Swinging by the sleepy shores of the South

Tuka Beach in Kiamba

With summer sizzling like the electoral campaign, lockdown-weary travelers naturally gravitate to our wonderful beaches to make up for the two summer vacations we missed, and hopefully get away from both the heat of the weather and politics.

The downside of the so-called revenge travel is the congestion in the popular getaways which seem to replicate scenarios of the very urban areas we escaped from.

The good thing is our archipelago has been endowed by the Almighty Creator with an infinite coastline where we can simply hop on to the next equally-exciting beach if our first choice is already bursting at the seams.

And just like the instrumental hit of British composer Johnny Pearson, we can bask in the proverbial sleepy shores which have been hiding from plain sight. Below are some of the notable not-so sleepy shores which are accessible and may yet be your most unexpected finds. For a multi-sensory experience, play the 1972 music theme of the US TV series Owen MD and be transported back in time.

Sailfish catch in Tibiao, Antique

Pit Stop 1. Antique. Just an hour away from Boracay’s jumpoff point is this neighboring province which has bundled a bevy of activities that will keep you occupied for the duration of your stay.

It started attracting attention more than a decade ago as a sidetrip with Pandan’s Malumpati Cold Spring and Tibiao’s novel fish spa, kawa (cauldron) hot bath and river rapids whitewater kayaking. The latter expanded and offered heritage tours around the población, a daybreak lambaklad fish harvest, and treks to waterfalls which concludes with a relaxing kawa bath and massage at the Calawag Mountain Resort.

As a coming out party for tourism, the province will soon hold the inaugural of the Antique Fishing Festival which is expected to fill the void in gamefishing due to the pandemic. The sporting event is expected to lure hundreds of professional and amateur anglers to rouse the sleepy shores in this side of the archipelago and introduce the province as the biggest catch in the tourism industry.

Pit Stop 2. Moalboal. A scuba diving hotspot in southwestern Cebu because of its famed whirlpool-like “sardine run” just a few meters below the surface, this town also has a mesmerizing beach for non-divers. Known as Basdako or “long beach,” with the upscale Club Serena Resort standing out among the row of native-themed resorts.

Named after the mythical mermaid, the newly renovated 1.3-hectare beachfront boasts of 12 luxurious suites and villas which exude a distinctively Filipino design style. At its central portion are two swimming pools and a clubhouse restaurant and bar which can whip out gourmet local and international dishes and cocktails.

Laze at the Balinese-style beach gazebo and picnic huts, gaze at the ripples while feasting on luscious dishes, glide on the water on a stand-up paddleboard, or kayak as you gaze at the sparkling sand from a distance.

Better yet, join the resort staff in their routine early morning coastal cleanup to ensure the guests and the community a clean and safe aquatic playground.

For a consummate experience, the resort can also help arrange scuba diving and adventure tours in the neighboring towns.

The three-hour drive from Cebu City would hardly matter because of the charming countryside which serves a visual treat as you negotiate the scenic twists and turns on the road.

Club Serena in Moalboal, Cebu

Pit Stop 3. Kiamba. Situated 93 kms. west of General Santos City, this under-the-radar town of Sarangani is home to Tuka Marine Park, a 200-meter powdery white beach which serves as an alternative when the popular Gumasa Beach on the eastern coast gets crowded.

A secluded cove some 15 minutes away by boat from the municipal plaza, its distance serves as a natural barrier from the madding crowd. If it’s your lucky day, you can have the beach unto yourself and explore the marine sanctuary through snorkeling or freediving. There are also paddle boats for rent so you can get the castaway feel in the middle of nowhere.

If the good old island life beckons, give in and stay behind at the modest resorts for a back-to-basics overnight.

After soaking in the sea water, rinse and get a hydromassage at the icy natural pool of Bocay-El Falls at the mountain slopes not too far from the road. Cap the escapade with a tasty and inexpensive barbecue street food dinner at the quaint and colorful Kiamba plaza baywalk.

If the temptation of a beach overload seems so hard to pass up, there are scores of sleepy shores along the 200-km stretch of Sarangani Bay if you only ask the friendly neighborhood.