By Claire Marie Algarme
These tiny islands in the Philippines abound with various tourist attractions. Not only they have breathtaking beaches, but they also have other natural and historical spots that travelers will find interesting. These Philippine islands are so small (ranging from 9 to about 605 sq km) that you can circumnavigate them in just a day while stopping to visit some the attractions they offer to travelers.
But to travel to these islands in one day, you must start early, to make the most of your experience. Or, explore these Philippine Islands the day or night before to make the most of your exploits from sunrise to sunset.
Corregidor Island: A World War II Stronghold
Only about an hour or less away from Manila, Corregidor is the nearest where one can easily venture, and it is so small, this island can be toured in one day. The easiest way is to take the tour package via the Sun Cruises, where you are ferried to and from the island, take you to the various sights around Corregidor on a tram, have a sumptuous lunch at the Corregidor Inn, and enter the Malinta Tunnel. But who says you can’t explore other parts of this World War II citadel in a different manner?
You can hike through the jungle, or you can bike or drive an ATV around the tadpole-shaped island, from its head to its tail. Zip away from the Inn to the South Beach, where you can also kayak once you get there. Best of all, go around the island aboard one of the outrigger boats and see nearby islands, then cap it with some sport fishing before you head back to Manila.
How to get there:
Take the Sun Cruises ferry from the Esplanade Seaside Terminal. Ferry fare is part of the package.
Address: Esplanade Seaside Terminal, Esplanade Seaside Park (Seaside Blvd., MOA Complex), Pasay City
Contact information: +63 2 834 6857 to 58 | +63 917 513 2625
Cost: Starts at Php 1,800.00 per person depending on package
Camiguin Island: An Island With Many Volcanoes
Another island that you can explore in a day is Camiguin. Start your whole day quest of experiencing what Camiguin has to offer from Barangay Mahinog, the western part of the island, where Benoni Port is located. Better to hire a multi-cab, which are usually parked at the port and can take you to the attractions you want to visit and enjoy. Take a dip at the Katibawasan Falls then proceed down south to the Kibila Beach and Giant Clam Sanctuary. Take the circumferential road as you go clockwise towards the Sto. Niño Cold Spring and Tuasan Falls before visiting the ruins of the Old Gui-ob Church and cross the sea to the Sunken Cemetery.
If you have more time, sunbathe at the sand bar called The White Island or end your adventure at the Ardent Hot Spring. Don’t forget to buy some pastel as a souvenir on the way back to your starting point.
How to get there:
From Cagayan de Oro, take a bus to Balingoan port, which is about 2 hours away, where ferries going to Camiguin leave every hour. The ferry takes an hour long, and fare starts at Php 100 as it varies from one ferry line to another.
Camiguin Tourism Office
Address: Mambajao, Camiguin
Contact information: +63 88 387 1097
Website: http://www.camiguin.gov.ph/ | http://www.visitcamiguin.org/
Cost: Multicab is Php 1,700 per day good for 8 persons
Siquijor Island: Veiled in Mystery
Known to be a mystique island because of the many healers that dwell here, Siquijor is often skipped by travelers, not knowing the many natural and historical gems this place holds. You can visit the various attractions of the island in just a day. As you arrive at Siquijor Port, you are instantly greeted by the breathtaking view of the clear water, white sand, and the green mountains. At the port, tricycles offer travelers a tour of the island. Better yet, rent a motorbike that you can ride as you circumnavigate the island.
But first, drop by at the St. Francis of Assisi Church, which is just outside the port. Ride to the town of San Juan, which is lined by beach resorts. Stop by the Century Old Balete Tree as you enter the town of Lazi and get some ticklish foot spa from the fishes. Visit the San Isidro Labrador Church and Convent at the town proper, then have a thrilling swim at Cambugahay Falls where you can swing by the tree and dive to its waters. From there, cliff dive at the Salagdoong Beach in Maria town. As you go counterclockwise circling the coastal areas, stop by some beach fronts or visit a healer for some relaxing experience. After that, continue and before you know it, you are back at the Siquijor Port.
How to get there:
From Dumaguete or Cebu or Tagbilaran, take a ferry that plies the Siquijor destination. There are several ferry lines and schedules each day that you can choose from. The shortest route is from Dumaguete, which takes an hour long and fare starts at Php 160 as it varies from one ferry line to another.
Siquijor Tourism Office
Address: Provincial Capitol, Siquijor, Siquijor
Contact information: +63 32 344 2088 | +63 32 480 9173
Cost: Tricycle starts at Php 800 per day
Guimaras Island: The Land of Sweet Mangoes
Guimaras Island is another destination that you can tour within a day. Arriving at the Jordan port, you will find the Tourism Assistance Desk that can provide you with information on how you can tour the island, along with tricycles that you can hire as you go around Guimaras. In Jordan, you can see several attractions, such as the Smallest Plaza, Museo de Guimaras, Balaan Bukid Shrine and the Trappist Monastery.
Know more about the sweet mangoes of Guimaras at the Mango Research Center. Turn south to Nueva Valencia town, where the Guisi Lighthouse and Beach, Villa Igang Mangrove Trails, and Alubihod Beach are found. Go counterclockwise as you go to the western part of the island up to its northern tip. Visit mango plantations along the way, have fun at the Camp Alfredo Adventure Resort in Sibunag, view the Guimaras Windmills in San Lorenzo, go to the Roca Encantada and Navalas Church in Buenavista, then return to Jordan. If you are staying for the night, devote the next day for an island hopping tour to the smaller islands nearby.
How to get there:
From Iloilo’s Parola or Ortiz Wharf or Pulupandan, Negros Occidental, there are ferries that travel to Guimaras on a daily basis. Fare from Iloilo is about PhP 14 and it takes 15 minutes while the one in Pulupandan takes 45 minutes at Php 75 per person.
Guimaras Tourism Office
Address: Capitol Compound, San Miguel, Jordan, Guimaras
Contact information: +63 33 581 2114
Cost: Tricycle starts at Php 1,200 per day
Guimaras Land Tour
Contact information: (Cherald Padojenog) +63 908 474 8122
Cost: Starts at Php 1,200 per day depending on the deal you strike
Samal Island: The Island Garden City
The Pearl Farm may be the main attraction that instantly comes to mind when one mentions Samal Island. But there’s more to this place than this beautiful resort. What’s the best way to explore this island? Start from the Babak District on the north, down to Samal District in the middle and to Kaputian District at the south. Why not try cycling through some parts along the way? You will find in Babak the Mamacao Spring, the Mangrovetum, and Monfort Bats Conservation Park, where about two million bats reside and found its way in the Guinness Book of World Records. It is in Samal District where you will enjoy Hagimit Falls, Putting Bato, and Balete Caves.
Kaputian also boasts of several other caves like Mangongawong, Kiniko, and Simbahan Dako. Tagbaobo Falls, Samal Mariculture Park, Bandera Nature’s Park and Botanical Garden, and the rice granary in Barangay Aumbay are also found in this district. To see the whole island from another perspective, cruise around it to view the beautiful resorts dotting its coastline.
How to get there:
Ferries ply to Samal from Davao City’s Sta. Ana or Km. 11 wharfs on a daily basis. Fare is about PhP 50, and it takes 45 minutes.
Samal City Tourism Office
Address: Samal City Hall, Babak-Samal-Kaputian Road, 8119, Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte
Contact information: +63 84 275 8362