Tag Archives: white-sand-beach

Swimming with the fishes in Alegre

I swam with the fishes in Alegre. Literally. Try wading in the resort's seas and they'd follow you around, circling your legs, perhaps hoping you'd throw them a morsel of bread. The Alegre Beach Resort in Sogod in Cebu has declared its sea waters a marine sanctuary. A sign on the beach says fishing or capturing the friendly fish is prohibited. Emboldened perhaps by the fact that they're not harmed and that they're fed by well-meaning beachgoers, fish congregate in the resort's shallows. We had a blast watching them race for bed crumbs. Resort structures, themselves, strive to disturb as little as possible the area's rocky and uneven terrain. Alegre's offices, cottages, restaurants, and pool are located on a high cliff but stone steps have been carved out of the rock in strategic areas to connect the main resort area to the beachfront.
Alegre beach resort CebuTHE BEACHFRONT at The Cliff section of Alegre Beach Resort. At right is a bar. You can choose to take your meals or snacks here. Click on photo to enlarge.
A wooden structure built near the beach serves as bathroom and changing area for beachgoers. Also on the beachfront below the cliff grows coconut trees hung with hammocks. A restaurant and bar called The Cliff has been built into a recessed part of the rocks. An open cabana on the shore serves as a massage parlor. The resort, in its website, describes its white sand beach as spectacular and uncorrupted. And spectacular and uncorrupted it is. The beach is a long stretch of fine white sand and the shallow water the color of clean and clear green. The deep is a dark mysterious blue.
Massage parlor at the white sands of Alegre Beach Resort FANCY a massage at the beach? You can have one in Alegre. Click on photo to enlarge.
Meals at the resort can be taken in a variety of ways: inside the comfort of the Pavilion Restaurant and Lounge Bar or at its terrace with an uninterrupted view of the sea or at The Cliff on the beachfront. The food can be a choice of local or international cuisine. Close to the restaurant is the resort's pool and a little farther off is a little playground. Accommodation comes in the form of 20 cabanas set in lush gardens and taking inspiration from Spanish and Filipino architecture and style. Each cabana has two bedrooms with their own bathroom and lanai. The personal amenities available in the cabanas include a mini-bar, cable television, hairdryer, safe, and coffee maker. Room rates are listed in detail at the resort's website. A day trip to the resort, inclusive of buffet lunch, costs 800 pesos per person. Children get special rates.
Alegre Beach Resort in Cebu, PhilippinesTROPICAL PARADISE or something close to it. Alegre Beach Resorts pool and the open sea. Click on photo to enlarge.
The resort also provides aqua sports equipment for snorkeling, diving, jet skiing, windsurfing, and kayaking. Activities like island hopping, bird watching, mountain biking, and trekking can also be arranged upon request. The resort also has a tennis court, golf course, game room, library, and conference room. Alegre is among the top resorts in the Philippines. In 2000, the Department of Tourism named it the Kalakbay Award for Eco-Tourism Best Business Practice Category. It was also named the Kalakbay Resort of the Year in 1996. How to get there The Alegre Beach Resort is about 75 kilometers away from the Mactan Cebu International Airport. It takes about two hours of continuous drive to reach the place. Alegre says in its website that "transfers can be arranged and are free of charge." If you feel particularly adventurous and don't mind the added hassle, you can take one of the buses that ply the northern route at the North Bus Terminal near SM City Cebu in the North Reclamation Area in Cebu City. The trip would take more than two hours, what with stops on the way. More photos, click on them to view larger images. Cebu beach resort Philippine beach resort pool cebu white sand beach The sea beach bar and restaurant bar at beach Marker in Sogod, Cebu

5 things to do when in Cebu

If you ever find yourself in this paradise-island called Cebu in the Philippines, here are five things to do to get the most out of your stay. This post is part of the group writing project at Problogger. 1. Hit the beaches or go diving A narrow strip of land that is 200 kilometers long and 41 kilometers wide, the island province of Cebu—which is ringed by over a hundred other smaller islands—is home to several white sand beaches and spectacular dive spots. Worthy of mention are the beaches and dive spots of Bantayan, Malapascua, Alegre and Camotes in the north; Olango, Mactan, and Sulpa in the east; and Moalboal, Badian, and Sumilon in the south. Of Cebu’s over a hundred satellite islands, some are uninhabited and are favorite destinations of local and foreign tourists. Cebu beach Cebu is home to several white sand beaches and spectacular dive spots. 2. Dance the Sinulog Nothing defines Cebu as much as the Sinulog. It is a festival both religious and festive. A nine-day event that is both offering and thanksgiving. The festival culminates with the Sinulog mardi gras, which is held every third Sunday of January and is the island's biggest event. Everything stops in Cebu for the mardi gras as the city explodes into a sea of dancers and floats take over the street. The Sinulog has become bigger with every year of its staging, starting from its humble start as a parade for students. The Sinulog dance step of two-step forward, one-step back is inspired by the "sinug" (Bisaya word for burnt offering) dance prayers of candle vendors at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. The Sinulog SINULOG: Cebu's biggest festival and tourism draw. The festival culminates with the annual mardi gras, held every third Sunday of January. 3. Visit old churches Spaniards came to Cebu first before colonizing the Philippines. It is no surprise that the island hosts a lot of old churches, some dating back to the Spanish era. The Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, for example, is the country's oldest church. It was first built by the Spaniards in 1566 on the very spot where the image of the Santo Niño, left behind by Portuguese and Spanish explorers in 1521, was found preserved in a burned wooden box. There are also a lot of old churches in Carcar, a three-hour drive to the south. 4. Go downtown Colon St. is the oldest street in the Philippines. It was built when the Spaniards led by explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in the island in 1565. Colon is the center of Cebu's commerce and while it's no longer as glitzy as other commercial areas of Cebu, it still retains its old world charm--from 1920s building facades to historic markers. While Colon has become a safer place to visit in recent years, try not to bring anything valuable. Just bring the essentials with you: enough money for a meal in one of the restaurants in the stretch and some purchases in flea markets. When you're touring Colon, look for markers of historic spots. At the end of Colon St., just ahead the Gaisano Main department store, is the marker for the street. It's a small obelisk in the middle of the road. A few steps away is Parian, the old Chinese district in Cebu. Nothing much remains of the beautiful houses that used to define the district but there is a huge heritage monument in the area. The monument towers over the area and depicts key historical events of the island. Parian heritage monument PARIAN HERITAGE MONUMENT. The monument celebrates key historic events in the island. 5. Indulge in native cuisine Talisay lechon (roasted pig) It is said that the best-tasting inasal or roasted pig in the Philippines is the one cooked and prepared in Talisay City. You get varied answers as to why the Talisay inasal tastes best: some say it is the herbs they place inside the pig, others say it is the way they cook it, still others say it's the sauce they use for basting. Puso Puso is rice wrapped in coconut leaves and then cooked. Many establishments serve puso instead of rice to go with your meals. Puso rice pieces are strung together and servers just cut them off and slice them in half for serving, hence the term "hanging rice." Puso, according to a Cebu Normal University professor, had been once considered food for the gods, before Spain colonized the Philippines and introduced Christianity. The professor, however, said this ritualistic preparation of puso as divine offering is virtually non-existent today. Sutukil Eat fresh seafood by the shores of Mactan Island by visiting the sutukil diners of Lapu-Lapu City. The eateries are located near the Mactan monument, which houses the obelisk honoring Ferdinand Magellan and the statue of Lapu-Lapu. The monument is said to be the spot where Magellan was killed in 1521. In sutukil restaurants, you get to pick fresh seafood (fish, shrimps, crabs and lobsters) and these are then prepared into three dishes: grilled (for sugba), prepared into a soup (tuwa) or turned into a raw seafood salad (kilaw), hence the name. For more about Sutukil, you can read this article. If you're planning to go to Cebu, be sure to check our directories of hotels, resorts and pension houses.

Call of the surf

Travel by boat and van from Cebu to Calicoan in Eastern Samar is one long and rough ride but the wonders of the island are worth every minute of ache and discomfort. Calicoan is among the numerous islands and islets that ring Guiuan, a town at the southernmost tip of Samar, the third largest island in the Philippine archipelago. Our destination in Calicoan was The Surf Camp, a resort on the side of the island that faces the Pacific Ocean. It was night when we arrived at the resort and a rumbling sound--it was a few minutes before it dawned on us what it was--greeted us when we arrived. (click on photos to view larger images) Surf Camp Tired and hungry upon our arrival, we feasted on seafood--fish, prawns, and crabs--and put the sound at the back of our minds. It was when we realized what it was that it filled us city people with awe. It was unforgettable--that sound; it followed us around all the time we were at the resort. It was background noise to our conversations--it was loudest in the mornings--and it lulled us to sleep at night. It was sometimes loud and guttural and insistent and at other times soft and melodious like a siren's call. It was the sound of the surf, of the waves breaking on the island's shores. Sand, sea, skyWe were at a place battered by waves rolling in from the Pacific over the 10,000-meter Philippine Deep all year round and on certain months they become powerful swells. The best waves for surfing, people at the resort told us, usually appear from October to March. Calicoan is a surfer's paradise but surfing is just one of many things it has to offer. The island also has white sand beaches and one of these is a long stretch called ABCD, which is also the prime surfing area. Resort people said some adventurous visitors to the island stay in tents on the beach or make do with a surf hut. We stayed at well-furnished cottages and villas in The Surf Camp resort. In both architecture and furnishings, the cottages take inspiration from Thai, Balinese, Indonesian, and Filipino cultures.Surf Camp bedroom Our cottage came with two twin-size beds, air-conditioning, cable television, mini bar, hot water, safety deposit box, and intercom. The resort has a saltwater pool aptly named Infinity, as it offers a wide and unhampered view of the Pacific Ocean. It also has two viewing decks built on a rocky outcropping along the beach and connected by a long walkway. At certain times of the day, the waves would get stronger and as they break upon the rocks, sprays of seawater would fall on the decks. At the resort's restaurant, we dined on baby lobsters fresh from the island's seas. Outside of the resort is one of the island's tropical forests and residents say wild monkeys sometimes cross the dirt road that cuts through it. I've never seen one though in our four-day sojourn in the island. Time constraints prevented us from exploring the island's other wonders, such as its lagoons--the largest is reportedly 30 hectares in size, caves along its forests, and wetlands that teem with fish, shrimps, and crabs. More photos, click on images to enlarge: Walkway to Surf Camp deck Surf Camp view deck Viewing deck at Surf Camp Surfers Tip of island Surf Camp sunset Cottage accommodation Deck Cottage accommodation at Surf Camp Inside the cottage We were, however, able to devote time to visiting a pilgrimage church located a little farther into the village of Sulangan, where the resort is located. Village folk say the two saints in the church grant favors but only if you give to one the exact offering that you give to the other. As we went back to the resort from the church, the day was dying and we were stopped in our tracks by the kaleidoscope of light that filled the skies as the sun bids goodbye. While we watched transfixed, the colors exploded into a single shade of orange that darkened the clouds and lent the world an eerie glow. Dusk finally set in and we headed for home. Road to Calicoan The Surf Camp offers round trip travel from Cebu to Guiuan and back to Cebu at $150 per person. The Guiuan airport is only 25 minutes from the resort. In our case, we caught the two-hour Supercat boat trip from Cebu City to Ormoc City. In Ormoc, we hired a van to take us to The Surf Camp for 2,500 pesos. The amount does not include the cost of gasoline for the whole trip. We arrived in Ormoc City at around 1 p.m. and at past 8 p.m. in Calicoan. We made several stopovers along the way--one of which was in Tacloban City--to buy provisions needed for our trip. We passed by and had our pictures taken at the two-kilometer San Juanico Bridge that connects the islands of Samar and Leyte. Surf Camp sunsetA less expensive option would be to ride any one of the passenger vans in the Ormoc City pier to Tacloban City and transfer to another van bound for Guiuan. The fare is 120 pesos from Ormoc to Tacloban and 110 pesos from Tacloban to Guiuan. ABCD beach is located in the village of Sulangan and it is just 20 minutes away from the town center where the passenger vans make their stop. Tricycles are the modes of transport to Sulangan and they can be hired for a minimal fee. There are a few pension houses, a hotel, and convenience stores in the town center. Regular commercial flights fly daily from Manila to Tacloban. Calicoan is just a three-hour ride from Tacloban City.

FHM Skin Summer Escapade: a night spent waiting

Cebu's hot summer is made even hotter with the annual staging of bikini contests and shows in resorts in Mactan Island. The most popular event is Jamaican Nights, with FHM bikini shows coming next. Having missed this year's staging of Jamaican Nights, the Cebu Network writers went to the FHM (For Him Magazine) Skin Summer Escapade last Saturday in Portofino, a beach resort in Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan Island. (Click on photos to view larger images) The venue was great, Portofino has a fine white sand beachfront where organizers built a stage for the bikini show. The show, however, could have been done better. Bikini car wash in Mactan island Organizers had printed in their tickets and posters that the event was scheduled for 4:00 p.m. Saturday until Sunday dawn. Don't let the promise of "until dawn" fool you. In the Philippines, more often than not, people say dawn when they actually mean early morning or before dawn. So we went to Portofino at 5:00 p.m., giving an hour's allowance for the so-called Filipino time, a euphemism for our culture's penchant for tardiness in meetings, gatherings, schedules and yes, even bikini shows. The 4:00 p.m. schedule, it turned out, was for the opening of the gates and not for the start of the show. Henna tattoosWe arrived at the beach resort at 5:30 p.m. and immediately started going around the resort's rotunda, checking booths selling food, shakes, drinks and yes, even imitation Havaianas flip flops sold at 160 pesos each pair. One stall offered the ever-present party service of temporary henna tattoos. The beachfront was still empty at close to 6:00 p.m. and the huge projector beside it just kept playing commercials endorsing products of the event's sponsors and a couple of music videos, ad nauseam. Even up to this time, show organizers, staff, security assistants still seemed to outnumber attendees of the bikini show. We had a quick dinner of pork barbecue, at 50 pesos each, and puso (cooked rice in coconut leaf wrapping), at five pesos each. The barbecue was prepared by Portofino and it was delicious, speaking well of their cooking. FHM Skin Summer Escapade The first sign of event activity came at past 7:00 p.m. when a local band started playing rock tunes with hints of reggae beat. The band was good. It was a pity they were playing to an almost empty beachfront. There were less than 20 people standing in front of the stage as most of the attendees were still in the resort's rotunda. It turned out that they were waiting for the "bikini car wash" show to start. Organizers did not bother to announce that the show had started and so we were quite surprised upon returning to the rotunda from the beachfront to see a crowd gathered in one corner with testosterone-fuelled males cheering wildly and several motorcycles sounding their horns. Bikini car washIt was the night's first bikini car wash and the crowd loved it. A Caucasian tourist behind me was heard saying that no way will the cars get cleaned by the bikini models. The car, expectedly, was mere props and people never really expected the two beautiful models to wash the car. The whole car wash thing was just an excuse for the two women to get wet and strip into their bikinis in front of ogling males trying to steady trembling hands that were holding either a digital camera or a camera phone. We went back to the beach at a few minutes past 8:00 p.m. and someone took to the microphone, at last, to advise attendees on the schedule for the night's events. The emcee recited the names of sponsors of the show and the lineup of bands that were to play that night. He also kept saying that another bikini car wash, a bikini striptease and an appearance by Katrina Halili was set to happen "in a little while."FHM beach party That "little while" appeared to take a long time and pretty soon, we were bored at the beach, talking of the National Geographic shows we were missing. We were really regretting believing the schedule printed in the tickets and posters and coming to the beach at 5:00 p.m. At a few minutes past 9:00 p.m. in our watch, another band had taken to the stage and, inexplicably, the emcee announced that another bikini car wash show was to start soon. The attendees were torn between listening to the band and having another go at watching skimpily clad models cavort in full glare of motorcycle headlights and flood lamps while pretending to wash two cars. We could not understand why the organizers held the two events together when they could have done either of it in the very long time it took for the show to start. We watched the staging of the second bikini car wash, took a few photos, and then went back to the beach to watch the band played. The second band wasn't as good as the first and there were times when the vocals were, as American Idol judges would say, "pitchy." FHM Skin Summer EscapadeWe wanted to wait for the bikini striptease but after seeing that another band was preparing to take over the stage, we decided that we've had enough of waiting. We went home, cursing at the person who decided to place "from 4:00 p.m. until dawn" in the tickets. On the way out, we saw that there were still a few people on their way to get into the resort. These were the lucky ones, they didn't have to spend a lot of time waiting in the sands of Portofino. Someone I know later told me that for bikini contests, it pays to be late, not fashionably late but really late. The good part of the shows, he said, typically start late at night. I wished I had known that before Saturday afternoon. More photos, click on them to view larger images: FHM Skin Summer Excapade show FHM Skin Summer Escapade show in Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan Island. Bikini car wash models for FHM Skin Summer Escapade

Karancho beach resort in Mactan

The Karancho beach resort in Maribago in Mactan is private and affordable and can be a jump-off point to any of the smaller islets that ring the island city of Lapu-Lapu and municipality of Cordova. Entrance fee to Karancho is only 20 pesos for adults and 10 pesos for kids. Cottages cost from 500 pesos (about $10) to 1,500 pesos. The resort is located beside the Cebu White Sands in Maribago. What's great about the resort is that it isn't as crowded compared to more popular beach destinations like Tambuli or Hadsan. Karancho beach resortSince there is no restaurant inside the resort, beach goers must bring their own food and drinks. Karancho has several grills offered for use to customers who may want to do the grilling inside the resort. (Click on photos to view larger image) Those who want to go island hopping to any of the sattelite islets off Cordova, including Gilutungan, Lava, Tongo, and Nalusuan, or Lapu-Lapu City islands Olango, Pangan-an, Caohagan, and two Caubian islets can rent any of several outrigger boats parked some distance away from the resort's shore. A tour to any one of nearby islets using the outrigger boats costs 1,500 pesos (about $30), a tour to two islets costs 2,500 pesos, and a tour to three islets costs 3,000 pesos. The prices are for a tour group of 10 to 15 people. The outrigger boats, however, can carry 30 passengers. Karancho beach resortThere are also smaller boats in Karancho for anyone who want to take a ride to a man-made island nearby. The small boats can carry only four passengers and can be rented at 150 pesos (about $3) each. Mactan is made up of the city of Lapu-Lapu, which occupies four-fifths of the entire island, and the town of Cordova, which used to be a barangay of Lapu-Lapu. The village of Maribago, where most of the white sand beach resorts are located, is part of Lapu-Lapu City. To get there A taxi from Cebu City to Karancho costs around 200 pesos. Cottages at Karancho beach resort Another way is to take the van-for-hire in the SM and Ayala terminals to Lapu-Lapu--fare is 25 per person--and disembark at the city center. From the city center, take a tricycle to Maribago (cost of the tricycle ride if there are no other passengers is from 50 to 60 pesos). Another option is to take the jeepney to Maribago (just look for the jeepney with the signboard Maribago) from the city center. Jeepney fare is at 10 pesos per person. For inquiries, call the resort at (63-32) 495-2455, 340-9708, 340-8072 or send e-mail to [email protected]