That Friday morning, we all prayed hard for sun and blue skies. After the drenching of yesterday, still vivid and sharp, we wanted nothing more to do with rain. And as though the echo of our collective pleas reverberated throughout the divine plane, the roiling clouds started to ease. As a result, we hurried to board our designated motorboats.
Weekend escapes usually entails some planning – from where to go, how to get there, what food to bring and where to stay. The choice for weekend trips from Manila are usually at the popular beaches of Batangas, Zambales and Quezon. What if I tell you there’s a tranquil and secluded cove only 3–4 hours away from Manila that you just have to conveniently bring yourself and not think about the food or the place to stay? Aroma Beach Hideaway is tucked in between Morong and Bagac at underrated Bataan. Managed by Bataan Nature Adventure, they emphasize on just enjoying your time at their beautiful cove and let them handle the rest.
Purple hues enveloped the sky as I watch over the ocean greeting the sun good morning at Sambawan Island. I am mindful of the tide’s ebb and flow at the beach below, the grass swaying from the breeze, the cool air touching my skin and gently the warm light creeping in the hut where I’m seated. Such a calm morning up the highest point of the island where I have a full panoramic view of the surrounding area. The volcanic Maripipi island looms over like a big brother.
Much can be said already about Sabtang Island, Batanes. It may be the the most accessible island from Batan island and host to many day trip tours, but there are still spots that remain untouched by visitors on the tourist trail. Lukoy Beach is one of those white sand beaches that people often pass by when doing a tour in Savidug and Chavayan. Often called the Secret Beach of Sabtang, the inviting white stretch can be viewed from a cliff. My native guide Mael, knew the way though. So coming from the Savidug Idjang Fortress, we rode back to the village to borrow his improvised snorkeling gear and rode towards this pristine white beach.
It’s easy to get lost in reverie when on the beach. The infinite swells and crashing waves has that hypnotic hook once gazed for merely seconds. This same trance-like state lingered for a moment as sundown sets upon the famed San Juan Beach of La Union. San Juan beach is a playground for both novice and veteran surfers. But for non surfers, it’s an ideal stretch to lounge or simply walk around.
We could see the long strip of the white sandy shores of Alibijaban Island from the port. We arrived just in time for the sunrise after a long six-hour drive from Manila. I was in the company of my fellow officemates from the university I currently work with and we’re on an outing trip. But it seems, we won’t be alone on the island as we were expecting. The newly built port already had a few vehicles parked, probably heading to the same island. Alibijaban Island has garnered quite a popularity in the past couple of years, and I had to blame my friends, Dong Ho and Allan of Lantaw for that somehow. I had some laughs when I recount Dong Ho’s story of being mistaken as an NPA when he first set foot on the island. He had to seek comfort and security under the baranggay captain since no tourist comes to their island. Now visitors here picked up especially on weekends. What drives people on this southern region of Quezon province?
There’s an advantage and disadvantage of staying in San Vicente town proper as I have learned. Advantage is that I get to stay real close to San Vicente’s Long Beach, the longest white beach in Palawan which I have immensely enjoyed combing through. Disadvantage is that Island Hopping here is costly unlike if I stay in Port Barton. The Island hopping tours (A to D) only cost Php 700 per head for a minimum of four people in a group. But since I’m travelling alone, I would have to shell out Php 2,000 to get to Port Barton by boat. The people at tourism office said if there are any groups from here that would do the tours I could always join in but from the looks of the people coming and going through this town, chances are pretty slim. I was resigned to spend my last full day in San Vicente by the beach when Ate Flor, the owner of Ursula Long Beach Travaller’s Inn called me up while having breakfast that she’s at the tourism office and managed to get me a slot to join a group doing a Port Barton Island Hopping Tour. I immediately said yes, quickly packed my camera and gear and hopped on a motorbike to take me to the port.