Anilao, Batangas: Above the Surface of an Underwater Eden

I feared that my island hopping plan had died, and the coffin loaded on boat right in front of me was not a good sign. (Seriously, there was a coffin.) It was three in the afternoon and I had been waiting for an hour for the boatman. Still no message from him. Another half hour and it would be too late for a tour, wasting all the time I spent getting here. When the coffin-carrying boat sailed, I knew I had to come up with a Plan B.

     

Had I been a diver, Plan B would have come easily. Anilao is a destination popular for the diving, not for its beaches. Unfortunately for me, I am no diver. Not yet, at least.

It was empty.
It was empty.

While Tubbataha Reef is widely considered the Philippines’ Diving Mecca, many regard Anilao as an Eden, the birthplace of scuba diving in the country. Much has been said about the natural treasure-trove it keeps beneath the waves, but its beaches are often overlooked.

Anilao is a quiet barangay on the northern coast of Mabini, a cape-municipality that separates Balayan Bay from Batangas Bay. Its shores are mostly rocky, but in between some of the promontories are small pockets of white and beige sand for the picky beach bum.

Beach near the port in Anilao
Beach near the port in Anilao
A beach resort in Anilao
A beach resort in Anilao

I had not much time for the sun would be gone in a couple of hours. From the port I let my eyes scan the surrounding for a spot good enough for a quick laze and dip affair. To the north was a beige stretch that bends in the distance. I made my way through a residential area to get to the beach. The sand was not as fine as most white beaches I had stepped on, but it was good enough. It was a February weekend, off peak, and there weren’t that many tourists in the area.

A walk farther north along the so-called Seashore Trail took me to a narrow estuary that leads into a lush forest. I could not believe how virgin it looked despite its proximity to the port and national highway. The shore is freckled with rough rocks but near the berm is supple sand, much friendlier to the sole. A more cloistered beach near the “Colorful Rocks” lay at the end of the trail but I was afraid the dark would catch me on the way. I stayed under an old, dilapidated hut near the shore and waited for the sunset.

Anilao is in Mabini, Batangas
Anilao is in Mabini, Batangas
Burning bush
Burning bush
Rocky coast
Rocky coast
Honey-colored Anilao sunset
Honey-colored Anilao sunset

It was an almost complete silence; I could not even hear the swashes stammer their name. The silhouette of the sharp cliffs sticking out into Balayan Bay grew darker by the minute. The horizon that moments ago was sweet and honey-colored revealed a fiery, fierce attitude. It may be nothing compared to the wonders the sea hides below the surface, but it was a beauty that anyone could never deny.

How to get to Anilao: From Manila, take a bus to Batangas City (P150-P170). Travel time depends on whether the bus would take the CALABARZON Expressway (STAR Tollway) or not; 2 hours or shorter if it would, 3 hours if not. Get off at Batangas Grand Terminal, where you will find jeepneys bound for Anilao (P35, 45 minutes). From here, you may take a tricycle to your resort.

Anilao Travel Guide


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