Are you up for a brand new adventure that doesn't involve lots of tourists or friends telling you, "Yes, I've been there!" stories? The answer: Go to these hidden gems and surprise yourself with the beauty of non-mainstream destinations that will make you feel more proud that you're living in the Philippines!
1. Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Batangas. No need to fly all the way to Greece to see the majestic temple ruins of the gods! Fortune Island will transport you to a paradise that looks miles away from our islands.
How to get there: Ride a bus going to Nasugbu, take a tricycle ride to the resort, and hop on a boat leading to the island.
What to do: Aside from swimming in the crystal clear waters and doing a photoshoot at the Acropolis-like site, do not leave Fortune island without trying three things: Cliff diving, visiting the warship museum, and setting up a bonfire by the shore.
Budget: Bring your barkada and save on expenses! Prepare at least P2,000 for your transportation and baon. You'll need to buy your food and other necessities before boarding the boat, though, and just bring these to your campsite.
2. Mount Purro Nature Reserve, Antipolo City, Rizal. There is always undiscovered beauty that can be unearthed in Rizal—and Mount Purro Nature Reserve is slowly introducing itself to the lineup of must-visits in the province. The best part? It's about an hour journey from your house!
How to get there: From Aurora Boulevard/Marcos highway, take a jeep going to Cogeo. From there, ride another jeep with the sign Paenaan and get off at Kanto Veterans. Take two trike rides to reach Mount Purro.
What to do: Set camp! The probinsya feel of the place will boost your adventurous mood, so gear up and trek to the unspoilt beauty of the waterfalls. Also, get to know the Dumagats who reside there and get schooled on how to build a fire and cook using bamboo! And if you're not afraid of horses, ride one!
Budget: They offer affordable group packages with accommodation, meals, and activity inclusion (starts at P1,250). Since you'll be sharing transpo expenses with your buddies, keep a P500 emergency stash.
3. Minalungao National Park, General Tinio, Nueva Ecija. The province does not only boast of their vast rice fields, but a magnificent body of water, too! Marvel at the limestone rock formation while riding a raft along the 16-meter Sumacbao River. Simply breathtaking.
How to get there: Hop on the bus en route to Cabanatuan and get off at Bucana, Gapan City. Hire a trike that will drop you off at Minalungao National Park.
What to do: Enjoy the day at the raft, go spelunking (no worries, as there are stairs and ropes so you won't have a hard time), zipline your way to and from both sides and submerge yourself in the cool emerald waters of the river.
Budget: A group of five can survive with a thousand pesos inside the pocket, especially if you have packed lunch.
4. Hulugan Falls, Luisiana, Laguna. Do you remember watching NatGeo as a kid and wonder where on earth could you actually find a panorama of a rain forest with the gentle and slow motion drizzle of water as it drops down to the bottom? Well, a trip to Hulugan Falls is what you need to see it with your naked eye.
[related: Look Up, Step Out: Guyana's Rain Forest: Waterfalls, Cliffs, Tiny Golden Frogs]
How to get there: Take the bus going to Sta. Cruz. Get off and ride a jeep going to Luisiana that passes by San Salvador. Ask the driver to drop you off at Hulugan Falls. Once you get there, a tricycle will take you to the start point of the trek down to the falls.
What to do: Trek 235 meters down, what else! It's a relatively easy climb down, though, and you won't feel drained thanks to their guides who'll talk you throughout. Once you get to Hulugan Falls, enjoy the chilly fresh water (you can even take home a bottle of the water from the falls, just ask your guide where to get it). To get the NatGeo effect, float in the water face up.
Budget: One thousand pesos is more than enough to get you covered for a day, but if you plan to stay overnight (there are inns in Luisiana that costs P550 per night) to check out other nearby falls, an additional P500 is good.
5. Inaladelan Island, Port Barton, Palawan. If you want to go farther, though, a trip to Palawan is a good choice. But with tourists flocking Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron, find an escape in Inaladelan Island. [related: The Six Fix: Celeb-Approved Beaches for Summer's Last Hurrah]
How to get there: Book a plane going to Puerto Princesa. Upon arrival, ride a van going to Port Barton. Walk to the bay and find a boat going to Inaladelan Island.
What to do: Chill by the hammock and breathe in the salty air while you wait for the sun to tame a bit, go kayaking, snorkel with the fish, and swim with turtles at the Turtle Reef, or all of the above. At night, lay on your tent with the twinkling stars above and the sound of crashing waves lulling you to sleep.
Budget: P4,000, airfare and availing the resort's overnight package.
6. Hinatuan Enchanted River, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. Let's skip the popular Visayan spots and jump straight to this mysterious place in Mindanao (nope, not in Davao or CDO, either). Find a mystic blue body of water in Hinatuan Enchanted River, so called because of its unknown depth and flow source. It is believed that spirits watch over the water. Chills.
How to get there: Get a plane to Davao. From Davao, ride a bus going to Butuan, then get off at Trento town. Wait for the buses or public vans going to Hinatuan, then take that ride going to the Enchanted River.
What to do: Swim, becuase you'll never get to swim in this kind of blue water anywhere else! And take lots and lots of photos, of course. You can also go island hopping and stay at the nearby inns built above the sea! Wake up to the view of the ocean as you perch on your window and ponder on the wonders of this life.
Budget: Around P5,000, with airfare, land transfer, activities, accommodation, and food. It can be a long road to paradise, but it's all worth it once you reach your destination.
ALSO READ: The Six Fix: Celebrity Excursions You Should Make Room For In Your Bucketlist
Photographs from Instagram.com/thelifeofangelica, Instagram.com/cheskanebreja, Instagram.com/mountpurronaturereserve, Instagram.com/mnpnuevaecija, Instagram.com/tarasasouth, Instagram.com/inaladelan, and Instagram.com/tara.philippines