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Thought Thailand and the Pacific Islands offered the world’s most pristine beaches? Oh boy, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
1. Nacpan Beach, El Nido, Palawan
The road to Nacpan Beach, 17 kilometres north of El Nido, is a rocky, turbulent jaunt at best. And that’s because we use the word ‘road’ lightly, it’s more of a gravel indent. Endure the bumps on-board an equally jerky tricycle, and you’ll be rewarded with a beach that’ll make you jump up and down, clap your hands and squeal. Perfectly isolated, Nacpan is defined by champagne sand, rows of skinny palms and an almost wave-less sea that’s ideal for swimming.
Highlights: Undeveloped and perfectly quiet, there’s a small canteen selling meals and a few sporadic beach shacks dishing out just cooked crabs. And here’s the clincher, the dining venues outnumber the beachgoers – by a landslide. There is a god.
2. Bantayan Island, Cebu
Beaches that are so perfect you’ll stand on them and think your retinas have in-built Photoshop, Bantayan Island is paradise defined. A three hour drive from Cebu, and then an hour ferry from Hagnaya Port, the long trek is compensated by sand so white and so fine, it was probably put there by angels. The water is the brightest of blue, the palm trees are greener than green and when the clock strikes noon, the sea can reach a very soothing 25 degrees.
Highlights: As a resort driven island, take advantage of the setting and stay at least two days. You don’t want to miss the formidable sunrise, dreamy sunsets and every hour in between.
3. White Beach, Boracay Island
For decades we’ve been told Thailand boasts the world’s best beaches, and we’ve all nodded along in agreement. Well it was where Leo filmed The Beach right? Well yes he did, but he should’ve gone to White Beach on the tiny island of Boracay. Offering five kilometres of hedonistic platinum white sand, it’s well frequented and busy, but it’s still mellower than the likes of Koh Samui.
Highlights: White Beach mango sellers are not to be ignored. As well as the world’s greatest beach, Boracay also boasts the world’s best mangoes. Try them in juices, shakes, lassis and even set on fire above burning cognac and ice-cream. Yum.
4. Mahabang Buhangin Beach, Calaguas Islands
We’re almost reluctant to let the cat out of the bag with this one, but here goes. Mahabang Buhangin Beach (Long Sand Beach) is a member of the Calaguas group of islands and sits on the northern part of Barangay Mangcawayan. The concept of tourism has only just reached these parts so the signature white sand beach - in all its blinding glory – can almost be enjoyed alone. Graced by sloping green hills that don't look much different to NZ, as well as calm, clear water, this is the ultimate in beach escapism.
Highlights: No commercial development, no electricity, no mobile coverage and no internet, but with sun, sea and sand this idyllic, why would you want them anyway?
5. Panglao Island, Bohol
If Bohol is home to the famed milk chocolate hills, then its beaches on Panglao Island are a long slab of melted Milkybar. Blonde and velvety, the picture-perfect sands are fringed by teal water and the obligatory lolloping palm trees. A splendid beach hideaway still relatively under the radar, Panglao Island is the Philippine’s best kept secret… When secret means lots of people know about it, but it’s not enough to ruin the purity.
Highlights: Part of the Visayas island group, daily ferries from Cebu will get you there quickly and conveniently.
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