The heat in Manila was getting to be unberable and what’s worse is getting stuck within the bubble with limited movement. I seriously thought that this year’s summer was going to breeze by without a much-needed dose of the sun, sand, and sea. So when I got the chance to make a quick weekend run to take in some vitamin SEA after a more relaxed quarantine was announced, I did not pass up the chance.
Catanauan is a municipality along the western coastline of Quezon, facing Tayabas Bay. The town was first established in 1686 but was first recorded as a pueblo on the map in 1734. However, there is evidence that supports that its existence pre-dates the arrival of Spaniards with the discovery of ancient burial sites artifacts in the area.
But Catanauan has more to offer beyond its rich history. Its rustic coastline offers a quick weekend escape to beach bums who are looking for laidback beach spot where you can just relax and unwind. Its close proximity to the island province of Marinduque also gives its guests the advantage of exploring two of the famous tourist destinations at the heart of the Philippines.
Camping it out in Catanauan
Catanauan’s coastline remain rustic and laidback despite having a steady tourism business in the area. I guess the popularity of nearby destinations have left Catanauan under the shadows of these spots giving it the opportunity to retain its pristine natural beauty. This is a good proposition to those who are looking to experience a raw beach adventure.
The best way to enjoy this side of town is to camp out along the white sand shoreline where you get to enjoy the views of the sea and the silhouette of the nearby Marinduque. The calm waters of Catanauan is inviting but take extra precaution because there are seasons where jellyfish abound. Some resorts have set-up safety nets to keep their guests safe from these sea creatures.
Strolling along the beach, you can explore the mangrove areas located on the right side of the beach strip. There are rock formations that you can explore on this side. The best time to explore the area is during the sunset where you get to enjoy a show of shifting color hues, just a bit short of the actual sun setting down the horizon.
Evenings are relaxed and amusing with the usual late night chats over a couple or cases of beers. Campers get to enjoy the cool wind from the sea and the gentle sound of waves rolling into the shoreline. We were lucky that night that we caught a glimpse of the Milky Way and we were able to capture it on photo.
The close proximity of Catanauan to Sta. Cruz, Marinduque give them shared access to two of Marinduque’s iconic attractions. It does not come as a surprise that locals offer island hopping trips to these spots as part of their tourism proposition. I did not miss out on the chance because these were also the two spots that I did not get to explore during a trip to Marinduque a few years back.
Palad Sandbar is a famous strip of white sand in the middle of Tayabas Bay, close to the island of Mongpong Island. The sandbar sways to the cycle of the waves as it only appears during low tide so timing your visit is crucial. Local guides are familiar with the timing so it is best that you heed their instructions.
Unfortunately, we missed out on the sandbar by a couple of minutes. The sandbar was already submerged by the time our group arrived at Palad Sandbar. Its white sand was still visible under a few inches of saltwater that allowed us to explore the submerged bar. Its clear water were inviting that I enjoyed taking my first beach dip for 2021, along with many beach goers.
Ungab Rock Formation
Ungab Rock Formation, located on the eastern coast of Mongpong Island, is the iconic natural rock formation of Marinduque. Its famous “arch” was naturally formed through soil erosion molded by the wind and waves of the waters that surround it. The centuries of molding by nature produced a beautiful natural rock arch that is now an attraction on this side of Luzon.
The Ungab Rock Formation is an interesting spot to explore but it did not really got me excited. I don’t know if it was the weekend crowd but it really looked like a normal beach spot that happened to have a cool natural arch. Don’t get me wrong, the rock formation was fascinating but I guess the surrounding area needs to look more appealing to its guests to complete the vibe. The crowd also made it difficult to find a spot where we can capture its best angle.
I would also recommend that the LGU and the locals work together in keeping the area clean. The beach spot has a lot crevices where you can see pieces of trash left by island hoppers. The locals should take the reigns of taking care of this Marinduque tourism icon.
On the Road: Girasole Flower Farm
Since we joined a weekend organized trip, we made a short stop to the Girasole Flower Farm in Candelaria, Quezon. The 1-hectare tourist destination prides itself for its sunflower plants that bloom the whole year round. In fact, its name was derived from its sunflower attractions.
The festive and fair-like atmosphere of the flower farm is highlighted by the different variety of flowers being cultivated and propagated. Couple it up with colorful structures from a kid’s storybook and you got a perfect IG-worthy attraction that people will line up for. It is a perfect spot where you can play around with your imagination to come up with that perfect profile picture for your social media platforms.
Girasole Flower Farm is undeniably a plantito/plantita heaven. The flowers are there to be admired and, if the admiration turns into wanting to own one, they can purchase to start their own collection. The farm caters to all ages and have something to offer from play areas to plant selections for hobbyist. If these stuff are not your thing, don’t worry because they have a small cafe where you can enjoy a snack and a refreshing cold drink to keep you relax while watching people do their thing.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
For a brief moment, I seriously thought that my summer 2021 was going by without my dose of vitamin SEA. But I am thankful that a last-minute decision to join an organized tour had me discovering a new destination where I got my dose of sun, sand, and sea. It was a a much-needed relief after months of having to stay at home with limited movement. The best part of it is that I also got to enjoy my first May rain shower while taking my saltwater dip!
The pandemic has changed much of our lives. I saw the excitement in the eyes of the joiners of the trip of having some sort of break from the confines of the quarantine restrictions. But what struck me the most was the excitement of locals whose livelihood were affected because of this health crisis. Again, let us travel locally first and help rebuild lives. Let’s help revitalize local tourism safely by traveling responsibly. And when you get your chance, get vaccinated. This is the only way that we can keep the people around us safe and the solution out of this pandemic.
Check out my Catanauan video blog on my Youtube channel - #ByahengOffTheGrid.
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Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.