DINNER AT A SECLUDED BEACH
El Nido, Palawan
The uninhabited island of Ipil Beach 2, tucked between Commando Beach and Ipil Beach 1 in El Nido, Palawan, is blessed with white sand and clear, blue waters, a perfect place to watch the sunset and have dinner under the palm trees. The tourism office or El Nido Resorts can help organize a picnic on the beach or a romantic dinner.
For help with tours, contact El Nido tourism officer Arvin Acosta, tel +63917/ 841 7771. Hire a boat for P2,400 to take you from El Nido town proper to Ipil Beach 2. Book El Nido Resorts for an indulgent stay. The resort also arranges tours and meals at the beach. AirSwift has daily direct flights from Manila to El Nido.
WEEKEND AT THE ENIGMATIC ISLAND OF SIQUIJOR
Siquijor has powdery white-sand beaches, and clear turquoise waters, limestone cliffs, waterfalls, and pilgrimage sites, untouched by tourism. Life in this province is still simple, with most people off the streets by 8pm. “Clubbing” is only on Fridays in a bar called Ceasar’s Place. Siquijor is idyllic, with the only perceived downside – although most people see this as a lure – the fact that this is also witch country, where spells and voodoo-esque magic are practiced by local folks.
Stay at Coco Grove Resort, which has native style aircon cottages and villas with verandah, swimming pools, restaurants, and a dive center. And it has a beachfront location, facing 800 meters of white sandy beach. Room rates start at P2,950. From Manila, Cebu Pacific flies directly to Dumaguete. Take a 45-minute ferry ride from Dumaguete pier to Siquijor pier. Ferry rates are from P210 to P360.
TAKE TO THE SKY
Aerial tours of Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga and Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao
Sweep her off her feet in style by taking her on an aerial tour of Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga and Banaue Rice Terraces onboard a three-seater, single engine turbine helicopter. Fly over Mt. Pinatubo volcano, then proceed to Bagabag airstrip for a quick refueling, before heading to the Cordilleras to fly over the famous Banaue RiceTerraces, carved by hand some 2,000 years ago to cultivate rice and establish a natural irrigation system. Cap the tour with a picnic lunch by Banga-an’s viewpoint, near Banaue Hotel, before going back to the hangar.
Book an aerial tour of Mt. Pinatubo and Banaue Rice Terraces with Blue Horizon Travel and Tours, and the Peninsula Manila for a “Spirit of Corregidor” package worth P265,000 (about US$5,900) for two inclusive of helicopter ride to and from Corregidor Island, lunch at Antonio’s Tagaytay, and tour of the island. The Peninsula requires booking two weeks ahead of the intended trip. Philjets offers an aerial tour of Mt. Pinatubo for P141,000, and of the Banaue Rice Terraces for P300,000, onboard the EC130 TS helicopter.
MOUNTAIN LOVE IN SAGADA
Sagada, Mountain Province
Go spelunking at Sumaguing Cave, famous for its rock formations, and plunge into its freshwater pool to cool off or indulge in skinny dipping. The cave exploration is about 90 minutes of challenging trails. Stay at Rock Inn which has an outdoor pit for lighting a bonfire at night, and in the morning, pick some oranges at the orchard. Sumaguing is in Sagada, a spiritual and tranquil mountain hideaway in the Cordilleras, a small town in the Mountain Province. It is roughly a 12-hour land travel from Manila, but well worth it.
For tours, book the Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SAGGAS ), one of two established Sagada-based tour operators. Tour guide rate for spelunking at Sumaguing Cave is P500 for a group of one to four people; tour guide rate for spelunking at Lumiang Cave is P800 per head; and for a sightseeing tour, with option to choose three sites to visit, the rate is P600 for a group of up to 10 people. Recommended guide is Gareth Likigan. Visit SAGGAS on Facebook or call tel +63929 556 9553. Visit Rock Inn Sagada on Facebook.To get to Sagada, take a Florida bus from Earnshaw Manila to Banawe, a nine-hour ride. From the town proper of Banawe, take a two-hour Immanuel bus ride to Bontoc, from where you can take a 45-minute jeepney ride to Sagada.
GLAMPING IN TAGAYTAY
Nurture Spa Village in Tagaytay, a two-hour drive from Manila offers glamping (glamorous camping) facilities. Tents have twin size beds, toiletries, and provided with a barbecue platter and use of bonfire.Tagaytay has clean cool air and scenic forest views and is increasingly becoming popular with Metro Manila’s wealthy residents.
An overnight stay for two costs about P2,000 per person a night, an ongoing promo. Private vehicles can take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) route, then Sta. Rosa Exit going to Tagaytay. +632/ 710 9786. www.nurturewellnessvillage.com.
KAYAK AND SNORKEL IN SIBALTAN
Bubog Island, Sibaltan in El Nido, Palawan
Embark on a leisurely 30-minute kayaking from Sibaltan shore to the quaint Bubog Island in Sibatan, located in the east coast of El Nido, Palawan. Bubog is a private island with a beautiful pristine beach and rock formations. Never leave the island without seeing the Sibaltan Marine Sanctuary, a great place to snorkel. Be cautious though of the walo-walo or blue-banded coral reef snake. They show up mostly at night time.
For help with tours, contact El Nido tourism officer Arvin Acosta, tel +63917/ 841 7771. AirSwift has daily direct flights from Manila to El Nido.From the main town of El Nido, rent a van to Sibaltan from where you can rent a boat to Bubog Island.
Sitio Remedios, Ilocos Norte
Book a Spanish colonial-designed house at Sitio Remedios, a quaint 18,000sqm village resort in Barangay Victoria, Currimao, Ilocos Norte. Balay Radrillo is a two-storey house built with red bricks produced from Ilocos clay. It has two air-conditioned bedrooms, adorned with locally-woven inabel beddings and curtains for that traditional Ilocano look. The house is furnished using local antique furniture, butaca plantation chairs with elongated armrests, locally-made home accessories and crystal chandeliers. At night, couples can have a candlelit dinner at a secluded beach.
An overnight stay costs P6,000 for two including breakfast and use of amenities. It takes 7-10 hours by land to reach Laoag City. Visit Sitio Remedios, or call tel+63917/332 021,
WILD CAMPING ON IVUHUS ISLAND
Batanes, located at the northernmost part of the Philippines, offers photography experts and enthusiasts stunning landscape sceneries and a chance for wild camping. Join a photo safari and capture unforgettable moments with your partner and spend the night at Ivuhus Island, a serene, unspoilt island west of Batanes, fringed with a white-sand beach. Pack a tent and camp out. The island is also home to a stone boat shaped burial site dating back to the 1500s before the Spanish colonial period. Enjoy the sight of cows grazing on the hills.
For tours, contact tour guide Joaquin Cantor, tel +63908 501 2510, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. From Manila, Skyjet Airlines flies directly to Basco, Batanes. From Basco, take a van or jeepney to Radiwan port, from where you can get a boat from Barangay Nakanmuan port. Hire a fishing boat from Nakanmuan port to get to Ivuhus Island.
TURTLE BAY GETAWAY
Turtle Bay, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Book a romantic stay at Secret Paradise Resort, Turtle Bay in Port Barton, Palawan. The resort is a 70-hectare nature reserve and marine sanctuary with four stunning white sand beaches and a three-kilometer coastline. Turtle Bay is a nesting ground for sea turtles and dolphins have also been spotted here.
Secret Paradise Resort offers an overnight stay for two in its honeymoon cottage, with breakfast, from P8,950. Cebu Pacific Air has daily direct flights from Manila to Puerto Princesa City.
Published February 2016