Hidden Paradise: Bicol’s Virgin Beaches

If I will be allowed to be proud of something, that I will reserve for the beautiful beaches that my hometown offers. I grew up in the province and as a kid, summertime with family means scouting local beaches and nature hopping from rivers, falls to springs and mountains.

It is through this that I got to appreciate nature at its best in its original beauty. Yes, that kind of beauty that is not tampered by man or any modernization. I have somehow developed this kind of appreciation when it comes to what is beautiful and having gone to commercialized beaches such as Boracay, I must say that I wasn’t fascinated that much at all compared to the ecstatic feeling I get every time my eyes lay upon the sight of paradise in its original state – how God created them and not how man created them.

It was this appreciation that taught me to love nature and care for it as if its part of me. I actually wanted to promote in our province, in light of this, an advocacy to tourists and locals alike how to enjoy nature’s bounty and yet at the same time, preserve its natural beauty. Commercialization of beaches as tourist spots means a flock of tourists which is also equivalent to more use of resources as well as more litter. The latter is what becomes far too common in all commercialized beaches.

I do not mean to be selfish and enjoy the luscious and diverse beauty that nature can offer just by myself, and yet it saddens me to know the fact that not all tourists have the same kind of appreciation and concern as I do. Seeing a single trash along the seashore is enough to make me furious and the first thing that goes into my head is this – how irresponsible the person who threw this trash is. Now this is something I should not do, for it is not right – judging and thinking negatively about any person. It is similar to committing a crime in God’s standards.

Instead of that accusing thought though, I might as well divert my thoughts how I could partner with the local government units in preserving local beaches which include but is not limited to informing the public (tourists and locals) about a policy that will implement stricter discipline when it comes to taking good care of nature. And I mean STRICTER DISCIPLINE.

I told my husband that this summer, instead of going to commercialized and expensive hotels and resorts (being the practical me), I suggested we visit my family in the province, celebrate Mother’s Day there and scout for local beaches which is what my family would usually do during summertime. So we went to this beach which is a 30-minute drive from home and we usually spend our family outing there during the summer and once during Christmas. What we saw next was the ultimate paradise deal.

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Mt. Bulusan in the background, the province’s active volcano.

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Combination of patches of seaweeds and sand.

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This beach is an inlet rich of diverse marine ecosystem and at the end of the reef is the Pacific Ocean. Pretty deep this ocean. So if you are not a swimmer like me, better stay a little closer to the shore. My husband is adventurous and yet when we both saw the different sea creatures we found in the reefs, we were fascinated and yet a little scared at the same time. He started joking that there might be a great white which somehow got inside the shallow reefs as there were plenty of other sea creatures to feed on.

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Something pink underneath.

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There’s the edible seaweed.

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My foot was here.

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Funny hubby with his signature wacky pose.

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There’s me introducing the rock.

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Well, it is a possibility, I told him and yet it should not hinder us from exploring what else does that inlet could offer. Besides, my family and I have been there a couple of times already and we never encountered or heard any incident about shark attacks or a jellyfish sting even. Although we saw this jellyfish-like sea creature which we could not identify whether an eel, a variety of a jellyfish or a sea snake. It looked harmless as local kids were poking it and covering it with sand. We tried to uncover it after they left but we couldn’t find a solid object to remove the heavy sand away. Besides, it is heaving so we know it is still alive.

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Local children covering the slimy sea creature with sand.

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Low tides are a great opportunity for me to explore what is on the ocean floor. Being a lover of Science (probably because my Mom used to be a Science teacher), I love exploring everything most especially when it comes to nature. I even thought that maybe I would’ve ended better if I pursued a degree in Biology. But that is not God’s plans for me. Or maybe it is, I just don’t know. Yet.  *smiles*

For me, the sea is a huge exploration ground. Very ironic because I do not know how to swim. Now you must be wondering how did that ever happen. Well, I am wondering about that too. *wink*  But I never let anything hinder when it comes to pursuing things that I am interested about.

So back to our seafloor exploration, we found a live snail, a small one and hubby and I enjoyed observing how it attempted to raise  “himself” up back to its crawling position. I didn’t know that a snail has a tiny claw/hook of some sort and it is fascinating to know that that hook is strong enough to lift itself up considering the hardness of the shell. We wanted to take a video of it but unfortunately we left our cameras already as we decided to swim and explore and we didn’t bring any waterproof camera case with us.

Oh and this edible seaweed. We eat them raw and just dip it in lime juice. It is a perfect side dish for barbecues or grilled fish. We call it as  “lato.” We saw local fishermen harvesting them during low tide somewhere before the reef ends and big waves from the Pacific Ocean hit the side of the reef or the wall of the continental shelf.

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The Pacific Ocean and the continental shelf.

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Our harvest.

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Harvesting a big one.

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We got to the beach about lunch time and after 2 hours, the tides begun to rise. Hubby and I waited as each small patch of dried seaweed start to be submerged in water again. We did swim nearby when the water level became high enough but because it was late in the afternoon approaching night time, we decided to take our leave and let nature have her rest too – it was feeding time for the sea creatures. Yep, we don’t want to be part of their food chain so out we went and just took photos around.

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High tide is finally here.

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White sand it is.

Indeed, right they are when they say that in order to keep things balanced with nature, you have to know your limits. Hubby usually is the adventurous type and is always on the go. But this time, it made me smile when I saw him learn to have this respect and love for nature out of awe and fascination. This was the same kind of awe and fascination that I first had when I was a kid which made me love and care for nature because I have learned to understand our relationship with it. We felt guilty though when we showed some locals the seaweeds that we were able to harvest and they said it was the right one but they usually pluck the stems out but leave the roots so it could reproduce.  *insert sad face here*

But it made me smile still. It means that they already know their limits as to the proper use of nature’s resources and how to take good care of her and this will be very essential in informing tourists like me about the limitations/boundaries between man and nature. 🙂

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God’s awesome creation, including him. 😉

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