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Beach is Life

Gumasa Beach in Glan, Sarangani

With the easing of the quarantine classification in most parts of the country and the partial restart of the tourism industry, lockdown-weary Filipinos are looking to the most sought-after refuge—the beach. Months after summer slipped through our fingers, travel bugs aren’t giving up yet in the prospect of basking in an authentic beach escapade for our mental health.

Luckily for us, stunning beaches are dime a dozen across the archipelago which health authorities regard as safe spots away from virus-prone areas. Here are some top beach escapes worth checking out:

Tuka Marine Sanctuary in Kiamba, Sarangani

Batangas. The closest swimmable beach to the metropolis, it recently hogged the limelight when the government gave the green light for the resumption of scuba diving under certain health protocols.

In no time, beach-deprived travelers have been driving to Mabini town, more popularly known as Anilao, to plunge underwater or simply get their dose of the proverbial “vitamin sea” which is essential for our well-being.

A peninsular town in Balayan Bay, it is among the world’s top diving havens because of its location within the Coral Triangle, the most diverse concentration of the planet’s marine life. With 48 dive sites, it is habitat to soft corals, reef and pelagic fishes, rare critters, and variety of nudibranchs which are a visual delight.

Nalusuan Island Resort and Marine Sanctuary

If you’re not a diver, you can opt for snorkeling, kayaking, stand-up paddle, island hopping, and glass-bottom boat cruising. If you’re a swimmer, upgrade your skills to freediving or mermaid swimming, so you can appreciate better the amazing coral and aquatic life.

Another aquasport you can lay your hands on is windsurfing, which began in this waterworld and has bred world champions.

The towns of San Juan, Nasugbu, Calatagan, Lobo, Balayan, and Batangas City, are other coastal colonies where you can frolic in the sun, sea and sand, and everything in between.

Cebu. Recently named by the prestigious Conde’ Naste magazine as among Asia’s best islands, the province is worth revisiting, particularly its equally impressive under-the-radar destinations.

Kayaking in Anilao

Nalusuan Island Resort and Marine Sanctuary off the mainland is an unheralded haven for scuba diving and a myriad of motorized watersports such as jet skis, banana boats, and parasailing. Situated just a few minutes away from the famed Olango migratory bird sanctuary, it takes pride in its rich marine life which is perhaps the best in Mactan Island.

About half an hour north of Cebu City is Papa Kit’s Marina and Fishing Lagoon, a sprawling recreational resort in Silot Bay in Liloan. More than a typical beach haunt, it is a fishing, adventure, nature and seafood dining destination for families and groups.

Keeping guests occupied are the 800-meter zipline, jungle obstacle, wall climbing, horseback riding, biking, sky bike, inflatable water park, seawater swimming pool, and an assortment of boats. Surrounded by mangroves, you can paddle out into the bay and swim in the sea.

Sarangani. This southern province is a “pound-for-pound” champion for its plethora of tourist attractions, much like its most famous son Manny Pacquiao.

Inflatable Island at Papa Kit’s Fishing Lagoon

Its most popular portion is Gumasa Beach in Glan which is known for its long stretch of powdery white sand and crystalline water and site of the annual Sarangani Bay (SarBay) Festival, the country’s biggest beach extravaganza, which draws more than 100,000 party-goers.

Listed in the Australia-based Flight Network as among Asia’s Top 50 Beaches, it is also a gourmet getaway with the mouth-watery native cuisine served at the intimate boutique resorts.

On its western shores, scuba divers will be amazed by the marine biodiversity in Tinoto, Maasim, the top dive spot in the Soccsksargen region as declared by the Department of Tourism.

Within its municipal waters is Maasim Reef which abounds in juvenile white-tipped sharks, huge fan corals and gigantic bat fishes, and marine flora. Dolphins, sea turtles, whale sharks, Mameng, sea cows, and a profusion of aquatic animals can be sighted.

Further to the west, beach bums can laze at Tuka Beach, a marine park in Kiamba town which is  dotted by a series of secluded coves with powdery pocket beaches and coral gardens ideal for snorkeling and freediving.

Declared by the government as a protected seascape and a key marine biodiversity area, Sarangani Bay covers a 230-km coastline, 2,293 hectares of corals, 60 important live hard coral genera, 411 reef species, and 11 seagrass species.

With a low Covid-19 incidence, the province will soon be reopening the once sleepy shores to make people feel that life is a beach, or better yet, beach is life.

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