Amazing Pebble Beaches Of The Philippines
Every year when those steamy summer months start to heat up, most people seem to dream about a perfect white sand beach. For most of us, when we envision a beach paradise, it often comes with powdery white sand and crystal clear water.
But the Philippines is blessed with a lot of other types of beaches. Beaches lined with pebbles and small to medium sized cobbles or boulder beaches may not be the most ideal for swimming, but they have their own charm.
Pebble beaches provide a great location for unique landscape photography. You know those dreamy long exposure landscape shots with the silky water effect you’ve always wanted to take? Pebble beaches are great for those. You can also try the zen art of rock balancing on beaches with larger stones.
If you are the type of person who likes to have a bit of seclusion, pebble beaches are great for this.
Pebble beaches are not that commercialized and often not as crowded as their sandy counterparts, so you can enjoy quality time during your visit.
Here are a few stunning pebble beaches of the Philippines.
Valugan Boulder Beach, Batanes
Boulders populate a lot of the eastern edge of Batan Island like discarded marbles carelessly thrown to the side. The elements here are at constant war with each other. The whirling wind lifts the spray into the air as the sea comes crashing down against the shore. Yet, there is something so trance-inducing about the whole action. Like the ironically named ocean it faces, Valugan Beach is absolutely sedating.
You won’t find many soft powder beaches here but still, it has a beauty of it’s own.
Going around the beach is difficult and a bit risky, but bordering the strip of boulders are much more sole-friendly carpets of grass. A trail southward leads to a bend with small pebbles, not boulders. The waves are also less violent in this part, albeit still not recommended for swimming.
How to get there: Philippine Airlines (PAL Express) and Skyjet fly to Basco, the Batanes capital. From the airport or your inn, Valugan Beach can be reached by tricycle. North Batan Tour usually costs P1000 per tricycle (good for 2 pax). Our tricycle contact during our visit was Dale Veracruz (+63 929 341 0941).
Where to stay: There are no accommodations at Valugan Beach, but Basco town proper has a number of inns and homestays. We recommend Troy’s Lodge (+63 938 976 2237) near the town center and airport. Another blogger favorite is Marfel’s Inn (+63 908 893 1475). Rates for both: P700 per room per night (2pax).
Don’t miss: Swimming is not recommended and almost impossible because of the waves, so there’s nothing much to do but just enjoy the scenery. Many photographers come here to catch the sunrise.
Don’t forget: Hiking shoes. Tours in Batanes, while relatively light, can be made much more comfortable if you’re wearing rubber shoes instead of flip flops and flat shoes.
Chadpidan Boulder Beach, Batanes
Valugan isn’t the only boulder beach in Batanes. On the western edge of Batan Island is its twin, Chadpidan Beach. Like Valugan, it is filled with boulders that were spewed by the nearby Mt. Iraya centuries ago and were eventually polished and smoothed by the tides and the monstrous waves of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Chadpidan means “west” in the Ivatan language; Valugan means “east.”
How to get there: Chadpidan Beach is just a tricycle or motorcycle ride away from Basco Airport or town proper. Bicycles are also available. This may also be included in some North Batan tours (P1000/2 pax). Simply tell your guide that you want to see Chadpidan Beach too. Batan Island North (P1000 by tricycle, good for 2 pax)
Don’t miss: It is a great spot to see the glorious Batanes sunset.
If you have more time: See the other tourist spo
ts in North Batan (Basco) including Naidi Hills, Vayang Rolling Hills, Tukon and Valugan Beach.
Where to stay: Troy Lodge (at the Basco town proper) offers affordable rooms at P700 per night. You may reach them at +63 938 976 223.
Luna Pebble Beach, La Union
While La Union is known mostly for its sandy shores and surf, in the town of Luna you can find a beautiful coast facing the West Philippine Sea lined with multicolored pebbles. In fact, the town has been nicknamed “the pebble capital of the North” because of the landscape and its thriving stone-picking industry. While you’re there, you can also visit the rebuilt Baluarte Watch Tower and the Bahay na Bato, a rest house built from stone and rocks.
Built by the Spaniards during their heydays, the mighty Baluarte was used as watch tower and observation post by the authorities for impending danger from the sea. Not from typhoons or tsunamis, but from the Abu Sayafs at that time: the Japanese, Chinese and Moro pirates who took pleasure in raping coastal towns and settlements.
The watch tower still erects but is ruined because of worn out base and foundation. It is being supported by concrete posts on its sides. Despite the derelict and seemingly crumbling state, it remains to be beautiful and admired.
“Bahay na Bato,” was made from the stones and pebbles found along the beaches of the municipality. After all, Luna is the Pebble Capital of the North and stone-picking is one of its booming industries. Aside from the stones that make up the foundation of the house, painted pebbles and wooden sculpture made by Bong Kim, a Korean, also adorn the interiors and the grounds of the Chan-Noble’s secret hideaway.
It is located at Brgy. Nalvo Norte, Luna, La Union. General admission is at PhP 20 while kids who are below 4 years of age are free of charge. It is open daily from 6 am to 8 pm.
How to Go to Luna:
From Manila, ride a bus that is Ilocos-bound. Inform the driver that you be dropped at the town of Balaoan. Once in Balaoan center, there are tricycles in front and across the church that is Luna-bound. From Luna town proper, go to Valdez Street near St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish. There’s another road there going to the Pebble Beach.
Pitigo beach, Caramoan
Pitogo’s island lush green hill and gray stretch of beach beckons invitingly. When your boat docks on the island’s beach, you will find not sand but smooth, palm-sized stones – mostly gray, some white and some reddish – on the shore.
As Pitogo Island is not usually included in the typical island hopping tours, you just might have all the island to yourself when you go there. Amid the quiet, you can hear the music of the waves pushing and pulling the stones, and of your footsteps moving the stones. You can also go up the hill and see Lantangan’s beach strip – one side facing the open sea, the other side a cove.
Tip: Pitogo Island is not usually included in the island hopping tours in Caramoan. Ask your boatman to take you there for an additional price. Better yet, go with a tour organizer that takes travelers to islands not usually part of island hopping itineraries. We went with Kaddlagan Outdoors with the help of Naga Tourism for this tour and the other islands of Caramoan.
How to get to Caramoan: Take a flight to Naga, or take a bus to Naga from Cubao, Pasay, or Alabang. Book ahead to ensure you have a seat. Philtranco, DLTB, Mt. Isarog Lines, and Peñafrancia Tours are the more reputable bus lines. Travel time by bus is 9 hours. From Naga, take a bus to Caramoan from the terminal. Then, when you arrive at Caramoan town, take a tricycle to Paniman, the jump-off point for island hopping. Travel time to Paniman from Naga is around 4-5 hours.
Alternatively, from Naga, you can take a van to Sabang port, then ride the passenger boat to Guijalo port. From Guijalo port, take a tricycle to Paniman. Travel time is shorter, around 3-4 hours.
White Pebble Beach, Camarines Sur
About an hour away from Naga City in the province of Camarines Sur is another pebble beach in Bagolatao, a town Minalabac. White Pebbles Beach Resort has comfy cottages as well as a beach house for their guests, and they also have basketball, volleyball, and badminton courts if you want more activities. You will surely love an overnight stay here as you enjoy the magnificent view of the sunset across Ragay Gulf. The shore here is lined with small white and gray pebbles, which stretches about three kilometers. At the far end of the beach is Bagapuso Point, which you can actually hike up to get a panoramic view of the island. If you’re visiting, you can also pay a visit to the Bicol Shell Museum nearby.
Go Snorkeling and Spelunking
While at the beach, you can also rent a boat to take you to nearby places and if the waters are clear and the weather is good, grab your goggles and enjoy an hour of snorkeling. Five minutes of boat ride and you can reach an area where there is a small cave you can check out. There is also a small natural spring at the other part of the beach if you want to feel refreshed from the heat from the sun and the saltiness of sea water.
Visit the Bicol Shell Museum
There is also a two-storey museum which was opened to the public in April 2014. It is just across White Pebble Beach and is the home to different shells of types and sizes. Since it was established, students, researchers, locals and tourists have frequented the place.
How to Get There
By plane, you can choose from Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines or Philippine Airlines and get off at Naga Airport. Minalabac is just 40 minutes from Naga City. By bus, there are bus terminals in Pasay and Cubao going to Naga. There are numerous bus companies like RSL, Penafrancia Tours and Isarog Lines, among others. While in town, you can either walk or take a jeepney or tricycle to get around.
Take note, though, that it’s forbidden to take home stones from the beach as souvenirs!
Know of any other stone beaches around the country worth visiting? Let us know in the comments section!