Getting tired of the usual Boracay, Puerto Princesa, Bohol, Banaue, Vigan and Cebu itinerary? Here’s my suggestion for intrepid travelers and backpackers wanting to explore something new, something that others only dream about. Maybe some of them you heard for the first time.
I compiled my best kept destinations and divulge the secret for my dear readers. Here are 10 destinations in the Philippines you may want to add on your must-see list this coming new year. Wait, there’s more! I added some notes on what you can expect in each of these places.
If you love Geography like me, this map will be of help as you plan your trip to the ff destinations:
1. Biri Rock Formations (Northern Samar)
“The harshness of the elements created a spectacular formation. You will be surprised on how this was formed. It was as if a master craftsman did his obra maestra so massive for everyone to see. Standing atop the rock formation I experienced the strong winds that can even blow myself if lose balance. Its colors make it more beautiful as the elements make it gray, black, green and yellow.”
Read more about it: Secrets of Northern Samar: Spectacular Biri Rock Formations
2. Bucas Grande Island and Sohoton Caves (Surigao del Norte)
If you think Coron, Palawan is beautiful wait until you visit Sohoton Caves and Bucas Grande Island. I was actually hesitant to write about the Sohoton Cove because this would mean more tourists to this piece of paradise on earth; more tourists means more trash right? But then again, the secret is out and all I can do is implore the readers to “leave nothing but footprints.” I hope you do this not only here but in every place you visit. I hope this will not be another Boracay. Be dumbfounded with clean lakes, secret coves, enchanting lagoons, spectacular rock and coral formations and incredible sea creatures like the stingless jellyfish.
Read more about it: Unbelievable Beauty of Sohoton Caves and Bucas Grande Island
3. Dahican Beach, Mati City (Davao Oriental)
Another place I don’t want to share to others. Because I want to keep it to myself. I will not talked about this place here, I want you to experience it. Travel tip: Don’t you miss visiting the Amihan Boys, the surf team where I belong.
4. Gumasa White Beach (Saranggani)
Some call it the next Boracay or the Boracay of the South. I wonder why they compare this little paradise to the
dirty island of Bora.Gumasa white beach was love at first sight. Heart pumped fast as I hurriedly went off the motorcycle. I looked for a place to set-up my hammock so I can have some snooze. I tied my hammock and slept for almost 2 hours, I didn’t mind if people are walking to and fro. I slept without any fear of being mugged or anything. The place was serene and peaceful. Contrary to what many in Manila think of Mindanao.
Read more about it: Relax! Gumasa White Beach at Glan, Saranggani
5. Cantilan (Surigao del Sur)
Cantilan? Have you heard about that town already? I bet not yet unless you are from Surigao. The locals were so warm and friendly, and fellow travelers made for kindred spirits. The nearest beach is 10 minutes from the town proper. If you are a beacholic like me, then choose what color of sand you want to comb: gray, brown, black and white.
Read more about it: Charming Cantilan / Embracing Slow Travel at Cantilan, Surigao del Sur
6. Calaguas Island (Camarines Norte)
Okay, not so off-the-beaten but this island is not yet in Lonely Planet Philippines (known to write about off-track destinations). If Caramoan (famous for the Survivor Series) is favorite among foreigners then let Calaguas take your breath away. Time stops here and cellphone signal is available 30minutes walk from the beach making you forget your busy schedule and things to do in the office.
Clara, my travel buddy can’t seem to find a perfect way to describe this piece of paradise. Oh yes, she said that this is “the most beautiful I have ever seen…”Calaguas is so magnificent. Last night we are just lying on the beach and trying to count the stars (this is the most stars I’ve seen so far). We saw some fireflies and we enjoyed the night as the waves serenade us before we went to sleeps
Read more about it: Calaguas Islands Trip Guide: The Cheapest Way Possible / Dear Calaguas, You Are So Worth It
7. Sheik Makdhum Mosque (Simunul, Tawi-Tawi)
Declared a National Cultural Treasure in 1965 by the late Pres. Ferdinand Marcos himself, this important site is where the first mosque in the Philippines was erected. Built by an Arab trader Sheik Makdum Karim on 1380. The original pillars of the old mosque can still be found inside the new building. According to the story, they tried to move or cut the foundation when they are renovating it but it cant be moved or cut.
Read more about it: Sheik Makdum Mosque- The Oldest Mosque in the Philippines
8. Cuyo (Palawan)
Cuyo is a part of Palawan and has an enormous fortress church and well-preserved old houses that dates back during the Spanish and American Era. The Cuyo Fort is built in 1683 by the Recollects to protect the inhabitant from the More slave raids replete during the 17th and 18th century. I was there for only 6 hours during a short stop over of the ferry from Iloilo to Puerto Princesa. While trailblazing the island, I feasted of cheap sinigang na Lapu-Lapu and sweet mangoes, yum yum!
9. Adams (Ilocos Norte)
Going here was like an introduction to a beautiful song, building up as I begin to see patches of rice paddies, springs big and small, the climax of the song- the kindness of the locals. I was billeted on a beautiful and cozy log cabin that houses a winery. Adams is known for its Bugnay wine, sweet, fruity and light. The is one of the projects the local government does to provide income to the locals. The name ‘Adams’ was given bhy the first settlers of the place because they thought it was the “Garden of Eden,” Adams Garden and before long, it was called Adams.
Read more about it: Astonishing Adams, Ilocos Norte
10. Tinglayan (Kalinga)
Hidden among the mountains of Sierra Madre is the province of Kalinga. Civilization here dates back centuries ago but its just 17 years old as it was part of a bigger province before- Kalinga-Apayao. Its one province that would forever be etched on my mind as I experienced true hospitality and saw the living heritage it offers the world. Tinglayan is also known for Whang-od, the last Kalinga Tattoo artist, age 89. In the photo above she tattoes Dr. Vene of Ateneo with the ancient method she learned during her teen years. She was already featured in Discovery Channel’s Tattoo Hunter by Lars Krutak.
There you go!
If you love off-the-beaten-path destinations, maybe you have been to some from the list. Better yet, add to the list of places not known yet to tourists. I’m interested to know.
If you haven’t been to any of these, maybe, not maybe, it’s time to explore more of the country.
NOT ENOUGH? CHECK BELOW:
- 13 “Untouristic” Provinces You Should Visit this 2013 (Part 1)
- 13 “Untouristic” Provinces You Should Visit this 2013 (Part 2)