Floating on the Ocean

by B.J. Stolbov

Pagudpud is not a promising name for a beach town.

Boracay – now that’s a great name for a beach town. Boracay is an island between the Tablas Strait and the Sibuyan Sea in the Visayan Islands of central Philippines.  This is the place where people, many foreigners, go when they want to go to a beach. Here are white sandy beaches and deep blue waters, planted coconut palms and scheduled ferries, harbors for sailboats and large yachts, expensive hotels and designer resorts, gourmet restaurants and fast-food joints, beautiful women in tiny bikinis and handsome shirtless men, hot sunny days and wild drunken nights, 24-hour bars and all-night discos, music, singing, laughing, fun, affairs, romance, sex, secrets, exciting evenings, and, maybe, a regret-filled morning. Boracay.

Boracay Beach at Dusk/ Flickr.com

Pagudpud sounds like one of those small, lost towns in northern New Jersey. Pagudpud is a small, lost town in northern Ilocos Norte.  It is the most northern town in the most northern province on the northern island of Luzon.  From Manila, it’s a 10 to 12 hour bus trip. But when Filipinos want to get away, they go to Pagudpud.

Pagudpud is a tranquil, isolated town nestled between the South China Sea and the Cordillera Mountains.  Protected by the mountains, few storms threaten up here. The weather is warm, but not hot. The ocean is clear, blue, and unpolluted. The fishermen, in their hand-built boats, are out early in the mornings, tending their nets.  Long-winged seabirds fly low over the water. Wavelets splash lightly on the shore. The beaches are pristine, unspoiled, and almost all white sand.  These beaches are some of the most beautiful in all of the Philippines.  

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Searching For A Hidden Western Algarve Beach

by Connie Hand

Admittedly, the beaches in the Portuguese Algarve are famous for their beauty, but they are also very crowded.

Having been to the Algarve several times, I always wondered where the quiet, uncrowded beaches were. There had to be many since the coast was about 60 miles long. But how to find them?

My research always came to a dead end. I used a current Michelin map of Portugal. I went online. Not many beaches were noted except the usualmostly eastern Algarve four and five star resorts.

I imagined beach after beach, cove after cove nestled under huge rocks and boulders. With so many coastal miles, especially on the Atlantic Coast, I was sure that the Portuguese and the German and British tourists or expats knew about dozens of these paradises, even if Americans hadn’t yet found them.

Praia do Castelejo. Photo by Portuguesa72/flickr.com

A couple of years ago, I decided to find some people to speak with on the subject during my visit. But about a week before my trip, while reading a Rick Steves’ Portugal guide, I came across a small paragraph that mentioned Castelejo Beach on the Atlantic Coast of Algarve, Portugal. In his guidebook under “The Algarve: Cape Sagres” section, he listed “Beaches”. He stated that there were many little beaches from Salema to Sagres. And then...he mentioned Praia do Castelejo which is north of Sagres past Vila do Bispo. Rick wrote “If you have a car and didn’t grow up in Fiji, this is really worth the drive”. He said it was “the best secluded beach in the region”. 

At last, someone was as interested as I in the tucked away and little heard of western Algarve beaches! 

So my husband and I decided to go for it.

When we arrived at Lagos, we checked into the Romantik Hotel Vivenda Miranda. This boutique hotel is situated up on a cliff overlooking the Praia do Mos. (The hotel is beautiful and lovingly cared for by owners Vera and Urs Wild, and their friendly, helpful staff. I highly recommend it).

After lunch, we made our plans to drive out to Castelejo beach the next day. We would follow Rick Steve’s directions.

The next morning, after a delicious buffet breakfast on the hotel patio with its ocean view, we left on our adventure. 

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Searching for Culture at a Five-Star All-Inclusive Resort

by Laurie Gilberg Vander Velde


“I want to take my kids on a trip. We have to have ocean view rooms; it has to be all-inclusive; and it has to be a non-stop flight.”  This was what my Mom wanted for her upcoming 90th birthday celebration which would be in the dead of winter. I’m not a person who does cruises or beach vacations. I like to explore, meet people, visit museums and cultural sites. But how could I refuse my Mom’s wishes, much less turn down an all-expenses-paid trip to a tropical island!

The irony of the whole plan was that my Mom is no beach bunny. “I really don’t like sand,” she says. She also shuns the sun, the result of 48 years of nagging from my dear father. But she’d lived in Florida and had spent time on the Jersey shore where she’d passed many an hour gazing at the waves and soaking up the ocean breezes. She was determined to see the ocean again.

Sunrise in Punta Cana. 

When my Mom, her four children and our spouses all boarded the charter flight to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, I hailed it as a minor miracle. Mom had managed to get all of us, now in our 50’s and 60’s, to drop everything and take off together for a full week. Together - - this was more family togetherness than we kids had had since we were twelve years old. 

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The Personality of Waves

words + slideshow by Paul Ross

I’ve seen most of the oceans of the world from boats big and small, craft commercial and military. I’ve been in a submarine, dove the wall of a 2-mile deep sea trench in the mid-Pacific, watched whales in the Arctic and sunsets on islands, atolls and from shores distant and domestic. But not until recently did I stand at the edge of the ocean and notice that waves have personalities. Some are feminine and lap at or teasingly tickle the beach while others impatiently charge the shore in an alpha male display. There are lofty and proud rollers, menacingly dark gatherers who build and build, creating discomforting uncertainty with their indefinable limit and unfathomable purpose. Some are mere sighs of the sea; indifferently swelling and quelling as if to shrug or just take a momentary look around. Sibling rivalry waves, born of the same mother roll, will playfully clash into each other and collapse into sparkling foam. Stolid workman waves dutifully pound away at rocks in destruction zones even more permanent than those of the streets of New York. Still others are real sports: faking one way, breaking another and nimbly dodging surfers as if they were opposing football players. And there are golf waves with their long impressive drives decelerating to a controlled stop. How ‘bout those NBA ones? Taking their time moving down court, coolly surveying and assessing the scene before exploding in a sudden move. 

Health-wise, there are asthmatic waves with long, labored and drawn- out aspirations. Neurotic waves indecisively fall apart in pieces, attempting a regroup even as other sections are curling inward. 

Egocentric waves applaud their own performance. 

Some are shy, don’t want to be noticed, and aren’t. 

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