Who hasn’t dreamed of finding their own “Corona” beach, with the quintessential white sand and turquoise waters of the commercial? Well, I’ve visited beaches all over the Caribbean, United States, Central America, and South East Asia, and I can tell you—your search is over. The best beaches in the world are in the Philippines, and here are my top 6 reasons why:
1. They are picture perfect
If you are looking for soft, white sand, and clear, turquoise waters, look no further than Alona Beach on Panglao Island. This is the beach of your DREAMS. The gently swaying palm trees form a gorgeous backdrop that is a welcome change to the high-rise hotels you may see in other countries. You can spend all day sprawled out on the sand or take part in many tropical activities, including world-class diving and snorkeling. It is hard to believe anything can top Alona Beach—except for maybe the beaches of Palawan. This island was voted “The World’s Best Island” by Travel + Leisure, and El Nido has won numerous global awards for best beach! It’s definitely a “bucket list” location.
2. The relaxed vibe
Take off your shoes and stay a while! The beaches of the Philippines are so laid back, that you could eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, go shopping, all with your feet in the sand! Most of the bars and restaurants have tables right on the sand, or even bean bag chairs—the ultimate beachside comfort! Simply lay back while they bring the beer right to you, you never have to leave the view of the ocean if you don’t want. There’s no vehicles allowed along the beachfront, so you can walk along without any worries of noisy traffic. You’ll end up spending day and night in nothing more than your swimsuit and sarong!
3. Live music
This is one of my favourite things about the beaches in the Philippines that I haven’t found anywhere else in the world. Beginning at dinnertime, most of the restaurants and bars along the beach have live music which runs from dusk into the wee hours of the morning. I’m not talking about loud, jarring music – this is acoustic music that is the perfect backdrop to a relaxed dinner while watching the sun set, or to get you on your feet for a night of dancing. The musicians in the Philippines are some of the best in the world, with amazing voices to match. They will play anything you request. One time I requested “Mr Jones” by the Counting Crows, which the band didn’t know. They immediately looked up the music sheet on their iPad and started to play the song! And they were perfect. Even if the band consists of two musicians, playing only a guitar and a cajón (drum box), everyone will get up to dance!
Whether you want to drink cocktails on the beach with your toes in the sand, or go to a club for dancing, you will find it in the Philippines. Drinks are cheap and happy hour runs all day long! Try the local beers—San Miguel is a great one. Or find a group of friends and split some of the huge bottles of Red Horse—it has a big kick! The traditional way to share a bottle is to have one glass per group, each taking a turn drinking what’s in the glass, then refilling it and passing it on to the next person. This is a very sociable way to drink, and a sign of trust and camaraderie. I have never once felt unsafe as a female solo traveller in the Philippines. Even in situations where I was with new people, and we were drinking together, I’ve always felt welcomed and part of the family.
5. Hangover cures
After a night of partying, what is there to do but spend the day seeking out hangover cures? You’re never more than a step away from something to help with that heavy head. How about avocado ice cream made with local honey? A massage on the beach? Maybe the most delicious and rehydrating mango shake? Or you may decide to just lay in a hammock all day. All of these are great options and work a treat!
6. Last but not least – the people!
This last item deserves a special place of honour. The people of the Philippines are some of the friendliest, most open and welcoming people I have ever met. Almost everyone speaks English so it is very easy to get around and make new friends. Everyone just wants you to enjoy their country and have a good time. My new friends invited me to their house to try some home-cooked chicken adobo (spicy and tangy and oh-so-good!) and were always generous in every way. I miss their smiles as much as I miss the beaches!
The Philippines will always hold a special place in my heart. Their beaches are stunningly beautiful—and the ability to eat, drink, and shop without leaving the sand or the perfect views makes them the best in the world!
Jennifer is a Toronto-based writer/researcher, find her on Twitter @JenniferCorris1
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