2020 was pretty much whisked away by the coronavirus pandemic—and a cruel summer it was. Teasing us with the clearest skies we’ve seen in decades, accompanied by weather temperatures best spent seaside with a gin and tonic (or ice cold beer if that’s your drift) in hand, the quarantine pretty much left us dreaming of better days from inside our homes.
Though quarantine measures have since been loosened in the metro and many other parts of the country, there’s still no telling when it will be safe to travel again. Whether it’s taking a flight to your dream beach destination or a simple drive to Elyu, we’ll just have to be patient until we’re able to comfortably lie side by side on the beach, without worrying about social distancing.
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While the internet is abuzz with coronavirus updates and articles about what to expect during the “new normal,” many of us are still dreaming of sunnier days ahead—which we totally support! After all, the tourism industry will definitely need a boost given the untimely peak season lockdown.
As you continue to work on that quarantine glow up (a.k.a. home workout galore), we’re listing down some of the country’s underrated gems that we can’t wait to visit...in 2021? Who knows.
Get your pens out and take notes!
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Bitaog Beach, Dinagat Islands, Surigao
Located in Surigao City, also known as “The City of Island Adventures,” Bitaog Beach is best known for its powdery sand hidden within the breathtaking rock formations of Dinagat Island. Though not totally unknown to travelers, the beach still boasts of amazing views and clear waters that you just really want to dive into—or swim in.
How to get there: From Surigao City, take a passenger boat to Basilisa in Dinagat Islands from the boulevard. From there you can hire a pump boat for an island-hopping tour around Dinagat Island.
Panampangan Island, Tawi-Tawi
Just the mere mention of Tawi-Tawi may turn travelers off for the simple reason of safety. While their concerns are well and valid, there’s something about traveling to hard to get destinations that make the trip more worthwhile. Home to the longest sandbar in the Philippines, stretching more than three kilometers, it’s pretty much an untouched and pristine destination, that boasts of a rich marine life.
How to get there: Due to its seclusion, tourists are advised to coordinate with the Provincial Tourism Office of Tawi-Tawi for assistance in finding tour guides and boat rentals to take you the island.
[related: Hot Stuff: 5 Travel Essentials Every Vacationer Must Have This 2020]
Maosonon Island, Palawan
If you’ve already completed the province’s Holy Trinity of islands (Puerto Princesa, Coron, and El Nido) and are looking for a quieter and less explored destination, Maosonon Island is for you. Though not rife with activity, it is exactly this that appeals the most to sun seekers who are looking to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the world. 2020 required us to give up our social lives, so a quiet day on a beautiful island devoid of commercial development should be a piece of cake.
How to get there: Tour agencies in El Nido and Sibaltan offer day tour and overnight packages in Maosonoan Island. For DIY vacationers, you can charter a boat at Sibaltan for an island-hopping tour of Maosonon and neighboring islands.
While Bohol is best known for its Chocolate Hills, Tarsiers, and Peanut Kisses, it’s also home to a number of gems fitting for adventure seekers and those looking to add double-tap worthy content on their Instagram accounts. Just three hours away from the province’s capital, Tagbilaran, Anda is offers a slice of Bohol you don’t often get to experience—cave pools! There are about six in the municipality but most noteworthy is the Cabagnow Cave Pool, an almost circular sinkhole with an approximate depth of 20-25 feet. It boasts of deliriously dark blue waters that you have to dive into (15 feet to be exact) to get in—a ladder option is available but why not make the most of the experience?
How to get there: From Tagbilaran, ride a tricycle to the bus and van terminal, then take the bus or van to Anda.
[related: In Focus: Small But Impactful Things You Can Do To Help The Philippine Tourism Industry]
Last on our list is a trip to the south of Luzon—Marinduque. Home to white sand beaches and nature-sculpted karsts, caves, and churches, it really is a one-stop shop for pretty much any type of traveler, from beach goer to adventure enthusiast. A favorite destination is the Tres Reyes group of islands, which is home to three aptly named beaches: Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltazar. Gaspar Island is the biggest and the only one with a stretch of white sand beach. Melchor Island is mostly covered with trees with steep cliffs while Baltazar Island is best known as a dive site teeming with a variety of marine life.
How to get there: Take a flight from Manila to Boac. Once in Boac, you can arrange for island hopping and city tours.
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Banner image courtesy of Bitaog Beach Resort