Still quarantined here in Metro Manila we can’t help but dream about travel destinations in our bucket list. In the past we have tried to go by a cardinal rule of not going back to a place we’ve already visited. We haven’t kept that rule always but for the most part our major trips have been to new places of interest.
However that trend is beginning to change in recent years as we have begun retracing our steps, returning to some places for a second and even a third time. Now, as we think about destinations to sample after this quarantine is over, we’ve come up with a list of locations in the country that we’d like to explore again given the chance.
Our only visit to this island province was to the islands of Maniwaya and Mongpong. We instantly fell in love with the amazing crystal-clear waters and pristine white sand beaches of both islands. There’s so much to explore at the towns in the main island, however – more beaches and islands, coral reefs, caves, old churches and heritage houses – so this destination needs a second pass. And of course, its food. Marinduque is best known for its Moriones Festival but, since that happens during the Lenten week, getting there could be too much of a hassle.
It has been more than 10 years since we first visited this remote and stunning paradise in Camarines Sur. Caramoan broke into the tourism radar after several episodes of Survivor were shot in this locale showcasing its pristine beaches, sandbars, karst formations and crystalline waters in the process. With well-paved roads now running all the way to the town center, travel to this destination has become more convenient. Newer attractions have also made headlines inviting us to a repeat visit.
We’ve pretty much maxed our stay at Romblon Island in the province of the same name, touring its beaches, offshore islands, historical sites and marble shops in 4 nights and 5 days. However there are 2 other major islands that make up the province – Tablas and Sibuyan. These 2 locations are blessed with more white sand coves, beaches and sandbars plus pristine waterfalls and rivers, making a return to Romblon a very tempting proposition.
Our 2015 visit to Baler in Aurora province was an almost spur-of-the-moment decision with the result that we didn’t get to visit some of its interesting natural sites such as the Dimadimalangat rock formations, Diguisit Falls and beautiful Dibut Bay. And there are even more attractions in the towns north of Baler including those in Maria Aurora, Dipaculao, Dinalungan and Casiguran. The latter is more than 100 km. away from Baler – a 2.5 hour drive – but the time and effort to get there seems worth it based on photos and videos we’ve seen of the place.
Guimaras, another island province, is an example of why we shouldn’t rush a visit. Granted this was a side trip during a conference at Iloilo City but we probably should have stayed for more than just an overnight. We ended up at Alubihod Beach in Nueva Valencia and did a short island-hopping trip from there to the islands off Jordan town. However, there are so many other attractions in the towns of Nueva Valencia, Sibunag, San Lorenzo and Buenavista.
In most cases our schedule only permits anywhere from 2 to 4 overnights of travel to these destinations not including travel time. However, an island province like Catanduanes with so many places of interest but with limited public transport will require more than this. As a result we could only visit the towns of Virac, Bato and Baras in the south and southeastern sections of the island. And so we’ve been daydreaming about a return trip to explore the western and northern parts of Catanduanes especially the islands off Caramoran, the rolling hills, beaches and waterfalls of Pandan and the remarkable landscapes of the Carorian Wonders of Bato.
Despite its relative anonymity Dinagat is definitely one of the most gorgeous places in the country that we’ve traversed. Its lack of tourism development has kept its stunning beaches, remarkable karst formations, enchanting lakes and alluring waters pristine. Unfortunately some destinations notably Cabacungan Cove and Sundayo Beach were off-limits when we visited the province last year. We also did not have time to visit Punta Buena Suerte, Jelmar Resort and Biray-Biray Island. There are also more attractions waiting for us at the towns of Cagdianao and Tubajon.
We’ve done road trips to this region 3 times in the past and have also toured La Union province two years ago but we’ll probably never tire of exploring the Ilocos Region. The Ilocos provinces boast a remarkable array of natural, historical and cultural attractions including 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Several relatively new attractions including waterfalls, beaches, rock formations and more cultural places of interest make this region deserving of yet another visit.
Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales
This is the closest spot to Manila in this list but it’s a bit off the main highway and practically all of the attractions of Pundaquit in San Antonio would require a boat to negotiate. Still, the relative ease in getting there means we just need an overnight accommodation at most for this trip. There are also several interesting stops along the way making this a wonderful option if our travel time is limited.
Who wouldn’t want to go back to El Nido, Palawan? We were actually supposed to be there last March for a tour of some of the islands and lagoons that we did not visit in 2016. We also planned to use El Nido’s eastern coast as a springboard for island-hopping at the Linapacan Islands until Covid-19 frustrated that trip. God-willing it’s just a matter of time before we go back.
Our first and only trip to Bohol was satisfying enough. However, this island province has a wide range of tourist attractions and activities crammed into one island – white-sand beaches, coral reefs, river tours, old churches, wildlife encounters, rice terraces, caves, the Chocolate Hills, historic sites, waterfalls – that it will take a minimum of one week to experience most of them.
That’s our re-visit list for local destinations. Up next: international destinations in Part 2.