Last year, we came up with a list of 16 destinations for a year’s worth of travel around the Philippines. And we’re glad that some of you really went to the places we suggested and had the best of fun.

This year, forget mainstream. We want your trips to be just as memorable and crazy, but not much within your comfort zones. We want you to have new thrills in destinations that are out of the way, developing, or sort of overlooked.

We asked Filipino travel bloggers to spill the beans and this is what’s on top of their list for 2017.


1. GENERAL NAKAR

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The secluded Maktang Falls

Off the tourist map, General Nakar in Quezon is exotic and oozing with the unexplored. Beyond the barbwire-fenced beach resorts at the poblacion, it has natural attractions that haven’t been visited even by its own residents for fear of misfires between the army and the communist rebels. The presence of the Dumagat tribe adds charm to visiting its remote rock formations, coves, and waterfalls. Its destinations of Lulumnan, Maktang and Masanga have convinced me that mainstream news about the province may continue to turn away tourists, but not travelers who know the vulnerable worth of secluded attractions. Read more

Words and Photo by Karl Acepcion, Turista Trails

 


2. BABUYAN ISLANDS

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Almost Batanes feels at Cibang Cove

Calayan Island, one of the five islands of Babuyan, can be reached in four to six hours of sea travel from Claveria, Cagayan. This town is larger than Siquijor, and a bit larger than two islands of Batanes or two islands of Camiguin. It has rolling hills, rugged cliffs, a vast area of unspoiled forests, and one of the most stunning seascapes in the Philippines. Having seen several hills across the country, I want to think that Nagudungan Hills is the most beautiful and romantic, and perhaps one of the most picturesque landscape-seascapes in the Philippines. Read: Complete Guide to Calayan Island

Words and Photo by Lester Sotelo
Also check Camiguin de Babuyanes

 


3. BALABAC ISLANDS

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Sunset in Bugsuk Island in Balabac

Three years ago, I’ve discovered a paradise that I wanted to keep to myself. Balabac, a group of islands at the southernmost tip of Palawan, is truly a gem, so beautiful that the arduous journey is so worth it. Clear turquoise waters, powdery white sand, rich marine life, wild dolphins, and sea turtles, and more. Discover the beauty of Onuk Island and Punta Sebaring and you’ll truly know how it feels to be in paradise. Read more

Words by Carla Araniego, Blissful Guro
Photo by Ayrie Gomez



4. PROVINCE OF LAGUNA

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Hulugan Falls

Although many of its key attractions have always been something we’re familiar with—we all had a picture of Pagsanjan Falls in our grade school Hekasi textbook—we often overlook Laguna partly because its edges aren’t laced with pearly beaches. Joke’s on us because paradise isn’t always made of sand and saltwater. Much of Laguna is almost untouched, still covered with dense rainforests concealing several magnificent waterfalls. Many of its historic towns retain many pieces of its glorious past. Its cuisine showcases some of the best of the Southern Tagalog region. From the glorious cascades of Luisiana to the carving tradition of Paete, Laguna has a lot to offer. Read: Travel Guide to Laguna

Words and Photo by Yoshke Dimen, The Poor Traveler



5. ABATAN RIVER

Sunset kayaking at Abatan

Photo by Kayakasia

Two hours of paddling at Abatan River in Bohol is not an ordinary kayaking adventure offered by Kayakasia. After sunset, when the surrounding turns pitch black, the magic starts to unfold. The sound of the flowing river, the water slapping the oars, the crickets, and the bats hunting in the dark make a relaxing acoustics you would want to listen to the whole night. The starry sky forms a reflection on the river, and out of the blue, trees pulsating in firefly lights come to view. It’s romantic that some guests have been lured to make their marriage proposals in this river. Read: Guide to Kayakasia’s Firefly Kayaking



6. PROVINCE OF MASBATE

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If you’re burnt out by the easiness of some local destinations, consider the raw and rugged Masbate. Now slowly making waves in tourism, the province has been overlooked for a long time probably because not many people know what the Island has in store them. The ruggedness of Masbate’s natural wonders, its long list of underrated beaches, islands, and festivals—and the yearly Rodeo—will surely fill in the entire experience of heading down to this part of the archipelago. Read more

Words and Photos by Simon Gonzaga, The Big Black Backpack



7. BEACH OF MINALABAC

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The pebble beach of Minalabac in Camarines Sur flaunts white, round, and smooth stones along a three-kilometer shoreline. What makes it more inviting is the absence of fancy establishments, which makes for a truly rustic, laid-back destination. If you dread an overcrowded place during peak seasons, Minalabac’s beach is a perfect place because it’s not that well-known—yet. And, it’s only a forty-minute drive from Naga City. Read more

Words and Photos by Sonyboy Fugaban, Stories of the Wandering Feet and Mind



8. SAN ILDEFONSO, CASIGURAN

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Dulo, the edge of the San Ildefonso peninsula

Some 4-hour drive northeast of Baler will take you to the town of Casiguran, another developing tourist destination in Aurora. Don’t miss the rolling hills in the peninsula of San Ildefonso, the rocky shoreline of Dalugan Bay, and the pristine beach of Casapsapan. Like Baler, this town also has good spots for surfing and snorkeling. It’s off the beaten tracks and worth your time for this year’s adventures. (For guide and tour inquiries, contact Romel Tribiana, a local of Casiguran.)


9. PLAYA LA CALETA

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The shallow waters of PLC’s beach

Playa La Caleta is a one-stop destination for all thrill seekers, nature lovers, family, couples, and those who prefer to be alone with nature. This 50-hectare resort plus a small island in Morong, Bataan provides an assortment of activities and landscapes off to traveler’s radar. A hidden cove surrounded with lush forrest, air of immense peacefulness, and numerous selection of activities. With its proximity to Manila, Playa La Caleta is a paradise within our reach. Read more

Words and Photos by Franco Ayson, Lagaw Travelogue



10. PROVINCE OF QUIRINO

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Siitan River, Nagtipunan, Quirino

While most provinces in the Philippines are known for something concrete, Quirino’s identity has yet to be formed. It’s this air of mystery for an off-the-beaten path destination that appeals to travelers looking for something new. The province is still raw and rugged in terms of facilities, but has a lot to offer on natural attractions and eco-adventures. Nature-tripping and camping, caving, spelunking, trekking, rafting, and outdoor sports are just a few of the activities you can have here. Read more

Words by Kara Santos, Travel Up
Photo by Ariz Dimalanta



11. TABLAS & SIBUYAN ISLANDS

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Cresta De Gallo

Romblon, the Marble Capital of the Philippines, is home to the “Galapagos of Asia” and the cleanest river in the country. The province is composed of three major islands–Romblon, Tablas, and Sibuyan–all blessed with natural playgrounds such as beaches, rivers, mountains, and diverse eco-systems that offer tourists many opportunities for adventures like scuba, trekking, and snorkeling. Read more

Words by Abigail Javellana, Our Awesome Planet
Photo by Jan Levent



12. KAPARKAN FALLS

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Named as the Spring Terraces of Abra, Kaparkan Falls is not the typical waterfall that drops to its catch basin. This waterfall was uniquely nature-engineered to appear different from the rest. Spring water gently flows down via layered rocks and each layer has natural pools (catch basins) of different sizes and depths. Read more

Words and Photo by Edmar Guquib, Edmaration



13. BIRI & CAPUL ISLANDS

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Capul Island is unique on account of its history and has so much beauty to offer, making it one for the books of tropical destination. Even the name Capul is derived from the term Acapulco, a Spanish word that means old trading post. The people of Capul speak Inabaknon, a dialect spoken only in the island. A few hours away is Biri Island, famous for its stunning rock formations. The constant movement of the waves and the strong current of the water in the Pacific Ocean sculpted the rocks into something extraordinarily spectacular. Read more

Words by Glister del Socorro, Chasing Potatoes
Photo by Ralph Lawrence Almeyda



14. PROVINCE OF CATANDUANES

Bitaog Beach

Bitaog Beach

You can’t miss it this year for many reasons. One, from experience, it’s one of the cheapest provinces to explore. Two, so many of its attractions are still ‘untouched’ that even locals aren’t extensively familiar with them. Three, it has natural features that will appeal to nature trippers: idyllic farms, rolling hills and cliffs, a natural lagoon beside the ocean and beaches for bumming or surfing. Currently, the most famous destinations in Catanduanes are Binurong Point and Puraran in Baras, though it wouldn’t be surprising if this list suddenly expands to include more attractions in the years, or even just months, to come. Read: Travel Guide to Catanduanes

Words and Photo by Katherine Cortes, Tara Lets Anywhere



15. PROVINCE OF ANTIQUE

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Lambaklad fishing in Antique

Infamously known to most Filipinos for the mythical creature aswang, Antique is a hidden gem for the intrepid traveler. Get past this myth and discover a myriad of eco adventures like white water rafting at Tibiao River, trekking to gorgeous waterfalls, and island hopping. The province also has a few unique things up its sleeve: a 600-hectare rice terraces at General Fullon, the rafflesia (the biggest flower of its kind in the world), and cultural heritage such as the Anini-y Church, the traditional lambaklad fishing and its intricate patadyong and buri weavings. Read: Travel Guide to Antique

Words and Photo by Christian Sangoyo, Lakad Pilipinas
Also read: Bugang River Adventures



16. BUKIDNON

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The mountain range at Impasugong, Bukidnon

A cool place with warm people, there’s no place like Bukidnon. It’s at the very heart of Mindanao and never fails to fascinate tourists, visitors, and passersby. Being home to 4 of the top 10 highest peaks in the Philippines, it’s a dream destination of mountaineers and travelers. Even from the highway, you can witness the grand vistas of hills, mountains and canyons. Lakes, rivers and waterfalls calling for a cool dip….caves for both light and extreme spelunking and a lot more of unexplored natural wonders. Bukidnon also has a vibrant culture celebrated in the annual Kaamulan Festival, the only “authentic ethnic festival” in the country. Read: Travel Guide to Bukidnon

Words and Photo by Tupe Diaz, Trekero



17. D’YAN LANG

As usual, we left this spot for you. The Philippines has got plenty of new unsung destinations, it may not be fair to narrow down everything to a list of 17. So, leave a comment below and let us know where else you want to tag your friends to this year. If there’s a new destination you want us to promote, shoot us a message now and we’ll gladly take that challenge.

Cheers to 2017!

ArisMape

ArisMape is a travel insider at ABS-CBN's Choose Philippines. He loves orange, halo-halo, and PowerPoint, and hates beef, slow internet, and long taxi lines. His pastime is watching people watch other people. He swears on the power of smartphone. His half-life? Thirty.