best to leave early in the morning so you can get back before the sun sets. Trusted tour groups such as ALC Tours can arrange the shuttle service for you, along with a delicious lunch spread you can partake of on the island for ₱300/head. You may contact them at (0928) 450 8200, (0926) 816 8980, or

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About Marla
Marla Miniano-Umali is the former editor in chief of Cosmopolitan Philippines, Candy Magazine, and Summit Books. She has written four YA novels and two short story collections, and co-authored two poetry anthologies—including the travel-inspired The Maps that Contain Us. She likes long drives, snack pit stops, and adventures on and off the page.

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