Travellers coming for the first time in the Philippines are usually sticking to a limited number of places such as Boracay or Puerto Galera island resorts, Banaue and Sagada for trekking and Palawan for the most adventurous.
In this post, I will suggest a number of destinations "out of the beaten track" if you're planning to avoid the tourist trail, or if you're running out of ideas of where to go.
*** Island life
If like me, you like the quietness of a remote island, then the RP is a wonderful destination.
* Camiguin Island, off the coast of Mindanao, is a very quiet and friendly fisherfolk island with amazing scenery. The island boasts a total of seven volcanoes, and offers a combination of very nice beaches and trekking & biking opportunities. To get there, fly from Manila to Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao.
* Siquijor Island in the southern Visayas, is known as the sorcerer island and is feared by many Filipinos. Don't worry, there's nothing to fear there for you western travelers :) Sandugan beach is a very nice place to stay, with only a few native-style resorts, and the island offers many sightseeing trips.
* Romblon Province, very close to Manila is rarely visited by foreigners but every of its islands has something to offer. Carabao Island is only a 30mn banca ride from its famous neighbour Boracay, but there's hardly any development there. You'll get the white-sand beach of Inobahan all to yourself, or you can have a drink while watching the sunset on deserted Lanas beach.
Romblon Island is an atmospheric place with a picturesque town, and St Pedro's beach is certainly one of the best places to go. A visit to the islet of Cobrador is also a must-see.
Sibuyan Island is known as the Galapagos of the Philippines, that says it all.
* Samar and Leyte provinces are also very nice places to go out of the beaten track. I can't report much on here because I haven't been able to visit there yet, but it looks really promising, with dozens of fine beaches and possibilities of exploration.
#1 millionario has been a member since 22/6/2004. Posts: 25
virtually all these places have very good snorkelling/diving opportunities. If you happen to be in Romblon Province, try Looc Bay Marine Refuge and Sanctuary in Tablas Island, it's a protected 60-ha coral reef area. Siquijor has very nice reefs also.
#3 millionario has been a member since 22/6/2004. Posts: 25
Although Palawan seems to be "on the beaten track" nowadays have a look at this
planning to go in January
#5 furneburner has been a member since 5/9/2009. Posts: 180
Am i right in assuming the north is much more attractive than the south?
#7 furneburner has been a member since 5/9/2009. Posts: 180
Geezzz... Nice Thanks for sharing your vacation trip.
#8 khatrineluz has been a member since 22/12/2008. Posts: 2
whats your problem?
#9 furneburner has been a member since 5/9/2009. Posts: 180
The North is much safer. Mindanao gives the notion of adventure travel a strong dose of adventure.
#10 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
You can also check Island Garden City of Samal. It is safe for tourists wanting to go diving and snorkeling. You can go there by ferry from Davao City or through private boats. Usually the private boats will be arranged by the resorts operating in the area, they have that as package once you book to any of them. By the way there are several resorts depending on your choice and budget, from high end to budget accommodations and most of them have offices in Davao City. If you will go there by ferry and you won't be with a local, it would be hard for you because there's only few public beaches. Most of the beaches are privately owned, so I suggest check with the various resort operators (online), if not ask the help of the government run City Tourism Office, it's located at the City Hall building, easy to find.
#11 mic2 has been a member since 22/10/2009. Posts: 9
My personal favorite for snorkling is Coron in the northern part of Palawan (Calamian Islands). Not only a ton of isolated white sand beaches with great snorkling, but a few places you can snorkle and see the wrecks. It is a diving paradise to - with local PADI instruction available. And to top it all off there is affordable lodging, fresh water lakes, fantastic scenery, a nature preserve, horseback riding, etc.
For some pictures of this (as well as a few other destinations in the Philippines), my wife has a few small picture galleries on her site - http://connie.kehres.com/photos/phils
Re: your comment on "limited number of places..." is a mystery to me. If anything I would consider the number of fantastic beach destinations in the Philippines to be limitless....
I heard a lot of beautiful beach in the North such as Pangasinan, Zambales and La Union. I'm planning to visit there sometime next year. I was in 2007 in Manila and Laguna, where the hot springs are too much crowded during the summer.
#14 seahorse88 has been a member since 14/12/2009. Posts: 9
I should have said hot spring resorts in Laguna are too crowded.
#15 seahorse88 has been a member since 14/12/2009. Posts: 9
The Philippines is an archipelago, so there are lots of white beaches to choose from. My three picks are Surigao del Sur (northeastern Mindanao), Caramoan and/or Calaguas (Bicol region in Luzon) and Pagudpod (Ilocos Norte in northern Luzon).
Iligan City in Lanao del Norte (northern Mindanao) is renowned for its waterfalls. Not one. But more than twenty. I managed to see seven of them in a span of three days.
Both Bohol and Iloilo (in the Visayas region) has natural and cultural attractions.
Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte is a popular surfing destination. At the back of it is Bucas Grande Island, which is a one-of-a-kind place. One of its lagoons is littered with non-stingy jellyfishes. Suhoton Cove is its best spot; it can only be entered during low tide. Its partially-submerged caves are worth exploring; I entered one of them, and it was kind of otherworldly.
I don't know if this is too late, but I hope it still helps.
How's the nightlife in Iligan city?
#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Unfortunately, I can't answer your question sufficiently. During my two trips to Iligan, I got tired from the fall hopping. That is why I slept early at the end of each trip. But I hope this information helps.
Iligan is close to Lanao del Sur, a Muslim-dominated province. This is why the ratio of Christians and Muslims (in terms of population) is almost the same. But there's no need to worry; it's safe during day time. But better be alert for (possible) theft or pickpocketing.
Iligan is not as urban as Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City. Like any rural areas, the people here don't sleep late. In fact, if you want to visit the waterfalls, it's better to do it at early morning (5 AM or 6 AM) because public transportation vehicles dwindle by the afternoon.
Three of the city's most-popular falls can be reached by jeepney in half an hour. On my first trip, I went there on my own. No harm happened to me.
I'm certain, though, that the night life is alive in Iligan during the month of September; a fiesta commemorating the city's founding is held during that time.
Thanks for the info - doesn't sound good though. I'm not into nature, so that's not a draw for me. I love to dance, so I am always looking for out of the way places with interesting dance scenes. Prefer salsa, but other dances can be interesting as long as they are social dances (vice performance dances, like Thai traditional dance).
#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Street dancing is a common sight in any fiesta. I'm not sure if you're interested in tribal dances, but I'm certain there's one in the Cordillera region (the mountainous part of northern Luzon).
Thanks for posting this millionaro! The Philippines is totally under-rated as a tourist destination compared to places like Thailand, Bali and other places in SE Asia.
Other places to include would be Cam Sur in Bicol - it has one of the best Wakeboarding areas in the world.
Zambales and Pagudpud for surfers - I went surfing for the first time in Zambales - great prices for both accommodation and surfing gear.
Boracay is great for all because of the variety in options for food, accomodation and activities.
I agree on Palawan being a great place to go. I have family there. Coron Island and Honda Bay are some top attractions there.
I have family in Iloilo too. It's always great going there - best part is the people - unlike in Manila - the folks in Iloilo are just more laid-back and 'chill' - rarely see any angry or frustrated people, even in the city.
#23 LGR_2010 has been a member since 2/4/2010. Posts: 23