SPOT­LIGHT

While the gem of Philip­pine beach des­ti­na­tions is closed un­til Au­gust for a much-needed cleanup, the country has no short­age of al­ter­na­tive lo­cales for sun, sea, and sand. Here are five that should be on your sum­mer wish list.

DestinAsian - - DEPARTMENTS - BY SCOTT JAMES ROXAS

Five al­ter­na­tive Philip­pine beach des­ti­na­tions to Bo­ra­cay.

Baler

This idyl­lic get­away on cen­tral Lu­zon’s east coast is known for its lo­cal surf­ing scene and rich Span­ish-colo­nial her­itage, but it has plenty of other tricks up its sleeve. If Sa­bang Beach is wave-rider cen­tral, Di­cas­alarin Cove is the non-surfer’s hang­out with its white-sand shores, smaller waves, and a so-called “light­house,” a lean­ing mon­u­ment that of­fers sweep­ing views of the rugged coast­line from its cliff-top lo­ca­tion. Make sure you drop by the Baler Mu­seum, drive up Er­mita Hill, and hike through the rain for­est to take a dip be­low Di­tum­abo Mother Falls.

SLEEP Surfers in the lineup are best ob­served from the ve­randa of a sec­ond-floor suite in Costa Paci­fica ( 63-2/519-4249; costapaci­fi­ca­baler.com; dou­bles from US$88), a mod­ern, white­washed prop­erty on Sa­bang Beach.

Dahi­can

Min­danao in the far south has its share of post­card-per­fect sandy coast­line, and up-and­com­ing Dahi­can is well worth the four-hour drive east­ward from Davao. Dahi­can’s name­sake beach is the main at­trac­tion with its un­in­ter­rupted seven-kilome­ter stretch of white sand that curls around the glit­ter­ing waters of Mayo Bay. While the beach draws day-trip­pers from the neigh­bor­ing city of Mati on week­ends, you may well have the beach vir­tu­ally to your­self out­side of hol­i­day pe­ri­ods. Thrill-seek­ers take note: be­sides surf­ing and skim­board­ing, an­other way to ex­pe­ri­ence a rush of adrenalin is through a heart-stop­ping 15-minute ride aboard an ul­tra­light plane that of­fers mag­nif­i­cent vis­tas of the coast. SLEEP With rooms spread across a pair of two-bed­room beach­front vil­las that each have a kitchen and al­fresco din­ing area, Trop­i­cal Kanakbai ( 63/917-625-6301; kanakbai.com; dou­bles from US$87) of­fers peace, pri­vacy, and the added perk of a ded­i­cated cook.

San Nar­ciso

Its vast, open beach lined with tow­er­ing pine

trees makes San Nar­ciso a sea­side re­treat with enough real es­tate for ev­ery­one to soak up its quaint, unas­sum­ing ap­peal. While it’s fre­quented for surf­ing and camping, this oth­er­wise sleepy town an hour’s drive from Su­bic Bay oc­ca­sion­ally turns into a pul­sat­ing play­ground when it hosts events like the an­nual Sum­mer Siren Fes­ti­val. Vis­it­ing the nearby un­in­hab­ited is­lands of Capones and Ca­mara for a day is a must to ex­plore even emp­tier beaches, ad­mire var­i­ous rock for­ma­tions and cliffs, and mar­vel at the vast ex­panse of the West Philip­pine Sea from a cen­tury-old light­house. SLEEP Zam­ba­wood ( 63/915-991-4715; zam­ba­wood.com; fam­ily rooms from US$308) is a sprawl­ing coastal es­tate where The Beach House ac­com­mo­dates up to 22 guests in a huge mod­ern-in­dus­trial chalet tucked in a pine for­est.

La Union

A fa­vorite week­end haunt among yup­pie Manileños, Lu­zon’s surf­ing des­ti­na­tion du jour has miles of pale brown sand along with a thriv­ing food and re­tail scene, giv­ing even non-surfers plenty of rea­sons to linger. San Juan is the cen­ter of the ac­tion with a strip of restau­rants and cafés lin­ing the coast and ex­tend­ing across the other side of MacArthur High­way. Far­ther afield, cliff jump­ing at Tan­gadan Falls, sam­pling the lo­cal wine in nearby vine­yards, and in­spect­ing the

newly re­stored 400-year-old watch­tower at Luna are worth­while ex­cur­sions. SLEEP Away from the crowds, Lafaayette Lux­ury Suites ( 63/916510-8287; lafaayet­telux­u­ry­suites­re­sort.com; suites from US$142) is a newly opened re­treat in Bauang that looks out to the Lin­gayen Gulf, of­fer­ing Ba­li­nese-in­spired rooms built steps from the beach and a pool made for sun­set dips.

Mala­pas­cua

Al­most seven kilo­me­ters off the north­ern­most tip of the is­land of Cebu, Mala­pas­cua is, by some ac­counts, what Bo­ra­cay was like 20 years ago. Most small-scale re­sorts here con­gre­gate around the pow­dery white sands of Bounty Beach in the south, though you can also head to the wilder stretch of Lan­gob Beach in the north be­fore hik­ing along the scenic cliffs of nearby Guim­bitayan. Be­low the wa­ter’s sur­face, Mala­pas­cua is known as the only place in the world where thresher sharks can be reg­u­larly sighted in their nat­u­ral habi­tat, with the most pop­u­lar dive site be­ing Monad Shoal, a clean­ing sta­tion for these four- to six-me­ter-long crea­tures. SLEEP Opt for a ma­hogany- and abaca-fur­nished Sea View Deluxe room at Ocean Vida Beach and Dive Re­sort ( 63/917-568-5924; ocean-vida.com; dou­bles from US$75), which has a restau­rant, bar, and lounge area where you can in­dulge in a mango daiquiri right on Bounty Beach.

Be­low: Tak­ing in the rus­tic charms of Mala­pas­cua. Op­po­site,from left: Pool­side at Costa Paci­fica re­sort in Baler; fruit salad and freshly squeezed juice at Mala­pas­cua’s Ocean Vida Beach and Dive Re­sort.

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