If you are looking for a complete disconnection from urban life or a breakout from social media addictions, pack your bags and head immediately to Quezon province.
One Thursday afternoon in Dec 2015, my friend and I were planning a getaway as our first meetup.
We met thru Tinder and we believed it was time for us to see each other.
Our impulsive crave of the waves brought our imagination to the islands of Quezon province. I knew nothing about the place.
She told me about one of the islands there but that was only her information. She'd never been there too!
A Lot of First Times
An overnight on Saturday would be fine so that we could go home on Sunday evening, we decided.
Only two days left before our trip and I felt very excited.
1. It was our first meetup (kilig)
2. First trip together (woah...)
3. First time in Quezon province (exciting!)
Truth be told, I felt a bit indecisive about the trip.
I didn't know about the island and the girl.
We might be stranded there for weeks or the girl might be a transgender and rape me. (insert your reaction here)
Took a quick search about the island and it assured safety.
For my travel buddy, I didn't mind. I've seen her Facebook profile and she looked feminine enough.
I also haven't found a bio of herself saying "proud transgender" in any of her social media accounts.
First Impression on the Islands
It was a 2-days-1-night stay so obviously we didn't have the luxury of time.
We were searching for the best option possible to hop around the 3 islands and where to spend most of our time.
Our boatman suggested to have an overnight at Dampalitan. We would proceed to Puting Buhangin early in the morning and Borawan in the afternoon the following day. We agreed.
We arrived at Dampalitan island on a sunset. To say it was perfect is an understatement.
The island is so chaste and tranquil.
There was no electricity. No hotels, houses or apartments. You could only hear the waves, breeze and the birds.
I had only seen three tents set up including ours. You could bring your own tent or rent one for Php 300. We opted the latter.
1. Beach and sand quality, I would rate it 5 out of 10. The shore is a bit rocky and the sand is not so white & fine if you compare to Boracay.
2. Tranquility, 9/10. When I was there I felt like I was lost somewhere in time. My iPhone had no connection. We had dinner on the shore under a million stars. We were only playing reggaeton with my JBL Bluetooth speaker. We sang and we danced while sipping Tanduay Ice.
3. Convenience, 5/10. There were no stores or sandbars there so you have to bring your own food, cook it if you must. I was a bit prepared. I bought few chips and canned goods before we went to Quezon so that we were ready for our dinner that time. It was heavy but worth it.
4. Aesthetics, 6/10. My benchmark for aesthetics is El Nido - the lush green trees, limestone rock formations and turquoise blue waters is really stunning that you would want to stay there all your life. But the main takeaway for this island is the sunrise and the sunset. It is absolutely picture-perfect!
5. Other activities, 4/10. The best that you can do there is to hug your partner sitting on a huge timber while watching a bonfire. You can stroll around and take pictures. You can also go swimming although the water is really far from the shore especially during low tide.
Here's a reggaeton playlist I created featuring my favorite songs. Dance on!
After a night of stories, singing and dancing we went to our next destination called Puting Buhangin.
My first impression was it is better than Dampalitan. And I wasn't wrong.
Puting Buhangin Rating
1. Beach and sand quality, 8/10. The white sand is finer and the beach is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Unlike Dampalitan, you can run few steps and dive in the water.
2. Tranquility, 6/10. There were a lot more people in the area. You can hear someone shouting or a loud music. It is not child-friendly too for there were beach-goers smoking other stuff aside from cigarette. It is getting more like a mini-beach party place.
3. Convenience, 7/10. There was a little store for food and other necessities. Quite a relief for us. There were bathrooms and you can also find roofless huts for people to change clothes. The campsite is also nice since it is under the coconut trees with a bermuda grass. No wonder more people are staying in Puting Buhangin than Dampalitan.
4. Aesthetics, 7/10. Aside from the beach and sand quality, you can also find small caves to explore. The coconut trees looked perfect too. In fact there were campers setting on their hammocks. Cool!
5. Other activities, 7/10. There are watersport activities in the island like jetski and banana boat. Or you can go spelunking to the caves. It has a lot more things to do than the former island.
In the past months I've been hearing a lot of buzz about Borawan. Some have exaggerated the beauty of the place while others have cited the dark side.
Our last stop had come to an end in a wonderful island being associated with Boracay and Palawan, hence the word BoraWan.
I couldn't wait to take off from the boat when we were approaching the island.
There were people but not too crowded, the beach and the sand are also comparable to Puting Buhangin. I fell in love with the beach.
At first I was a disappointed for the shore looked too small. When we dropped off the boat I thought that was the entire Borawan. But when we went around the other side I was stunned.
The long curvature strip of the shore is surprising.
My high expectations were finally met when we took a walk on the shore. Felt like heaven. It was the best of the three islands!
1. Beach and sand quality, 8/10. The beach is really good and the sand is perfect for a barefoot walk. The breeze was also frequent that complements the waves. We also stayed under the cave as a to protect us from the sun. Awesome.
2. Tranquility, 8/10. My friend and I were sitting on a 15 foot limestone rock formation. We took the ukulele and there we sang Jason Mraz's Lucky together. Imagine the sound of the waves, breeze and humming birds PLUS the ukulele. My eyes felt heavy and I fell asleep. Truly relaxing.
3. Convenience, 8/10. Obviously, this island has more amenities than the previous two. You can buy food and other necessities on the small store, it has concrete comfort rooms and there we took a shower, finally. Oh and you can find small huts for rent too for an overnight stay! I love the place.
4. Aesthetics, 8/10. I love the long strip of the island. You can see a lush green of trees and limestone formations. I felt nostalgic on Boracay and El Nido.
5. Other activities, 6/10. I haven't seen any watersports but you shouldn't miss climbing the skyscraper rock. You can also bring your own tent if you want. The shore is perfect for camping.
Invest for experiences for it will last a lifetime. This is the best lesson I've learned in life.
Prior to our trip, I was thinking of buying shoes but on a second thought I realized I didn't need it for my shoes are still in good condition.
New shoes was not a necessity.
If you haven't tried camping and backpacking, you should try it once. Two reasons: simplicity and mind refreshment.
Simplicity in a sense that you don't need to stay on luxury hotels or dine on lavish restaurants. You only bring what is essential on your trip.
Travel also refreshes your mind from your job/occupation.
Mind-pressing jobs affect your well-being. Stress desensitizes and kills your mind as this study shows. You need to go out and forget your job for a moment to free up your mind.
P.S. It was my first time also to see a falling star around 4AM at Dampalitan. Magical!
PPS. You can check out my photos in Instagram. Don't forget to leave a comment!