8 beautiful PH destinations to visit this 2016

Rhea Claire Madarang
8 beautiful PH destinations to visit this 2016
Whether they're off-the-beaten-path or timeless destinations, here are some places to add to your travel bucket list this 2016

MANILA, Philippines – A new year means new travel plans. Where to go this 2016? There are places whose beauty never gets old, while there are those whose beauty is yet to be discovered by many. Below are some destinations worth exploring. 

Surigao del Sur

It is the other Surigao, Surigao del Norte, that is often well-visited, especially for its surfing spot Siargao, and later, for Bucas Grande, with its breathtaking lagoons and stingless jellyfish. (IN PHOTOS: Visit these 10 magical, beautiful lagoons in the Philippines)

Surigao del Sur, on the other hand, also has a beautiful, but not-so-well-known lagoon, with stingless jellyfish – the Blue Lagoon in the municipality of Cantilan.

BLUE LAGOON. This quiet lagoon in Surigao teems with stingless jellyfish. Photo by Dennis Dolojan

Cantilan also has pristine white beaches, but it is San Agustin’s Britania group of islands that is arguably Surigao del Sur’s pride – 24 islands and islets, some of them unspoiled white beaches or karsts blanketed with lush greenery. (READ: Britania Islands, breathtaking paradise in Surigao del Sur

BRITANIA. Beautiful beaches like this abound in Britania’s group of islands. Photo by Henrylito D. Tacio/Rappler

Inland, the province’s must-visit is Hinatuan’s mystical Enchanted River, a deep sapphire blue with a chasm said to be at least 80 feet deep. At night, it is believed that mermaids and fairies frolic in the waters. (READ: The enchanting blue river of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur

ENCHANTED RIVER. Its brilliant blue waters reach a depth believed to be at least 80 feet. Photo by Karlos Manlupig/Rappler

In the neighboring municipality of Bislig, meanwhile, is the majestic Tinuy-an Falls, 95 meters wide and flowing down 55 meters in three tiers.

TINUY-AN FALLS. Its water falls in a 95-meter wide curtain. Photo by Ros Flores

How to get there: If going to the southern part of the province (Enchanted River and Tinuy-an Falls), take a flight to Butuan from Manila then ride a bus to Surigao. If going to the northern part of the province, where Blue Lagoon is, take a flight to Surigao City and ride a bus to Surigao del Sur. 


To northbound travelers usually heading for Baguio, Sagada, and Ilocos, Quirino might not ring a bell. But this province, albeit relatively new to tourism, has much to offer especially to outdoor adventurers. Rich with mountains, rivers, caves, and karsts, Quirino offers activities like canoeing, tubing, and spelunking. 

The municipality of Nagtipunan is particularly picturesque, with a viewpoint overlooking Cagayan River flowing through a verdant landscape.

LANDINGAN VIEWPOINT. The view of Cagayan River flowing through vibrant green can be enjoyed from this vantage point in Nagtipunan. Photo by Mark Julius Estur

Go river tubing or canoeing at Siitan, part of Cagayan River.

SIITAN RIVER. Part of the Cagayan River, the Siitan River is perfect for boating, tubing, and taking a dip like this. Photo by Mark Julius Estur

Canoeing, as well as whitewater rafting, is also perfect at the scenic Governor’s Rapids in Maddela.

GOVERNOR’S RAPIDS. Rain or shine, Governor’s Rapids is beautiful with limestone formations and is great for boating and whitewater rafting. Photo by Mark Julius Estur

For spelunking, there is Aglipay’s 37 connecting underground cave chambers, 8 of which can be explored.

AGLIPAY CAVES. 8 so far out of 37 chambers of this cave system are open for exploration. Photo by Mark Julius Estur

How to get there: Ride a Maddela-bound bus (like Five Star and Northern Luzon Bus Line) in Manila. You can also take a flight to Cauayan in Isabela before commuting to Quirino.


Accessible via a direct flight, Capiz is convenient to travel to, and has a laidback charm that is so far untouched by mass tourism. The quiet river cruise in the capital city Roxas is particularly a must-try.  Don’t be surprised if you have the river to yourselves save for fisherfolk – that’s how beautifully quiet it can get.

And don’t forget to enjoy fresh and cheap seafood also in Roxas, dubbed the Seafood Capital of the Philippines.

ROXAS RIVER CRUISE. Ride a bamboo raft and cruise through mangroves and open waters. Photo by Rhea Claire Madarang/Rappler

Go island hopping in the city too, to see the white beach of Olotayan and the rock island of Mantalinga.

OLOTAYAN ISLAND. Go island hopping in Roxas and relax at this quiet island. Photo by Rhea Claire Madarang/Rappler

Outside Roxas City, go to the historical Santa Monica church in neighboring Pan-ay and climb up its bell tower to see the country’s biggest bell.

SANTA MONICA CHURCH BELL. At 7 feet in diameter, the country’s biggest bell would take at least two people’s arms to encircle it. Photo courtesy of Rhea Claire Madarang/Rappler

Go caving in Lahab Cave and Dumalag and take a dip at the turquoise Suhot Spring afterwards. Trek to waterfalls in Liktinon, President Roxas, and in Camp Peralta in Jamindan.

LAHAB CAVE. Wade through water and see crystalline formations at this cave in Dumalag. Photo by Rhea Claire Madarang/Rappler

How to get there: Take a flight to Roxas. From there, other municipalities are accessible via bus or jeep.


Felled by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) but slowly getting back on its feet, Leyte and its natural attractions remain beautiful. This is a good place to spend your tourism pesos for the province to stand with pride as a tourism getaway again.

While some of its facilities have been destroyed, Palompon’s breathtaking Kalanggaman Island retains its natural beauty with its two white sandbars and clear waters, and is perfect for day trips.

KALANGGAMAN. The island remains beautiful with its white sandbars. Photo by Rhea Claire Madarang/Rappler

Meanwhile, the waters of Ormoc’s Lake Danao remain tranquil and beautiful. While some of the trees surrounding the lake had fallen after Yolanda, tree-planting activities have since then been done enthusiastically by locals.

DANAO. Lake Danao also retains its tranquil beauty. Photo by Rhea Claire Madarang/Rappler

Meanwhile, for those wishing to see the historical MacArthur Landing Memorial Park, rest assured that the statue damaged by the typhoon has been repaired.

Tacloban residents also created beauty and hope with the Ginsiyaman Music Festivalheld for the first time in September 2015 and envisioned to be a yearly event. 

GINSIYAMAN MUSIC FESTIVAL. Festival goers camp at the Farm in Guinciaman, San Miguel, before the concert. Photo by Marky Ramone Go


CONCERT OF HOPE. Crowds gather in front of the stage as different bands perform their sets at Ginsiyaman. Photo by Marky Ramone Go

For more Leyte travel ideas, here is a list of things to dowritten by a local over a year after Yolanda. 

How to get there: Take a flight to Tacloban. From there, other places can be explored via jeepney or van. 

Davao Oriental

While Davao City is the better known tourist destination, provinces in the Davao region like Davao Oriental have much to offer. Davao Oriental’s must-visit is the 1,110-feet high, 84-tiered Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel, which remains beautiful even after it was struck by Typhoon Pablo (Bopha).

ALIWAGWAG FALLS. With water flowing down 84 tiers from a height of 1,110 feet, Aliwagwag Falls is a sight to behold. Photo by Olan Fernandez Emboscado

In terms of white beaches, the province’s pride is its crescent-shaped, 7-kilometer long Dahican Beach in Mati, perfect for skimboarding. 

DAHICAN BEACH. This crescent-shaped white beach stretching to seven kilometers is perfect for quiet time and also for skimboarding. Photo by Earl Bolivar

Davao Oriental’s Mount Hamiguitan is also the newest recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site in the country. Its unique feature is its “pygmy forest,” which is made up of bonsai trees estimated to be 100 years old. It is also a habitat of the endangered Philippine eagle. (READ: Davao’s Mt Hamiguitan named UNESCO World Heritage site)

#MountHamiguitan #Mati #UNESCO #UnderConstruction #BigAdventure #Putik

A photo posted by Julien Gaillochet (@butanding) on



To know more about the province’s many attractions, check out a local’s blog posts on Davao Oriental.

How to get there: Take a flight to Davao City. From Ecoland Terminal, ride a bus to different areas of Davao Oriental.


While Cebu is more known for its city attractions and beaches up north, the south also has a lot to offer, with its beaches, outdoor adventures, and heritage and culture. Moalboal is popular down south, not so much for its beaches, but for its snorkel and dive sites, but there are more beautiful white beaches in southern Cebu, like Alcoy’s and Aloguinsan’s beaches. (READ: Beach and diving time at Moalboal)

ALOGUINSAN’S HIDDEN BEACH. Hidden behind thick trees, this pristine beach is only one among southern Cebu’s beautiful beaches. Photo courtesy of Sheilamei Abellanoza and Gian Carlo Jubela

Aloguinsan also offers a scenic cruise through Bojo River leading outside to Tañon Strait.

BOJO RIVER. A cruise here takes you through waters with nipas, mangroves, and limestone cliffs, and finally, out to Tañon Strait. Photo courtesy of Sheilamei Abellanoza and Gian Carlo Jubela

Those who want a more extreme outdoor adventure can go canyoneering in Badian, where you scale rocks and jump off cliffs and waterfalls. Watch adventurers climb and jump off cliffs in Badian below.  


CANYONEERING IN BADIAN. Scale rocks and jump off cliffs and waterfalls for an extreme adventure experience. Photo courtesy of Sheilamei Abellanoza and Gian Carlo Jubela

For beautiful old houses and historical structures, visit Carcar. It is also famous for its chicharon. 

CARCAR. Known as Cebu’s heritage city, Carcar is home to beautiful old structures like this. Photo by Ephraim Arriesgado

How to get there: Take a flight to Cebu. Ride a bus from the South Bus Terminal to explore the province’s south.


Voted as “World’s Best Island” by Condé Nast Traveler readers for two years now, Palawan is a must-visit, any year. Puerto Princesa’s Underground River, and Coron and El Nido’s white beaches, aquamarine lagoons, and gray-green limestone cliffs continue to be popular attractions.

POSTCARD-PERFECT. Palawan’s white beaches, crystal-clear waters, and towering karsts remain to be a draw for tourists. Photo by Rhea Claire Madarang

There are others areas worth exploring, too, like San Vicente’s 14-kilometer beach, the country’s longest, and Taytay’s charming historical fort by the sea.(IN PHOTOS: Which of these 5 Palawan destinations will you visit next?)

SAN VICENTE’S LONG BEACH. For guaranteed quiet beach time, walk along San Vicente’s stretch. Photo by Joshua Berida


TAYTAY’S FORT. See this view from one of Taytay’s hills and go inside the fort to see its walls and a charming small church. Photo by Rhea Claire Madarang

How to get there: Take a flight to Puerto Princesa. This is the jump-off point to the Underground River and places up north like El Nido, San Vicente, and Taytay. Take a flight to Busuanga if you’re exploring Coron. You can also take a boat to Coron if you are coming from El Nido.


Part of many people’s bucket lists, Batanes’ charm is timeless, with rugged landscapes of hills and cliffs pounded by waves, and beautiful stone houses. (READ: Through the eyes of a first-timer: Batanes, the evergreen)

TIMELESS BEAUTY. Batanes’ dramatic landscapes pounded by waves are many a traveler’s dream. Photo by Paula Anntoneth O

Take the different tours in Batanes, and if you dare, brave the often-high waves and ride a faluwa to Itbayat, Batanes’ northernmost island that is closer to Taiwan than to the Philippines. 

FALUWA. The faluwa is the common mode of transport from Batanes’ mainland to Itbayat. Photo by Glen Santillan

Be sure to try Batanes’ delicious seafood, but be mindful which ones you try. The popular coconut crab is a threatened species but is still served at some restaurants.

ITBAYAT LAKE. Amid the waves pounding at the island, Itbayat also has beautiful still waters. Photo by Glen Santillan

How to get there: Take a flight to Basco, the jump-off point to explore Batanes.

Excited to visit these beautiful destinations? Help keep these places beautiful too by traveling responsibly. Many of the destinations listed here are still developing in terms of facilites and are not besieged by mass tourism.  (READ: 6 travel mistakes that harm beautiful destinations

Where else would you like to go this 2016? Share in the comments below. – Rappler.com

Claire Madarang is a writer, traveler, and seeker who believes in traveling light, particularly in the inner journey. Her 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.

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