Wednesday, 24 March 2010

RP’s new summer destinations

Harold Geronimo
Manila Standard

Just when I thought that Boracay is the place to party this summer, there are actually more places to go around the Philippines to relax and enjoy the fabulous sun! As we all gear up for the long holiday, why not go to places where nature is still at its best without the crowds and loud parties? After all, vacation isn’t all about partying. It’s also giving yourself some quality time to relieve your stress, clear your mind and feel happy in serenity.

1. Batanes

Not all of us have been to the country’s farthest province up north. Being named one of the best tourist destinations by the Department of Tourism, this group of islands is a truly unique destination known for its windswept hills and boulder-hemmed shores. Almost half of Batanes are hills and mountains surrounded by the vast waters of Bashi and Balintang Channels where the Pacific Oceans meets the South China Sea. These enchanting islands make you feel like you’re in Ireland or New Zealand. Stroll around to see the one-of-a-kind Ivatan houses made of stone walls whitened with lime and roofed in thatch that can withstand strong typhoons. Four two-centuries old churches are also worth visiting: San Vicente Church in Sabtang, Sto. Domingo Church in Basco, San Jose Church in Ivana and the San Carlos Church in Mahatao. Don’t forget to take a photo of the popular abandoned weather station on a hilltop in Tukon, Basco. Affordable accommodations and resorts such as government-owned lodging houses are available for as low as P400 per night.

2. Siquijor

If you’re looking for some mystical tranquility, Siquijor would be the island to visit. Only a few people know, mostly foreigners, that this island located between Negros and Cebu has secluded pristine white beaches that remain unspoiled up to now. The never-ending stretch of white sand beaches covers more than 100 kilometers of shoreline surrounding the island. It has a magnificent array of coral reef formation that makes it a perfect place for scuba divers. To see one of the most beautiful sunsets in this side of the country, visit the western coast of the island. Surprisingly, this island has many exclusive resorts that offer world-class amenities. In fact, Siquijor is fast becoming one of the most popular hideaways for foreign tourists who visit the country. Going there is very easy and accessible. From Manila, take a one-hour plane ride to Dumaguete or Cebu then take a 30-minute ferry ride to the island.

3. Misibis

Only a chosen few know about this luxurious resort in Albay. Nestled at the south-easternmost tip of Cagraray Island in Bicol, Misibis boast of a wide stretch of pristine white sand and a scenic view of the Pacific Ocean. Here lies the Misibis Resorts, Estates and Spa that offer a relaxing lifestyle of a luxurious Spanish Mediterranean atmosphere. This development is gaining popularity as an exclusive leisure getaway for the country’s rich and famous. Its sprawling grounds are surrounded by thick green foliage and trees making it a hidden paradise for most urban dwellers. To go there, take a 45-minute plane ride from Manila to Legazpi. Then take a twenty-minute boat ride from Legazpi Port Area to the island.

4. Marinduque

Most people know Marinduque because of its renowned Moriones Festival. But this group of islands has many surprises to offer more than just its historical festival. Today, Marinduque’s name is attached to its world-famous island resort called Bellarocca. Its white Santorini-inspired architecture on rolling terrain contrasts the blue sky and turquoise waters, making it a picture-perfect destination among tourists visiting this Southern Luzon jewel. For the adventurous spirits, the island is also known for its complex network of mysterious caves. The province also has several unexplored islets that are home to endemic species of flora and fauna. Of course, Marinduque’s marine life is one of the country’s best. The islets are known for their coral beaches with clear blue-green waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

5. Bantayan Island

Located just off the northwest tip of mainland Cebu, Bantayan Island is a little secret paradise among Cebuanos. But through word of mouth, it is slowly becoming a favorite destination among foreigners and some local beach lovers. The island is largely undeveloped and it is far least crowded than any other tourist islands. This is the reason why small hotels, lodging houses and resorts only charge minimal fees for as low as P300 per night. There are also private studio villas for rent that can be quite pricey but they’re definitely worth the stay. People living in the island are old-fashioned but they are known to be very warm and hospitable. If you’re looking for the best beaches, go to the small and secluded Paradise Beach and Virgin Island which are both accessible by boat. To go to Bantayan Island, take a 3-hour bus ride to Hagnaya town from the North Bus Terminal near SM City Cebu. From Hagnaya’s port, hop on a 75-minute boat ride to Santa Fe, Bantayan Island.

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1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting blog and so i like to visit your blog again and again. Keep it up.