Siargao, Philippines

 

Where to go in Mindanao?


Siargao is located at the northeastern tip of Mindanao and a haven for surfers around the world.

We took a ferry from Surigao City to Dapa. (200 per person/ 3hr & 30 minutes). From there, it took us another 45 minutes to our resort cottage-- Cherinicole Beach Resort. We were lucky to be traveling with the whole Bauson clan because they arranged everything for us-- from the pick up to reservations.

But like many touristy places in the country, you can always find any means of transportation to get to your destination: tricycles, minivans, habal-habal, and bangkas.

Siargao is so pristine and beautiful! And not too commercialized (hopefully, not ever) like Boracay.

A few hours after we settled, we went to a tiny island across our beach resort, called Guyam-- a circular clump of sand and palm trees ideal for picnics, swimming or sunbathing.

We rented a bangka for Php 1,200 for 5 hours.

And once there, we went swimming all the way!

The kiddos tried to build sand castles...

And I helped them find some hermit crabs. Until they went back swimming again...

And eventually, called it a day!

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We also went to Magpungko Beach in Pilar, about 35km north from General Luna (GL). The sandy beach is one of the island’s best.

The highlight is the giant natural swimming pool (basically a huge rock pool) that forms to the far left of the beach at low tide.

Unfortunately, we came in too late for the low tide to swim here.

It is said that the water is beautifully clear and inviting, when the weather is at your side.

There’s an entrance fee of Php 50 per person and you can bring outside foods and drinks.

They have a small restaurant and sari-sari store but it’s better to bring your own food, especially if you’re traveling in big group, just like us.

To get to the place, you can rent motorcycles (Php 500/ a day) or ask a habal-habal driver to take you there (Php 300).


Island hopping is the best in Siargao.


According to Rough Guide, Siargao is littered with unspoiled and rarely visited islands, but you’d need your own boat if you’d like to explore them all.

Worry not though, because most resorts can fix you up with local bangka operators.

If only we’re staying longer, I would have visited them all.

 

Here are the suggested islands of Rough Guide:


Naked Island is a little more than a giant sand bar and perfect for lounging in the sun.

Dako Island, means big, is smothered in coconut palms and home to a small fishing community. The villagers will happily serve you fresh coconut.

La Janoza and Mamon, where a powdery white sand beach and a quaint fishing village between these islands is a pellucid lagoon, that’s wonderful for swimming and snorkeling. Both islands are also surfing hot spots.


Siargao is really beautiful! You should come visit it soon!

Bohol, Philippines

 

What to do in Bohol with your family?


If I have one word to describe Bohol, it would be: peaceful.

Since I came all the way to Malapascua, and went back to Cebu, and took a ferry boat from there to Bohol, it took me almost 24 hours of time travel. The Southwest monsoon was not cooperating with me, so I was stuck in Cebu Port for over five hours!

While waiting for my delayed boat, I indulged myself into their famous rice, puso and chicken bbq.

Cebu to Bohol by fast ferry is one hour and a half, for Php520. There are a few fast ferries that goes there and vice versa. Click here for schedules. 

My family on the other hand flew from Iloilo to Cebu, spent a night there and took the ferry boat to Bohol in the morning. They were in Panglao before afternoon strike. While I got to Panglao at midnight!

The best thing about Bohol is you can visit ALL the tourist attractions in one day. Every vans or cars for rent exactly know where and when to start the tour if you’ll book them. For this trip, I have entrusted my dear sister to do all the planning and bookings. After all, this was her second visit.

Since there are seven of us, budgeting this trip was very important. And we also considered the fact that we are travelling with three very “moody” senior citizens! Haha Well, honestly, that only goes out to my mother. :P Good thing, Senior Citizen Cards present a 20% discount on fares, foods, and entrance fees. So that alone was a big save.

We stayed in Panglao for this trip, which is thirty minutes away from Tagbilaran City. We got a family cottage in Casanova Garden for Php800/night. We took two rooms for the seven of us. If I have only known the conditions in Casanova (a far cry from the pictures), I would have to chose Bohol Bee Farm, having read great reviews about the place. A friend also suggested another place, but this one near Tagbilaran City which he genuinely like, Nut Huts. Click the word for lists of accommodations in Bohol and Panglao.

It’s a pity on my part that I never really got to explore the “hidden gems” that this place has to offer. How I wish I stayed longer so I could have learned how to drive a motorcycle (that every tourist seem to enjoy), try out diving (Fun and Sun recommended a nice dive shop), wandering & getting lost around (this is one place in the Philippines that it’s VERY safe to do it), and swimming all day long (I came a day late so I have to keep up with my family’s itinerary). Next time, for sure! ;)

I’m greatly impressed as to how Boholanos promote and help their tourism system. Everyone helps out. Everyone is friendly, helpful, and accommodating. Expat tourists seem to be at home in this island. This is quite visible, especially in Panglao where most resorts and lodging houses were Swiss, German, French, and American named (or owned). It is indeed a nice place to be both a tourist and a local. Saludo ako sa inyo, Boholanos!


Here's what to see or what to do in Bohol


Sagbayan Peak 

 

Butterfly Park

 

Mahogany man-made forest in Bilar

 

Tarsier viewing in Loboc

 

Bamboo Hanging Bridge in Sevilla

 

Zipline adventure in Danao

 

Prony, the python

 

Baclayon Church

 

Panglao Beach (at night) 

We skipped the Loboc River Restaurant cruise because we have a family in Bohol who prepared home cooked dishes!

But don't leave Bohol without your souvenirs.


Have you been to bohol? what else can you to do there?

Malapascua, Cebu

 

Do you want to go somewhere else aside from boracay?


I can't honestly remember how and when I heard the name, Malapascua. I know at a time that it existed somewhere in Pilipinas. And it officially became the kick start of my yearly solo travel adventure.

It was my earnest desire to learn how to dive. The thought of seeing the underwater world is the top reason for this. You should know though, that I have a crazy love affair with water: I'm a water baby, Pisces being my star sign. I started swimming when I was way too young even kick my feet but never had "formal" training in swimming, which only came a bit later in sophomore college. When I was 12 years old, I nearly drowned while swimming ( like literally fighting for my L-I-F-E situation!) with a dear classmate and friend, Rolyn just after their town fiesta celebration. I never got to tell my parents about it, but it never stopped me from coming close to any form of water afterwards. Yes, I'm thankful that I'm still alive and breathing after that incident. Then again, my swimming 'abilities' is only moderate.


Note: Since I live in Iloilo, flying to Cebu is only 40 minutes. Local airlines such as Philippine Airline, Cebu Pacific, and Air Philippines fly daily to Cebu from anywhere in the country. Airline tickets cost from Php800- 1,600 for a single and round trip flights.


I landed in Cebu/ Mactan International Airport just before 8am. I took a metered-taxi from the airport to the North Bus Terminal in Mactan, Cebu. This cost Php 400.00

According to the blogs I've read, I have to take a bus going to Maya. So I did as I was told and it cost Php 163.00. Cebu City to Maya was approximately five hours and a half that includes two stops (for restroom break and eating).

After the loooong, heart-stopping, and life-and-death bus ride, I made it in one piece in Maya Port! I was starting to think to myself that I should just have listened to my Nanay. In Maya, I looked like a lost and wandering soul, as I was the only sole person who got off the Ceres bus. It was the last stop by the way. My purple luggage wasn't of great help either. Finally, minutes later, a man in his late thirties (I assume) approached me and asked me where I was bound to.

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One word: Malapascua

His Word: Three thousand pesos.

I was dumbfounded! I only have a total cash of four thousand pesos (aside from the money for my diving course). So if I will spend most of it, will I live in the island for a thousand pesos?! How expensive/cheap is Malapascua anyway? I have no idea!!!

So this is where my shopper skill came in....bargain the price...at half the price. He laughed, I have no choice but to laugh with him too. Hahaha.

Thankfully, my instinct and other skill came in...ask questions who looks local. With my very little Bisaya, I managed to ask a lady where I can take a bangka to Malapascua. As if  she was an angel sent from above, she said, "I live there and I will take that bangka (pointing to a big one). It will leave after 30 minutes." Relief was an understatement at that moment. haha

The thirty minutes almost turned into an hour, I've seen four more buses stopped in that port and more tourist looking people got off. Ahhh, second relief! To make the story short, I toom the bangka among other tourists for only Php 80.00/pax.

 It took us thirty minutes to cross the mass of water just to get to our destination. And boy, the moment I saw the coconuts, the white sand, and the colorful bqngkas...I know I made the BEST choice for my me time. This is definitely my top beach destination. Sorry, but Boracay is way too touristy for my taste already. Every visit since my college days are disappointingly unbecoming.

For my home-away-from-home-accommodatipn, I stayed af Mike and Dioses's, owned by the friendliest German-Pinoy-at-heart owner, Mike who is very welcoming and helpful (and informative). The funny story was, I booked my room in advance for only Php 500.00/night. But Mike gave it away to a Finnish tourist, so he has to give me another room. Thankfully and out of luck, I was given the best new room. Ohhh, how I loved it!

Since I came to Malapascua to dive, I spent most of my time in the dive school just five minutes walk from Mike and Diose's. I was literally studying--- with books to read and videos to watch, because after the course, I'll be given a written exam!

So during my so-called-free-time, I took the opportunity to explore a little bit of the island with some lost wandering, trying out the local dishes, and swimming on my own.


Malapascua had me falling in love with her in no time.


Malapascua easily became a favorite because of the beautiful beach, the quiet surroundings, and its wonderful people. 

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It was the perfect place to mend my broken heart.


Of course, the nightly cheap massage by the beachside did the trick for me.


Have you been to a place that mended your broken heart?

Boracay, Philippines

 

Where to go in boracay to avoid the tourists?


If there's anywhere I wanted to be in the world, it would be along a white sand beach, sipping some milk shake, reading a book, and watching the sun sets.

I'm an island girl, after all-- as I am from one of the 7,100 islands in the Philippines.

Speaking of my home country, let me introduce to you---BORACAY. This is undoubtedly, one of the most famous, most touristy, and most commercialized island in the country. 


It is also one of the most beautiful!


Boracay island is separated from Panay island by a narrow strait. The island is located opposite the barangay of Caticlan in the municipality of Malay, Aklan. Transportation across the strait is provided by boats operating from the Caticlan jetty port.

Boracay is served by two airports in Aklan: the Kalibo International Airport and Godofredo P. Ramos Airport commonly referred to as the Caticlan airport.

My last reunion with the island was six years ago.

So many things have changed. I noticed more resorts and first class hotels are popping out just about anywhere you go. I think somehow, at some point SM Group of Companies were thinking to build one of their malls in your area. 

Despite all of that changes, Boracay continues to show it's charm to the world through its most beautiful sunsets, each and every day.

The island also offers leisure activities available on or near Boracay include horseback riding, scuba diving, helmet diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, kiteboarding, cliff diving, parasailing, and of course, beach relaxation. 

On my last visit, we discovered a less touristy, somewhat private, white beach on the east side of the island. It was worth the walk. 

I may have been to some parts of the country and some parts of the world where there are serene beaches, but nothing compares to the beauty of Boracay and its infamous sunset beauty.

And it will continue to be one of my favorite places in the Philippines and in the world. 


For more Boracay travel guides, check out www.tripadvisor.com