June 08, 2017

5 Underrated Philippine Travel Destinations

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  • The Philippines is fast becoming a tourism hotspot in Asia thanks to the beaches of Palawan and Boracay. These put other destinations underneath everyone’s radar, making them underrated because they’re either not as popular or not as easy to get to.

    While we Filipinos are proud of Boracay’s white sand beach and Palawan’s nearly-untouched natural beauty, we know that the country holds more destinations that would fall into the realm of being underrated.

    We’ve compiled a list of five of the country’s underrated destinations, presented in no particular order:

    Caramoan Islands

    IT’S MORE THAN JUST SURVIVOR. These islands are known to seasoned travelers for their natural beauty and their serenity./IMAGE Carlo Garcia via flickr, cropped from original

    Most people know Caramoan as one of the locations for the hit reality show Survivor. What most people don’t know is that these islands are more than just a place to do TV shows. It’s actually perfect for those who want to get away from everything that’s related to Manila: traffic, pollution, and the stresses of everyday work.

    Its beaches can rival those of Boracay (it’s not as white, but it is as fine) while at the same time rivaling the natural beauty of places like Coron and El Nido. You can go island hopping, explore the waters on a kayak, see the diverse marine life with a snorkel or scuba gear, trek to a hidden lagoon, climb the limestone cliffs, go through the caves, or simply watch the night sky right on the beach.

    How to get there: There are two ways for you to get close to Caramoan: (1) fly from Manila to Naga Airport or (2) take an 8-hour bus ride from LRT-Buendia Station to Naga City. Once you’re in Naga, you can either get in touch with the CamSur Tourism Office to arrange your transfers to the Caramoan Islands OR go DIY and take a van to Sabang port, from which you can take a boat to Caramoan.

    Jomalig Island, Quezon

    THE GOLDEN BEACH. It’s not as white as Boracay’s (there’s Borawan for that), but these sands are fine and give off a golden glow when seen at the right time of the day./IMAGE Life Adventure Philippines

    As far as an island in Quezon Province is concerned, two islands usually come to mind: the uber-private Balesin or the picturesque and largely unspoiled Polillo. There is, however, an emerging island destination in one of Luzon’s biggest provinces: the equally unexplored and just as beautiful island of Jomalig.

    It’s one of the three biggest islands found off the coast of Quezon and is fast becoming a beach lover’s dream destination because of how secluded it is compared to the other, more popular islands in Quezon. There are resorts on the island, but most people who have gone to Jomalig recommend bringing a tent and ingredients to sustain you for three days.

    How to get there: Prepare yourself for an eight to 10-hour journey as it takes a bus at least four hours to get to Real, Quezon (the closest port to Jomalig) from Manila and another 4-6 hours to get to the island itself by boat.


    BINURONG POINT. One of the most popular spots in Catanduanes has views that will rival that of Batanes./IMAGE  Catanduanes Tourism Promotion

    This is probably the most accessible island on this list, but is still largely unknown to most travelers. The reason: it’s known as the “Land of the Howling Winds” because of how much it’s exposed to the Pacific Ocean.

    That is, however, something that should not deter you from going to Catanduanes. They’ve changed their image from a place that’s often hit by tropical storms to the “Happy Island”, a place where you can have the time of your life thanks to its blend of Spanish-era churches, waterfalls, waves for surfing, and untouched beaches – some of which are unknown even to locals! Oh, and did we mention fantastic views of the ocean?

    How to get there:  The fastest way to get to Catanduanes is by air. There are direct flights from Manila to Virac, the provincial capital of Catanduanes. There are also buses from Cubao that go to Tabaco, Albay.

    Calaguas Group of Islands

    WHITE SAND BEACHES. These rival the powdery white sands you see in Boracay without the crowd you see on the island./IMAGE Allan Ascaño via flickr

    Bicol Region reveals yet another travel gem that’s usually tucked away from public eyes (mostly because of choppy seas) with Calaguas Island. It’s one of those islands that, unless you’re a seasoned traveler, you’ll usually find yourself scratching your head saying “Where’s that?”

    It’s located off the coast of Vinzons in Camarines Norte, and is probably the most modern of the islands on this list. It’s gone through a lot of development but is still considered under the radar because it still has beaches comparable to Boracay without being overly crowded.

    How to get there: There are flights that go into Naga and Legazpi City, but we would seriously recommend you take a bus to get to Daet then hop on a jeep to get to Vinzons. From there, you can take a boat to the Calaguas Group of Islands.


    ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW. This video from the local government of Guimaras has all you need to know about the island./VIDEO Province of Guimaras

    There’s more to the island province of Guimaras than its deliciously sweet mangoes (though that’s not really a bad thing). Based on that video alone, you should already have your fill of everything that this island has to offer.

    You’ve got adventure (biking!), history, local culture, knowledge-based tours, island hopping, and sightseeing that can fully capture the beauty of Guimaras. You won’t have problems with accommodation since it’s already developed, but it’s also not developed to the point where you won’t find peace amongst the flora and fauna of the island.

    How to get there: The fastest way to get to Guimaras is via Iloilo City. Simply fly into Iloilo City, then go to either Ortiz Wharf or Parola Wharf, though people usually use Ortiz Wharf and go to Jordan Wharf where a tourism office resides.

    Written by Andronico Del Rosario
    Photo credits: Carlo Garcia via flickr, Life Adventure Philippines, Catanduanes Tourism Promotion,
    Allan Ascaño via flickr, Province of Guimaras
    Sources: CaramoanIslands.com, Green Stellar, Go Catanduanes, Lakwatsero, Province of Guimaras

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