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We Found “the Maldives of the Philippines” and It’s Absolutely Breathtaking

by Marionne Mancol

Although internet-famous as the “Maldives of the Philippines,” Manjuyod Sandbar remains far from the madding crowd.

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A spectacular 7-kilometer stretch of white sand awaits those who travel to Negros Oriental just to see this island. There are no palm trees in sight, so your usual tropical aesthetic gets changed up—but that's a good thing because the cottages directly perched on the waters are a refreshing element. With the cool breeze in your hair and fine white sand beneath your feet, this paradise makes it so easy to leave your urban worries behind. Intrigued? Here's everything you need to know.

Getting There

IMAGE: Martin Calderon

If there’s one thing you should know before going to Manjuyod Sandbar, it’s that your trip’s level of fun may depend on the level of the tides. During high tide, the strip of sand is covered, so checking your weather apps and coming early make a world of difference. If you’re all good, it’s time to fly to Dumaguete Airport. Upon arriving, take a tricycle to Ceres Terminal and ride a bus to Bais City. After around an hour, alight at Barangay Calindagan and ride a trike for another 15 minutes to Capiñahan Wharf. To get to Manjuyod Sandbar, you can rent a boat from the local boatmen or pre-book one from the tourism office. A day tour costs around ₱3,500 to ₱4,000, but it can already accommodate a maximum of 15 people, so you can join other groups if you want to save money. A day tour also includes other trips and treats like Dolphin Watching and a stop at the Bais City Bird Sanctuary & Mangrove Forest. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins when you pass by Tañon Strait en route to Manjuyod Sandbar!

Accomodations

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Since it’s not commercialized, Manjuyod Sandbar makes you appreciate simple beauty; it doesn’t offer posh accommodations and hotel-like services. To get the full Maldives feels, it’s best to rent one of the cottages. A day’s rent costs ₱3,000, while staying the night and for 24 hours amount to ₱4,000 and ₱6,000, respectively. To stay within your budget, there’s also plenty of space in the rental boats to eat and lounge in.

Fun in the Sun

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There’s just something about grabbing a bite beachside that relaxes you. There are no restaurants around the area, so if food isn’t included in your tour, you can make a picnic out of it by bringing drinking water and packing your go-to weekend getaway meals. The boatmen can even set you up for a barbecue, so you might want to bring a cooler with lots of meat and a few beers. You can also get the full island experience and support the local vendors by buying harvested coconuts and some seafood (think wild oysters, fresh fish, and sea urchins!). Afterwards, you can ride a banana boat, go swimming in the clear blue waters, or snorkel to see the wonders below. Of course, this divine beauty of nature is perfect even just for reading a book or having a do-nothing day. If you plan on having a photo shoot for the ‘gram, don’t forget your power banks because there’s no electricity in the area.

Exploring the Area

Bais City Bird Sanctuary & Mangrove Forest

INSTAGRAM: peytfull

After journeying through a 100-meter bamboo walkway constructed by the local government, travelers end up at Negros Oriental’s very own Narnia: Bais City Bird Sanctuary & Mangrove Forest. This 400-hectare safe haven for various species of birds and other animals is included in the Manjuyod Sandbar day tour, making for a perfect trip to be one with nature. It also has the usual charms of an eco park: mangroves, picnic areas, and a sandy space for some beach volleyball during low tide.

Bais City Tourism Office
(035) 402 8338
baistourism@gmail.com

Gabby's Bed & Breakfast

INSTAGRAM: yoko_travelbook

If you want to stay overnight at Dumaguete City, look no further than this local gem conveniently located 5-10 minutes from the town proper, airport, and seaport by tricycle. The cozy and colorful Gabby’s Bed & Breakfast is known for its uniquely-designed rooms and bistro. You can find random art collections—such as spoon collections and retro Happy Meal collectibles—in different corners, while paintings and mosaics decorate the walls. The rooms are designed to feel like home, throwing in free parking, internet, and breakfast. Even if you don’t stay at the B&B, the equally-quaint café is worth going to for pictures. Don't forget to sample their big, delicious servings of Filipino and American breakfast that start at ₱150. Their delectable tuyo and crispy hash browns are tasty, memorable experiences!

Gabby's Bistro
Gabby’s B&B, E Rovira Dr, Bantayan, Dumaguete, Negros Oriental
(035) 422 0827

Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries

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Dumaguete is home to the most famous sans rival and silvanas in the country, so visitors simply can’t leave without buying some for pasalubong. Established in 1997, Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries has been serving their namesake dessert cake with its melt-in-your-mouth layers of meringue, cashews, and buttercream for years. Their silvanas are also worth the hype with its creamy and crunchy goodness that have just the right amount of sweetness! If you don’t have a sweet tooth, you can opt for their heavier snacks like burgers, sandwiches, or pasta. You might have to line up, but their delicious goods are inexpensive and indeed without rival.

Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries
San Jose St, Dumaguete, 6200 Negros Oriental
(035) 421 1524

Whatever strikes your fancy, a visit to Negros Oriental and Manjuyod Sandbar is sure to let some sunshine stream into your life. Don’t forget to wear your sunscreen, sunglasses, and biggest smiles!

Manjuyod Tourism Office
(0915) 892 1822

Want to explore more of Negros' hidden gems? Find inspiration here.

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About Marionne
Marionne Dominique Uy Mancol is a filmmaker and freelance writer from Samar. She graduated cum laude from Ateneo de Manila where she studied AB Communication on full scholarship and won Best Thesis for their campaign on women’s empowerment against sexual harassment. Her heart smiles for Jesus, her family and friends, chicken wings, dancing, traveling, and coming home.

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