GLAN, GUMASA BEACH and SARBAY FEST 2017

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There was a time when about the only known place in the Philippines to see a white sandy beach was the island of Boracay in the Visayas. That reputation has helped it fame, reputation and recommendations from some of the best travel publications and agencies around the world. Still, that much attention has a price as well. The rise of commercialization and increase in population has made the islands rather crowded and noisy, with concerns for the erosion of the white sands that have given Boracay its famous name. But time marches on, and other exceptional resorts of similar stripe have been found and developed in more parts of the Philippines. One of these locations is in the province of Sarangani, at their southernmost municipality of Glan.

Glan lies at the extreme southern tip of the peninsula that forms the eastern side of the south-facing Sarangani Bay, from which the province takes its name. Sarangani province is divided into two sections to the east and west, with the city of General Santos (geographically part of South Cotabato province) lying in between these portions. While the western side of Sarangani boasts its own fair share of beautiful beach resorts, it is the eastern section, specifically at the municipality of Glan, that is home to the crescent-shaped stretch of beach with white sands known as Gumasa.

A number of travelers who have gone there and spent time at the resorts occupying the general area have nicknamed this haven as the “Small Boracay of the South” or the “New ‘Old’ Boracay”, both of which evoke the white sands the two beach locations have in common, as well as call to mind their stark differences in terms of density of development. The Gumasa resorts are become like a quiet hideaway to escape from the urban bustle of the large city off to its northwest, where tourists can relax and enjoy the sands (naturally), the shady palm trees and the beautiful and sparkly waters of not merely Sarangani Bay but the Celebes Sea. There are several resorts operating along the general Gumasa beach area, and we’re going to go over some of the best ones there.

But first, there’s the matter of getting to the place first. Like a lot of the best getaways to be found in Saragani province as a whole, the trip starts from General Santos City which is reachable by air or sea from Manila or Cebu, or by land from the larger city of Davao. While private car owners in the city or the surrounding provinces can simply drive their way there, but public transport can be had by van from their terminal at KCC Mall to Glan Terminal (P100), and from there to the resort of your choice by tricycle.

One Gumasa resort I can highly recommend (by virtue of having been there before) is the Isla Jardin del Mar, situated on an even smaller peninsula jutting diagonally off the main coast. The resort occupies 750sqm of the white shoreline with cottages for day picnics and suit rooms for much longer and comfortable stays. The depth of the water’s pretty variable with a gentle descent at one part and deep enough for snorkeling at another while being close to shore. They also have a pool, and other activities available like jet-skis and banana boat rides. Check them out at their official website at http://www.islajardindelmar.net/.

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Another location that is a hit for Gumasa beachgoers is the Yoshikawa Crystal Island resort. It’s not quite as blatantly developed as Isla Jardin del Mar aside from its own pool and indoor accommodations, but it also means you can get so much closer to nature with the peaceful and tranquil atmosphere. The entrance fee and cottage/rooms are reasonably priced too. More information can be seen here: http://www.facebook.com/notes/glan-beach-resort/yoshikawa-crystal-island-resort/399732056824/

Now, it may well be enough that Gumasa and its resorts offer some of the best beach experiences around, highly worthy of its “Little Boracay” moniker. But wait, there’s more! Glan and Sarangani province as a whole are totally appreciative at the sheer tourism and revenue power of Gumasa that they’ve even began an annual commemorative summer fiesta in its honor: the Sarbay Festival. This festival has been hitting the beaches of Glan since 2005, going on for about three wild days in May. This year preparations are in full swing for the 12th iteration of Sarbay Fest on May 25 to 27, 2017. Visitors can look forward to a spree of beach parties, concerts, competitions on sand and surf, and so much more.

At any other time I’d say that’s all about what I can describe about a scenic location, but there’s still a whole lot of other stuff to discover and explore when you come to Glan and the beaches of Gumasa. Who knows, we might just pass each other in the crowds during Sarbay this coming May. You never know.

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Photo courtesy of cntraveler.com

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