Just four hours land drive from Manila, Borawan island in Padre Burgos, Quezon, about 176km southeast of Manila, has a beautiful stretch of creamy-sand beach, divided into pockets by limestone cliffs that call to mind the karst formations of Palawan. Its popular with young campers because it's near enough to Manila, does not cost much to get to, and there are not many sites that could compete with camping along the beach.
If you don't want to pitch your tent with other campers—not that there are many— you could easily find yourself a secluded spot in between the cliffs. Instagrammers sometimes describe Borawan as "Boracay and Palawan in one place", referring to the island's proximity to Manila, the young crowd it attracts, and its similarity to Palawan's wild island setting.
If you'd rather not camp out, there are basic cottages available for rent on the easternmost end of the island. Stay the night and wake up to a wondrous sea view.
More of Borawan — in pictures
How to get there
Take a Superlines bus at its Cubao terminal on EDSA, and get off at QCRB bank at Padre Burgos. Bus fare is P250, one-way (For reservations, call +632 414 3319). In Padre Burgos, take a tricyle to Aplaya or to Brgy. Basiao Port, where you can find boat hires to take you across Tayabas Bay to Borawan Island.
If you're a group, you could look at hiring a van for the trip to Borawan, which costs about P10,810 for 12 hours, including fuel and driver. Add a P5,405 charge if you intend to keep the van overnight and P6,666 for each succeeding day of use. Book at Carfield.
Where to stay
Borawan is best for camping. Pack your essentials as well as food and drinks, including water, because there are no stores on the island. If camping is not your thing, stay at nearby Dampalitan Island (+63921 524 0110) which has cottages for P1,500 for 15 people.
Boat trips and island hopping
If you have enough time, rent a boat to explore the shores of Borawan and visit the nearby islands of Dampalitan, and Puting Buhangin and Kwebang Lampas in Pagbilao, Quezon.? There are boat hires on the island for island hopping trips, about P1,800 per boat for up to eight people for a three-island trip; P1,200 for a two-island trip of Borawan and Puting Buhangin; P800 for a one-island trip. There is an entrance fee of P150 per head for day trippers and P220 per head for overnight guests of Borawan Island. The fee includes free use of the island's water source and Spartan toilet and bath facility. Students are given a special rate of P160 per head, and senior citizens and people with disability, P80 per head, provided they present a valid ID. In Puting Buhangin Island the entrance fee is P160 per head. For tours, call boatman and local guide Crisjay Grutas at +63905 560 5947 ahead or when you get to Brgy. Basiao port for boat hire.
Published June 2016