SUBIC LIFE

Before I moved to Subic near the end of 2014, I was working as a call center agent in Pampanga for a few years. For me it was an exciting year when I got to Subic, a new place, new people around, and new self discoveries.  

Walking on the beach, for at least 30 minutes, is part of my morning routine. Then having my coffee to start my busy day. Sitting on the porch to feel the cool morning breeze, listening to the beautiful sounds of birds. My home away from home!

 

There are many advantages when you live near the sea and you understand that it isn’t just for summer. It gives you the best feeling you could imagine for yourself, fulfilling your body, mind, and soul.

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Subic Bay is located on the west coast of Central Luzon, Zambales, Philippines. Only two and a half hours drive from the capital city of Manila.

Formerly the site of a major United States Navy facility named U.S Naval Base Subic Bay. It is now the location of an industrial and commercial area known as the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) under the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Today, the bay, as well as the towns and establishments surrounding the bay are collectively referred to as Subic Bay.

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Because of the history of the military base up until 1992 however, a tarnished image is suffered by the neighboring town of Olongapo, known for prostitution.

Still interested? keep reading……

Some of my friends asked me… what am I doing in Subic?

Well, living in Subic is not bad, as a matter of fact Subic is recognized as a booming haven for tourism and commerce. It is considered the “Fastest Growing Free Trade Zone” in Asia, a place to invest in. Whether you are searching for business or career opportunities, destinations, adventures, leisure – this is a bundled place for you.

In my few years of living here, I have never heard of any street crimes. There are Police officers around the area for peacekeeping. People are friendly and easy to talk with.  As a local the costs of living is much higher compared to other provinces in the Philippines to which I have been however I can manage the daily needs.

Subic Bay has everything accessible just few minutes away – beach, markets, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, shopping malls and much more…  

 

GETTING TO SUBIC

Getting here is easy. Only two and a half hours drive from Manila. It is accessible through land transportation. If you are coming from NAIA you could take a bus from Pasay going to Olongapo City which would cost less than 300 pesos.  Another option is to take a taxi but it would cost you around 4000 to 6000 pesos. There are also hotels that offers an airport pick up service for less than 1000 pesos.

Mode of Transportation to Subic

Bus – there are two Bus Companies operating in Subic Bay, Saulog Transit Inc. and Victory Liner,  both terminals are located in Olongapo City. Victory liner has different routes available. If you are  travelling to Manila and other nearby provinces like Pampanga, Tarlac, Bataan, Pangasinan, Dagupan, Baguio there is also the new Point to Point (P2P) Service.

Taxis –  available at the main gate of SBMA/SBFZ. You could also find them in Ayala Mall Harbour Point and SM Mall. They have fixed rates that are displayed in the taxis. There is no meter service.

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Jeepney and tricycle drivers wear uniforms and I.D.’s for identification and public utility jeepneys are color-coded. But they are not permitted inside SBMA/SBFZ. Olongapo was the first in the Philippines to develop this color coding scheme and then it was copied across the country.

 

Trike – you can find trikes everywhere except Subic Bay Freeport Zone as they are not permitted to operate inside the base.

Blue Jeepneys this route is from Olongapo City to the edge of Barrio Barretto on to Subic Town. Blue is to represent the beautiful coast of Olongapo. You can catch this blue jeepney beside Victory Liner Terminal. Cost is only 13 pesos going to Barretto and Baloy.

Brown Jeepneys – this route is from the new public market to the edge of barangay Cabalan. Brown represents the serene mountains of Olongapo.

Green Jeepneys This route is from Barangay Mabayuan to the Olongapo City’s New Market. Green represents commerce and the fresh fruits and vegetables found at the Olongapo Markets.

Orange Jeepneys – This route is from Pag-Asa to barangay Gordon Heights. Orange represents two of the city’s main Jeepney Color Red and Yellow and goes in between their route thus the color orange (red and yellow).

Cream Jeepneys – The route is from barangay West Bajac-Bajac to Gordon Heights. Cream represents the sincerity of the people of Olongapo and an inside joke was during the 1980’s because the Mayor was Mestizo.

Red Jeepneys – The route is from Gordon Heights to the Main Gate of the Subic Naval Base. Red was the favorite color of Amelia Gordon who at the time as Mayor founded barangay Gordon Heights to primarily house the transients and Illegal settlers of Olongapo, to give them a proper home.

Yellow Jeepneys – This route is from the biggest barangay of Olongapo City, Sta. Rita, to the Main Gate of the Subic Naval Base. Yellow represents the Main Roads of Olongapo as the Color of the pavement thus explains its route. Another inside joke was Yellow was easy to see for drunk servicemen so they could go back to work by easily spotting a yellow jeepney.

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ACCOMODATION IN SUBIC

Subic Bay offers a variety of accommodation types. From a budget-friendly bed for the night through to one of the many decent hotels. There are also apartments available for a short stay or long term accommodation.  

 

DINING IN SUBIC

There are hundreds of Subic Bay Freeport Zone/ SBMA RESTAURANTS

– these are just some of the restaurants I have enjoyed

Fortune Hongkong Seafood  Restaurant

This is located inside the SBFZ , great Asian Cuisine, plenty of choices from the menu, it has a good ambience, wheelchair accessible entrance. Staffs are so affable that gives you a comfortable feeling while enjoying the food.

Texas Joe House of Ribs

Texas Joe’s House of Ribs is an authentic American Smokehouse restaurant.  Serve an excellent taste and quality foods. Spacious dining area, it has also outdoor seating area and ample parking space.

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Seafood By The Bay

Good location and it has reasonable price. Accessible for wheelchair and good atmosphere.

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Moonbay  Marina Leisure Resort (Sands Resto Grill)

Given this classy surroundings and gracious service, a place where you can relax and enjoy while dining.

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Sakura Japanese Restaurant

What I love about Japanese cuisine is that they serve in a dainty portions, enough for my small tummy. hehe!

I am afraid that I cant get the food using the chopsticks…so I often buy for take home lol… shhh

 

Subic Park Hotel (Horizon Restaurant) 

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Ben’s Kitchen

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TGI Fridays Restaurant

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Kuya J’s Restaurant

 

 

Barrio Barretto and Baloy Beach

These are the beach areas where you can see plenty of Western people/Tourists. It is 15 to 20 minutes drive to Olongapo City and SBMA. Just walking distance to resorts,  hotels, restaurants, salon and spa, bars, markets, convenience store and hospital. And if you run out of cash there are few atm machines or Money Changer around the area.  Most of the hotels accepts major credit cards.

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Barrio Barretto
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Baloy Beach Road Entrance
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Baloy  Beach Road
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Baloy Long Beach
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Strolling Baloy Beach
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When my friends visited me

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Baloy Long Beach

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Barretto Beach Sunset

 

RESTAURANTS located in Barrio Barretto

Arizona International Resort  

Visited this place couple of times, Quite pricey! But hey it provides excellent quality food and serve a large portion. What more can you ask for. The staffs are so amiable that gives you a comfortable feeling.

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Me and my friend Guen enjoying the Margarita

 

Playa Papagayo Beach Inn and Restaurant

Been here few times for dinner, they serve good quality Mexican foods and decent cocktails especially the Margarita. The restaurant just right next to the beach.

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Wild Herbs Restaurant 

This cozy restaurant along the national highway of Barrio Barretto, a place where you can find a mouthwatering Asian dishes. A must try!

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Fish Finger
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Chicken Curry
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Panang Nua

Sayuri Japanese Restaurant

This place is located inside the Subic Grand Seas Resort, great foods but quite expensive. It has a good ambiance, few sets of outdoor tables right in front of the beach.

This time dine in…..Uh oh  I’m struggling getting the foods from my plate seems like my  chopsticks doesn’t work…lol! Give me spoon and fork please?

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Rainbow Maki
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Teppan

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Icove Beach Hotel

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Pie Lady Bakeshop and Cafe

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Rico’s Fastfood & Restaurant- serves Filipino food and eat-all-u-can budget-friendly restaurant.

 

Whiterock Beach Hotel and Waterpark 

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RESTAURANTS located in Baloy Beach 

Blue Rock Resort it has a wide selection of foods open 24 hours restaurant, and  live band every night, relaxing ambiance.

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Fish Au Gratin

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Hehe! No wonder I love Cocktails 🙂

 

Amanentez Beach Front Resort

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Treasure Island

Few steps to the beach. It has a nice outdoor swimming pool.

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The Lagoon Resort

A fine dining experience combine with a good live music.

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Baby Back Ribs
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Beef Steak
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Osso Buco
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Beef Oriental

 

Johan’s  Beach Resort

Open 24 hours beachfront restaurant. It has the overlooking view of Subic Bay. Serves a good selection of European and Asian cuisine.

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SIGHTS AND ADVENTURES

Subic is a great  place to be in when it comes to entertainments. It provides luxury activities like Golf course, Yacht clubs, and Casinos. Locals and tourists could also enjoy a wide array of attractions and activities. From historical landmarks to modern-day sites, dining and Shoppings, nightlife, Spa and Gyms, Beauty Salons, Amusement Parks, Boat Tours, and do the Water Sports.

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Subic Yacht Club

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Most resorts offer water sports activities such as kayaking, parasailing, jet skiing, banana boat, and many more. Also offers a laid back holiday for all kinds of travelers.

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During weekends and summer Subic beach are jam packed of local and foreign tourists. Enjoying the water under the  heat of the sun. Around the beach area you can see few vendors selling souvenir items and sometimes there are the native Filipinos (Aetas) selling their own handmade piece of art.

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Baloy Beach During Summer

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Ocean Adventure

The most fascinating creature in the sea gives the visitor a welcoming splash. Dolphin and seal presentation, great attraction for all ages, an extraordinary experience. Could also visit some souvenir shops or dine in their restaurant.

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Shopping Malls

These are the places where I used to  go during my free time.

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Spanish Gate

One of the historical landmarks in the country.  A remnant of the Spanish Naval Station in Subic. It was originally entrance to the Spanish colonial fortress which was built in 1880’s and used as a jail during the Spanish and American occupation.

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Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is popular throughout the Philippines and international divers arriving each year for this great experience in the country. Subic Bay is one of the most popular dive site- called as “Pearl of the Orient”. Rich of marine life, and the history from the bay – the shipwrecks. The majority of the wrecks are the result of the 1898 Spanish-American War . That there were numbers of Japanese Vessels were sunk by the U.S Aircraft.

 

Boardwalk Park and Waterfront Road

A Boardwalk park along Waterfront road this ia a favorite place for beachfront walkers, joggers and strollers. Offers a scenic view of the bay and as well as other interesting buildings around.

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Cruise Ship Dock in Subic

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Zoobic Safari

A 25 hectare forest adventure park located in Subic Bay Freeport Zone. A close encounter with the biggest members of the cat family. A 2 and a half hours tour. Attractions including Zoobic Park, Train Ride, Forbidden and Zoobic Cave, Savannah, Aetas Trail, Bone Museum, Tiger Safari, Croco Loco, Serpentarium, Tiger and Lion Close Encounter, This  thrilling experience you would never forget.

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Croco Loco

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Albino Water Buffalo
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Monkeys in the Wild

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Eye of the Tiger

INFLATABLE ISLAND

The biggest floating playground about 4,200 sqm. It contains inflatable slides, towers, bridges, human launchers, swings and more. We really enjoyed the inflatable playground. We felt like being kids again. The lifeguards in every stations were helpful. Though foods and drinks are not allowed at the Bali Lounge but you can still buy at some food stall inside the resort. Remember to wear proper swimwear. Play Pass starts from 499 pesos and up.

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Yellow Bali Lounge
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Pink Bali Lounge

Bantayan Island Travel Guide

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TRAVEL CONTENTS:

  1. How to Get to Bantayan Island
  2. Where to Stay and Eat
  3. Getting Around the Island
  4. Things To Do

Looking for a nice quiet and relaxing place to visit? There are more than 7 thousand islands in the country to explore. Whether you are on your solo trip or with your travel buddy, friends or families, this is another place you must include on your bucket list. Head to the north of Cebu and be amazed with this pristine white sand, clear blue waters, coconut trees and cooling breeze from the ocean – the island of Bantayan. 

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Santa Fe beach

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About 136 kilometers from Cebu City, Philippines. Bantayan is the main and largest island of Bantayan group of island. It is divided into three municipalities. Bantayan (largest municipality covering the central part), Madridejos (the northern portion) and Santa Fe (the eastern part). The island group also includes numerous smaller islands.

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Every island has its own uniqueness, from local to foreign tourists they love this place because of its  peaceful ambience and impressive beauty of nature – the sunset.

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This fiery orb gradually receding into the waters  and the sky consisted of colours ranging from yellow to orange to red. I gazed in amazement at the resulting reflections on the water before me.

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HOW TO GET TO BANTAYAN ISLAND

From Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Grab a taxi and head to the North Bus Terminal.  From there, take a bus going to Hagnaya Port, Ceres Liner cost 175 pesos (air conditioned) and travel time is approximately 4 hours.  At Hagnaya Port buy your ferry ticket for 180 pesos (Super Shuttle Ferry) and 5 pesos terminal fee. Travel time is an hour going to Santa Fe Port (Bantayan island). Ferries leave every couple of hours from 5.30 am until 5 pm. At Santa Fe Port you have to pay another 30 pesos for tourism ecological fee. Then take a trike  going to your hotel.

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Roro vessel from Hagnaya to Santa Fe port are also available.

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WHERE TO STAY IN BANTAYAN ISLAND

Beach resorts, hotels, restaurants and cafes are mostly found in Santa Fe.

Budyong Beach Resort this place is just right in front of the beach. It has a nice spacious garden with coconut trees. A native style cottages for accommodation, from fan room to air conditioned room. They could also arrange for your island hopping tour, boat or motorbike rental.

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Coucou Bar Hotel and Restaurant this is located in the heart of Santa Fe. Just a few minute walk to the beach and other nearby restaurants.  Room rate starts at 1600 pesos air conditioned and a backed up wall fan, with hot and cold shower and private cr. It has a small flat screen tv with cable. Wifi are available in the restaurant and hotel rooms. They also have free shuttle from the port to their hotel and v.v. 

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WHERE TO EAT AND CHILL

 MJ Square this is a food hub where you can find different bars and restaurants.

Chef Panyang this is the busiest amongst the restaurants at MJ Square.  They serves more on Filipino foods at affordable prices. So if you are on a budget this place is good to have a try.

Bantayan Burrito Company this place serves a good quality mexican dish, and vegetarian friendly. Fair price. I enjoyed sipping the frozen margarita with a free shot on the side. Sorry….just forgot to take photo was so starving 🙂

CouCou Bar and Restaurant they serves Filipino and international cuisine. And you can get a good quality pizza for affordable price. Enjoy and relax  in a two outdoor gazebo that has a comfortable seats and landscape garden. They also have plenty of choices of drinks and cocktails. 

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Filipino breakfast

Boulangerie Française a french bakeshop that serves a good breakfast.  Enjoy a freshly baked bread and a real quality coffee.

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THINGS TO DO IN BANTAYAN ISLAND

Island Tour

Visiting Bantayan without an island hopping will not make your  holiday complete (In my own thoughts) lol. In Santa Fe there are few guys around offering an island tour from 800 to 1000 pesos good for two persons. Hotels could also arrange it for you at the same price.

Hilantagaan Island, Marine Sanctuary and Virgin Island

These was part of the itinerary for a day tour. I was so thrilled while on the way thinking what to expect in the island, would it be nice?

Hilantagaan island is a small fishing village. There were few sari sari store good for buying some snacks.

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Hilantagaan Island

At the first sight it didn’t disappoint me.  It amused me! Crystal-clear turquoise water and fine white stretch sandbar and few starfish on the shore. But it was different from Kalanggaman long sandbar (it was my expectation lol) it was different beauty. As I stepped on the sand it was so fined, the breeze gives you a cool feeling. You won’t mind the heat of the sun at 12 noon. As I walked along the shore there were few fishermen busy on their boats and kids playing and gives a welcoming smile at me. 🙂 We didn’t stay longer in the island, and we headed to marine sanctuary. Good for snorkeling, clear water, different fishes in various colours, corals etc. etc…I have always been fascinated by this marine lives. I did enjoy the snorkeling and taking photos.  We decided not to go to Virgin Island, it is a private beach resort and you have to pay 500 pesos. You can still enjoy the beach at Santa Fe for free.

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marine sanctuary
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Hilantagaan Island

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bilad pa more lol!

Land Tour

There are ways to enjoy while you are in Bantayan Island. If you are adventurous  and brave enough, rent a motorbike to explore the island, prices starts at 250 pesos per day and provide your own petrol and hit the road.

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Oboob – Marikaban Road

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Bantayan – Madridejos Road
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Around Bantayan Municipal Terminal
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around Santa Fe

Another activity you could do is renting a bicycle, roam around the town of Santa Fe. price starts at 150 pesos per day.

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Sto. Nino Catholic Parish Church, Santa Fe

Hire a trike for a land day tour and they will take you to the place you would like to visit. starts at 350 pesos up. Depends which place and how far.

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Around  Santa Fe

 

Saint Peter and Paul Church

An old Roman Catholic church located in municipality of Bantayan. Across the plaza town you will find this 500 year old historical St. Paul and Peter Church. It was built using corrals and stones from the island. The original church was destroyed several times by Muslim rebels and natural disasters

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Omagieca Oboob Mangrove Garden An ecopark that has a bamboo walkway through  mangroves which gives a refreshing stroll, nice view, and good opportunity for photo shoot. Good for a short visit. Entrance fee is 50 pesos per head

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Bicol Travel Guide – Charming Albay Legazpi City

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Just had my short holiday weeks ago and I had the chance to write about Albay- this beautiful place of Oragon, my hometown. Albay has a lot to offer…from adventures , relaxation, palatable cuisine, gracious people and many more….
There are still some destinations in the province that have never been featured in travel literature and still waiting to be discovered.
A place where you can see this world famous active volcano renowned as the “perfect cone” and for their “Black sand beaches” located in Albay- a province composed of 15 municipalities ( Bacacay, Camalig, Daraga, Guinobatan, Jovellar, Libon, Malilipot, Malinao, Manito, Oas, Pioduran, Polangui, Rapu-Rapu, Sto. Domingo and Tiwi. And 3 cities (Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco) located in the Bicol Region in Southeastern Luzon of the Philippines. Legazpi is the capital city. The people of the region are called Bikolanos also known as “ORAGON” which means strong and brave! Bicol is the primary language spoken in Albay. It has many dialects, specially in inner towns. The majority of the Albayanos also understand and could speak English and Filipino.

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Black sand Beach Rawis Legazpi City

HOW TO GET TO LEGAZPI CITY

If you are planning to visit Albay province there are three ways to get there, by air, land, and sea. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific operates daily. Book your ticket in advance to get a cheaper price. Travel time is 45 to 55 minutes either from Manila (NAIA) or Cebu (MIA) to The Legazpi Airport. Another Airport located in Daraga- The Bicol International Airport but construction is underway. Traveling from Manila to Albay (Legazpi) is easy and convenient via bus liners that operate several daily trips. Like Cagsawa Travel and Tours Inc., ALPS The Bus Inc., Philtranco, Penafrancia Bus, Isarog Bus, RSL Bus, Amihan Bus Lines, DLTB Bus Company, Superlines, and Raymond Transportation. Buses vary from ordinary to deluxe coaches with modern amenities. Travel time ranges from 10 to 12 hours. Travelers can proceed to any point of the Bicol Region from the Legazpi Grand Central Terminal. And buses from the South carried by Ferries. The province has also two international Sea Ports located in Tabaco and Legazpi City.

THINGS TO DO IN ALBAY and PLACES TO VISIT

CAGSAWA RUINS (Daraga, Albay)

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The remnants of a 16th century Franciscan church, the Cagsawa church. It was originally built in the town of Cagsawa in 1587 but was burned down by Dutch pirates in 1636. It was rebuilt in 1724 by Fr. Francisco Blanco, but was destroyed again during the eruption of the Mayon Volcano. The ruins are located in Barangay Busay Daraga Albay. One of the most tourist destinations in Albay. Entrance fee is 25 pesos per head.

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Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers… you can pick some here….. lol! This lovely garden- a truly sight to behold.

Another feature in Cagsawa Park – these colourful flowers added to the beauty of the surroundings. So if you are planning to visit this place, be ready for your different poses- perfect for photo shoot. Entrance fee is only 10 pesos per head.

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ALBAY PARK and WILDLIFE

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This place is good to bring your kids, family or friends. There are different animals in the zoo and could do some outdoor activities like biking, paddle boat, or just sit, eat and relax or do picnic. The park is relatively spacious.

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KAWA KAWA HILL and NATURE PARK (Tuburan, Ligao City)

The hill is known as Kawa Kawa Hill and has become a popular religious site in Albay because of the unique, life size statues which depict the 14 Stations of the Cross. … Kawa Kawa Hill takes its name from the local word “Kawa” meaning a cauldron, because its shape resembles a cauldron.

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BAMBUSETUM or KAWAYAN-TINIK PLANTATION

Another newest attraction in Kawa kawa natural park is the “Bambusetum or Kawayan Tinik Plantation” – a two hectare bamboo forest, and a nursery garden that has 15 species of bamboo seedlings. This beauty of nature would definitely give you a calm and relaxing experience.

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SUMLANG LAKE

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One of the attractions in the province located in Camalig Albay. Another perspective to view the majestic Mayon Volcano. Enjoy the scenic view of the mountain and green lushes that would give you a peaceful and relaxing day. Though swimming in the lake is not allowed but you could still enjoy other activities. Experience the bamboo raft or balsa cruising the lake while you can sit in a stylish chairs and gazebos made of local materials. Entrance fee is 20 pesos per head and 50 pesos for balsa cruising.

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I really enjoyed watching the duck swimming on the lake where you can see plenty of lotus plant growing. This aquatic herbaceous plant and floats on top of the water that has a large round leaves smooth and shiny. Awesome!

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MAYON VOLCANO or Bulkang Mayon

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One of the major tourist destinations in the country and famous landform in Albay and in the whole Bicol Region. This majestic Volcano delights scads locals and travelers from around the globe. The most active volcano in the Philippines, renowned as the “perfect cone” because of its symmetric conical shape. The stratovolcano of Mayon standing at around 2,462 metres (8,077 ft), is the highest point of the province.The most destructive eruption of Mayon occurred on February 1, 1814. The volcano belched dark ash and eventually bombarded the town of Cagsawa with tephra that buried it.

RANAO LAKE

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Although this place is a private property but we had the opportunity to get in and see this panoramic view of Ranao Lake and rice paddies located in the boundary of barangay Bonga and Pandan in the town of Ligao City. Watching this spectacular beauty of nature makes you want to stay here forever. hehe!

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QUITINDAY HILLS AND NATURE PARK

One of the hidden gems of the province located in the town of Camalig Albay. Named it as “Pili nut Hills”. A version of Chocolate Hills in Bohol.
From the town center of Camalig rent a trike which cost 500 pesos v. v. maximum of 4 persons in one tricycle for an hour trip. It was not easy to reach the place because of the rough road and up hill. Needed to get out from the trike few times when we get there. But worth seeing this numerous mounds when your on top , will take your breath away.

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FOODS

Bicol Express

Was named after the passenger train from Manila to Bicol region. Bicol express is a popular dish for all Filipinos (especially in Bicol) for its spicy taste, made of pork, chillies, coconut milk, shrimp paste, onion and garlic…. siram sana! (so delicious). Bicolanos often using gata (coconut milk) for their dishes, also a famous product in the region.

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Chili Ice cream

This sweetened frozen food typically eaten as a snack or dessert. This unique new taste that would give you the scrumptious fiery flavor. Try this Sili ice cream of Bicol at 1st Colonial Grill. Indulge this one of a kind hot yet cold sorbetes when you visit Albay. Gives you a delightful senses, eye popping- this kind of taste you don’t want to miss when you visit the province. It has 3 levels of spicy-ness. Another luscious flavours of ice cream you would enjoy- “tinutong na bigas (roasted rice flavor), malunggay (moringa leaves), ginger, taro, and many more….

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Let’s do some sili – ness lol!

Pili Nuts (Canarium Ovatum)- a fruit bearing tree endemic to the Philippines especially found in the Bicol region, yields a kernel precious to the country’s food sector. It is green when when young and turns to deep purple or black when ready to harvest. The Pili Nut has the flavor of pumpkin seed when raw, and takes on an entirely different identity when roasted. It is soft yet crisp, with an easy crunch that surprisingly melts in your mouth, making it a favorite snack food among Filipinos. The same delighted acceptance is true even in other countries that have already obtained the nut as an imported staple.

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Pinangat – a Filipino native dish especially in Bicol region popularly known in Manila as laing- a delicious dish which combines taro leaves, chili, coconut meat or seafoods, and coconut milk. Favourite among locals and becoming known for tourists. Once you smell the aroma will gives you a mouth-watering.

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Puto sa Abab (rice cake) – a rice cake steamed in coconut shells and filled with some type of coconut jam. A variation of the puto sa abab uses purple yam added to the ground rice.

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Sinapot (battered fried bananas) – Bicolanos favorite snacks, a nice crisp ripe peeled- cutted saba banana dipped into the batter (rice flour, water and pinch of salt and sugar ) deep fry and placed on top of cacao leaf.

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Balisungsong & Suman – a native delicacy or kakanin- steamed rice in banana leaves, this is always on the table for special occasions like fiesta, birthday, or anniversaries. It is made of sticky or glutinous rice, coconut milk and sugar, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed or boiled. There are varieties of suman prepared in the Philippines, different regions has its own version of cooking.

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Thanks for reading… please share 🙂

Cebu- Bohol Travel Guide

Travel Contents:

  1. How to get to Bohol from Cebu
  2. Cebu-Bohol transfer
  3. Things to do in Bohol
  4. Where to stay in Bohol

Nothing can be better than having your travel getaway right? It says, better spend the money on the experiences rather than material things. Travel as much as you can, as long as you can. Nobody can steal your experiences and memories – these are the treasures forever that brings you happiness.

Are you planning soon for your next  holiday? Wanna visit one of these natural riches of the Philippines? Thinking to visit Bohol? Don’t forget to include this on your bucket list. Curious of the Chocolate Hills or this small primates in the country?

I hope this guide will help you a little or give some ideas to prepare for your next vacation.

Bohol is located in Central Visayas, region of the Philippines. The province is a popular tourist destinations for its white-sand beaches and resorts. These numerous mounds of brown coloured limestone formations are the prominent attraction – the Chocolate Hills. Bohol is the tenth largest island of the Philippines, and Tagbilaran is the capital city. The main island is surrounded by 70 smaller islands.

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HOW TO GET TO BOHOL

There are ways to get to Bohol either by a plane or ferry.

MANILA – TAGBILARAN 

There are airlines that fly directly from Manila to Tagbilaran (Bohol) – Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific or Air Asia. Book your ticket in advance or wait for a seat sale. This way can save you some peso. Trip takes about  one in a half hours.

CEBU – TAGBILARAN

The most convenient way to get to Bohol from the neighboring islands is by fast ferry. If you are coming from Cebu-Mactan International Airport take a taxi (be sure that the driver uses his taxi meter) it cost 250 pesos going to Pier 1 approx 20 minutes, and depends on the traffic.

There are 5 ports in Cebu, don’t get confuse. Head to Pier 1 for Ocean Jet or Supercat fast ferry. Expect for a long line when buying your ticket specially when its high season.

We booked a ticket from Oceanjet which cost  450 pesos per person for an open air. It was not a comfortable seat as its too narrow room for the legs. Business class is a little higher cost 1000 pesos perhaps spending a little extra money for a comfortable seat might be wise.

Once you have your ferry ticket you can proceed for check in and pay 25 pesos terminal fee. The departing schedule can be seen on tv monitor.

Travel time is about 2 hours. 

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Finally, we have reached Tagbilaran City Port. What to do next? If you are planning directly  to Alona Beach, from there you can choose what kind of transportation you want. If you take a tricycle it would cost 400 pesos and Van is 500 pesos. Going to this pristine beach takes around 30 to 45 minutes.

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THINGS TO DO IN BOHOL

  1. Land Tour

There are ways to explore this alluring  island of Bohol either by hiring a motorbike or book a tour package in travel agencies or hotels.

If you are looking for a real adventure renting your own motorbike to explore the island is a better idea. Don’t be afraid to get lost. All you need is your google map and pay your own petrol for your motorbike and don’t forget to wear your helmet. Daily rental rates starts at 350 pesos a day, sometimes you can negotiate to the owner and get a little discounts also it depends how many days you want to use the motorbike.

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Booking a tour package is more convenient specially if you are travelling with your kids or elderly family member. We booked a Land tour on our first day cost 450 pesos per person. These includes in our itinerary Blood compact Shrine, Baclayon Church, Tarsier Research Center, Sevilla Hanging  Bridge, Loboc River Cruise, Man-made forest, and Chocolate Hills. It was whole day tour. Starts at 9am and back to hotel around 7pm. 

  1. Island Tour

On our second day we booked an island hopping tour for Dolphin watching, Balicasag Island snorkeling, and Virgin Island, and cost us 850 per person. We woke up early for the exciting island hopping tour, we headed to the beach around 6am. But of course do not expect that it would leave the boat on the exact time because it was a join group tour. First stop was the Dolphin watching. Even though it was my second time  taking the tour, still I was like over the moon seeing this extremely intelligent playful mammal. It was not that easy to spot the animals as there were many boats around. But after a few minutes of waiting, u could just hear the people in a high spirits sounds means finally  they show up. It was an amazing day tour,  Balicasag Island is also famous for diving and snorkeling. Enjoy swimming and watching huge sea turtles and other incredible  marine life. 

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The Chocolate Hills  considered as one of Philippine’s natural wonders in Bohol – often referred to as the Jewel of the Philippines. There are about 1,776 hills spread over an area of more than 50 sq km. They are covered in green grass that turns brown like chocolate during the dry season. These unique mound-shaped hills are scattered by the hundreds throughout the towns of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan in Bohol.

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The Sagbayan Peak is a mountain resort and recreation center, offering a completely another view of these cone-shaped hills aside from the Chocolate Hills Complex in Carmen. This gives an alternative for tourists to see Chocolate Hills in another perspective.

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Tarsier Research Center – the Philippine tarsier known locally as  mawmag (Visayan/Cebuano) mamag (Luzon). Tarsiers are small animals with enormous eyes. It measures only about 85 to 160 mm in height, making it one of the smallest primates. The small size makes it difficult to spot.

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Hinagdanan Cave. This is the most popular and easy to reach among the caves of Bohol province. Classified as a karst cave, it is located in the town of Dauis in Panglao Island. The cave boasts of a large number of stalactites and stalagmites and leads to an underground spring pool where visitors can take a dip. Water is icy cold where the spring gushes forth yet a bit warm at the outlet where it meets the sea.

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Mag Aso Falls this fascinating Mag Aso falls one of Bohol’s natural treasures. This twin falls is absorbing against a backdrop of tall trees, wild plants, and deep ravines. From the distance you can hear the sounds of the stream cascading the rocky outcrops. As you get closer increasing the deafening sounds of water gives you more excitement to see this marvelous beauty of nature.

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Loboc River Cruise one of the major tourists destinations for locals and foreigners. Located in Municipality of Loboc. Experience this one of a kind floating restaurant that provides great dining experience while cruising the unpolluted river of Loboc. Enjoying the vista of lush tropical vegetation such as nipa palms, coconut trees, banana groves, and bushes. Plus seeing the children climbing up the tree and then plunging towards the deep turquoise green water. These  floating vessels are made up of a covered platform on top of two large outrigger boats which are joined together. The boats can accommodate up to 50 people.

During our land tour, this was included in our itinerary but we paid additional 550 pesos per person for the lunch buffet. You would never be disappointed for this marvelous experience. The wonderful service, good local music and the delectable foods combined to make your first visits unforgettable.  

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Xzootic Animal Park and Butterfly Garden this is located in Agape, Loay, Bohol this was also part of our itinerary land tour, good for a quick stop not much animals to see. Visiting your sisters and brothers in the cage (monkeys) lol… Pythons, some birds, crocodile, iguana, and sorts of butterflies.

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Blood compact shrine  (Spanish: Pacto de sangre, Filipino: Sanduguan) was an ancient ritual in the Philippines intended to seal a friendship or treaty, or to validate an agreement. The contracting parties would cut their wrists and pour their blood into a cup filled with liquid, such as wine, and drink the mixture.

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Bohol Souvenirs – don’t forget the pasalubong….. hehe! there are plenty of souvenir shops around Bohol, you can see few vendors alongside of Blood compact Monument. Cheaper price for these cute keychains purses and other souvenir items. If you go Hinagdanan Cave there are also many shops nearby especially for good quality shirts. You can find at the malls as well.

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Baclayon Church is a Roman Catholic Church in the municipality of Baclayon. This was founded by the Jesuit priest Juan de Torres and Gabriel Sanchez in 1596, and became the oldest Christian settlement in Bohol. When magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Bohol and other parts of Central Visayas in 2013, the church building sustained major damage. Reconstruction by the National Museum of the Philippines started in 2013, and was completed in 2017.

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Sevilla Twin Hanging Bridge – crossing the Sipatan river this bridge is made of bamboo and rope, and supported cable made of steel. Give this a try if you are scared of heights for you to overcome your fear. Afterall it was enjoyable. When I visited in 2015 it was only one, now it has two. Movement of the bridge make you feel a lil dizzy as it was swaying. But I was so happy that I could manage crossing the two bridges. yay! A nerve-racking experienced hehehe!

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Bilar Man-made Forest a mahogany forest stretching in a 2km densely planted trees located in the border of Loboc and Bilar towns. Once you enter the forest you definitely feel the hasty changes of temperature. It is cooler and gives you a refreshing feeling.

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Beaches Bohol has numerous white-sand beaches. Momo beach, Bikini beach, Dumaluan beach, and Alona beach. Alona is the most famous in Panglao island. Plenty of hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops. You can also do some water sports activities like kayaking, snorkeling, jet skiing, or kitesurfing etc. Or be amaze of fire dancing performers at night.

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WHERE TO STAY IN BOHOL

Plenty of accommodations to choose from in Panglao Island.  From backpacker hostels to luxurious hotels. I booked our hotel thru online booking site. On our first night we stayed in Innbox Bed and Bath, for less than one thousand pesos you can sleep in a comfortable air-conditioned room. Only few steps to Alona beach. Another hotel we stayed  was  in Panglao Regents Park Resort, room rate starts from one thousands five hundred pesos and above. Relax and enjoy the nice and clean room and wifi available. It has nice swimming pool as well. The resort is less than 10 minutes walk to Alona beach. We also stayed in Paragayo Resort located at the intersection of the main road and the beach access road. Just less than 5 minutes walk to the beach area. This property is very convenient and reasonable price. Wifi available only outside but you can sit and relax at the cottage in front of the room.

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Panglao Regents Park Resort
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Paragayo Resort

 

Thanks for reading…. Godbless 🙂

Malapascua Travel Guide

Malapascua Travel Guide

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • 1. How to Get to Malapascua
  • 2. Malapascua Island Activities
    • Diving
    • Island Tour
    • Beach Bumming
  • 3. Where to Stay in Malapascua
  • 4. Where to Eat or Chill1528560571261

When you hear about Cebu the first thing that comes to your mind are the nice beaches. Apart from that, when you head to the northern tip of Cebu there you gonna find this small island of Malapascua, administratively part of the peninsular barangay Logon, Daanbantayan, Cebu, Philippines. This island is well known for wide white sand Bounty beach and as well as for its beautiful coral gardens, coral walls and excellent local dive spots where thresher shark can be sighted.

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Maya Port

HOW TO GET TO MALAPASCUA

The easiest way to get to Malapascua Island is book a flight to Cebu. There are cheap flights you can get if you book earlier.

Once you are in any part of Cebu take a taxi or Grab going to Cebu North bus Terminal, from where you can either take a van or bus. I decided to take CERES LINER bus going to Daanbantayan (Maya Port), which cost me P220.00 for air -conditioned (May 2018). You don’t need to worry if you are travelling for the first time – it is the last drop off to Maya Port. The trip takes roughly 4 to 5 hours. The bus stops after two hours of driving for a 15 minutes snack-buying or toilet break. Leaving in the morning would be a better idea so you can get to maya port before the last trip.

Once you have reached Maya port all you need to do is register your name, and pay  P100 for the boat ticket. Trip takes only 30 minutes. Boats usually depart every 30 minutes.

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Cebu North Bus Terminal

MALAPASCUA ISLAND ACTIVITIES

Malapascua has many things to offer, not only for diving, but also for exploring or looking for an adventure on this small pristine island. Another good reason to visit Malapascua, not only as a great place to relax, but because people here are friendly and hospitable. You will definitely keep coming back to this paradise.

Diving Spots

This island is known all around the world as a sighting spot for Thresher Sharks. The famous dive sites are Gato Island, Monad Shoal and Kemod Shoal.

Gato island or locally known as Isla de Gato is a Spanish word for Cat Island. It was so-named,  when looking from the mainland of Cebu, like a curled sleeping cat. Monad shoal is an underwater plateau where the thresher shark and manta rays can regularly be spotted. Kemod shoal is very similar to its much more famous bigger brother monad shoal. It has more in a way of coral growth and small fish life than Monad, with anemones and clownfish as well as some good hard coral growth.

Island tour (Kalanggaman Island)

Kalanggaman one of the Philippines “natural riches”- an island located in municipality of Palompon, Leyte. Although geologically positioned in Leyte,  this island is just 2 hours boat ride from Malapascua. This pristine dream beach destination famous for its long white powdery sandbar and crystal clear blue waters. For me this is the best beach I have ever seen. The island has a length of 753m and is still uninhabited. On Malapascua there are few guys that arrange tours to Kalanggaman, costing 800 pesos. Buffet lunch included! You can also rent snorkeling gear for 150 pesos. And an additional 150 pesos for the island entrance fee. You can also book this tour at some hotels on Malapascua for the same price. Island tour starts around 9 am,  then left the kalanggaman island around 2.30 pm and arriving back on Malapascua just after 4 pm. Be sure to bring your camera with u so you won’t miss this kind of experience in your life. They also offer overnight stay on the island.

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Touring around Malapascua Island

It was my last day in Malapascua so I didn’t waste the 3 hours left I had to see and explore the island. I talked to kuya Ian (09057710340) who arranged the tour for me. I was the only guest for that day tour, I paid P1000 including snorkeling gear. Normally its cheaper if you join a group, but in my case as a solo traveler I paid the whole boat quite pricey, but hey! I was there already, so why not give it a try…. and it happens only once in a lifetime… right? So I woke up early packed my things then go….. Two Kuya’s were waiting there for me at the beach for a 6:00 am start. First stop was the Dakit Dakit islet – not so amazing, just few birds around the cliff and few minutes snorkeling. But still it’s a good experience. The next was the coral garden and the Japanese shipwreck. When you think of the history yes it’s interesting, but kind of creepy for me as well, being my first time. Seeing it with your own eyes is a great and unforgettable experience! Kuya was helpful and he guided me to see the whole wreck. After the snorkeling we headed around Lapus cliff,  then went further to the other side of the island. Still so amazing… and quiet,with only few people, with kids playing and laughing in the water. The sort of place you really dream to live in to get away from the noise of the city.

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Beach Bumming

Sitting on the shore watching the waves and feel the breeze on your skin – a perfect place to relax,  and it’s for free!

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WHERE TO STAY IN MALAPASCUA

There are plenty of accommodation on the island, depending on your budget. From a single fan room to an air conditioned room.

During my visit I booked my hotel room via agoda.com at Blue Corals beach resort. For as low as P1500 you can sleep in a fan room that has a queen size comfortable bed with breakfast included. You can still use the aircon in the room but that’s an additional P500 a night. Wifi only available at the restaurant and lobby. The good thing about this resort is it’s easy to find, and only few steps to the beautiful white sand beach. It has a nice garden and perfect view for sunrise. You can also sit and relax in their hammock in front of the hotel.

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Blue Corals Beach Resort

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WHERE TO EAT OR CHILL

There are few restaurants in the island that suit to your budget. Just few steps from the hotel where I stayed there is the Mabuhay Restaurants, and walk further you can see Ging-Ging’s Restaurant. You can also try La Isla Bonita, or Ocean Vida and more…

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Ocean Vida

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