With an extensive inter-island sea connection, the Visayas makes it easy and tempting for travelers to hop from one province to the other.
Want to binge eat on lechon in Cebu on a Saturday morning, and then climb to the observation deck of the Chocolate Hills in Bohol the next day? Easy. What about scuba diving in Negros Oriental one day and then jumping off cliffs in Siquijor the next? That’s just one boat away.
Whether for adventure or history or food, the Visayas gives travelers so much to do all over its countless islands. And if you have the following stunning views to boot, why go anywhere else?
1. Boracay, Aklan
You may have seen too much of Boracay, but the island’s white sand beaches: White Beach, Diniwid, and Puka, just to name a few, are still some of the most beautiful in the country. The view of the island’s paraws gliding along its waters is second only to the fiery ball of orange that is the renowned Boracay sunset. Some things simply never get old.
2. Isla De Gigantes, Iloilo
It takes a rough sea crossing to get to Isla De Gigantes, but these islands in Iloilo province make the trip worth it. Towering craggy cliffs and dreamy sandbars make these islands one of the most picturesque places in Panay, and in the entire Visayas.
3. The Ruins, Negros Occidental
Romantic even in broad daylight but utterly magical by dusk, The Ruins may just be the most beautiful skeleton you will ever lay eyes on. Remnants of a sugar baron’s house, which was constructed for his wife, the ornate Italianate-style building stands in the middle of a well kept lawn and is a must-visit spot when you’re visiting nearby Bacolod City.
Stunning beaches are one thing; looking at them from the top of a 50-foot drop is another. In the tiny island of Siquijor, intrepid travelers jump off cliffs into the island’s clear, welcoming waters. If Salagdoong Beach’s vibrant turquoise does not entice you enough to either take the plunge or keep clicking, jump on a motorbike and drive around the tiny island, visiting Lazi’s Cambugahay Falls and 400-year-old balete tree.
Most waterfalls are tall ang raging; Tumalog Falls, located in inland Oslob in Cebu, is the opposite: its waters come down its moss-covered face in dreamy, steady drizzles. As most waterfalls go, the way to Tumalog is difficult, although most of the road is paved. Getting here requires hiring either a habal-habal or car to make the very steep ascent from the highway and then go down by foot along yet another steep downhill to the waterfalls.
Bantayan Island, off the northern coast of Cebu, is a sleepy island with scenic tree-lined roads and white-sand beaches. Among those heavily damaged by Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, the island, like many others in the typhoon’s path, is in the process of rebuilding.
A ridiculously long sandbar, plus fresh coconut and uni? That’s Virgin Island, or Puntod Island, to you. Located off the coast of Panglao in Bohol province, the island offers a relaxing break between dolphin-watching in Pamilacan Island and snorkeling in Balicasag Island.
Despite the powerful October 2013 earthquake that destroyed parts of it (as well as some prized historical structures all over Bohol and Cebu), nothing can take away the grandeur of the iconic Chocolate Hills. Local lore puts the mounds to be a giant’s teardrops, but whether you subscribe to this belief or not, the limestone mounds look surreal no matter the angle from which you’re looking. The Chocolate Hills is located in Carmen, 30 to 45 minutes by bus from Tagbilaran, Bohol.
7. Biri Rock Formation, Samar
Part of the more than 5,000-hectare Biri Larosa Protected Landscape and Seascape in Northern Samar, the Biri Rock Formation is a series of gigantic, rough-hewn rock formations facing the Pacific. The otherworldly landscape of Biri is purely nature’s handiwork, from the craggy boulders to the inviting natural pools at the base.
8. Kalanggaman Island, Leyte
Half an hour away from the town of Palompon in Leyte—or 2 hours from Malapascua Island in Cebu—Kalanggaman Island’s most striking feature is its long stretch of sandbar cutting through a blanket of aquamarine. The island is uninhabited, but the local government has put up some facilities for day-trippers. Kalanggaman is one of those islands where simply ogling at nature’s bounty—or in this case, walking along a sandbar that seems to stretch forever—feels extremely satisfying.
Do you know other spots not on the list? Add them in the comments below!