I watched my friend Brenna bury her soles in the supple ground as she waltzed her way to the end of the cove. She was not looking back, not even once. Her eyes were fixed to the glowing dunes that make up a mini-mountain range by the shore. Behind her, a trail of deep footprints. I shook my slippers off and followed her.
This place was exactly why I was back in Palawan. San Vicente, an unassuming municipality in Northern Palawan, is often overlooked for its more popular neighbors El Nido and Puerto Princesa. It is hardly accessible. Transportation options are limited, and the roads here are begging for attention. But those travelers fortunate and brave enough to endure the bumpy ride are greeted with miles of ivory white beaches that lace the western side of the town. One of these stunners is Irawan Beach.
Located in Barangay Sto. Nino, Irawan faces the violent West Philippine Sea. The sand here isn’t flat and compact. The waves and the winds mold it constantly to create soft but rugged dunes that roll inland smoothly. It’s a long stretch of sand bookmarked by rocky promontories. A small hill stands on its northern end, and at its foot snakes a small, stagnant estuary where the tides overflow to.
Brenna continued walking until she reached the giant boulders at the edge of the strip. She climbed the biggest one and stood on it for a better view. “Let’s climb to the top of that hill,” I suggested when I was finally able to catch up.
It was easy scaling the rocks on the hillside, but the same could not be said for the grassy part. It rained the night before, and the ground was muddy and slippery. Sweat dropped from my face as heavily as the rain did the previous night as I hiked to what was a good viewpoint — a tor. A giant boulder stuck out from the slope, which made for a perfect resting place. As soon as we caught our breaths, we faced the ocean and finally took time to admire the view of the landscape. Still obstructed — damn coconut trees — but good enough.
How to get to Irawan Beach: From San Vicente town proper (Poblacion), motorcycles may be rented for a beach-hopping tour. You can make a few stops at different points of the Long Beach, and in Irawan Beach in Sto. Nino. Motorcycle tour costs P350 if you’re solo, or P250 per person if you’re a party of two.