This post was written by Andrew Larson, a semi-retired software engineer turned globetrotter and full-time travel enthusiast who now runs Wanderlust 15.
Shh…It’s a Secret! 5 Hidden Gems in the Philippines
That’s what the Philippines can offer to a traveler such as yourself who is looking for a little bit of heaven. Come to think of it, if you hop from one island to another, it will take you 19 years just to explore this beautiful country!
Wow, that is a pretty long time so instead, I can suggest 5 hidden spots that you can check out in the Philippines which basically summarize the word breathtaking…
Pearl Farm Beach Resort on the Island Garden City of Samal
They say that the bumpier the road, the more fulfilling it is when you reach your destination. This is so true when Pearl Farm is concerned. You must catch a plane going to the Philippines via Manila, and then another smaller jet en route to Davao City, PH. You hail a taxi or grab a rental car heading for the Pearl Farm Marina in Lanang and lastly, a private boat before you can get to the resort. But once you are there, all the travelling and the exhaustion will surely be lifted away.
The resort has a website wherein you can check out how to get there, luxury room rates, and availability but the best time to be at Pearl Farm Beach Resort is during the summer days, from March to May. You can pay your stay in US dollars or Philippine Peso – they accept both currencies.
What to do in Pearl Farm?
Have you seen the white-sand beaches in Pearl Farm? The whole island is yours to enjoy and it has five beaches that you can relax on. The place is perfect for tranquil moments (you have to visit their Mandaya Spa and try the Filipino massage), and for outdoors experiences (aqua sports, island trekking and more!). Don’t forget to try Davao cuisine at Pearl Farm – you won’t regret it!
Note: There are many other islands near Pearl Farm and you can arrange an island-hopping day tour or overnight tour from the resort and back.
Siargao Paraiso Resort in Siargao on Surigao Del Norte
This is another southern spot in the Philippines and it is known to be the surfing capital of the country. Siargao Paraiso Resort and the island in general is not just about beaches – the place boasts of waterfalls, caves, coral reefs and thick forests wherein tourists can explore with a tour guide.
Getting to Siargao, you can travel via the sea, which is just more exciting. There is a fast craft from Manila to Surigao and you will also experience riding the local transport called “habal-habal” (tricycle). There is also a direct flight from Manila to Surigao which is faster and much less tiring, but surely more expensive.
Activities in Siargao Paraiso?
The resort is very secluded and private. It is also a quiet haven with first-class amenities. The villas are to die for and each room has a direct pathway to the white sand beach. You can also ask for private diving lessons or some surfing sessions with certified instructors.
TARAK RIDGE – MARIVELES, BATAAN
Bataan is a peninsula and the South China Sea is kissing it’s gray and white sand coasts. There are many places to visit in the province but if you are looking for a mix of the hills and the sea, then, you can trek the Tarak Ridge and when you’re done, you can stay at the Westwind Beach Resort in Bataan.
From Manila, you can ride a bus going to Bataan (this is the public way to travel and it is cheaper) or you can secure a rental car with a driver for private transportation.
What is Tarak Ridge?
Tarak is a peak in Bataan and is known for its steep slopes. They also call it Mt. Mariveles since the mountain is located in the town of Mariveles. It is a Class 3 trail and the level of difficulty is 4 out of 9. It will take you approximately 2 days to climb the peak but there is a river before reaching the top which tourists say is “worth the climb”.
Why stay in Westwind Beach Resort?
You can stay a few days in Westwind Beach Resort just to unwind. Most trekkers of the Tarak find it therapeutic to chill out in the resort before going back to reality. There’s a bike trail in Westwind and the pool is overlooking the beach. You must also sleep in one of their Nipa huts just to get the “taste”.
Fortune Island in Batangas
The whole island is a replica of ancient Greece with its relics and ruins. It has Grecian pillars and some statues overlooking the sea. At the edge is a 100-foot cliff but diving is not allowed from the cliff. If you want to do some diving, go to the “blue holes”. The island has a reef with two holes that are 5 feet in diameter. Once you enter the hole, it will take you to a cave which is an 80-foot dive.
Aside from diving and picture taking in its Greek-like structures, you can visit the MV San Diego Warship Museum. It was a sunken ship which was explored by French archaeologists led by Franck Goddio in 1992. Witness the treasures retrieved from the exploration in the museum.
How to get to Fortune Island…
You can take a bus from Manila going to Bataan and once you’re there, just ride a tricycle and tell them you’d want to be taken to Fortune Island. The tricycle driver may say a thing or two about the mysterious island which can add to the thrill and charm of your visit.
Batad in Ifugao, the Mountain Province
This is not a beach or a mountain resort. The Banaue Rice Terraces is of Filipino pride because it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an untouched and raw natural attraction. People here are Ifugao natives but they welcome tourists with open arms. Once you arrive, they will provide you an authentic Ifugao meal made of organic rice from the terraces and some Filipino viand like fish sinigang or pork adobo. You should also try their rice wine – it’s the best in the whole country! If you are looking for something exotic to experience, this is the vacation spot for you.
You can stay at the Banaue Homestay – they have a balcony which is directly in front of the UNESCO recognized site. Aside from viewing the rice terraces and climbing it, you can also stay at the native huts in the nearby Ifugao village. It is believed to be used for fertility rituals. You can also walk all the way to Tappiya Falls and have an exhilarating bath. The walk takes two hours, at most.
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