First Time at Laiya Aplaya
It was a much unexpected outing. Our boss from Los Angeles came into town and of course, would like to get a taste of the Philippine sun and sand. After browsing and inquiring several beach resorts near Manila, we finally decided to head for Laiya, the last beach frontier in Batangas. I read and heard rave reviews about this new fun place under the sun, and I was simply curious about it. In fact, I haven’t been here! ‘Twas my opportunity to conquer this Batangueño treasure, even if it hurts my budget for July.
Laiya is located some 20 kilometers away from the heritage town proper of San Juan de Bolbok in southeastern Batangas, bordering already the province of Quezon in the east. It was an outdoor campers’ secret. Its relative isolation and inaccessibility has preserved many of its laidback assets. It was only recently when the government has constructed good roads from the town proper that made this several kilometer long cream-white sand beach more accessible to tourists.
Laiya’s major asset is its white sand beach which stretches several kilometers uninterrupted with towering green mountains that serve as a backdrop. Just behind the mountains are Malabrigo and the town of Lobo. Its relative distance of approximately more or less than 150 kilometers and seemingly confusing road network leading there is all part of the challenge getting there…like assaulting the summit to be rewarded with a great view.
Indeed, by the time we reached our accommodation (Casa Remo Apartelle Laiya) and settled in, my girl officemates went to the beach, despite the weekend crowd. I went to sleep and eventually woke up to get a glimpse of Laiya by sunset.
While walking at Laiya’s beach at around twilight, I was able to talk to two Laiya natives, both of them are fisherfolks whom because of the full moon and low tide, prefers to fish near the shore. They told me that Laiya doesn’t have electricity until recently. It was isolated, far from the town and was pristine. Most of the people here back then were involved in fisheries and only backpackers were able to reach it. It was very laidback and as early as 6 PM, you wouldn’t hear any noise coming from the neighbors. Like any provincial community, they know each other well—some of them are even relatives. But when Laiya was discovered, most of the resorts and real estate developments were from the “dayos” or migrants from Manila. Although some Laiya natives were benefited by real estate and tourism development in Laiya, some of them still opt to stay in their traditional lifestyle.
Speaking with the original locals really makes going to places different. I tend to appreciate it more if I merge into local flavors. Laiya itself is simply not just a beautiful beach taken for granted, but a place facing an ever-changing world.
Even in a very short visit, I was able to enjoy myself at Laiya (despite getting wasted that night though, haha!) together with my officemates and appreciating this far-away beauty. I need to rush since I got a flight that afternoon to Davao, singing in tune of “…straight from San Juan, Lipa, and then Laiya to NAIA!”
Commuters Guide on How to Get to Laiya, and out?
I went to Laiya along with my officemates with a rented van. However, I was able to take note of the commuting instructions that was provided to me by the locals. Getting to Laiya is not as easy as it seems, since it may take several transfers before reaching the place itself. Here’s a tip on how to get there:
- From Manila (either in Cubao or LRT-Buendia Bus Station hubs), take a bus bound for Lipa. The fastest way would be Lipa (CALABARZON, ACTEX) which heads to Lipa non-stop. It is an hour to an hour and a half ride from Manila (depending on traffic). Fare costs around P145 to P150+.
- From Lipa Bus Stop to San Sebastian Cathedral, take a tricycle and tell the driver to bring you to the jeepneys bound for San Juan and Padre Garcia. Fare is about P10 per person.
- From Lipa, take a jeepney near San Sebastian Cathedral bound for San Juan. The fare is about P50 all the way to San Juan town proper. The jeepney will pass by the town centers of Padre Garcia and Rosario. It is about an hour commute with about more than 40 kilometers to travel. Jeepney terminal in San Juan is located just several meters from the public market.
- From San Juan town proper, take a jeepney to Laiya (last trip is around 5PM). Fare costs P30 more or less, depending on where in Laiya specifically you would be staying. It is a 30-minute commute from the town proper. Laiya Proper (Laiya Aplaya, Laiya Ibabao, Hugom, etc). Take note though, frequency of public transport here is quite few. Longer waiting times expected.
- Another alternative is to take a tricycle from Laiya or to Laiya-Hugom area which may cost you more or less P60.
View Manila to Laiya and back in a larger map