3 Underrated Philippine Islands
When you say “beach” in the Philippines, people usually think “Boracay” or “Palawan,” but with the archipelago’s now more than 7,500 islands (7,107 islands +400 newly-discovered islands and islets) fighting over domestic and international tourists, a few gems are bound to be unnoticed.
The Visayas, especially, has been very popular among sea-loving vacationists with the Mactan-Cebu, Iloilo and Kalibo airports solidifying their status as better alternatives to the crowded Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals in the capital. Due to this, islands that were previously ignored by the huge influx of tourists are now starting to gain exposure.
Here are some of these undiscovered Philippine gems you should visit soon:
Islas De Gigantes
Just on the opposite side of Panay Island from Boracay is a little group of islands ironically called Islas De Gigantes. Administered as part of the Iloilo town of Carles, the islands are famous for being the Alaska of the Philippines for the sheer amount of fishes and seafood caught in its waters.
One of its islands, Sicogon, predated the increase of tourist arrivals for then-rival Boracay in the 1970s and was one of the Asia’s top destinations during that decade.
How To Get To Gigantes Islands
From Bancal Port in Carles, it takes an hour and a half boat ride to reach Gigantes Norte. To reach Bancal port in Carles, Iloilo, it takes around 1.5 hours drive from Roxas City, 3-4 hours from IloIlo City and about 3 hours from the City of Kalibo in Aklan.
The daily passenger boats from Bancal Port leaves at 10AM and arrives in Gigantes Norte at around 11:30am. Passenger boats going back to Bancal Port leaves at 2PM and arrives at Bancal Port after an hour to an hour and a half.
Sometimes confused with the island / marine conservation area off the coast of Negros Oriental, Apo Reef is famous for being the second largest contiguous coral reef system in the world. Located off the western side of Mindoro, the three surface islands are uninhabited though it does accept tourists to lounge in its marine park, white beach and lighthouse. Though you have to go through Mindoro to actually get into the islands, it is actually much nearer to the Nanga and Tara Islands in Busuanga.
Called by its residents “Isla del Fuego,” Siquijor is a small island province that was once administered as part of the province of Negros Oriental. Once feared for the alleged witches and mythical creatures who resided in it, Siquijor is now an emerging tourist haven in the Mindanao Sea because of its white sand beaches and exotic lifestyle. In the eastern side of the island directly facing the Bohol Sea is Salagdoong Beach, noted for its 10-meter high and 20-meter high cliff diving facility.
One advantage of going to Siquijor is the fact that it is just one boat ride from Dumaguete City, known for being the gateway of other popular destinations in the area like Apo Island, Oslob (popular for whale shark watching) and Bais (well-renowned for dolphin watching).