Culture

Cheap summer: 9 beaches near Manila on a tight budget

This beach is only less than 3 hours from Manila. (Camille Banzon/ Pacifiqa)

This beach is only less than 3 hours from Manila. (Camille Banzon/ Pacifiqa)

 

It’s the peak of the summer, and it’s normal for anyone to have a yearning to go to the beach. The heat in the city is excruciating; wouldn’t it be nice to reward yourselves with a relaxing beach wekeend after a week of sweating under your office clothes?

It’s a season staple for most: spending some time under the sun, with toes buried on sand or swimming in crystal clear waters and getting a flaunt-worthy tan. But there are things every group has to consider when trying to plan a beach getaway: the budget, the accommodations, and the distance. Sure, the likes of Boracay or Moalboal promise the best shorelines in the world, but not all of us have the time or the money to spontaneously go to far away, luxurious places.

As a self-confessed city-based beachhead always searching for affordable sunny escapes, I tried to list down 9 different weekend destinations that are “reachable” on a reasonable budget. The best thing about Manila is we’re surrounded with shorelines as near as two and a half hours away, and it’s impossible to not have a taste of the ocean and enjoy it for at least two days, travel time included. Gather your pals and pick one of these destinations so you can have a cheap-yet-fulfilling dose of summer.

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Puerto Galera

Situated in Oriental Mindoro, a 45-minute boat ride from Batangas Pier, Puerto Galera boasts of white sand beaches and clear waters, and is dubbed as of the “best bays” in the world. It’s not hard to imagine why, especially with the choice that tourists can make between a beach with a bustling nightlife or one that’s peaceful and quiet. Those who wish to stay up all night and drink might head to White Beach, while those looking for a peaceful retreat might choose Talipanan Beach or Tamaraw Beach. The standard room rate for any of the hostels cost between Php 1,000 to 1,500, and with a little research (as in walking to the far back from the shore), you can save more with unadvertised rooms for rent.

 

Puerto Galera's White Beach (Camille Banzon)
Puerto Galera’s White Beach (Camille Banzon)

 

Cost breakdown:

Bus ride from Manila to Batangas Pier: Php 180 x 5 = Php 900

2-way outrigger boat fare from Pier to Mindoro: Php 450 x 5 = Php 2,250

Overnight stay for 4 at a beachfront hotel (2 queen size beds): Php1,500

(Extra mattresses are cheap, but if you can, fit 3 people on a bed by sleeping horizontally. It’s just one night!)

Bus ride from Batangas Pier to Manila: Php 180 x 5 = Php 900

 

Total cost for each person (group of 5): Php1,110 to Php 1,500

 

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Circle Hostel, San Felipe Zambales

The kitschy, artsy, and friendly feel of Circle Hostel in sitio Liw-Liwa, San Felipe, Zambales, has made itself popular among those who want to plan a weekend surfing retreat. Those who wish to go here can choose to pitch a camp, sleep on a hammock, or a bunk bed. The budget, eco-friendly hotel’s tag line is “there are no strangers,” as everyone who stays thee can feel the warmth of their fellow backpackers, surfers, and everyone who drops by to join in on the fun. Aside from the beach and surfing, there’s also yoga, a bonfire, and art sessions to complete the weekend summer experience.

Sunrise at Circle Hostel, Zambales (http://www.zambales.thecirclehostel.com)
Sunrise at Circle Hostel, Zambales (http://www.zambales.thecirclehostel.com)

 

Cost breakdown:

Tent/ hammock option for 1 night: Php 250 x 5 = Php 1,250

Gas and toll from Manila to San Felipe and back = Php 1,500

Surfing lessons: Php 400 (half day) x 5 = Php 2,000

Surf instructor: Php 200 (1 hour) x 5 =  Php 1,000

Food and beverages: Php 1,000

 

Total cost per person (group of 5) = Php 1,150 to 1,500

 

Calaguas Island, Camarines Norte

This beach is defined as an unspoilt hidden treasure in the southern part of Luzon, right in the Bicol region. It may prove a challenge to go there on your own, so it is best to seek the help of travel groups or organizers for this trip. This beach isn’t exactly “near,” but I believe Calaguas island is one of the best beaches situated in Luzon, and it is possible to reach for a weekend stay. An 8 to 9-hour land travel from Manila to Vinzon’s port, and a 2-hour open sea boat ride to the island will be worth it once you see stretch of fine, white sand and feel the cool aquamarine waters on your skin. The island’s backdrop of mountains and green fields is a sight one will definitely won’t forget. A group called Biyahe Lokal arranges trips to Calaguas island for 3,000 per head for 2 days and 1 night. This includes tent accommodation, food, beverages, activities (island hopping), fees and all land and sea transfers.

Calaguas Island on a sunny day (Camille Banzon)
Calaguas Island on a sunny day (Camille Banzon)

Total cost per person: Php 3,000 (2 days, 1 night); 3,500 (3 days, 2 nights)

 

To book a spot in one of their weekend Calaguas trips, contact Biyahe Lokal at 09063623854 and look for Ryan, or email [email protected]

 

Anawangin Cove, Zambales

A scenic volcanic beach with a jump off point of less than 3 hours away from Manila, Anawangin Cove boasts of the lush mountains hovering over the shores, serving as a picturesque backdrop for a sunny weekend.  Anawangin is the nearest and most appealing out of the three coves in Zambales that’s popular among weekend trippers.

 

Anawangin Cove (anawangin.com)
Anawangin Cove (anawangin.com)

 

Cost breakdown:

Option 1:

Bus fare from Manila to San Antonio and back:  Php 300 x 5 = Php 3,000

Tricycle from San Antonio to Pundaquit and back: Php 30 x 5 = 300

Boat ride (depends on how big the group is): Php 800 x 5 = 4,000

Overnight campsite fee (tent not included): Php100 x 5 = Php 500

 

Total cost per person (group of 5): 1,560 to 1,700 (food and drinks not included)

 

Option 2:

For a hassle-free Anawangin Cove weekend getaway, an option to seek the help and assistance of Biyahe Lokal is also advisable. They will pick your group up anywhere along EDSA, and will take care of the sea and land transfers, as well as the boat arrangement and campsite construction. Food (breakfast and dinner), beverages, and activities (trekking, hiking) are inclusive. A spot in their Anawangin Cove weekend package tours costs 1,900 per head. The little extra will be worth the hassle-free trip, as you don’t have to bring anything but yourselves (and maybe a camera to capture your favorite moments).

 

Total cost per person (group of 5): Php 1,900 

 

Biyahe Lokal also offers trips to Nagsasa Cove (Php 2,200/ head) and Silangin Cove (2,500/ head), inclusive of transportation, transfers, meals, and activities.

 

To book a spot in one of their Zambales weekend trips, contact Biyahe Lokal at 09063623854 and look for Ryan, or email [email protected]

 

Coral View Resort, Morong, Bataan

Located just 30 minutes away from Subic Freeport Zone, Coral View Resort in Morong, Bataan is a nearer and cheaper alternative to the beaches farther up north. The shoreline isn’t bad, and there’s a floating cottage for your friends to hang out where you can enjoy a majestic view of the sunset. There’s a 100 per head corkage for all the beverages you’ll bring in, but there’s no limit to the number of bottles. Aside from the beach, there’s an abundance of swimming pools located around the resort, and even a wide selection of activities (billiards, ping pong, basketball, volleyball, even an obstacle course). The drive from Manila can also be a reason for a Subic stopover and load up on food, snacks, and alcohol for cheaper prices. You all know how it is when one goes to Subic to shop.

Coral View's white sand beach and obstacle course (Camille Banzon)
Coral View’s white sand beach and obstacle course (Camille Banzon)
Sunset at Coral View  (Camille Banzon)
Sunset at Coral View (Camille Banzon)

 

Cost breakdown:

Gas/ toll from Manila and back: Php 1,500

Overnight stay for 4, inclusive of breakfast and entrance fee: Php 5,500

Extra person: Php 700

Food and beverages: Php 1500 to 2,000

 

Total cost per person (group of 5): Php 1,840 to 2,000

 

Baler, Aurora

One of the most popular surfing capitals in Luzon is also home to Ditumabo Falls, Lamao Caves, Quezon Memorial Park, and different “surfable” beaches such as Sabang Beach. So there are a lot of activities to do upon visiting this gem up north. A group can easily visit Baler if bringing a car for a 3 to 4-hour drive from Manila, but in case of an absence of a vehicle, tour packages are also offered for not-so-steep prices.

Baler (Courtesy Shubert Cencia/ https://flic.kr/p/5UtQUG)
Baler (Courtesy Shubert Cencia/ https://flic.kr/p/5UtQUG)

Option 1:

Genesis Transport, through their vehicles called “Joy Bus,” is the only bus company that offers Manila to Baler trips (via their Cubao terminal) without any stops. The buses have comfy seats and WiFi, ensuring a hassle-free commute to Aurora. The buses leave at three scheduled hours: 12 AM, 2 AM, and 4:30 AM. Transportation fee costs Php 700 per head.

For reservations, call Genesis Transport’s Cubao office at (02) 7090803 or (02) 4211425.

 

Cost breakdown:

Transportation: Php 700 x 5 = 3,500

Overnight stay at an affordable, fan-room good for 4 to 5: Php 2,000

Surfing lessons: Php 400 per hour x 5

Food and beverages: Php 1,500

 

Total cost per person (group of 5): Php 1,800

 

Option 2:

Inclusive of breakfast, city tour, an hour of free surfing and a surfing coach, Happy Port Travel charges 1,500 per head for a group of 3. They will take care of land transfers, food, and lodging.

 

Total cost per person: Php 1,500

 

To book a spot in one of Happy Port Travel’s Baler weekends, call (02)7109063, 09178030715, 09493459975, or visit www.happyporttravel.com

 

One Laiya Resort, Batangas

A 2 and a half hour drive from Manila will take you to Laiya’s first beach in its long cove, One Laiya Resort. The more popular beaches in Laiya usually offer high rates during summer, because of the accessibility and luxurious set-ups, but One Laiya is a cheapskate’s best bet to have a “sulit” weekend trip. It has a fine shore, shallow-but-cool waters (allowing you and your friends to sit right smack in the sea and bring your bottles), clean and peaceful surroundings, and well-kept rooms. You and your friends will have to cook for yourselfves (there are grilling stations not far from the cottages) but it only adds more fun to tour quick adventure.

 

One Laiya's beach (Camille Banzon)
One Laiya’s beach (Camille Banzon)

 

Cost breakdown:

Gas/ toll or transportation (bus (Manila to San Juan)/ tricycle (San Juan to Laiya) from Manila and back: Php 1,500

Overnight stay for 5 (Beachfront room): Php 5,000

Food and beverages: Php 1,500

 

Total cost per person: Php 1,700

 

Your ideal summer weeekend trip doesn’t have to cut holes in your pocket. These beaches offer what our shorelines are best known for: heat, fine sand, crystal waters, and an endless sea of good times.

 

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  • Romarie Reforada

    Can I ask something about the puerto galera. Whats specific name of the hotel/resort you are referring to.

  • Phyllis Kaye

    Is this the Camille Banzon that I know from HS? PMS? :)

  • nerie

    Hi, this is such a helpful.link.. May i know who can i contact for coral view? Pls send to my gmail. [email protected]

  • Marvin

    You forgot to include the beaches of Pangasinan.

  • http://www.thetravelarchives.com Camilla

    Thanks for the link!:)