Having been in Legazpi, Albay (Philippines), for a few days I wanted to take a brief half-day trip to Santo Domingo, a neighbouring town. The reason for wanting to visit this small town was because of its famed black sand.
In Legazpi, I sought out a jeepney that would take me to the town about 20 minutes away. Whilst waiting for the jeepney a local man approached me and started a conversation. This was all very nice and then he started asking about where I was going. He was rather surprised that I was going to this small town and he queried why I was going. I lied and told him I was meeting a friend there because if he was a murderer I thought his desire to drain my neck of blood would be eased if he thought I was meeting somebody else.
With the jeepney arriving I hopped onto the back this time and sat with the local people. The guy, much older than I, continued to quiz my reasoning for heading to Sto. Domingo. He asked what I was going to do there, how long would I be there and what was the surname of my friend. I found this all very annoying and invasive but I kept my polite façade and reassured him that I knew what I was doing. I could have just told him that I was going to the beach but I am clearly dreadful at social interaction.
The guy told me that he would wait with me in Sto. Domingo until my friend came. I believe he was just being an overly friendly local but it was making me uncomfortable. The guy was apparently a rather important local who knew the majority of the people in the area.
During the journey I couldn’t really see any of the lush landscape because I was deflecting an army of questions. However, the journey wasn’t too long so I hopped off at the centre of the town in the main square.
I followed the streets down to the ocean, down quaint streets that were lined with rustic houses that had a special charm. It was early in the day so I didn’t see many people.
Once I got to the bottom of the street I could see the waves lapping the shore but I wanted to go somewhere more private. I hopped over some rocks and passed an enthusiastic child who repeated ‘hello’ numerous times. I walked for about ten minutes along the beach until I found a spot devoid of people and where the sand was at its blackest.
Santo Domingo is home to beaches adorned with black sand. The world has golden sand in the Maldives, pink sand in the Bahamas and Green sand in Hawaii. Black sand is also rare with only a few locations having them due to the need for a volcano to produce such a natural wonder. New Zealand and Hawaii have black beaches and are far more famed for it but a small town in the Philippines is also a recipient of this unusual coloured sand.
The sand was actually black, well a dark grey. I immediately shoved my hands into the charcoal grains to see if it felt any different to real sand. Honestly, it didn’t except it was a little more clumpy but many beaches in the world are lacking in fine sand.
I set my bag down and decided to do something I hate doing – swimming in the sea. The only times swimming in the sea is acceptable is if I am on a yacht, in warm waters that are crystal clear. That was not the case in Santo Domingo. The weather was lovely but dark clouds were rolling steadily towards and the water was not turquoise in colour. However, I was on a black sand beach and I realised that I had to seize the moment. I stripped on the beach, caring not that my tiny frame was on show for there was no one in proximity. I didn’t bring swimming shorts as this was a spur of the moment decision to jump into the water so my underwear was all that was protecting my modesty.
I dipped my white toes into the dark water and I was instantly molested by seaweed. I moved further along the beach and saw plastic and rubbish littering the edges of the shore. A littler further on I found a perfect spot and slowly ushered my way deeper into the ocean. It was liberating to be bathing in the ocean being able to look out onto a dense foliage reminiscent of Jurassic Park.
I stayed in the waters for about ten minutes and decided to dry myself. Fortunately, I did bring a towel with me for the sole reason of removing the sand from my feet. After stripping completely it was just my luck that a young local family decided to accompany me on my isolated beach. Quickly changing I moved myself as the rain began to drizzle out from the heavens.
I sat, sheltered on the black sand peacefully relaxed.
Time was passing and the weather had healed, I decided to return to the centre of Santo Domingo. At the square is St Dominic De Guzman Church that was built in 1820 and is made of dark stone. The darkness of the stone contrasts beautifully with the vibrant green in the distance.
Santo Domingo also has a small market but it was at this point that I decided to head back to Legazpi.
The queue for the jeepney was long so I decided, stupidly, to begin walking to Legazpi until an empty jeepney would pass. It was nice walking along the road passing lush green fields and palm trees but I could see the impending dark sky had returned so I waited for a passing jeepney. Fortunately, one did pass and stop.
Now a pro at riding jeepneys I sat in the back and passed my coins to the passengers closest to the driver. They would pay the driver and any change would be passed back to you by the passengers. It is truly a communal experience and it really immerses you into the local culture. As some seats freed up I moved closer to the driver and soon passengers were handing me their money and I was supplying it to the driver. This was one of my favourite moments in the Philippines and I urge everyone that visits the Philippines to ride a jeepney.
Santo Domingo was a nice half-day trip that exposed me to black sands for the first time. I was rewarded with stunning views and experiences that would remain with me for a long time.
All pictures taken by myself. Please follow me on Instagram: Arik_Dane