Beach Outing: A Slice of White Sand Paradise in Mactan


Two days ago I was on a beach outing with my extended family – our clan on mother’s side to celebrate the 55th wedding anniversary of our clan’s matriarch and patriarch. I must have spent several hours under the scorching heat of the sun, lol and so I ended up sunburnt.  :mrgreen:

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No, I did not use sunblock lotion. Folly, I know. Now, my face, nose and left arm hurts.

*head banging on wall*  🙄

Nevertheless, it was a great, amazing summer day spent with my cousins and the kids in our lot.  It was also a day when our cameras’ memory cards were maximized to the hilt. I brought 3 cameras; I got 474 pics total hahaha. The next day, I got tired with all the pics tagging from all the similar poses/similar scenes from the cameras of my aunts.

What’s with pinoys and attachment to hundreds of pictures? Lol.

Where did we have our family summer outing? At a secluded white sand beach in Mactan which is unfortunately not open to the general public.

Shoreline at the former Coral Reef Hotel

Mactan Beach Coral Reef

The beach resort used to be the famous Coral Reef Hotel and Beach Resort in Agus Ylaya, Mactan Island. I remember this resort as pretty popular especially among foreign tourists like Japanese back in early 90s. I don’t know what happened but ownership has passed on to a bank, PNB, probably loans not paid and all that.

When we entered the complex, several security personnel were at the gate. I was at the back of the van so I did not hear fully what my cousin and the guards spoke about. My cousin is familiar with Coral Reef since he and his group does regular coastal clean-up in the area of Maribago – Agus – Marigondon which includes Coral Reef area.

But it was not my cousin who arranged our visit to the beach but an aunt who knows someone who knows someone connected with the group handling the property.  So we gain entrance after verifying that we are one of the groups with prior arrangement. The guard allowed us to enter its creaky gate with caution ‘make sure the little kids are taken cared of while on the water.’

Reality Check  

Sorry there is no CR, no shower facilities, and no stores nearby but there were 2 cottage huts, several tables and that’s it.  Most visitors were bringing their own tables and chairs and grilling devices. I saw some bringing hammock, mats and baby’s pen. As for us, we also brought an extra wooden plank to sit on. =)

We were lucky we were assigned to the only ‘big’ cottage. Yey, lucky us! =D

If you ask me how much was the cottage rental fee or entrance fee on this Mactan abandoned resort, I won’t be able to tell you. But it doesn’t appear though that there is an entrance fee per person.

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Welcome and welcome..

Wild grasses have overtaken the area, if you don’t know where you are going you will begin to think that perhaps you are lost.  We were following a dirt road, along the way, we saw torn down buildings which I am sure have seen better times. The walls that were still standing were littered with graffiti and vandalism.

When we passed through a narrow cemented bridge, the little ones saw the blue waters on either side of the bridge and exclaim ‘dagat!’ ‘dagat!’.  Everyone knew then that the beach was near. =)

Our van parked beside the swimming pool, what was once a pride of the place has been reduced to a pool of dirty, greenish yellow stagnant water. I looked around at the nearby buildings and I feel sorry for what the place has become.

But when my gaze fell upon the beach area, I was struck in awe. Like an oasis in the desert, the beach area can make one exclaim ‘Paradise!’

Coral Reef Beach Resort Mactan

The whole area looks like a cove, on either side are rocky cliffs protecting the white sand shoreline. Palm trees abound like in a countryside resort, which is something you usually don’t find on Mactan. The water was sparkling turquoise and clear, the sand was fine white which feels like balm to your sole as you walk on it.

My little cousins’ joy couldn’t be contained. The moment we got off the van, the bigger kids run off to the rocks jutting the sides of the small cliff and one by one they went for exhilarating jumps and dives into the sea while the smaller ones took out their salbabida and race to the cool water.

Kids summer beach outing

Get ready to go for Rock jumping!

Rock Jumping Beach Diving

Sorry for the ‘radiated pics’  above, I was using my cousin’s DSLR camera and I don’t know a thing about its settings lol.

when I get my own DSLR cam, I’ll figure it out.  😉

The much older boys were assigned to the makeshift grilling area nyahahaha. But they made up time on the beach after our lunch. =)

The girls of the family went on exploring the palm-lined elevation of Coral Reef; we must have took hundreds of pics there. What can I say but it’s very picturesque and breezy plus  hayahay pa dyud! Hehe

Beach outing girls

Multiple times I was saying to myself that it would be perfect if I can spend my work day on that very beach with my laptop battery not dying on me and with an LTE internet connection. Working with an amazing view at my feet, that is a freelancer dream haha.

It’s becoming normal now to have jumpshot pics during trips and outings so even the elders in the family gave in to calls for jump shots, lol.

Jump Shots in the beach

But they couldn’t beat this jumpshot execution by the boys hehe


Although it was a Sunday, crowd was considerably less if you compare it with the other Mactan beach resorts. This is expected because those who have special permits and arrangement are the only ones allowed to get inside the vicinity.

Lolo and Lola was contended sitting at the shallow area while the rest of the family enjoys the day.

Lolo and Lola 55th wedding anniversary

Around lunch time, there was a big banca carrying Korean or Japanese tourists that entered the cove. The bad thing was that they anchored their huge banca on the shore itself, cutting off that area for swimming for all other visitors. These foreign tourists took their lunch in the long table close enough to the cottage we were using. I wish the boatman had anchored the banca further away, not right there on the shore. Tsk. That was the only blotched on what otherwise would be A perfect summer beach outing. Good thing the banca carrying the tourists pulled away after a couple of hours.

My kins who came out to join the beach party celebration that Sunday was less than half of our total number lol. Lolo and lola have 8 children,  8 in-laws, 26 apo (I am the eldest apo), 9 apo sa tuhod. So it was just a semi – family reunion hehe :mrgreen:

 Boys Bod in the beach


My cousins brought with them volleyball net and they set-it up easily. There was also another group with their own volleyball net. The beach area is really wide which would have been a great place for teambuilding.

We also brought Frisbee and guitar, gotta be ready so no one gets bored hehe.

Create your own fun with the white sand!  :mrgreen:

fun in the beach

If I am a Billionaire…

I will buy the whole Coral Reef Mactan complex and turn this into my personal paradise, lol.  That’s why I am not a billionaire coz I want to keep this all to myself haha.

My more realistic wishes though is that I hope the next owner of this prime beach area in Mactan will build a resort that is  affordable and accessible to ‘normal’ people like us.

As you know the best beach areas in Mactan already belongs to mega conglomerates owners of posh hotels and resorts whose Day Rates and Overnight Rates are way beyond what a normal Cebuano or Oponganon or Filipino can afford. They are mostly frequented by foreign tourists and rich elite Filipinos.

Majority of those who lives, resides and spent their lives in Mactan are not privilege enough to see and enjoy the bounty that nature has blessed our island with.

It’s a sad reality.

I don’t want to end this blog on a sad note, it won’t be fitting for we had lots of fun that day we discovered, played and enjoyed the beautiful beach of the former Coral Reef Mactan. It’s a slice of paradise enjoyed best with family and friends.

Now, let me ask my aunt how to get permit to visit. I sure want to go back there before any new resort is build. Lol.

Sayonara! Ciao! Adios!


Thanks to Jessa who resides nearby Coral Reef for sharing this latest info: The beach is now open to the public at P50 per head entrance fee.
Expect a huge crowd during weekends and holidays. Best to go there on weekdays. For info.

Thanks again Jessa! 🙂

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About Cille Anne

This blog is maintained, written and edited by she - who likes to travel a lot, more like wishes to travel a lot, doesn't want to miss a photo-op, loves the rain, certified chocoholic, coffee keeps her sane - it runs through her veins, she doesn't know how to swim, but wants to dive in Tubbataha all the same haha

~Come share with me, my travels, my stories, my life.

My name is Cille. AND THIS IS PENFIRES. :)


  1. kuyog ko sunod cille ha! ako bahala sa transpo! 😆

    • Cille Anne says:

      cge cge ask ko doy ni auntie hehe \o/

      • TEomar roma says:

        hi Cille.. I hope you still checking the comments of your blog …ug naglaom nga mareplyan pah.. i had read your article and like others na curious sad ko… Bag.o ra me naghisgot anang Coral reef sa Ylaya gabie… halos nabuntagan mig storia ug mga creepy things nga nahitabo dra…. tinuod daghan jud nag kababalaghan dra… mga istorya sa mga tao dra ug sa mga tao nga mangisdaay dra… taga-lapu2x ra ko ug permi me mangara sa coral magbike2x pero agto me agi sa kasagbutan dili sa main gate… daghan kaayo nag istorya nga makahaahadlok dra…. ug kung muara ganei mog balik dapat magdaghan mo.. ayaw mog ara nga magsolo or duha or tulo…

        • Hi Teomar, Thank you pag share nimo sa storya, taga Pajo mi dapit mao guro wala mi kadungog ug mga storya about sa Coral Reef. Ako ishare nya imong gishare sa akong cousins kay cge sila adto for volunteer coastal clean-up. Salamat!

        • teomar roma says:

          thank you for your response cille.,,, nakabalik namog ligo dra ??

        • wala pa dyud, murag madugayan pa cgro ang next. nakabalik mo? if nakabalik mo, okay ra latest experience ninyo?

        • teomar roma says:

          nagbike2x me dra paglast cille mga may 28.. bati na kaayo hugaw na ang dagat wala nay nag.atiman pero still nice man gihapon nindot kung taob…. daghan naggreen2x sa dagat lumot ug mga basura gamay

        • waaaah kasayang, ngano man sad gud ang ubang taw pataka ug labay sa basura, dili mo follow sa ‘leave nothing but footprints’, maka-stress sila.
          sa lain pa ta, naa na man daw mo-bantay kay naay entrance na P50 per pax, hopefully ma-salba ang kanindot sa lugar

  2. Charlene Dabon says:

    I’m so intrigued by this beach. How do you get there by jeep? Is it easy to find?

    • Cille Anne says:

      Hi Charlane, the place is really nice kahit walang facilities. 🙂

      You can go there via public transport but will require 2 or 3 transfers. You can also hire a tricycle for ‘pakyaw system’ – just say Agus Ilaya or Ylaya and pahatod sa ‘karaang Coral Reef Resort’. From what I know, this beach area already belongs to Barangay Marigondon and not Barangay Agus, but the place is commonly referred to as “Agus Ylaya” by the residents. Hope you’ll find this beach and gain entrance!

      When I get back there I’ll take note of nearby landmarks so finding this white sand beach in Mactan is easier. =)

  3. hi cille, i like your article. weve been there yesterday and i was so curious about what happened to the resort which leads me to research about it. have you also experienced creepy things in that resort? heheheh

    • Wow Mark nice that you were able to enter and enjoy Coral Reef! When you were there daghang beach goers or your group lang? Hmmm this is the first time I hear about creepy things, but when we were there daghan kaayo mi so maybe that’s why I didn’t feel any thing unusual. But Coral Reef has been abandoned for a long time now, might even be decade na, so it won’t be surprising if there are not like ours or something like that lurking, taking residence in the former resort.

      Nacurious nuon ko…what happened? Heheh

  4. Hi.

    How much is the entrance fee? Do you have contact number for this?
    Please sent me a note @ stunleebyrlee@gmail.com.

    Thank you so much~

  5. Hi, thanks for your story. Like you , I also has the privilege of entering this once well-known resort but now abandoned area. Coral Reef Resort is already owned by Lucio Tan group, while our favorite middle-class rate Portofino is already with Andrew Tan/Megaworld/Mactan Newtown. Both places have a cove-like whitesand beach areas which every maralitang Filipinos especially maralitang Cebuanos and maralitang taga-Mactan should enjoy. After all our government is FOR THE PEOPLE and not POOR THE PEOPLE, right? Thanks. Cherry

    • Hi Cherry, thanks for sharing. It’s tragic when all the beautiful places in our island gets sold out to serve only the rich and elite. The government? Probably if politicians have their way, they’ll forced all coastline residents out of the area so they can build more ‘rewarding relationships’ with deep-pockets conglomerates.

  6. Jessa Espinosa says:

    Hi Cille,
    Just wanted to updated, we live in Masiwa, Marigondon just near Ylaya where Coral Reef is located. The management now imposed Php 50.00/ head entrance to beach goers. Now that its open to the public, expect crowd whenever coming on weekends.

  7. Jessa Espinosa says:

    No Biggies 🙂 🙂
    Daghan man kaayu mag ask tag pila entrance, atleast karun open na siya for public to enjoy dili lang sa privilege few.

  8. Hi there! How can we get a permit to visit?

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