Summer is coming into full blast. If the humid, sunny days don’t tip you off, then you’re probably feeling it from the travel bug going around, or this deep-seated need to explore and enjoy a vacation, even if only for a few days. We’ve drawn from our comprehensive travel guide to give you five hidden gem destinations in the Philippines that you can go to this summer. Tagaytay, Palawan, Coron, and Baguio are already pretty famous, but our list highlights places off the beaten track–and you might just fall in love with them this summer:
Address: Matikis, Morong, Bataan
Beaches are a favorite summer destination, but with the news about Boracay’s temporary shutdown, quieter, less discovered beaches are slowly gaining more attention. Playa la Caleta in Morong, Bataan is a good choice. You’ll still find some hammocks and beach umbrellas around the island, but it’s nowhere near congested. Technology is also kept to a minimum: phone signals are spotty, outlets are limited, and accommodations are well-designed open cottages and tents, giving you a much-needed mental breather as you explore the island. Its foremost feature is its unspoiled scenery, all pristine sand and vivid blue waters. A huge assortment of water activities is also available, including kayaking, hiking, sailboarding, and more, as well as cliff-diving from nearby islands.
Address: Sarangani, Davao Occidental
Neither too popular nor too obscure, Balut Island in Davao Occidental hits the comfortable middle point–it manages to be an emerging tourist attraction while still retaining an air of mystery. It’s especially recommended for beach lovers, who will be delighted with long stretch of white-sand beaches and the varied coral reefs found underwater. The island itself is unusually diverse: it has a dormant volcano (which you can scale, if you’re brave enough), hot springs with near-boiling temperature at 80 C, and a lighthouse built way back in the American regime. You can choose to lounge around and relax, or get sweaty and exhilarated by playing beach volleyball–among others–or hiking up to the highest point. Island-hopping prospects are excellent, with Sarangani Island and Olanivan Island very much close by.
Lily of the Valley Organic Farm
Beat the heat by chasing the cold: go for a change of scenery and pack your bags for the highlands. While Baguio is a premier sightseeing spot, you can make a detour to La Trinidad nearby, best known for its abundant strawberry farms. Have a refreshing staycation at Lily of the Valley Organic Farm, which advocates for sustainable, organic methods. Its sprawling, verdant land contains a treasure trove of growing fruits and veggies, some of which you can help pick yourself. You can also take a tour and learn more about farming directly from the passionate owners. Feeling at home here is easy, with cozy rooms, windows overlooking the mountain, and home-cooked meals–and no TV or wi-fi, to complete the country ambience.
Bacalla Woods Campsite
The Japanese have a practice called shinrin–yoku or forest bathing, where you go deep into the woods to rejuvenate. To try it yourself, you can head off to the Bacalla Woods Campsite in Cebu–even one day’s stay can be immensely therapeutic, as you reconnect with nature in all its wild, spontaneous beauty. Towering trees and diverse flora seem to engulf you in a completely different world, and you also have the option of snorkelling and trekking past waterfalls. For a jaw-dropping view, hold on tight and set yourself atop the world on their infinity swing, where you get an all-encompassing view of the wilderness from an extremely high vantage point–supported by only a tree branch. Since it’s a campsite, tents are where you sleep, not surprisingly–but you can opt for a breezy hammock, too.
Address: Sta. Ines Road, Antipolo, Rizal
Up for the challenge of climbing two peaks this summer? Test your endurance at the Maynoba Circuit in Rizal, where the mountain trail covers Mt. Maynoba and its subsidiary peak, Mt. Cayabu. Expect to pass by forests, gardens, and grasslands as you make your way to the top, where you can marvel at the so-called sea of clouds while basking in the cool mountain air. The descent is a bit trickier–you’ll be passing through watery areas and scrambling over wet rock, so you’ll have to use some basic rappelling skills and be mindful so as not to slip. However, you’ll be rewarded with the rare sight of eight waterfalls in succession while going down. The exhilaration of mountain-climbing combines with the awe of being up close to a raging waterfall–definitely an unforgettable experience.