Beach Sheds at San Fabian

300 Philippine pesos are equal to approximately 7 US dollars. That's it. And what can 300 pesos, aka 7 bucks, get you? A beach "shed" on the shores of San Fabian. For the entire day. These "sheds" are actually bamboo huts that provide shade, tables, and seating. Most of them are large enough to fit at least a dozen people comfortably, perfect for day-trips and picnics!

The last 1/4 mile of the drive to San Fabian beach is really just going down this alleyway crowded with small lodges and "carinderias" (quick service eateries), then suddenly you emerge right on the sand. The shore is lined with dozens of these bamboo beach sheds, colorful hand-painted signs calling out for you to rent one. The morning we went, there were no crowds, so all you see are sand, calm water, and the occasional outrigger fishing boat (painted just as colorfully as those rental signs!).

This is what the outside of each beach shed looks like. The bamboo "walls" still allow for a nice breeze to come through, but also gives each group their privacy. I loved that the sheds were surrounded by coconut trees! It created a beatiful setting for our beach getaway, and we could see the green young coconut just waiting to be picked. (I want some young coconut juice now...)

As for the inside, the shed is spacious and open. The bamboo benches provided plenty of seating and the huge tables (also made of bamboo) were perfect for lunchtime!

The water, although not crystal clear, was a more-than-comfortable temperature (almost as warm as bathwater!) and perfectly still. Sam and I were actually able to wade out pretty far before it got deep enough to swim. The top-right photo is of Sam, my Auntie Ofelia, and me. In the bottom-right photo, I'm pretty sure I was pointing out how a caribao had wandered onto the beach and was also wading in the ocean (A caribao is a water buffalo!).

Besides the shelter of the sheds, there were also covered picnic tables and beds (which were, again, made of that trusty bamboo) dotting the shore. If you look closely at the upper-right corner of the second photo, you can see one of the small snack shops set up on the beach. They sell sodas, chips, and fruit.

My favorite part about the beach, though, were all the vendors walking around with woven baskets of goodies! Some had souvenir bead bracelets, while others even had fresh clams and shrimp that you could grill by your beach shed. I bought a couple of sweet treats. The first was a popsicle made from young coconut juice and sweet azuki beans, and the second was banana-cue (a popular street food made by skewering fried banana with a brown sugar, caramelized coating; it's a play on the word "barbecue").

At the end of the day, it's time to rinse off the salty ocean water and gritty sand. Most beaches back home in California have outdoor showers that you can use, but in the's a little different. In an area behind all of the sheds, there is a hand-pumped water well and a very, very large bowl. It's all a simple process, really. You pump water into the bowl, you scoop water out of the bowl, you pour water all over yourself. Sam and I may have had a little too much fun doing this...Maybe...

Sometimes, you don't need a luxury resort to enjoy a tropical paradise. Our day at San Fabian was simple and laid back. In the end, all you really need is the beach, great company, and great food.