Ever since the start of the pandemic, travelers have boosted local tourism here in the Philippines. With the 'cabin fever' still raging on, destinations that do not require you to hop on a plane or get an expensive CoVid test are becoming more and more popular. Places near Manila, like La Union, Rizal, and Batangas are gaining more attention in social media. One white sand beach near Manila that you can definitely afford is Calatagan.
Calatagan comprises the Calatagan Peninsula between the South China Sea and Balayan Bay. The peninsula's near-white sand beaches are already well-known vacation and leisure sites. But one popular activity is drawing tourists to this small town: Floating Cottages in the "Little Boracay of Batangas"
We booked a cottage from a friend on Facebook (contact details below) and the tour includes Sandbar Hopping, Little Boracay, Starfish island, snorkeling, and, of course, the floating cottage. Similar to Matabunkay, the cottage here is made with bamboos.
As of writing Calatagan is open for tourists, provided they register here: https://s-pass.ph/
It is still better to check with your tour provider for documents that you need to get. When we visited the place, the only requirement is BHERT (Barangay Health Certificate), but it is still better to check with your tour provider for documents that are currently required on the checkpoint.
You can watch my vlog for a more detailed review and prices:
Before we went to our jump-off point, we went to the public market of Calatagan to buy our own food. This is optional, but we always bring our own food to the beach because freshly cooked food is always the best. Less expense and more food!
Our jump-off point is at El Farco Resort. We parked our car there and kinda waited a bit for our cottage to arrive. We walked for a minute towards the beach and there were about two or three more groups besides us that morning.
When everyone is settled down, a little boat pulled us to the famous sandbar and we were quite surprised that there are a lot of cottages already lined up in the sandbar! We were not quite prepared for the crowd since it's the pandemic but I guess 'cabin fever' is really affecting almost everyone.
The sandbar was vast! You can walk for miles and still be in ankle-deep waters. The best thing is that the sand is creamy white and, though not as fine as Boracay, is still an escape from the floor of your house.
After eating our lunch beside the sandbar, the boat pulled us again to another spot where we had a blast jumping from the raft since the water is deep and safe for diving.
The last stop is Starfish Island. There were numerous starfish below the water and (sheepishly) we can't resist touching them and bringing them up in the air. Sorry!
There's also a jet ski that's going around while pulling a banana boat. All you have to do is tell your boatman that you want to ride and the banana boat will stop right beside your raft.
Here's a breakdown of our expenses for the day:
Floating Cottage - P4000
Ecological Fee - P30/person
Banana Boat - P200/ person
Parking fee -P100/car
Shower fee P20
And here are the contact details of where we rented our floating cottage:
Calatagan Floating Cottage Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CalataganFloatingCottage/
Calatagan Floating Cottage Contact Number: 0953 392 2966
As always, keep safe and travel responsibly!