“We’re headed to Paradise Beach if you want to go,” messaged my friends Pete and Whitney, two Americans from Texas that were out visiting me in the Philippines. We’d splurged for the last three days of their flight, booking a three-seat charter plane to Bantayan, one of the nicest, most tropical, and unspoiled islands in the country.
“You guys go ahead – I’m just going to work and chill,” I messaged back, and I laid back down in bed. “Work” was code for “I’m sunburnt and tired and want to sleep,” of course, as keeping up with them while also trying to keep my work schedule was brutal.
I tried to doze off, the light outside my simple hotel room windows filtering softer through the curtain. “Ahhh hell,” I said out loud and jumped up. How many times was I on an impeccably beautiful island, with the chance to go kick it with good friends at sunset on a white-sand beach? And I was going to be lazy and spend it in bed?
Reenergized like a kid at Christmas and suddenly in a rush to get out the door, I threw a few things in a backpack, threw on my swimmies, and practically bounced out the door.
“Paradise beach!” I yelled at the jeepney driver before he could even slow down enough and ask me where I wanted to go. He said that that destination was sort of far out, and he wouldn’t be able to pick up other passengers. No worries, I assured him – I’d pay the whole fare and even pay for him to stay there and wait for me. (In total, I think I only paid him 300 Pesos, or $6!)
We bumped, rattled, and rolled out of the small community of Santa Fe and onto the National Highway – just a good quality government two-lane road through the countryside, and turned off at a dirt road after twenty minutes. At that point, it got super rough going, and he navigated pits, big rocks, and washouts. Finally, he reached a point where the dirt road accessed a smaller dirt and grass trail. He told me that this is where he had to wait, and directed me down the trail.
I went down the trail and walked faster when it kept going after 5 minutes, and then broke into a jog – even in my flip flops -when I saw the sun hitting the tops of the palm trees far off. After 10 more minutes, I actually bumped into my friends, who were walking back.
“We’ll go back with you,” they offered, and we all turned around and found Paradise Beach in another few minutes .
It was well worth the trip. The beach is only about 250 meters long but has pillowy white sand that’s relatively level. But the best part is that off the sand, up on the dunes, short grass grows, like a green blanket laid over everything, palm trees and bushes with flowers the only things breaking the emerald felt. A few boulders were the perfect spot for the few visitors to hang their shirts and backpacks, like mine.
We slipped into the warm and completely see-through waters, causing the only ripple because the ocean was completely still and waveless other than that. Together, we watched the sun slowly drop as we took photos of a starfish and chatted with a few super nice travelers.
Paradise beach truly was a paradise, and one of the highlights among many spectacular sights on Bantayan for me!
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