When Turner asked me to write a guest post for his blog, I immediately said yes. I wanted this chance to show people how beautiful my country is. He’s now in Boracay, helping a community there that was hard hit by Typhoon Haiyan, and although it is gorgeous (it has been named one of the best islands in the world), there are a lot of places in the Philippines that are as lovely.
I haven’t been to all the 81 provinces in the country (yet), so I just asked fellow Filipino travel bloggers about their favorite destinations. Check them out; or better yet, come and visit!
Apo Island, Negros Oriental
Doi Domasian of The Traveling Feet loves swimming and free diving. She says,
The Philippine archipelago is home to one of the richest marine biodiversity in the world. Such is the case of Apo Island, a tiny island in Central Visayas, where you can experience living a simple island life and enjoy diving to explore the island’s abundant marine life. And if you love sea turtles, all you need to do is snorkel a few meters away from the shoreline, dip your head underneath and you’ll easily spot one either lounging on soft coral beds or swimming to the surface to breathe.
If you’re a diver or even if you just like snorkeling, Apo Island should be one of your destinations.
I’m a beach person, but when it comes to a favorite destination, I have to say Batanes is mine, hands down. This island province lies at the northernmost part of the Philippines, and its location has contributed to its being relatively off the tourist trail. During monsoon season, for example, tourists have been known to be stranded there for weeks.
Still, for its beautiful mountainous regions alone, Batanes comes highly recommended. Check out my Batanes posts.
Grasya Bangoy of Grasya.com has chosen Bohol, one of the hardest hit this year by natural disasters. According to her,
Bohol has almost everything…from the smallest monkey (the tarsier) and the Chocolate Hills, to the white sandy beaches, awesome dive spots, and wonderful, kind people. It has gone through some challenges lately due to the recent earthquake but I’m sure sooner or later, it will be back to its beautiful state again. Traveling around Bohol may be expensive for some people, especially for solo travelers, but with enough research it would not be as expensive.
Check out Grasya’s tips: Living Like a Local on a Shoestring Budget.
Bucas Grande, Surigao del Norte
If you like swimming, you would love Bucas Grande as much as Ann D Explorer does. Aside from its crystal clear waters, there’s also a lot of stingless jellyfish (gasp!), caves, and some interesting rock formations. Check out the photos of the little critters; they’re so cute.
Regin Reyno of Regin’s Travels has always loved Bukidnon, a highland province in Mindanao. He loves a lot of things there, from
Beautiful mountains and lush forests, to icy cold waterfalls, ethnic tribes, fresh tropical fruits, and friendly locals–these are what you will experience when you go to the beautiful province of Bukidnon. The scenery is so wonderful and diverse. If you want to experience a relaxed, countryside living, go there.
My father’s family came from Bukidnon, so I also like it there. I wish I could spend more time there and escape from the heat and pollution of the cities.
Before traveling Europe and the world, DJ Yabis of Dream Euro Trip used to travel a lot in Cagayan where he grew up. It’s one of his favorite places in the Philippines, loving its low-key and off-the-radar nature. DJ says,
One of my favorite secret beaches in Claveria is called Sentinela Beach. I first discovered this when I was in Claveria, Cagayan for a competition when I was 12. I remembered being enchanted by the beach and how waveless it was. It was perfect for non-swimmers like me then. After 7 years or so, I had to drag my whole family on a road trip in search of this beach and we found it!
Good for you, Deej.
Palawan is always in every traveler’s bucket list, and it’s no wonder. This province deserves all the accolade. Che Gurrobat of Backpacking Pilipinas has chosen Coron as her favorite. She says,
Coron, Palawan is absolutely a must-visit destination. Aside from its lovely limestone cliffs and clear and tranquil lake waters, it’s also known for its pristine white sand beaches, amazing snorkeling spots, green mountains, and great seafood, among others. Among the many wonderful spots I’ve visited in Coron, though, Kayangan Lake stands out for me, dubbed the “cleanest lake in the country.”
I’ve been to Palawan several times, but never yet been to Coron. Some time next year, I’ll definitely go there, as it’s also a haven for divers! Check out Che’s post: Kayangan Lake, Coron, Palawan.
El Nido, Palawan
El Nido is highly recommended as a destination, of course. I’ve been there, and all I can say is that if you want a quiet place to reflect, do yoga, and all that s–t, El Nido is it. Flip Nomad loves it. He says,
I stayed in El Nido for a month a couple of years ago and was blown away with how beautiful this place is. There are numerous islands in Bacuit Bay that you could explore. You could spend the whole day lazily and just hang out on one of the beaches and islands.
Melo Villareal of Out of Town Blog also chooses El Nido. He says it’s not really that expensive there, and it’s the ultimate place for diving, island hopping, snorkeling, and kayaking. El Nido is also known for its mangroves and tall lime stone cliffs that are about 250 million years old. Check out Melo’s guide: El Nido Palawan Travel Guide.
Kabacan, North Cotabato
Edmar Guquib of Edmaration chooses North Cotabato as his favorite place.
According to him, it’s a
Land of seemingly endless rice fields; but beyond and beneath the fertile soil are her best kept secrets – so aloft, so far, yet it makes you want to go back like a lost son finding the cuddle of his mother. There are numerous virgin caves in Brgy. Pisan, while the already explored ones offer extreme spelunking experiences with cave ceilings and rock formations that are so out-of-this world. There’s an underground river too, with a 15-foot-deep basin that leads out to a multi-layered waterfalls. Indeed, with all its wonders, Pisan seems almost a sacred place, where God’s Holiness is displayed.
Edmar makes it sound so good for adventurous travelers.
Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
Shawi Cortez of Cheap Travel for Women also chooses Cotabato, but this time, focusing on the south where Lake Sebu is. She says,
Lake Sebu is located at the top of a hill in the more peaceful part of Mindanao. Known for its seven falls, the tinalak (local loom weaving), brass casting, and tilapia ponds, it has been the home to the T’boli and Ubo tribes. Theirs is a very rich culture, but sadly, a dying one. Whether there’s a crowd, or even to an audience of one, you’ll be mesmerised and awed at their generosity in showcasing their talents through traditional song and dance.
I haven’t been there myself, but I would definitely love to go, having heard so much about it. Check out Shawi’s videos: Lake Sebu: T’boli Dance and Song.
Ormoc City, Leyte
The hometown of Ephraim Arriesgado (Selfless Travels) has been hit hard by Typhoon Haiyan. Still, it remains his favorite. According to him,
I love Ormoc because of its spectacular sunsets facing Ormoc Bay. It is one of the best spots to hang around in Leyte. Ormoc also has many wonderful natural attractions like lakes, mountains, and beaches, and some historic sites as well.
Check out Ephraim’s guide: The Adventurer’s Guide to Ormoc City, Leyte.
Sagada, Mountain Province
Jherson Jaya of The Lonely Travelogue likes mountains, specifically Sagada in the north. He says,
If I could choose a place to settle where I can just walk around and eat everyday, I would definitely choose Sagada. Every time I go there, I get this feeling that makes me want to stay in this mountainous paradise. Maybe it’s the good spirits lingering in their hanging coffins, or maybe it’s the nice cold weather and delicious food. Whatever it is, it makes me hate to leave.
Check out his post: The Most Scenic Place in the Philippines.
Sambawan Island, Leyte
Jona Bering of Backpacking with a Book chooses Sambawan Island, a small islet in Biliran, Leyte with a notorious reputation. She says, “Sambawan has its fair share of notoriety long before it became a tourist spot. It was the playground and meeting point of the ex-convicts and smugglers.” Yikes!
Read how she interacted with the locals there (dialogues are in the local language though): Reaching Sambawan through Kind Hearts.
Second only to Batanes, Siquijor is also another favorite with me. This island province is so charming you can’t just stop there for one day! Micaela Rodriguez of Senyorita chooses this as well. She says,
I love Siquijor Island! The “Island of Fire” has a lot to offer like white sand beaches, hot springs, waterfalls, caves and breathtaking scenery. The interesting stories about mystical creatures and legends adds to the appeal of this place often misunderstood by Filipinos. Blame it on media exaggeration.
Yes, Siquijor has a negative rep with locals. Filipinos believe it’s the home province of witches, which is why a lot of Filipinos I know would not want to go there. It’s fine with me though. Let Siquijor remain off the tourist trail for a while! Check out Mica’s post: Falling in Love with Siquijor.
Speaking of beaches, Noks Sosa of Tripapips waxed lyrical when asked about his favorite destination. He says,
At the heart of the mighty Pacific Ocean is where Catanduanes stay afloat, an island province of wild beauty where historical churches magnificently stood tall even before the Spanish era, where the trance-enducing sounds of the waves reverberate the long strip of white sand beaches and the enduring mountains and hills continue to safeguard its floras and faunas.
Among the treasures of the island, the unspoiled beauty of Mamangal Beach in Virac surpasses them all. Blessed with fine white sand, with shady trees on the shoreline, this beach has much to offer to both adventurous and lazy beach bums. It offers a totally laid-back rustic charm where you just relax to the wide sun-kissed shore and enjoy the nature at its best. And because it’s blessed with colorful marine life, its whole stretch continues to fascinate local and foreign visitors.
I haven’t been to Virac yet, but with the way Noks describes it, I can’t wait to go and visit.
Down south in the Mindanao region, Bino Chua of I Wandered recommends checking out Zamboanga City. He says,
There is no other city like Zamboanga. From having a Spanish-based creole as its lingua franca (it’s called Chavacano) to playing host to a melting pot of cultures (Catholic, Muslim, Chinese, all with a slight Latin flavor), Zamboanga City is arguably the most fascinating city in the island of Mindanao.
Check out his post: My Visit to the Latin City of Asia.
Have I convinced you to visit the Philippines? There are so many more wonderful destinations you can enjoy here, from mountains and valleys, to lakes and white sand beaches. Just reach out to any travel blogger, and we’d love to help you!
The Philippines gets hit by a lot of typhoons a year; although some are as devastating as Haiyan, most are not as destructive at all (thank God).
If you want to help make Christmas a bit happier for those whose lives have been disrupted by Typhoon Haiyan, do consider making a donation to Turner’s Operation Save Santa: A Filipino Christmas Story. Thank you!
About the Author
Aleah Taboclaon is a freelance writer, researcher, and editor who has backpacked solo in the Philippines, India, all over Southeast Asia, and Europe. She writes about her experiences as a solo female traveler at Solitary Wanderer. She’s on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.