Islands and Beaches

Small Boracay of the South: Gumasa Beach

Ida Damo
Ida Damo | Apr 16, 2013

photos by Cocoy Sexcion

Sarangani Province is a three-hour drive to the south from Davao City. Add another 45 minutes from its capital, Alabel and you end up at the town of Glan, where I fell in love with its beaches and have considered my refuge if and when I need to get away.

The trip was long but the coastal highway provides scenic glimpses of Sarangani Bay. The soft sound of rubber on concrete lulled me to sleep.When the car finally stopped, I woke up to a real treat! Glan borders the bay and there were resorts with different themes dotting the shimmering coastline with its calm, clear, blue waters and powdery, soft, white sand.

Locals have aptly nicknamed this crescent-shaped stretch the "Small Boracay of the South". This is what Boracay might have looked like before all the commercial development: slow paced, quiet except for the sound of the waves and small cottages and thatched nipa huts make do for shelter. I'll take it!

I did not need to be prodded and went straight to the water: I noticed if you wade further away from shore the bottom suddenly takes a steep decline. I chose to stay close to shore, thank you, where schools of friendly, tiny fish accompanied me while I floated face up in the shallow water.

In this idyllic place I found a treasure in the serenity one longingly craves for in the face of a hectic, stressful, working life. For meals there is plenty of the freshest fish you can find! and I consumed lunch with gusto. There's nothing like a soft, sea breeze to whet your appetite! After that simple yet filling meal, I took a stroll along the shore, picked up some small shells and enjoyed the feel of that soft, powdery sand on my feet. I waited to catch a beautiful sunset. This is where I let time stand still.

The verdict: I'm definitely going back. And back. And back.

How to get there:

From Manila there are daily flights to General Santos City (two hours) by local airlines departing NAIA 2 and NAIA 3. Taxi to the terminals will fetch around Php300.

From the airport proceed to the rear of the KCC Mall and look for the van terminal for Glan, Sarangani. There are regular fares per person (Php80). Tell the driver to drop you off at the nearest terminal going to the beach of your choice. From there you can take a habal-habal (motorcycle taxi, Php25-30) directly to the beach. Travel time is approximately an hour.

Tip: If you are traveling in a group or to make things easier, you can talk to a van driver in GenSan and simply hire his vehicle, prices depending on a one-way/ round trip. (This is also the best bet if you don't fancy riding on a wooden bench that you feel has no place on a fast-moving motorcycle driven by a stranger whose sole goal in life it seems is to overtake EVERY vehicle in front of him.)

What to Expect:

If you want to experience what Boracay was like around 20 years ago then Gumasa Beach fits your bill. It's no frills and things here are slow and laidback. And there is that white, coral sand and wonderfully clean water. ·Some resorts hire out kayaks that you can use to explore parts of the bay. ·You might want to do what locals do and try your skills on skimboarding.

Where to Stay:

(note: Accommodations are located in Gumasa, Glan)

· Coco Beach Resort - Open-air cottages (Php600, overnight) to airconditioned rooms (starts from Php2000, 2 single beds to Php4500, 6 single beds and one cottage)

· Rosal Beach Resort - Open-air cottages (Php500-1100, daytime/ overnight); Aircon rooms start at Php2300 (2 beds) to an elevated cottage (Php7000, 7 beds); Open day cots, beach volleyball, children's play ground, skim board rental

· Brod Louie Resort - Open family cottages (Php500/800,day/ overnight); Resthouses (Php2600/3000, fan/ aircon); Airconditioned Rooms/Dormitory (Php2000/4600) They have a kiddie pool, kayaking and videoke.

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