With over 7,000 islands in the Philippines, there is something for everyone. In my time living there I saw quite a few of the islands, but three really stood out and left me with fond memories.
Boracay; it’s flashy, and crowded and perhaps cliché, but it’s also a good time. By day you have clear blue water and baby powder soft sand. And by night you have wild partying on the beach. The main beach, or white beach as it’s called, is 4km of some of the most breathtaking ocean views. It’s divided into 3 stations, but you can easily walk from one end to the other, taking in all of the hustle and bustle this island has to offer. With most islands in the Philippines, the choices of cuisine are limited; but not Boracay. Here you can get everything from local fresh seafood dishes to Greek, Italian or Indian. There is no shortage of places to eat, drink and be merry or sunbathe and people watch in Boracay.
Siquijor is not as well known but quite unique. It’s got all of the beauty of some of the more traveled islands in the Philippines, with less of a crowd. The island is known for witchcraft, so many people don’t go. But if that doesn’t bother you, you can have complete peace and solitude on the beach or while traveling around the island. You can even see the witch doctor if you like. I did and she, a woman of close to 100, gave me a cleansing by blowing into a glass of water (with rocks at the bottom of the glass) with a bamboo straw. She circled my body with the glass, blowing into the reed. She did this a few times until the water stopped becoming cloudy. Unfortunately I didn’t get much of an explanation as to what she was doing, or why, but it was a memorable experience. There is a lot to be explored in Siquijor. There are old churches, hiking trails and waterfalls on the island, where you can swim or cannon ball from the top. And if you’d like to just do nothing there, is that option too, with a range of accommodations to be found. For divers, Apo Island is just a boat trip away and is known for some of the best scuba diving in the area.[hr]
Batanes is the road less traveled. It’s known as the Scotland of the Philippines with rolling hills and roaming cows everywhere. It’s very peaceful and one of the few places I’ve gone to that’s untouched by tourism really. In fact at the time there were only two hotel choices, one dated and expensive by American standards and one less expensive, but not very nice. The whole trip is one of the most expensive you can take in this country because the island is so remote. For most of the year it’s battered by typhoons, with just a small window of time to enjoy the spectacular views and unique culture. And it is actually geographically closer to Taiwan than it is to Manila. Take a day trip over to Basco to experience the truly untouched Ivatan culture and get even more views of the mountains and coastline. While on the main island a bike tour is a must. Make no mistake, it’s not an easy ride, but you can go around the entire island in a few hours and see both daily village life and nature as intended.
Again, with this many islands there’s lots to see. So the most important thing to have when traveling the Philippines is time. I encourage everyone to go and find out why it’s more fun in the Philippines.