Travel & Leisure

Where To Next: Maximize Your Summer By Visiting These Local Under-The-Radar Adventure Spots!

Where To Next: Maximize Your Summer By Visiting These Local Under-The-Radar Adventure Spots!

Take the roads (or flights) less traveled this summer and head to some beautiful, untouched eco-tourism sites for a unique and memorable vacation. Surf along the coast of Sorsogon, go snorkeling in the waters of the beautiful Verde Passage, or bike underneath the canopy of forest trees in the middle of the city with this guide in hand. With 7,000 plus islands bursting with beautiful, unspoiled spots for discovering nature’s secrets, there’s always something new to discover and explore while you help its communities earn a livelihood through tourism.

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1. Sorogon for surfing, snorkeling, and spelunking. Sorsogon is in the northernmost tip of the Bicol region in Southern Luzon. You’ll find a mixture of natural sites and things to see, from old churches, to lakes, volcanoes, beaches, and rivers to explore.

What to do:

  • Stay and surf in Lola Sayong Eco-Surf Camp, a secret spot well loved by the local community. Meet Lola Sayong, a woman who lent her land to the community as an eco-tourism hotspot, and be inspired by their community’s love for the environment. You can avail of surf lessons, kayaking and paddle boarding, swimming, snorkeling, accommodations, and of course, Bicol’s scrumptious local cuisine.
  • Take an eco-adventure cruise along the Buhatan River and experience firsthand the biodiversity around you. Join the community as they harvest local delicacies like bentol and talaba, go for a kayak ride along the river, or enjoy the river cruise on a floating restaurant as you enjoy the fresh air, an unspoiled view of the stars and the fireflies in abundance, and the vibrant and colorful sunset as the sun sets behindMt. Inang Maharang.
  • Go island-hopping in Matnog, Sorsogon and experience the beauty of “Subic Liit” with its pinkish sands and clear waters. You can also go fish-feeding at Juag Lagoon and snorkeling at the beautiful Calintaan Cave and do your part in keeping their beaches clean by joining a round of coastal cleanups as you make friends with the locals. Travelers can complete their experience by staying at the Isla De Blas Place, which boasts of comfortable accommodations on floating cottages right on the water.  

For more info, visit these websites:

Lola Sayong Surf Camp

Buhatan River Eco Adventures

Isla De Blas Place

2.  Carles, Iloilo for camping, hiking, and relaxing by the beach. If you’re looking for a non-commercial but accessible spot to spend your summer, Carles, Iloilo is the perfect spot. Explore this little-known area of Iloilo province, which includes the Gigantes Islands with beautiful, untouched beaches, lagoons, and natural rock formations, and accommodations for varying budgets.

What to do:

  • Head to the Parola Café and museum in North Gigantes Island, and take a hike to the historical Gigantes Lighthouse, the island’s main historical edifice. See the beautiful remnants of the original Spanish colonial structure, and have a taste of history as you participate in activities like tree planting, too.
  • Go island hopping around Tangke, Cabugao, Bantigue, and Sitio Antonia for stunning sandbars, snorkeling sites, clear waters, and fresh seafood, of course. You can also go camping in areas reserved for this purpose. 
  • Feast on seafood fresh off the grill. Before embarking on your Iloilo adventure, load up on the best seafood dishes at the Carles Dampa.

For more info, go to these websites:

Gigantes Lighthouse

Gigantes Island Beaches

Carles Tourism

3. Puerto Princesa, Palawan for spelunking, zip-lining, and river-cruising. Puerto Princesa in Palawan is already famous for its massive limestone caves and underground rivers part of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. But this coastal city has even more to offer. 

What to do:

  • The Bacungan Mangrove River hosts one of the widest expanses of undisturbed mangrove forest in the Philippines. Take a river cruise  to the San Carlos Mangrove and cruise along a floating restaurant managed by the local community, or go kayaking, fishing, or birdwatching in the water and the shores.
  • Go on adventures at the Ugong Rock Caving and Zipline Adventrues. Head to the jagged karst mountains in Bgy Tagabinet, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, and meet a community ready to provide adventure and discovery. Go spelunking and squeeze through the caves until you reach the beautiful summit, then coast along the zipline via bike or swing for the adventure of a lifetime.

For more info, visit these websites:

Bacungan Mangrove River

Ugong Rock Caving and Zipline Adventures

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4. Sarangani for white water tubing, cultural immerson, and beach bumming. Sarangani is the southernmost province in Mainland Mindanao and is a melting pot of Southeast Asian cultures, where you can see the interwoven histories of nearby Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. It’s home to some of the most beautiful, untouched beaches, and some of our country’s tribes famous for their crafts and weaving.

What to do:

  • Go water tubing in New La Union in Maitum, Sarangani and experience the thrill of tubing down 1.6 kilometers of the Pangi River. Visit the local Tboli community, who are leading efforts to preserve this natural resource and get a hands-on lesson in culture. You can also go trekking to the nearby falls, with your locals as guides. 
  • Immerse in the culture of the Blaan tribe and head to the Lamlifew Village Museum and the Blaan School of Living Traditions  to learn about their rich culture, history, and way of life. Witness the women weaving the Tabih and try your hand at it, taste the local delicacies, and immerse in their culture.
  • Head to Gumasa Beach in Glan, Sarangani for long stretches of powdery white sand beaches, untouched vistas of nature, fresh tropical fruits, and open grassland. Despite its relatively unknown status, Gumasa beach comes alive every summer with tourists who visit for the Sarbay Festival, one of the biggest beach parties in Mindanao. The festival hosts sports competitions, parties, concerts, beach activities, and environmental programs like mangrove planting and coastal cleanups.

For more info, visit these websites:

New La Union

Lamlifew Village Museum and the Blaan School of Living Traditions

White Water Tubing, Maitum

5. Samar and Leyet for surfing, skimming, and celebrating culture. Visit two of central Visayas’ islands linked together by the San Juanico bridge. Samar is known for its lush forests and beautiful beaches facing the open seas, while Leyte is home to two major cities in Visayas, Ormoc and Tacloban. Both islands have played major roles in our country’s history, and there’s plenty to see.

What to do:

  • Visit the Sohoton Caves and Natural Bridge in Samar and witness the majesty of the Sohoton River, with its grand rock formations, limestone boulders, caves, and rainforests. There are also various eco-lodges where you can avail of a river cruise, spelunking trip, swimming, and food, of course.
  • Learn the art of Tikog weaving in Saob Cave, Samar and meet the Basey people behind this tradition. Witness their process of making banigs and other products using the tikog grass, and learn what role the Saob cave plays in their craft.
  • Go surfing in Dulag, Leyte in Sabang Daguitan Surf Camp to meet and rub elbows with surfing enthusiasts, and stay at the beautiful eco-cottages. You can also head to nearby Dao Balay Kawilan for river cruises, glamping, scrumptious meals, and floating cottages with spa, and learn basic gardening skills from the locals.
  • Go skim boarding at the San Jose Skim Boarding Camp, and have fun with the young locals who have become experts at this sport. Learn to ride the waves right on the shore and picnic along the water for a fun meal.

For more info, visit these websites:

Sohoton Caves and Natural Bridge

Tikog Weaving

Sabang Daguitan Surf Camp   

San Jose Skim Boarding

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6. Batangas for snorkeling/diving, hiking, and beautiful beaches. Batangas’ beaches are already a common vacation spot thanks to its proximity to Metro Manila. However, Batangas still has many hidden wonders that are yet to be explored, especially those that are part of the Verde Island Passage.

What to do:

  • Commune with nature at the Mangrove Sanctuaries in Brgys. Lagadlarin and Olo olo, Lobo, Batangas. Strike a pose at the boardwalk, tree house and other scenic spots, or proceed to the white sand beaches and take a dip in the gentle sea. For an extended stay, pitch a tent and enjoy stargazing. Level up your travel experience and do something for Mother Nature by planting a mangrove-seedling, then feast on the fresh pick and catch of the day served ala boodle fight.
  • Enjoy the spectacular underwater scenery accompanied by trained snorkeling guides and dive masters. Brgys. Malabrigo and Balibago boast of their colorful and beautiful snorkeling and diving sites, as they sit right next to the Verde Island Passage, which is dubbed as the Center of Marine Biodiversity in the whole world. After these water activities, walk to the nearby Malabrigo Point Lighthouse, which is more than a century years old and is one of the oldest working lighthouses in the Philippines. Cap your day by marveling at the truly breathtaking sunset along the shorelines of this quaint town.
  • Hike along the Nalayag Monolith Ecotrail. The two and a half to three-hour hike is the new buzz among adrenaline-junkies. It includes small falls, streams and ponds where one can playfully bathe in and get refreshed. Hike to the peak and come across varied flora and fauna with trees boasting autumn colors, unique birds, and timid monkeys along the way. Reward yourself with mouth-watering Batangas lomi and homemade ice candy served at the exit point before you leave. 

Go to these websites for more information:

Lobo Marine Eco-Tourism Circuit

I Love Lobo

7. Quezon City for trail running, biking, and communing with nature. Believe it or not, you’ll find a hidden nature gem in the heart of the city in La Mesa Ecopark and its adjacent La Mesa Watershed with lush greens, trails, and grassy fields. 

What to do:

  • Go La Mesa Ecopark for a day with family. The 33-hectare park is the perfect outdoor venue for biking, picnics, running around in nature, target shooting, ziplining, fishing, swimming, archery, butterfly watching, and many more.  
  • Visit the La Mesa Watershed and commune with nature. La Mesa watershed is the last forest of its size in Metro Manila, aside from being a reservoir. Head here for nature appreciation, nursery and tree planting activities, trail running, trekking, biking, and bird watching.

For more info, visit La Mesa Ecopark

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Through the help of local government units, national agencies like the Department of Environment, and ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya’s Bantay Kalikasan, each spot listed here is owned and run by the respective communities, and all profit goes back to them.

Go and take your backpack and your barkada and explore our country’s vast and limitless natural wonders while meeting and being inspired by the locals who have banded together to create sustainable ecotourism sites that give communities a livelihood while caring for the environment. For more information, go to https://corporate.abs-cbn.com/lingkodkapamilya/bantay-kalikasan/about

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Photos courtesy of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc and Studio H2O

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