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Blog - Sandbars: A Super Eye Candy

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Among the things I discovered in the Philippines and that I’m passionate about are “sandbars”, also known as “shoal” or “sandbank”. In the Philippines, they are usually called with the same English word, or in Tagalog (native language) they are called “banlik” and “bahura”.

A sand-bar! Photo: Tropical Experience.

What are they? As the word says, yes, they are bars made of sand, usually stretching on the sea, at times not even so close to the shoreline. They form long and narrow beaches or even islands. Often these strips of sand are visible only during low tide: sometimes they form temporary islands, which disappear when the tide goes up. At times, they disappear at less than 1 meter depth and you can still stroll on them. It is advisable in any case to be careful when the tide is becoming high: you could find yourself isolated at the end of the sandbar while the sea level goes up!

White sand? Something not too difficult to find in the Philippines! Photo: Tropical Experience.

I will show you 2 sandbars. The first is a narrow but very long strip of sand in Bohol, a province in the center of the country. This long “temporary beach” is actually part of an islet which main part is permanently out of the water. In the pictures below, you can see it both in an emerged and a submerged version. By the way, I never saw it going so much below the water level and it is still possible to walk on it with the water reaching your knees. The water in this area is generally calm because this sea is not too deep.

Sandbar near Bohol, emerged dring low tide. Photo: Tropical Experience.

High tide partially covers this sandbar. Photo: Tropical Experience.

While you stroll there, it is advisable to keep wearing your slippers or aqua shoes, because you could find some small creatures that don’t like to be stepped on (in some cases, they can give considerable discomfort to your feet if you step on them!).

The second one I’m showing you here is the spectacular White Island of Camiguin, in the Center-South of the Philippines. We reached this island during low tide and the weather didn’t seem to look too god: you could see big dark clouds on the horizon and feel strong wind. Few minutes after our docking, a strong rainshower actually started: we covered ourselves the way we could, with beach umbrellas.

Cloudy in Camiguin. Photo: Tropical Experience.

After a couple of minutes, the storm just stopped and it was finally possible to walk more pleasantly on this super-long sandbar! The sky cleared and the sun shone… the blue sky created marvelous contrasts with the white colour of the sand.

And the sun came…great! Photo: Tropical Experience.

On the right side of the picture, the sea has a brighter colour, while on the left the blue is much darker, indicating a deeper sea level.

This suggests that we probably were on a sandbank created by waves and sea currents. After walking at the farthest tip we noticed that the sea level was slowly going up, so we started to walk back. We did right, since on the way back the middle part of the bar was already partly submerged in water in a matter of few tens of minutes, creating a solitary island on the tip of the sandbar.

Beside the great landscape and the super-white sand, the visit of these sand-bars is a truly “super” experience.

At White Island, Camiguin! Photo: Tropical Experience.

A sandbar connecting 2 islands in El Nido! Photo: Tropical Experience.

(written on December 2015)