Marinduque

Marinduque, is an island located between Tayabas Bay and Sibuyan Sea.  It is part of the Mimaropa Region, (aka Suthwestern Tagalog Region and previously designated as Region IV-B) and is also part of the Luzon island group.  If there is anything that makes Mimaropa known, that would be that it is the home of the Moriones Festival, which takes place every Holy Week, and that together with Batanes, it has the lowest crime in the country.

If you are looking for a quick, long-weekend-getaway from Manila, this may very well be one great option.

What to do in Marinduque?

Marinduque is a fun island to ride around.  It is big enough for you to enjoy a full day of riding and small enough for you to circle it in one day and stop and see some of the sights it has to offer.

If you decide to ride around the island, non-stop, this may take you anywhere between 2 to 3.5 hours.  However, do make time to stop along the way as there are places worth visiting.

  • Beaches and Island hopping – If you are looking to get a tan or chill on the fine sand, head over to the port in Buyabod, park your bike and get on a bangka.  Tell the basngkero (boatman) to take you to Maniuaya Island, Palad Sandbar and/or Mompong Island, where you can jump off the Ungab Rock Formation.  This could all be done in a day, if you start really early, or you could find one that you like and stay a little longer.  Just remember that Palad Sandbar is only accessible during low tide, so plan your visit well if you want to instagram here.
    Alternatively, you can head over to Gasan and visit Tres Reyes Islands, named after the 3 kings that according to the bible, brought gold incense and myrrh to baby Jesus.
    You have a number of very nice beaches around the island, and it is not hard to sdtay away from the crowds, which makes the beach extra special.
  • Boac Cathedral – The pride and joy of the locals.  It is the oldest building in Marinduque and a must if you have any interest in the history of the island and the Spanish influence in the Philippines.
  • If you like nature and the outdoors, you have plenty of options.  You can hike up Mount Malindi and Tarug Peak or you can visit some of the caves the island has to offer, such as, Bathala Caves, Bagumbongan cave or Tarug Cave.  If you want to take a dip in  fresh water, head over to Kawa-Kawa falls, Paadjao falls in Mogpog or Duyay falls.

Where to stay in Marinduque

Marinduque is kind of an off-the-beaten-path destination in the Philippines, and as such, hospitality business options are limited.

If you are on the west coast of the island, near Boac, you may want to check out Eastpoint Hotel.  Nothing fancy, but it is clean, and it serves as a perfect base from which one can explore the island and (very important) have a relatively late dinner within a short walk from the hotel (this hotel only offers some instant coffee for breakfast, but no lunch or dinner).

If you are on the east coast of the island, you may want to head over to Beach Club Cagpo.  Quiet, by a beautiful beach, and has a nice enough restaurant, in case you just want to chill and not go anywhere.

This is also a good base from which you can explore some of the island’s sights.

Where to eat in Marinduque

Marinduque is nothing like most major tourist destinations in the Philippines, and while it is absolutely stunning and it hosts one of the most peculiar festivals, it may not have as many food options other than your regular carinderias (which are always worth a try).

If you are craving for something different (in Marinduque’s context) and want to stray away from adobo and sinigang), 10 y.o. Cafe, offers a very nice menu and atmosphere.  It is the closest you will find (or at least what we found) to your typical hipster cafe you could find in any other big city.  Staff is friendly and they open till late compared to other establishments in the island.

On the other side of the island, tucked away by the beach, you have Beach Club Cagpo, which also has some nice non local food items in a great beach-side setting.

If you are craving for some of the local flavours, you have Kusina sa Plaza, near the Boac Cathedral, but you maight aswell venture into any of the local carinderias you can find along the road and in the different towns around the island.

Geting to and from Marinduque

If you are planning to ride your motorcycle to Marinduque, you have a number of options.  You can get to Marinduque from the port of Lucena, in the Quezon Province, in the island of Luzon, or, you can get to Marinduque from Romblon.

There are 2 ports with a roro service in Marinduque: Port of Balanacan, in Mogpog and the Port of Cawit in Boac.  Find more info on the roro services here.

Check out our map of the different roro ports in the Philippines.

Bohol

Bohol is the 10th largest island of the Philippines. It has become extremely popular among local and foreign tourists for its Chocolate Hills, the tiny Tarsier monkeys (smallest apes in the world) and the infamous Alona Beach in Panglao Island.  However, Bohol is big enough to keep you busy for weeks, and if you venture a little, you will discover plenty to do away from the masses while enjoying its beautiful nature.

Scuba diving and snorkelling in Bohol

If you are looking for an off the beaten path experience, you should stay as far away from Panglao Island, and especially Alona Beach, as possible.  There is one reason, however, for which this should be a place to include in your itinerary.  Balicasag Island is perhaps one of the best places to dive or snorkel with turtles in the Philippines.  Some say it is like Apo Island (off the coast of Dumaguete) on steroids.  Only 150 divers are allowed to dive in Balicasag every day, and it does fill up, so do plan and book in advance.  If you don’t get a spot to dive Balicasag, you can find a number of great dive sites around Cabilao Island, Anda and of course Panglao Island.  Pata Negra Divers could be one of the best dive centres in the area.  Tucked away in a back street close enough to Alona Beach and far enough to keep it out of the hustle and bustle.  The staff is very professional, friendly and they go the extra mile to ensure your experience is one you won’t forget.

Nature in Bohol

Bohol is majorly known for the Tarsiers and the Chocolate hills which can be seen in a day trip during which one can also see the man made forrest.  But Bohol has much more to offer.  White sand beaches, cave pools and waterfalls are some of the many sights one can see in this gorgeous island.  Anda is slowly becoming more and more popular, but it is safe to say it is still a place to get away from the crowds and enjoy its beautiful beaches, cave pools and diving. Another popular tourist destination to enjoy nature is the town of Loboc.  Here, one can go on a river cruise or visit Loboc Church which was badly damaged, along with Baclayon Church, by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013. However, if you are looking for a different and interesting way to see Loboc River and get a bit of exercise too, try your hand at Stand-Up Paddle.

Where to stay in Bohol

Depending on your budget, there many lodging options to choose from. Best value for money would probably be Bohol Sea Resort which is beachfront and offers decent sized air conditioned and / or fan cooled room with cable TV, Internet, hot & cold shower, and a really comfortable bed. The resort is located 15 minutes’ walk from Alona Beach where all the bars and restaurants are.

Where to eat in Bohol

There are a few go to places in Panglao for good food. Enjoy the vegetarian dishes offered at Bohol Bee Farm and to round off your visit, book a massage with them with views of the sea. Shaka Bohol offers breakfast bowls and shakes and this branch in particular also offers heftier meals if you are really hungry. There is a “carinderia” that serves well-priced and tasty Filipino food and it can be found along the road that leads to Pata Negra Dive Center and Eco Hotels.If you are craving Italian pasta dishes and / or pizza then head to Oca Golosa.

A plus for motorbike riders is the fact that most roads are well paved and going around Bohol is eaiser on two wheels when it gets congested. Not only that, you get to explore places on the island that not a lot of visitors get to see and since it’s a rather large island, there is enough road to travel. One road worth the mention are the twisties through the man-made forest that takes you to both the Tarsier Sanctuary as well as Chocolate Hills in about an hour and a half or the beautiful coastal road from Panglao or Tagbilaran (2-3 hours). they are not only picture perfect spots but very enjoyable rides as well.

Geting to and from Bohol

If you are not flying and are travelling by road, Bohol is well connected to its neighbouring islands.  From the port of Tagbilaran, you can get to Siquijor, Cebu and Dumaguete.  Fastcat operates the Cebu – Tubigon line and you can also go to Camiguin from the port of Jagna or Bato, in Southern Leyte from the port of Ubay.

Check out our map of the different roro ports in the Philippines.

Baler

Baler is the capital of the province of Aurora, in the Central Luzon region of the Philippines.  It is mostly known for being the shooting location of the famous surfing scene in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” and “Charlie don’t surf!” are 2 lines that may sound familiar, especially if you are a film buff.  Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore played by Robert Duval said these lines at Charlie’s Point, now one of the most accessible and popular surf spots in the area.  But if you are an avid surfer, or just want to give it a try, know that this is only the beginning of what Baler has to offer.

Located a, roughly, 7 hour ride from Manila (it took us 12 hours from Santa Ana, Cagayan), Baler is not only ther birthplace of the Philippines Surf scene, but also home to some beautiful white sand beaches and waterfalls.

Digisit, Ditumabo, Cunayan and Paltic falls are all within a reasonable distance and are a must if you wish to combine a little hiking with a little dip in fresh water.

Head over to Dinadiawan or down to Dicasalarin Cove if you want to avoid the crowds and relax on a white sand beach sorounded by beautiful coconut trees.

Baler is also motorcycling paradise.  Its twisting roads are fairly quiet and there isn’t much traffic outside the town propper.  The ride will reward you with great sea views and coconut trees, beautiful muntains and rivers.  Road conditions are good, but watch out for certain sections where the pavement disappears and the roasd becomes a dirt track.

If you are looking for a place to stay, we really like Kahanamoku Bed & Breakfast, which is super clean, well decorated and has very tasty and healthy breakfast options which you need to order before 5pm the previous day.  Even though this place does not have T.V. or wifi, it is one of our favourite lodging options in the Philippines.  It is also the home of Salty Dog Customs and also offer yoga classes and retreats.  If you are in Baler for surfing, Cemento beach and Cobra Reef are literally across the road.

While some claim to be able to surf all year round, surf season in Baler runs from September to March, having best waves from December to February.  Do check out Sabang Beach, Charlie’s Point, Lindy’s Point and Cobra Reef in Cemento Beach if you want to catch some waves.  Charlie Does is the perfect all in one stop iuf you are hungry, need a board and even if you need some lessons before jumping in the water.

Pagudpud

Pagudpud lies in the Ilocos Norte province in the northern-most point of the island of Luzon (Philippines).  It Is a popular destination among local tourists and kite surfing enthusiasts.  Its location and generally windy conditions make Pagudpud the ideal place for wind surf and kite surf, having a long season that goes from October to May.  This 4th class municipality of the Ilocos region, also offers some great surfing opportunities and as opposed to most other surfing destinations with seasons defined by the Amihan (neortheast winds) or the Habagat (southwest monsoon), due to the different orientation of its various breaks, it is not strange to encounter a good swell, almost any time of the year.

Pagudpud is, however, not only a haven for water sports lovers.  Just 2 hours to the south (and about an hour and a half north of Vigan), one can find the Paoay sand dunes and Suba beach.  Here, one can ride a 4x4 through the dunes and also have a go at sandboarding for around php2500/hour.

Also in the vicinity of Laoag, the St. Augustine church is a must if you are looking to learn something about the history of the Spanish colonial era.  Built in the early 1700’s, St Augustine church stands as one of the few remaining Baroque structures in the Philippines.

If you are looking to lose yourself hiking and admiring the breathtaking natural sights, Pagudpud counts with a great number of amazing waterfalls (around 18 in Adams alone) and some unforgettable sunsets.

Where to eat in Pagudpud?

Kingfisher is tucked away along the coast in between Saud beach and the Blue Lagoon and not only is an amazing place to stay, but also a great place totaste some of the local delicacies.  Staff is friendly and the place is just gorgeous.  Not to mention it is THE PLACE if you want to throw a kite in the air and be literally blown away by the experience.

The Blue Lagoon is somewhat a little bit of a cocktail of feelings.  The horrible eye sore that is called Hannah’s Beach resort, makes you want to turn around and ride away as fast as one can go.  However, once one turns to the sea and avoids the ridiculous statues of superheroes and Egyptian pharaohs, it is possible to enjoy the beautiful colours of the bay.  Ride up north past Hannah’s and get to Casa Consuelo, where you will be able to enjoy a great, fresh, local meal with very nice views of the sea (and an amazing wifi connection).

For a healthy option, head to Adams for a dining experience around sustainable farming and eco friendly farms.

Pagudpud is the perfect place for those looking for something a little less travelled than your usual destinations in the Philippines, and in addition too the countless activities available in the area, to ride through the famous Patapat viaduct and the grand wind farms in the area, will make your ride, a difficult one to forget.

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