The Philippines has 7,107 islands, many yet undiscovered. When people say, nothing worth having comes easy, it holds true even with the best places on earth. So here are some off-the-beaten-path destinations for your next summer getaway that are worth seeing (and guaranteed to blow your mind):
1. Biri Rock Formations
Location: Northern Samar, Visayas
Aside from white sand beaches and pristine islands, include the spectacular rock formations in your must-see list when in the Philippines. Though Northern Luzon’s Kapurpurawan Rocks are worthy of admiration, the astonishing rock formations in Biri Island, Visayas will definitely leave every tourist in awe of its beauty and wonder. Far from the setting of a tropical paradise, Biri Island exudes a picture-perfect view of a beautiful, rugged landscape with strong, clashing waters. And situated between the San Bernardino Strait and Pacific Ocean are seven, towering rocks – Magasang, Magsapad, Macadlaw, Puhunan, Bel-at, Caranas and Pinanahawan, created by the natural forces of nature millions of years ago. Staring at the rocks, one can’t help but be amazed by its impressive patterns likened to painted works. So just forget everything except those cameras, or perhaps just take in the wonders of nature.
2. Enchanted River
Location: Surigao del Sur, Mindanao
While surfing in Surigao remains as one of the Philippines’ major tourist draws, the enchanting river of Hinatuan is becoming a popular attraction. A river, in general, is a body of fresh water usually flowing down the mountains to the sea; however, the Hinatuan River is something quite different. For one, it is an unusual mixture of freshwater and saltwater. How does saltwater reach the mysterious spring? Some claim that with its close location near the Pacific Ocean, it might be possible that the sea water continues to flow from underground caverns and tunnels. But up to this day, the source of the saltwater remains a mystery. Locals, on the other hand, have a more interesting explanation – the beautiful river, with playful shades of blue and green, was created by magical fairies. But one thing that’s truly enthralling is when feeding the fishes – hymn is played and fishes of several kinds appear from everywhere to feed. The head of the river radiates a clear, deep blue sea color and is said to have a depth of 50 ft.
3. Lake Sebu
Location: South Cotabato, Mindanao
This place has seven majestic waterfalls, several rivers, mountains brimming with lush greens, and is a major watershed supplying water to several provinces, Lake Sebu is undoubtedly worth of its name as one of the Philippines’ gems. A trip to this town is more than just a getaway with Mother Nature, it is a perfect place which offers diverse opportunities to discover culture and food. Meet the warm locals and perhaps stay with a T’boli family, whose native houses made of natural resources, are set across the vast green fields or the surrounding lakeshores. Learn about the famous T’nalak weaving – the province’s cultural symbol. And with the town’s economy based on aquaculture, sampling a tasty tilapia meal should never be missed.
4. Palaui Island
Location: Sta. Ana, Cagayan, Northeastern tip of Luzon
The postcard-perfect sight of Palaui Island – glistening, white sand beaches meet blue green waters of the sea set against the backdrop of blue sky and glorious green mountains, from the archaic Cape Engano Lighthouse is no less than a sight to behold. This protected area teems with an abundance of biodiversity and was declared as National Marine Reserve in 1994. Its remarkable and fascinating beauty has gained popularity across the globe. Palaui Island was among the filming locations of the popular American reality TV show, Survivor; and ranked 10 in CNN’s list of 2013 World’s best beaches. Locals of Cagayan, headed by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, uphold their commitment in preserving the island through sustainable tourism.
5. Danjugan Island
Location: Negros Occidental, Visayas
Danjugan is a 43-hectare island off the coast of Negros Occidental. This unfamiliar territory is a natural sanctuary that boasts of dense natural forests and lagoons. Its abundance is home to a variety of birds, bats, butterflies species and numerous marine life. Danjugan Island radiates the unspoiled beauty of Mother Nature and provides everyone an environment which is conducive to learning. Student camps and various environmental awareness programs are conducted within the island to provide the youth proper knowledge on marine and wildlife conservation. Apart from educational activities, visitors can also try kayaking, snorkeling or simply bask under the sun and marvel at the beauty of the island. Given its small size, this island is a tropical paradise that will surely make every trip an exciting and fulfilling one.
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