There’s no better way to welcome the approaching summer season than by having a beach getaway, right? And that’s how I and my equally spontaneous friends spent our weekend recently. The nice thing was we didn’t travel as far as El Nido to look for secluded stretches of sand, but head out instead to Puerto Princesa City’s Tagkawayan Beach on the west coast.
None of us four had been to Tagkawayan Beach before. That didn’t, however, sap our excitement to get there. Thank goodness there’s Google map! So from the City proper we drove our way to the mountainous Barangay Bacungan. If you’re familiar with the road leading to the famed Yamang Bukid Farm, it’s the same route going to Tagkawayan Beach, which is covered by Barangay Simpocan.
After passing by the Yamang Bukid Farm, a bumpy unpaved road meandering uphill and downhill through the mountains greeted us. Exciting! But I felt sorry for my friend who’s driving the scooter. Since scooters’ tires aren’t designed for rough roads, we slid thrice! And he got a minor bruise on his palm.
You read it right. Did it scare you? I hope not.
But don’t worry because the road leading to Tagkawayan Beach was undergoing construction the time we went there, and some of its portions have already been paved. My other two friends, meanwhile, were driving a motorcycle and luckily managed to brave the road smoothly. And they’re both ladies!
Simpocan exudes a relaxing rural vibe lending everyone a taste of the old Puerto Princesa City. As we continued driving to the backcountry, I realized why Tagkawayan Beach has remained under the tourists’ radar. Perfect for adventure-seekers, it’s more off-the-beaten than its neighbors Nagtabon and Talaudyong Beaches.
My favorite spot was when we’re more or less 20 minutes away from Tagkawayan Beach. It may be more difficult to access, but the spectacular views that await here are well worth the journey. Imagine you’re traversing an elevated road and to your right is the expansive azure West Philippine Sea kissing the cerulean sky. I couldn’t ask for more!
After driving for an hour, we finally reached our destination. I don’t know if it’s just me, or maybe every wandering soul who finds this slice of paradise is invited to a slower pace life. It wasn’t really secluded, though. We passed by two or three houses. There was even a sari-sari store nearby where you can buy chips and something to drink.
While we chanced upon private vehicles along the way, we didn’t see any people on the beach that day, and I guess that’s the usual scene here until such time the cementing of that circumferential road is finished.
We drove a little bit further and then stopped at a seawall in front of a line of abandoned rest houses, where the beach was just a stone’s throw away. Meanwhile, a couple of mid-sized trees laced the seawall providing shade to beach goers. My other two friends, meanwhile, arrived 30 minutes late as they initially followed the road leading to Nagtabon Beach. When we all settled in, we found ourselves lost in thought so much so we forgot the real world was just an hour away from here.
Whether you’re going as a family, couple or solo backpacker, this serene, low-key beach destination offers simple summer pleasures, especially for those who want to take a break from the stresses of modern life. If you’re like me whose life has always been driven by mental checklists, going here will allow you to let loose and live in the moment like a kid who doesn’t care about tomorrow.
Tagkawayan Beach’s back-to-basics ambience and remote location make it a perfect spot for retreats. There are no phone signal and round-the-clock power here, so this is the place to be if you want to press pause on social media, stay away from email, and limit screen time. In case your mind is jumbled the past days, the swooshing sounds of wind and waves that reign supreme here are enough to make you regain focus and clarity.
The backdrop here is particularly scenic, with verdant mountains rolling behind the beach. And then your feet will kiss the powder-soft cream sand as you make your way to the crystal-clear waters whose shades vary from turquoise to navy blue. No exaggeration: It’s amazingly postcard-perfect at every turn! When you have it all to yourself, you’ll no doubt fall under its spell.
As it faces the open sea, Tagkawayan Beach offers waves and wind that are somehow favorable for surfing and windsurfing, especially during the first months of the year. It’s best visited in summertime when the water is calmest, which is also ideal for kayaking or paddle boarding if you have the equipment.
But since there are no lifeguards around, everyone, especially couples with kids in tow, are encouraged to take extra caution when swimming. Whenever I go to a secluded beach, I make sure to swim only in waist-deep part. And when I feel the current is too strong, I don’t go out into the sea. But that’s not the case when we went here, so we spent the next few hours swimming while having deep conversations about anything under the sun in between.
While taking full advantage of everything Tagkawayan Beach had to offer, I just realized one thing: We, sun, sand and sea enthusiasts, are so busy dreaming of our next out-of-town or maybe out-of-province beach adventure that we often overlook the gems right in our own backyard. Tagkawayan Beach proves you don’t need to spend a fortune and go far up north to make your dream secluded beach getaway a reality.
As I was writing this, I came across photos of a stunning sunset in Tagkawayan Beach posted on Facebook, and that’s what I look forward to when we get back there for an overnight camping. I hope by that time the road construction is already completed and the beach is still as immaculate as the first time we saw it.