Southeast Asian islands are almost everybody’s idea of a tropical dream, but more often than not, this dream is interrupted by countless tourists. These four Philippine islands, however, are lesser-known yet equally mesmerizing.
This tiny island is well-known among surfers from all over the world. Giving surfing lessons a try is worth putting on anyone’s bucket list when visiting Siargao, but there is plenty to do even if you are not feeling the waves.
The island is easily explored on a motorbike, too. Shortly after leaving the tourist hub General Luna, be prepared to be wowed by the palm tree forest at the Top of the Road. When traveling around, make sure to visit Tak Tak Falls in the north of the island - the stunning views are well worth the few hours it takes to get there.
It is a rock pool in the ocean only accessible when the tide is low, is an exciting location for cliff jumping, or simply enjoying the idyllic tropical surroundings.
For day trips, Sugba Lagoon is a must-do. The lagoon itself is stunning with turquoise water, lush mangrove forests, and it offers a paddle-board rental, which is a great way to explore the lagoon. If you are brave enough, jumping off a 10-meter diving board is an unforgettable experience.
Cebu, one of the largest islands in The Philippines, is home to numerous must-see gems of nature.
One of the main tourist spots is Moalboal, a town known for its rich marine life. Particularly famous for its sardine run, Moalboal invites to witness this oceanic phenomenon all year round. To do so, you will only need a snorkel, a swimsuit, and willingness to be blown away.
Adventure seekers should not miss canyoneering in Kawasan Falls, with a 3-to-5 hour trek through the jungle and the vibrant waters in the canyon. You will be provided with helmets and life-jackets: safety comes first, as the trek involves numerous cliff jumps, varying from 2 to 6 meters, with the highest being at 10 meters.
All the jumps are optional, but those who are scared of heights will still enjoy it - tour guides assist the travelers in sliding down tiny waterfalls.
Another brag-worthy activity is waiting for travelers in Oslob, where they can swim with whale sharks. These gentle giants can be up to 12 meters long but pose no risk to humans. Even though snorkeling with whale sharks is a guaranteed activity in Oslob during any season, better make sure to arrive as early as possible to avoid huge crowds.
Banaue Rice Terraces in north-central Luzon were carved out from mountain ranges around 2000 years ago by Ifugao people. These terraces are considered to be the "Eighth Wonder of the World", and you can explore them by going on a challenging trek, which makes the view even more rewarding.
Luzon is also a go-to spot for volcano admirers. Trekking up to a still active Mt Pinatubo is not as hard as it seems, given that the 4x4 car will take you most of the way up. It only takes a couple of hours to conquer the remaining volcano on foot and witness the stunning crater lake.
What could be better than a crater lake? Two lakes! Taal Volcano rests in the middle of Taal Lake, and once you reach the top of the crater, you will find a crater lake with a tiny island in it.
Taal Volcano is one of the smallest active volcanoes in the world and is the second most active volcano in the Philippines. After a 15-minute boat ride from Tagaytay, you will arrive at the volcano, where you can hike or ride a horse to reach the peak.
The tiny island off the coast of Cebu is known for its magic - both literally and figuratively. Out there, witchers and healers are still practicing their crafts, providing visitors with herbs and potions, as well as performing rituals. Those who are very keen to learn about Filippino witchcraft, should not miss the Healing Festival, in which the healers from all over the Philippines show what they know best.
However, Siquijor’s magic goes beyond sorcery - the island is known as the Island of Fire for the glow caused by thousands of fireflies at night.
Nature on this island is stunning too, and the waterfalls there are a great alternative to the Kawasan Falls in Cebu - less crowded, yet equally breathtaking. Cambugahay Falls is a three-tiered waterfall, and each tier includes a large pool. It is not just the view: there are bamboo rafts, rope swings, and plenty of room for swimming, especially if you come early!