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Beach on a budget

My eldest son, Juan Carlos, is fond of driving around the metropolis and to the neighboring provinces, in search of something new and exciting. Every now and then, he comes home raving about a new discovery that he and his girlfriend enjoyed.

Here’s that interesting destination he recently discovered and, since I didn’t want to dilute the “flavor” of his description of the place, I decided to yield my column this week to him. Dear readers, take a look at this interesting discovery, as described by my eldest son:

Beach on a budget
The golden sunset provides an attractive background for a typical Filipino silhouette.
With the recent staggering “one-two punch” of rising fuel prices and skyrocketing inflation rates, it’s no surprise that more and more beachgoers are resorting to DIY (do-it-yourself) vacations to get their fix of “Vitamin Sea.”

Whether they are backpackers, barkada trippers, or families on vacation, more and more tourists are looking for seaside escapades that aren’t so heavy on the pocket. Creating the perfect trifecta of proximity (to Manila), budget-friendliness, and natural beauty, the Manuel Uy Beach in Calatagan, Batangas is certainly the beach to go to for those DIY-branded adventures. 

Located just a mere three and a half hours away from congested Manila, this beach is perfect for those days when you just have to “get away from it all.” For those of you who need to recharge with a healthy breath of fresh air, the beach is exactly what your doctor prescribed. 

The symphony of sun, sea, sand, and sky (and stars) offers a picturesque moment worthy of an epic cinematic soundtrack. Whether it’s camping with the children, a weekend with the gang, fun time after office hours with colleagues, or a romantic sunset date with your partner, it’s the perfect place to unwind.

Unlike the more famous beaches of Boracay, Siargao, and Puerto Galera, where you either have to fly or take a ferry, or Pagudpud and La Union which take at least a half day’s worth of road time (not to mention expensive toll fees), Calatagan’s Manuel Uy Beach takes the best of the aforementioned beaches with a more budget-friendly come-on. 

The best way to travel is to share a ride with friends/family, maximizing the number of individuals splitting the toll fee of about P175.00 per way (approximately US$3.50). Fuel costs are also kept to a minimum when sharing a ride.

Upon arrival, each guest pays either the day pass of P100 (US$2) or the overnight fee of P200 (US$ 4), with appropriate discounts for senior citizens. Children below 6 years old enter for free. Guests also pay for parking, P100 (US$2), and the environmental fee of P30 (less than US$1). 

Since there are no rooms or formal accommodations, visitors pitch tents to stay in for the night. There is a corresponding camping fee of P150 (US$3), which is good for up to four persons (the more in the party, the higher the fee). Guests may bring their own tents, or rent them for P500 (US$10).

Because this beach is a seaside campsite, it is assumed that guests bring their own food and drinks. Hot water, charging ports for mobile phones, stoves and rice cookers are available for rent, but most guests bring their own to further cut costs.

Once you arrive at the beach, it’s a race against other guests to get the choice spot to pitch your tent or set up your picnic area. Once you have settled down, there is a smorgasbord of nature-bound activities to choose from. Eager guests wade in the waist-deep water of the shallow surf, usually between 6:30 a.m. to around 10:00 a.m. when the sun is not too harsh, and then again, at around 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. when the lifeguards leave for the day. 

Island-hopping with friends is a great way to spend the day, but if you’re on a tight budget, you can spend the hot hours at the cooking area preparing your feast for the rest of the day or hide in your cozy tent under the shade of the many trees. 

Social media-conscious guests try out their “fantasized dream poses” in any of the Instagram-worthy locations at the resort, from the rugged rocks a la Little Mermaid, to the sandy shoreline, or the shallow sea. At the end of the day, you see time slowing down, as the mesmerizing sunset slowly tucks itself behind the horizon, giving way to the spectacular sky of stars.

Beach on a budget
The perfect antidote to stress—sand, sea, and sky.
And, to think, one can have this awesome bonding with nature...at a budget!

For feedback, I’m at [email protected]

Topics: Vitamin Sea , Manuel Uy Beach , beach , travel , Boracay , Siargao , Puerto Galera
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