Philippines Beaches

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Philippines Beaches
All the paradise clichés apply: white sand soft and fine as powder, towering palm trees, and pristine coves are the norm for beaches in the Philippines. With more than 7,000 islands and one of the longest coastlines in the world, there's definitely no shortage of them.
By Matt Gibson, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by age fotostock
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    Spoiled for Choice
    The Philippines has many thousands of beaches, and most look as though they were lifted from a magazine cover. Visitors here needn’t travel far to find a suitably picturesque place to lounge in the sand. Manila residents in search of a short weekday getaway often frequent the beautiful beaches of Batangas to the south or Olongapo and Zambales to the north; these are a mere three-to-four-drive from the capital. Hop on a short domestic flight to Boracay, Palawan, or Bohol, and you'll feel like you're in a different world—one where you get to go out under the tropical sun and enjoy stretches of white sand, or explore remote unspoiled islands without the crowds.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Seeking Serenity
    The resorts on Boracay and Bohol are wonderful, but beach resorts can be found anywhere in the tropics. The Philippines is one of the few remaining places where you can get a deserted tropical island to yourself without breaking the bank. Fly to Coron and hire a banca boat, and you’ll soon be sipping rum on an isolated stretch of sand. To go a little wild, grab your camping gear and head for Caramoan, southeast of Manila, a location for several seasons of the TV show Survivor. Although it’s getting more popular, El Nido in northern Palawan has some of the most serene beaches in the country. From there you can board a banca to dozens of uninhabited islands to dine on fresh fish and fruit and sleep under the stars.
    Photo by Matt Gibson
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    Colored Sands and Lakes within Lakes
    The Philippines has the fourth-longest coastline in the world and thousands of miles of beaches, so a few exotic oddballs are to be expected. The pink sand on Great Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga City, Mindanao is a result of red organ-pipe corals that have been pulverized by surf and mixed with white sand. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the volcanic black-sand beach near the southern tip of Luzon. Arguably the most unique beach in the Philippines is the beach on the crater lake, which is located on Taal Volcano, a volcano that sits in Taal Lake. Taal's crater lake has the distinction of being the largest lake on an island volcano in a lake on an island (Luzon) in the world.
    Photo by Omar Orate
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    Luxury by the Sea
    Luxurious may not be the first adjective that comes to mind when one thinks of the Philippines, but the tropical archipelago is home to a host of decadent resorts—many on private islands—that hold their own against any property on Ibiza or Fiji. While the classic options would be the Shangri-La's chain of prized properties or the more secluded water cottages at popular island resorts, Amanpulo has made it as a top choice that one can compare to the Maldives. Offering a complete paradise that involves comfort, privacy, serenity, adventure, exoticness, and that warm personal touch all in one, this resort ensures guests will be rewarded with an unforgettable experience that they would not have thought possible.

    Photo courtesy of Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa
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    Beaches from the Big Screen
    The Philippines has been used as a location for Hollywood films for more than half a century, but is best-known as the setting for numerous Vietnam War movies. The most famous cinematic shoreline is the surf break at Baler Bay in Luzon, where Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) informed the world that “Charlie don’t surf” in Apocalypse Now. The popular reality-TV series Survivor has shot seasons on Palaui off the coast of northern Luzon, in El Nido over to the west, and on Caramoan in southern Luzon. At the end of The Bourne Legacy, Aaron Cross and Marta Shearing escape to the islands around El Nido, Palawan—the same idyllic islands that some people believe inspired Alex Garland to write The Beach.
    Photo by Matt Gibson
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    Snorkeling and Scuba
    The abundance of superb diving and snorkeling sites in the Philippines means you do not have to choose between sipping coconut cocktails in a beach chair or checking out rainbow reefs teeming with bizarre ocean life; you really can have the best of both worlds. Malapascua is a tiny secluded island known for its opportunities to see thresher sharks—but it's also surrounded by lovely beaches with laid-back charm. Coron, on the other hand, is a group of islands worth exploring that offers something for everyone, whether you're looking to do World War II shipwreck dives, rich tropical coral-reef snorkeling, or simply enjoy the islands.
    Photo by Guido Alberto Rossi/age fotostock
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    Beaches for Boarders
    Consistent winds from November to April plus favorable beach conditions have made the Philippines a top spot for windsurfers and kiteboarders. Crescents of neon nylon often fill the sky above the beaches of Boracay as kiteboarders zip across the aquamarine water, streaming trails of white wake behind them. But the Philippines has numerous surf breaks, too. Baler Bay was the first one ridden in the nation; it was discovered by the crew of Apocalypse Now, who left their boards behind after filming and unwittingly sparked surf culture in the Philippines. Now surfers the world over travel to the country's variety of breaks, including the one in Siargao that is known for its enormous hollow waves.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Protected Natural Areas
    The Philippines is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Although tourism is good for the economy, it does increase the pressure on natural resources already stressed by activities like excessive deforestation. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has defined hundreds of protected areas covering, as of 2012, some 14,000 square miles. This is good news, especially as tourism gets busier for the nation's top attractions. There are numerous categories of protection, covering both land and sea and dealing with such topics as wildlife and natural resource conservation and the interaction between traditional societies and their environment.
    Photo by Matt Gibson