It’s no secret that the Philippines has many incredible sights to offer. From beaches, to mountains, to underground caves, we definitely have no shortage of natural beauty. But sometimes, we want more—something different from the tried-and-tested Boracay, Coron, or Sagada. Can our already awesome country offer even more? Yes, it can. Here are eight local destinations that will make you feel like you’ve traveled the world without even leaving the country.
1. If you like African safaris, visit Calauit Safari Park.
If a safari is something you’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t afford, look no further! Found on 3,700 hectares of land in Calauit Island in Palawan, the park is home to over 1,000 animals, including around six African species, like giraffes, zebras, and waterbucks, as well as a great number of local endangered species, like mousedeer and Palawan bearcats.
2. Head to Batanes and feel like you’re in New Zealand.
Ever since The Lord of the Rings movies came out, the sprawling landscapes of New Zealand have been a top destination. But in the northern-most part of the Philippines, we have our own little island reminiscent of The Shire. Nearly half of Batanes are green mountains and hills, with livestock grazing freely everywhere. It’s also home to Valugan Boulder Beach, and a number of historical structures, like the San Jose Church and the Basco lighthouse.
3. Cebu’s Sirao Flower Farm is just like the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands.
I bet you didn’t realize that right in Cebu City, you can find a flower farm reminiscent of those found in The Netherlands. Instead of tulips, you’ll find beautiful celosias of different colors.
4. If you like the Sagano Bamboo Forest in Japan, then add Bohol’s Bilar Man-Made Forest to your list.
The Bilar Man-Made Forest are rows upon rows of mahogany trees, closely planted along a road in Bohol. If you love taking pictures with the bamboos in Kyoto, you’re definitely going to love doing the same right here.
5. If you’ve always wanted to see Greek ruins, you need to see Fortune Island.
Pictures of Fortune Island will always make you do a double take. Surprisingly located in Batangas, it was previously a private island before it was turned over to the Batangas government. It has since been converted into a resort, with the main attractions being the Grecian ruins situated on a cliff, overlooking the clear water. Fortune Island is also within the vicinity of the sunken wreck of the galleon San Diego.
6. If you’re mesmerized by Dubai, then you need to visit Paoay.
The sandy deserts of Dubai make for a lot of fun. But the sand dunes in Paoay, Ilocos Norte can offer you the same things. You can sand surf, and ride 4x4s, without breaking the bank!
7. If you enjoy Boracay, then spend some time in Calaguas.
Boracay is a classic. But if you want a less crowded option, Calaguas in Camarines Norte is a must-visit. Mahabang Buhangin is the stretch of beautiful powdery white sand right beside gorgeous clear waters. Best of all, there are local government and community efforts to make sure the beauty of the area is preserved and untouched by any man-made damages.
8. If you’ve always wanted to go to Neptune Memorial Reef, don’t miss out on the Sunken Cemetery in Camiguin.
If you’re an avid diver, you know that the Neptune Memorial Reef in Miami, Florida, is one of the best places to go for a creepy dive. But right in our very own Camiguin, we have the Sunken Cemetery. Unlike Neptune, which is a sort of underwater columbarium, where you can choose to be buried when you pass, the Sunken Cemetery is an actual existing cemetery from the island that was submerged in the 1870s when Mt. Vulcan Daan erupted.