With 7,641 islands, the Philippines has plentiful sandy beaches, coves and seaside lagoons. Visiting over 50 provinces of the country has allowed us to relish a good number of these beaches but still left out a considerable number in our bucket list. Compiling lists of this sort almost certainly leaves out quite a number of other outstanding examples but we chose to confine ourselves to the beaches we've personally visited.
It used to go by the names Sabuluag or Salauag after a tree species endemic to these islands. During the Spanish colonial era, coffins containing oversized human bones were reportedly discovered at a cave in one of the islands.
Leyte for us, and specially for Leo, was a place famous for history – the first landing of American forces in the Philippines during World War 2 and the largest naval battle of that conflict, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, both occurring in 1944. We had not considered this heavily forested and mountainous province as a tourist destination until 10 years ago.
When Category 5-super Typhoon Odette (international name Rai) hit the Philippines last Dec. 16-17, it created a wide swath of destruction over the provinces of Surigao del Norte, Dinagat, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental and Palawan. Many towns in the island province of Bohol suffered catastrophic damage and dozens of deaths.
When it was still largely unknown to local tourists, the Caramoan peninsula was featured in the 2004 edition of an international travel guide book. It was described as a rugged, pristine and beautiful landscape only accessible by boat. Caramoan burst into the scene in 2008 when the French version of the TV series Survivor featured the place. It soon began attracting local and international visitors.
Our boat drove that sunny morning along the western coast of Dinagat, making for the islands off the coast of Libjo town. It was the second day of our island-hopping tour and after exploring the beaches, islands and Lake Bababu of Basilisa the day before we were on the move north towards the karst-dominated landscape... Continue Reading →
As stunningly beautiful as Halea Nature Park is, it wasn’t the only remarkable natural feature on this side of the island of Ticao. Lying to the southwest is a small island featuring a collection of slab-like boulders looking like stack of books tilting to one side and a waterfall cascading down a rugged cliff into... Continue Reading →
We first learned about the unspoiled beauty of the islands and beaches of Monreal, a town in Ticao Island, Masbate about 7 years ago but kept putting off a visit to this place for next few years. Seven years is a very long time to keep hiding a gem of a destination these days especially... Continue Reading →
It was one of the roughest boat rides we’ve had in recent memory. On our way to the first destination of our island-hopping tour that Tuesday morning we had to hold on to the sides of the wooden outrigger boat as the powerful swells kept smashing into our faces. Leo was even considering putting on... Continue Reading →
Our first day of island-hopping at Port Barton Bay had been a revelation of a secluded and not-so-well-known locale in Palawan. More was to follow however, as we set about for our second day of island-hopping off the beautiful shores of Port Barton, a fishing village in the town of San Vicente. Similar to our... Continue Reading →
Itaytay Beach is an ideal place for chilling. But wanting to enjoy the best of what nature had to offer at Port Barton, we started our second day on this peaceful fishing village by embarking on a day-long boat trip to the islands and reefs at Port Barton Bay. The itinerary of our first boat... Continue Reading →
It wasn’t our original destination on this balmy December week. But after our trip to the Linapacan islands in northern Palawan didn’t push through we found ourselves chilling at this remote, peaceful coastal village of San Vicente town in Palawan. Port Barton may not yet be that popular with local tourists but foreign travelers have... Continue Reading →
The first time we visited this group of 123 limestone islets in Lingayen Gulf it was a disappointment. The major islands were choking with visitors (albeit it was during a weekend holiday), many of them were unkempt and the corals were mostly dead and denuded of fish. But because it was relatively accessible we kept... Continue Reading →
It was a pleasant Friday morning when our boat sped past the tip of a long wooden pier jutting out from the mangrove beach of Sitio Bangkal in Bulalacao town. We’ve read that our island destination for this morning is the most “developed” among all islands in Bulalacao. Now after two decades of shunning beach... Continue Reading →
Rogue swells kept smacking into our faces as our boat negotiated the open sea between our two island destinations. It was a blisteringly hot summer’s day and the soaking we were receiving was very much welcome. Soon our boat was negotiating the northern end of Aslom Island and would come to rest at the tip... Continue Reading →
As our ferry boat cut its way across Tayabas Bay from the port at General Luna town, we were beginning to feel the effects of waking up before 3 A.M. and driving 5 hours to our jump-off point. The white and grey clouds that blocked the sun's rays didn’t help any. But as our boat... Continue Reading →
Mention the island province of Marinduque and the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is the Moriones Festival during Holy Week. Marinduque, however, offers so much more than the colorful Lenten rites involving men and women garbed in the attire of biblical-era Roman soldiers. And so we discovered during a short trip to... Continue Reading →
The morning was sunny and the waves seemed calm when we left Kota Beach Resort on our way to our first island destination of the day. But within a few minutes our boat was pitching up and down a suddenly rough open sea. We were about to go into panic mode but one glance at... Continue Reading →
After a nerve-wracking morning boat ride from Coron town in Palawan and an exhilarating stint at Bulog Dos Island, it was time to slow down and take our lunch. Just 10 minutes away by boat from Bulog Dos, Banana Island was our lunch stopover and second island destination for the day. Also known as Dicalabuan... Continue Reading →
Many of our island-hopping trips in the last few years involved forays into deserted islands or beaches in protected marine sanctuaries with hardly a village or settlement in sight. Our recent island-hopping trip in Romblon Island, however, was different. The first two islands – Cobrador and Alad Islands – all had communities located just behind... Continue Reading →