Unfortunately, there is no real beach in Manila itself. The good news? You don’t need to fly out on day trips from Manila in order to find one. Manila’s neighbouring provinces are blessed with awesome shorelines. So here’s how to pick the best beaches near Manila in the Philippines.
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Photo credit: James Connolly
Why Visit a Beach near Manila?
Life in any big metropolis can be challenging and stressful. The organized chaos, the despair of street life, the noise and pollution, all these things can make you feel burnt-out.
That’s why it’s imperative to take a break from time to time. Whether it’s a short break or a long one, de-stressing is life-saving and where else is better to spend it rather than the beach?
Just 2-3 hours away from the capital and you already got yourself a nice stretch of beach with white sand.
So save your airfare bucks for other things because here are some of the best beaches to go to without venturing too far from the capital. But first, let’s talk about transport.
Getting around For Your Day Trip in Manila
Getting around the capital of the Philippines is easy but traffic congestion is to be expected at all times due to numerous expansion projects by the government in major roads and cities.
Manila is still safe for tourists and unless you go to poverty-stricken areas, you are safe to take the local transport like taxis, jeepneys and buses. You can also ride the MRT or LRT but it is usually cramped and unpleasant especially during rush hours.
Still, the best way to reach the nearby provinces is via the local provincial bus. There are several bus terminals found in Cubao, Araneta Center and Pasay (close to Mall of Asia).
Buses leave every hour and travel time to the nearby provinces is usually between 2 to 4 hours. If you want to reach your destination faster, consider booking a private van through an agency instead.
Some other cool things to see (and I’ve already handpicked tours for you) include:
- Bathing in the enchanting Hidden Valley*
- Taking in the breathtaking views of Taal Volcano and Taal Lake*
- Visiting a coconut plantation and experiencing life in Manila’s countryside*
Best Beaches near Manila
San Antonio, Zambales
San Antonio was severely affected when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 and its once rocky shores were buried with mud and ash.
As if a blessing in disguise, the amount of ash fall made it possible for the once rocky shores to transform into a beautiful greyish white sands.
Today, the coves of Anawangin and Nagsasa are among the favourites of the local tourists and the lack of modernization and accommodation in the area makes it ideal for that much needed respite.
Other notable beaches accessible from San Antonio Pundaquit are: Capones Island, Talisayin Cove, Camara Island and Silanguin.
Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro
The so called Boracay of Southern Luzon, Puerto Galera is the closest thing you can get to a white sand beach near Manila. It is a beautiful coastal town with some of the best macro-diving spots in the world.
It is the centre of world’s marine biodiversity according to the Smithsonian Institute as there is very high concentration of marine species.
There are also several beaches to choose from like the pebble beach in Virgin Island, Encenada beach in Sabang area, Haligi sandbar (a jump-off point for snorkelling adventures) and the famous White Beach.
Dampalitan Islands and Borawan, Quezon Province
The beaches of Borawan and Dampalitan are located in Padre Burgos. Fun fact: The word Borawan, as the locals call it, comes from the word “bulawan”, which means gold.
Others however, believe that the name is a combination of Boracay and Palawan because of its beautiful sands like that of Boracay coupled with protruding karst cliffs reminiscent of El Nido in Palawan. (Although El Nido’s sand is way more spectacular.)
Alternative notable beaches in Quezon can be found on the Dampalitan islands, which are all perfect for camping as there are no accommodations in the area. These are some of the cool hidden beaches near Manila.
There is no shortage of beaches in Batangas Province. If you love the beach and got limited time to explore, Batangas is the best option as you can hop from one beach to another in a span of 3 days and would still be left with more to explore.
Batangas is just so blessed with unending stretch of coastlines. One popular Batangas beach that you shouldn’t miss is Laiya in San Juan. It has white sands spread over a long stretch where you can just bask in the sun and lounge around with a book.
Another equally stunning beach destination is Tingloy, where you can find Sepoc Point, Sombrero Island and Masasa Beach. If you are looking for a complete isolation without going too far from the mainland, Masasa Beach and Sombrero Island are your best bet.
A bit more expensive and a little bit on the exclusive side, Nasugbu is home to the more high-end and exclusive resorts.
Although the beaches of Nasugbu and Lian are mostly black, you can still find some white sandy shores in one of the resorts in the area. If you get tired of beach-bumming, head to the Fortune Island for a fantastic shipwreck dive.
Another one of the long list of Batangas beaches near Manila, Calatagan was once a popular household name but as time went by, it became less and less popular.
That doesn’t mean however, that Calatagan is no longer a destination worth visiting. Albeit dimished, it still has got its old charms.
It may not be as beautiful as the one in Laiya and Boracay but Subic beach is refreshing. The grey sands are fine and soft and the waves are always gentle.
There are also several resorts, hotels and private villas for rent in Subic where you can just enjoy in the pool when you don’t feel like spending too much time at the beach.
Hundred Islands, Pangasinan
Literally, there are more than a hundred islands inside the Hundred Island National Park in Alaminos, Pangasinan but only three were developed for tourism purposes namely: Governor, Children and Quezon Islands.
These islands are believed to be 2 million years old as proven by the presence of ancient corals inland. There are a variety of activities on the islands such as ziplining, banana boat rides, snorkelling and helmet diving.
Alaminos is one of the best family vacation spots near Manila, but taking the bus can be quite a hassle with kids as it’s 5-6 hours of grueling drive. If you want to go there, it’s better to book a tour with island transfers.
Anilao, Mabini, Batangas
Another popular beach in Batangas near Manila is in Anilao, Mabini but it is not just any other beach, it is also considered to be one of the best dive sites in the world according to experts.
It may not have your usual powdery sands but this diving mecca is the birthplace of scuba diving in the country. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced diver, Anilao will certainly blow your mind away with its fantastic underwater scene.
In case you’re not keen on diving, you can rent a boat to Sombrero Island and get that perfect sun tan. You can also go and hike Mount Gulugud Baboy which is a difficult climb if you are a beginner but an easy one if you’re a seasoned mountaineer.
Malabrigo, Lobo, Batangas
Probably one of the few pebbled beaches in the country, Malabrigo beach in Lobo is beautiful in its own way. The pebbles are smooth and the waters are so clear that you don’t need goggles in order to see live corals and fishes.
The visibility is awesome in addition, don’t forget to visit the Malabrigo lighthouse which can be easily accessed from the beach.
Top things to Pack for Your Manila Day Trip
When you go on your day trip to a beach near Manila make sure you have everything you need. This is especially true when you are in the remote area.
Because it is not common to find supermarkets and convenience stores on the beach unless it is heavily commercialized like Boracay. So here are some of the most important things that you need to bring with you before going.
- Drinking Water: In places like Anawangin, Nagsasa and other islands, you must never hop on the boat without drinking water. These islands and coves are so remote that the only establishment you can find there are basic comfort rooms and no stores whatsoever so without drinking water in your refillable bottle* you will not make it long.
- Coals and cooking utensils: Unless you have pre-packed food, the only way you can eat is if you cook so make sure to bring some coals and matches for your fire. Put your food in handy tinfoil boxes*. Wood is readily available because there are a lot of trees in the area. Just be careful.
- Sunscreen*: The Philippines is warm and humid all year round and whether it is sunny or not, it is still necessary to get some protection against UV rays.
- Loose change and small denomination cash: You will most likely need to buy stuff from small stores and if you don’t have small denomination cash, you might have trouble getting some change so you’d have to wait as the next store is probably half a kilometre away. The same is true with local transports. If you will take a trike or a jeepney, loose change is more than enough to get you somewhere you need to be.
- Waterproof pouch*: You are going to the beach, so if you don’t want your valuables to get wet, you must put them in waterproof bags or pouch. If you plan to use your camera underwater, a waterproof cellphone bag is helpful and highly recommended.
Best Time to Visit Beaches in the Phillippines
The Philippines has two seasons: dry season from November until April and wet season from May to October. While dry season is high season and thus very busy and well visited, it also means that it’s easier to reach other islands and remote areas on Manila day trips.
Also, the weather can be quite hot during dry season so if you prefer cooler but sunny days, travel the Philippines during December to February.
However, if you want the beaches more to yourself and are ok with occasional showers and downpours, try shoulder season. This means May and November.
Try to avoid planning a visit to these nice beaches near Manila from August and October as typhoons can strike.
Do Beaches near Manila Have Day Trip Potenial?
Whether you are looking at only a one day trip from Manila or multiple days, there are plenty of day trip beaches near Manila to be explored. Depending on whether you just want to capture amazing travel photos of beaches close to Manila or go swimming and sunbathing, each beach has different qualities.
Which beach near Manila would you pick?
Photo credit: Cris Tagupa