Take me to…Guinanayan Island

Rent a tent for P150 and camp out on this idyllic beach in Albay and you've got your holiday stay sorted. Food comes from fishermen offering the day's catch

By Monica De Leon Photos by Christian Sangoyo

This idyllic beach is at Guinanayan Island, off Rapu-Rapu in Albay, a creamy patch of sandbar known only to locals. Fishermen dock here to sell their fresh catch of the day. The island is privately owned, with a small family keeping watch over it. The beach has gentle glassy waters with an abrupt drop off a few meters from the shore. From the shore, you get a view of Bacacay, part of the Cagraray group of islands, and Galicia Island, also part of Rapu-Rapu. The second beach at the back of the island looks more like a painting to me than real life – with barok-barok trees in the foreground and water so still it looks unreal. 

There are bamboo huts by the beach where you can have a glorious seafood feast and enjoy fresh coconut juice. It takes about two hours' boat ride from Tabaco Port to get to Guinanayan Island.  

If you want to stay overnight at Guinanayan Island, rent a tent, which costs P150 (about US$3) for two to three people, and P500 for a group of up to 10 people. There are basic but clean bathrooms available to campers. Travel time is anywhere from one-and-a-half hours to two hours, depending on sea conditions. Boat hire, which you can arrange with your hotel or resort in Albay or from the port costs about P5,000, roundtrip. Meals, mainly composed of fresh seafood, are a steal at less than P1,000 for a group of about six.

How to get there and getting around
There are daily direct flights from Manila to Legazpi City in Albay. Book a flight on Philippines Airlines or Cebu Pacific Air. You can go by land which is cheaper. Book a car or a van from Carfield. Negotiate for use of vehicle and driver only and pay for the gasoline and toll fees yourself because it will be cheaper. Tel +632 986 7176. You can also book a sleeper bus from Isarog bus. The bus departs from Cubao terminal at 9pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Fare is P1,100. There are also regular airconditioned buses (P850) that ply the route daily. Tel +632 423 2957. 
Jeepneys and tricyles are the main means of transport in getting to places in Albay. Jeepneys are a good choice if going from village to village or even town to town as these pass through main thoroughfares but tricycles are best to hire if you’re off to inner streets. Jeepney and tricyle fare both start at P8 per person. If you are commuting to towns like Polangui, Jovellar or Tabaco and Tiwi in District 3, it’s best to go to the Central Bus Station in Legazpi City where there are UV Express vans bound for each town in Albay. Fare starts at P40.

For tours, contact Renato Jao, alias Bicolano Man, of the Provincial Tourism Office for help in organizing bespoke tours or for inquiries on organized tours.

Originally published in InFlight Traveller March-May 2016