If you’re looking for another beach destination while our favorite “sun-sea-sand attraction” is closed for the next six months, you might want to try out Magalawa Island in Zambales, as endorsed by our Department of Tourism.
Located in Palauig, Zambales, this 56-hectare island has a lot of surf spots and hidden coves to offer adventurous tourists. Its white fine sand beach and pristine sandbar add to its appeal, and the abundance of starfish in its waters has earned for it the tag, “Island of the Stars.”
So, what can one do at Magalawa Island? A lot! Aside from swimming in its crystal blue waters, one can indulge in water sports, sand sports, boat riding, jet skiing, scuba diving, snorkeling or just plain relaxing on the powdery white sand beach.
Or, if you need to lose all those calories that have piled up since the long holidays, you can take a walk along the sandbar where you are bound to see schools of tiny fishes playfully swarming all over the place. However, there is a rip current on the left side of the sandbar so be careful.
To get to this pristine beach destination, on a private vehicle, you may take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) through the Subic Bay Export Zone or Olongapo City, then on to Zambales passing by the towns of Castillejos, San Marcelino, San Antonio, San Narciso, San Felipe, Botolan, and Iba, before finally reaching Palauig where you turn right at Banlog Triangle, and drive north to Barangay Pangolingan. From there, you turn left at Veritas Road and drive straight to the port for the 20-minute boat ride to Magalawa Island. All in all, it takes around 6-7 hours to get there from Manila.
As far as accommodations are concerned, there are resort cottages that charge a very affordable rate of from P500 to P1,000 per night. You may bring your own food, if you’re the type who is picky with your diet, although these resorts also offer simple meals, but if you’re in a nature-tripping mood, you might just want to fill yourself up with fresh fish that abound in the waters of the island, and cook it yourself in the grilling station made available by the resort.
If you’ve had enough of the sea-sun-sand activities, there are many other interesting nearby places to visit: there is a Mangrove Forest at the western tip of the island, where egrets abound. Or you can go on a 10-minute boat ride to San Salvador island and marvel at the giant clams (taklobo) and the coral garden.
You can also embark on a discovery tour of the unexplored caves of Sitio Bunga and be amazed by the astounding stalactites and stalagmites. There is also the naturally designed swimming pool at the foot of the forest reserve in Coto, which leads you to the breathtaking hanging bridges. Or, you can make friends with the sea turtles (pawikan) and other marine species in Sitio Longos.
So, with Boracay going through a much needed aesthetic and internal “surgical procedure,” don’t fret because our country has dozens of other beach destinations to offer. Magalawa Island could prove even better for you as it is not yet (and, hopefully, will never be) as commercialized as Boracay.
Better than Boracay? Go and have a look!
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