Exploring the beauty of Sarangani — its beaches and beyond
(The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - If the summer heat is giving you a travel lust you cannot shake off, go to Sarangani and explore its off-the-beaten-path wonders.

Sarangani is one of the south’s best-kept secrets and more and more people are discovering other lovely features of the province aside from its pretty beaches. Sarangani is unlike anything you have visited before, yet it has everything to love — beyond and above your usual getaway.

If the northern edge of Luzon is Batanes, Sarangani is at the southern tip of Mindanao. And from that geographical standpoint alone, you know there’s a pristine southern coastline just waiting to be enjoyed — and that’s just for starters.

Whether you are looking for an adrenaline rush, craving good food or just want to unwind, you would not run out of things to do in Sarangani. It’s adventure-ready not just this summer, but at any time of the year with unsoiled rivers, vast mountain ranges, rolling hills, and stunning beaches. It makes this southern coast a culturally, historically and naturally vibrant land to explore.

A meaningful journey to Sarangani begins by appreciating God’s natural gifts to this province. Whether you prefer powdery white, pink, gray or black sand, Sarangani’s 230-kilometer coastline has these colorful options to choose from — all of which has crystal clear waters and astonishing marine life to boot.

Dubbed as the “Boracay of Mindanao,” the white-sand Gumasa Beach in the old Indonesian settlement town of Glan is one of the most popular destinations in the province. It’s where most tourists go to relax and enjoy without having to deal with overcrowded bars. Its abundant marine life is as beautiful as the scenery, making it the perfect spot for diving, snorkeling, sailing, and other water-related recreations.

Another destination you should not miss in Sarangani is the town of Maasim. It’s a 30-minute drive away from the nearest airport in General Santos City and prides itself on beach resorts that overlook Sarangani Bay.

Located here is Lemlunay Diving Resort, one of the premier diving spots in the country. This area attracts divers from all over the world because of its rich coral reefs, colorful fish and some endangered marine life that you can swim along with if you are lucky.

For those looking for romance, go to Tuka Marine Park in the town of Kiamba. It’s a strip of white sand beaches facing the Celebes Sea, and as you stroll along the coast, witness the spectacular Celebes Sea sunset that’s perfect for a romantic moment.

Aside from its beaches, Sarangani is also home to other natural scenic views like Nalus Falls in Kiamba and other diving points such as Dongon Point, Bacod Reef, Glass Beach, and Southpoint Divers which boasts of the Tinoto Wall.

While the beaches can be the perfect relaxation spots, adventure-seekers will not be disappointed with the diversity of action-packed activities to experience in Sarangani. With its clear and unspoiled rivers like Pangi River, adventurers can try canoeing, kayaking, sailing, white water river tubing, and even go whale watching or perhaps experience a natural high as you fly high with the birds when paragliding.

While you are up in the sky, you will see General Santos, the vast expanse of Sarangani Bay, the nearby Dole plantation, and even Mt. Matutum. You can also observe mountain ranges and other marine bodies and towns around Sarangani when you go up on a 360-degree viewpoint at Kalunbarak Skyline.

Sarangani also embodies strong traditions that are still present today. Travelers can get a taste of a different facet of traditional Philippine culture by visiting the towns and villages of indigenous tribes like the Blaan, Tagakaolo, T’boli, Manobo, Ubo, Kalagan, and Maguindanaos.

Explorers can also head to Lamlifew in the town of Kiamba where locals greet the visitors with indigenous music and a scrumptious feast of local delicacies. The intricate craftsmanship of their mat weaving and beadwork is something worth marveling at as well.

The town of Maitum — one of the seven towns in Sarangani — is also the place where they discovered the 2,000-year-old anthropomorphic jars used as burials jars by ancient tribes, believed to have existed around 5 BC to 225 AD. Aside from this archeological marvel, Maitum also takes its cuisine at center stage with its dried flying fish known as “bangsi” and other healthy products such as rice coffee.

Make your visit to Sarangani extra special by planning your trip to coincide with festivals around the province. Each year, the province is witness to a slew of local festivals, kicked off by the Bangsi Festival in the last Friday of January, and to commemorate their heritage, locals hold the MunaTo (which means “first people”) Festival in November.

This May, Sarangani is holding one of the biggest beach festivals in the country with the Sarangani Bay Festival (or SarBay Fest), drawing beach bums and festival-lovers all around the country and the world.


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