The Boracay closure may have dampened this year’s plans of LaBoracay devotees (and if you’re one of them, rest assured that the island locals have far bigger problems than you), but if there’s anything our country doesn’t lack, it is in seaside destinations where you can kick back and vegetate to your heart’s consent, maybe even have a fun party that you can ‘Gram all night long.
For last-minute planners who are contemplating a quick escape from the city during the weekend, here are five locations you can easily drive to. You’re also welcome to make notes on where else to head for future holiday jaunts.
Fortune Island, Batangas
Its accessibility has made Batangas a perennial favorite not just among beach-goers but also folks looking for a home out of town, but lest you think you’ve already seen the best of its coast, the once privately owned Fortune Island may yet surprise you. Located just an hour away from Nasugbu, the island has white sand, turquoise waiters, and pillars and statues that can make you feel as if you’ve somehow landed in Greece. Fortune Island is best for those who are about the rougher island life, with minimal interference from city distractions. Go on a trek to take in the views from the its cliffs, dive off of them into the clear waters, snorkel the whole afternoon away, and camp underneath the stars.
We’ve already spoken highly of this super popular summer destination. Where else can you learn how to surf by day, go on a food trip the whole afternoon, and chill at a party at night, then lather, rinse, and repeat everything the next day? But there’s also more to La Union than its beach side attractions.
A quick drive away from San Juan towards San Fernando will lead you to the Pindangan Ruins, said to be a popular first stop for long-time La Union visitors who want to say a quick thanks for a safe road trip behind and pray for good luck on their surfing adventures ahead. It’s a peaceful site, with a statue of the Virgin Mary standing in the shade of a big tree. What remains of the original church—the outer walls and the arches of its entrance points—are surrounded by vines and greenery, and a small chapel and a Carmelite monastery stand adjacent to the site.
Another cultural stop in San Fernando is the Ma-Cho Temple, a Taoist temple built in 1977 for the sea goddess Mazu. With a view overlooking the San Fernando coast, guests can simply take in the calmness of the place and even make a wish at the altar inside by lighting incense sticks. You can even ask Mama Ma-Cho questions answerable by “Yes” or “No,” with her responses revealed through two wooden half-moon-shaped blocks that you let fall to the ground like a pair of dice.
You’ve already heard of Crystal Beach, Liwliwa, and Capones Island, maybe had even visited a couple or all of these places, but have you heard about the Inflatable Island? Located right smack in Olongapo City, this floating playground will have you feel like a kid again with its swings, trampolines, monkey bars, slides, wiggle bridges, ladders, and more, spread out over 4,100 sq.m. And should you need a breather from all that pastel-colored PG-approved fun, you can just relax one one of the plushy bean bags at the Bali Lounge and wait for the sunset, your favorite drink in hand.
Here’s a bonus incentive to book a trip to Inflatable Island for the weekend: There will be a Labor Day Weekend Party here, where drinks will flow freely for guests from 3 pm to 6 pm. All you need to do to get an invite is to book Inflatable Island tickets for you and your crew. Visit their website for more details.
White sand? Check. Beach parties? Check. Another major plus to why Puerto Galera is so popular among beach lovers is how relatively close it is to Manila. No wonder it was chosen to be the venue for the annual Malasimbo Music Festival, where attendees get to soak up the sun, some amazing indie music, and positive vibes for a weekend. But music festival or not, the island offers just the right kind of respite from the stress of the city, just a quick drive to Batangas and a ferry boat ride away.
Patar Beach, Bolinao, Pangasinan
At the end of the day, what matters most to folks who head to the beach is the change in scenery from urban life. Up north, the Patar White Beach has been dubbed the “Boracay of the North” because of its smooth white sand, but there’s more to this place than being the rural version of a popular tourist spot. With clear blue waves coming in from the West Philippine Sea and the very relaxed and provincial vibe of the whole coastal stretch, Patar White Beach deserves to be known on its own and visited for its own merits.
An additional note: Because these spots are accessible from the city, the road trips involved in getting to them need to be fun and comfortable too. A compact car with the flexibility and spaciousness of an SUV, like the Ford EcoSport, can be your best bet for a ride. Get behind the wheel of one and test-drive one yourself by visiting the nearest Ford showroom.