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The Spirit of LiwLiwa - A Travel Guide

This is a travel guide for LiwLiwa, an artsy beach town in the Philippines that stole my heart. You won't find LiwLiwa in most itineraries for the Philippines, as it's still a secret shared by locals, surfers, and Manilenos. Read on to find out why LiwLiwa is so charming, plus how to get there, where to stay, and things to do.



CONTENTS




 


Where is LiwLiwa?


LiwLiwa is a village in Zambales, which is a province in the Philippines, about 5 hours driving from the capital city: Manila.


The reason I ended up In LiwLiwa is through a volunteer placement I found on Workaway - you can read more about how Workaway operates in my article: How to Travel For Longer.


This region of the Philippines is not on the normal international tourist trail, and in fact, during my 6 weeks there, aside from my fellow volunteers, I did not meet another foreigner.


 


This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may get a commission if you make a purchase through this website, at no cost to you. I only link to products I use and love.


About LiwLiwa


LiwLiwa oozes chill. I guess this is a common trait in surfing towns, but pair that with a thriving artist community and a young, laid-back Filipino crowd, this volcanic beach barangay is giving only good vibes.

 

Creative graffiti and other artwork plaster every patch of cement wall near the beach, and Fuschia-coloured Bougainvilleas climb the walls of the bungalows and shops. Even though LiwLiwa is a popular spot with weekenders from Manila, thankfully there are no big hotels or high-rises. Everything feels cute and rustic.


As I gradually got to know the humans who call Liwa home, I heard a very similar story all around. People had come to LiwLiwa for a short trip... and never left. It's like they had decided that life does not get better than this, and maybe they are right about that.


I have found Filipino people to be very friendly and hospitable as it is, and the folks of LiwLiwa definitely emit this frequency. Everyone I have met here is kind, relaxed, and authentic. There is no such thing as being highly strung when you're living at the beach.


The Agoho trees of LiwLiwa
The Agoho trees of LiwLiwa
 


Getting to LiwLiwa


When we arrived in the Philippines we spent a couple of weeks scuba diving in Dauin and travelling the island of Siquijor first. You can read about our time on the magical island of Siquijor here.


To reach LiwLiwa, you will probably be starting in Manila, where to get around it would be very helpful to download the Grab app, which is the Philippines version of Uber.


From Manila, you should take the Victory Liner bus to a town called San Felipe. From San Felipe, it's a short tricycle ride to LiwLiwa - a tricycle translating to a moped with a sidecar attached, which cost us 45p.


As you approach LiwLiwa the concrete slowly begins to morph into sand, and the sound of traffic softens to music and waves.


It's hard to put into words the feeling of a place like this, but I am going to give it my best try. The thing that comes most to mind is community spirit... hence the title of this post.



 


Where to Stay in LiwLiwa


We stayed at Sunny Corner - which is a bakery and Kubo (bungalow) accommodations run by our Workaway host, Miel.


Sunny Corner feels more like a commune, where people come and go with ease, and everyone is super friendly. The sandy social spaces are filled with hammocks, surfboards, and art installations.


The artsy space of Sunny Corner
The artsy space of Sunny Corner

Other nice accommodation options in LiwLiwa include Kwentong Dagat and Surf Theori.


 


Things to Do in LiwLiwa


We were really lucky in that by staying at Sunny Corner, we were made to feel like part of the community every day. Some of the things we got up to:


  • Surfing with boards rented from Rox at Surf Theori

  • Skim Boarding

  • Beach football every night before sunset.

  • Yoga and Strength classes with the amazing duo Rain and Justin at Liwa Strength and Movement.

  • Watch the sunset on the beach (every day!) All the locals, kids, and their dogs come down to the beach for this ritual.

  • Barbeque! Filipinos love their barbeque, always with rice... because rice is life!

  • Spend a night with the Tanquero - the 'Gin Fairy!'

  • Cycle to San Felipe Market


Calisthenics at Liwa Strength and Movement
Calisthenics at Liwa Strength and Movement
 


Why is LiwLiwa so Special?


So what makes LiwLiwa so special? The beach is not the prettiest in the Philippines by far, the surf is good but does not come close to rivalling Siargao...


So what is it?


It's the SPIRIT of LiwLiwa.


We were made to feel at home from the moment we arrived, and not just by our Workaway host, but by everyone. The community of LiwLiwa is relaxed, warm, and genuine.


As someone who has lived in various countries, I can vouch for the fact that it isn't always easy to bond with people of other nationalities due to language barriers and different cultural references, but it's not like that in the Philippines, and it's certainly not like that in LiwLiwa.


The lifestyle in LiwLiwa feels simple and unstructured, it is not just another tourist town, it feels like a local's place, but unique in the fact that the locals are happy to share!


I have never been to a place like LiwLiwa on my travels before. It is truly enchanting in subtle ways, and if you are looking for a place in the Philippines to spend some time and slow down - LiwLiwa might be the place for you.


A skim-boarder at sunset on Liwa Beach
A skim-boarder at sunset on Liwa Beach
 


IT AIN'T PERFECT, NOTHING IS


This isn't Utopia, nowhere is. There are challenges to beach life, but all of the people I have met seem to be aligned in wanting to improve their community, and not contributing towards damaging it.


  • The littering can be bad after the weekend influx of tourists.

  • Karaoke is annoying

  • Currently, ATVs are allowed on the beach.

  • Mosquitoes exist. Which is why I recommend stocking up on Odomos!


The reason I have mentioned all of this is that I want to be honest about the challenges faced here. This post is definitely still a love letter to Liwa, I am just not going to pretend that living by the beach is 100% glamorous.



Soccer rituals at Liwa Beach
Soccer rituals at Liwa Beach
 



When to Visit LiwLiwa


March, April & May - Don't do it. It is unforgivingly hot, there is little to no surfing, and it is the busiest time for domestic tourists at the beach.


June, July & August - Wet season begins, and the current is too strong for surfing.


September, October & November - It is still wet season, but there is some charm in that, as it is quiter at the beach and the swell is on point for surfing.


December, January & February - Dry season, hot but not too hot, and some decent waves.


 


Some other tips for visiting LiwLiwa


  • Make sure you try the smoothies from Mommy’s Phoebe’s Place.

  • Bring insect repellent lotion or spray because there are a lot of mosquitoes.

  • Come on a weekday if you want the beach to be quiet, and bring earplugs for the weekend karaoke!



 


The spirit of LiwLiwa has been very inspiring to me, and one day if I have the resources, I want to create a space that draws people to it, with a community with a spirit like LiwLiwa... a place worth emulating.


Thank you for reading my Travel Guide for LiwLiwa. If you enjoyed the read, please consider subscribing to my blog where I post new articles every 1 or 2 weeks.


For more travel inspiration for Asia, check out my post: Koh Lanta and the Trang Islands.


Happy Travels

xx



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Disclosure:
I Dream of Mangoes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. That being said, I only link to products I use and love.



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