6 Underrated, stunning Visayas destinations
Visayas is home to many popular and beautiful travel destinations, with Boracay being the most well-known. But while these destinations may be understandably on travelers’ bucket lists, Visayas has many more places worth exploring, though lesser-known.
Below are some of these places you might consider for your next trip.
Cave pools and beaches of Anda, Bohol
Bohol is most known for its iconic Chocolate Hills. And, in terms of beaches, Panglao comes top of mind among tourists.
For those who want to see more beyond the usual itinerary, head to Anda, which is east of Tagbilaran, the province’s capital. Anda is a laidback town with beautiful cave pools and beaches. Its caves have shallow and easily walkable waters, as well as deep, dark waters with beautiful blues. Combento is one such shallow cave pool, while Cabagnow, or Kabagno, is Anda’s deepest cave pool and is a sharp drop from the mouth of the cave that you would need a rope or ladder to get back up. The challenge is worth it as it is arguably Anda’s most beautiful cave pool.
Anda has beautiful white beaches too. Quinale Beach, which is at the heart of the town and just a stone’s throw away from the municipal hall, has powdery fine white sand rivaling that of Boracay’s and Panglao’s. And, it is far quieter than any of the two. Quinale is perfect for long barefoot walks.
How to get there: From Tagbilaran Airport, take a tricycle or multicab to the Integrated Bus Terminal. Ride a bus or van to Anda. Travel time is around 2-3 hours. From Anda town proper, you can easily take a tricycle or motorbike to the different attractions.
Abatan River, Bohol
Loboc River is the most popular for river cruises in Bohol, but there are others which are also beautiful and worth visiting, like Abatan, one of Bohol’s main rivers flowing through different municipalities. During daytime, take in the greenness of nipas and mangroves amid calm waters. Meanwhile, the nighttime cruise, which Abatan River is more known for, promises the twinkling natural lights of fireflies in mangroves along the river.
Take the river cruise by kayak or paddle boat to help keep mangroves and nipas strong and standing; motorized boats can lead to soil erosion. You can walk in at Abatan River Visitors Center or pre-book your river cruise with your accommodation. (READ: Peaceful adventure: Stand-up paddleboarding in Bohol)
How to get there: From Tagbilaran Airport, ride a tricycle to Cogon Terminal. From there, ride a jeep to Maribojoc and ask to be dropped off at Abatan River Visitors Center. Travel time is around 20 minutes or so.
Bakhawan Eco-Park, Kalibo, Aklan
At Aklan’s capital lies this 220-hectare mangrove forest almost like a secret among the town’s concrete structures and bustling energy. And it is just around 20 minutes away from Kalibo Airport.
There is a one-kilometer wooden bridge which you will walk on as you go deeper into the mangrove forest, pass by a river, and end your walk on a lagoon opening up to the sea.
If you are coming from Boracay and flying out of Kalibo, Bakhawan Eco-Park is perfect for a stopover. For those who want to experience all of what the park has to offer, though, a half- or even a whole-day visit is recommended, as the park offers activities like kayaking, bamboo rafting across the lagoon, tamilok (woodworm) extraction, trekking on another trail, and more.
Panay Wind Farm, Nabas, Aklan
While Bangui in Ilocos Norte is the most well-known for windmills, there are other places in the Philippines with beautiful windmills on natural landscapes. Panay Wind Farm in Nabas, Aklan, has windmills 76 meters tall along winding roads on green hills, and with the bright blue sea as a picturesque backdrop.
And while you are already there in Nabas, visit Hurom-Hurom, the most popular and said to be the most beautiful among its natural springs. The water here flows down from the mountains. A 20-minute walk or short motorbike ride from Hurom-Hurom, meanwhile, will take you to Sakaan Falls.
How to get there: From Kalibo, ride a van, bus, or jeep bound for Caticlan. Or from Caticlan, ride a van, bus, or jeep bound for Kalibo. Ask to be dropped off at Barangay Unidos, Nabas. From here, hire a motorcycle to take you to the windmills. Travel time takes around one hour from Kalibo and less from Caticlan. To get to Hurom-Hurom Spring from the windmills, go back to the main road and ride a van, bus, or jeep bound for Kalibo. Ask to be dropped off at Barangay Toledo, then take a tricycle or motorbike to Hurom-Hurom. Sakaan Falls is around a 20-minute walk or a short motorbike ride and a 5-minute walk from Hurom-Hurom.
Canigao Island, Matalom, Leyte
Leyte’s Kalanggaman Island has lately become popular, often-visited and shared in social media. But Leyte has many more beautiful and pristine white beaches, like Canigao Island.
Canigao Island is actually an islet which can be explored in an hour or less. Its shore is parts white sand, parts gray rocks. The island is thick with the greenery of palm trees and shrubs, perfect for shade especially when you are camping overnight.
How to get there: From Tacloban New Transport Terminal, ride a van bound for Maasin and ask to be dropped off at Matalom Municipal Hall. Travel time is around 3 hours. Ride a passenger boat to Canigao, which takes around 15 minutes.
Lobo Cave, Jiabong, and other caves of Samar
With the most number of caves in the country, among them the largest, Samar is easily the caving capital of the Philippines. While Calbiga, the Philippines’ largest cave, may be a challenge to spelunking beginners, Lobo Cave, which has beautiful crystalline formations, is quite manageable. And Jiabong, where Lobo Cave is in, is just next to Samar’s capital Catbalogan. It also has sweet and juicy pineapples comparable to Bukidnon’s sweetest. (READ: Pineapples, caves, and angel wings)
How to get there: From Tacloban town proper or its van and bus terminal, ride a van to Catbalogan. Travel time is around three hours. You will be needing a guide for your cave trip. You can ask the local tourism office for assistance or book a tour with Trexplore, the well-known outdoor adventure agency in the area. Both the tourism office and Trexplore are accessible by tricycle once you arrive in Catbalogan.
The above destinations are easily accessible via flight and land travel. – Rappler.com
Claire Madarang is a writer, traveler, and seeker who believes in traveling light, particularly in the inner journey. She is also a researcher and documenter. Her work and wanderlust takes her to adventures like backpacking for seven weeks and exploring remote islands and bustling cities alike. Follow her adventures, travel tips, and epiphanies at Traveling Light.