There are 25 tourist destinations have been shortlisted as emerging tourism magnets. The “Philippine Gems” project, which is part of consultancy firm Isla Lipana & Co.’s corporate social responsibility, identified locations off the beaten track that exhibit tourism potential. The firm aims to increase the awareness and appreciation for these sites both local and international interest and will eventually increase the country’s economic activity.
The top 25 tourist destinations are the following:
TUBBATAHA REEFS NATURAL PARK. The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its incredibly diverse marine species. It has huge coral atolls and crystal clear water, which makes it perfect for diving and live board diving excursions. Tourists can also visit the Ranger Station at reef’s sandbars. The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park has been ranked by CNN as the eighth out of the fifty best dive sites in the world.
APO ISLAND. Apo Island is a small, pristine island surrounded by calm and clear waters. It is perfect for underwater activities such as snorkeling and diving; it has even been rated as one of the best dive sites in the world. Here, divers can encounter an incredible variety of marine life: among the species which can be found near Apo Island are big-eyed jacks, hump-head wrasses, hammerheads, manta rays and even tuna. The island has immaculate white sand, and it is also littered with unique rock formations. Apo Island is located just a few kilometers off the coast of Negros.
APO REEF NATURAL PARK. Apo Reef is recognized as one of the largest coral reef systems in the world, second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The Apo Reef Natural Park consists of three islands, which are surrounded by lush mangrove forests. These serve as nurseries and spawning grounds for coastal and marine species, as well as a sanctuary for different avian species. It is a Mecca for both divers and environment enthusiasts.
BATANES. The Batanes group of islands is located at the northernmost tip of Philippine territory. It is known for its scenic waters and terrain and clean environment. Batanes is also recognized for the unique culture of the islands’ first settlers, the Ivatans. Batanes is open for swimming, snorkeling, diving, lighthouse visits, biking, and visits to century-old Ivatan houses.
BIRI ISLAND ROCK FORMATION. The Biri Island rock formation is composed of four small, rocky islands located in that perilous area where the San Bernardino Strait meets the Pacific Ocean. The incredible strength of these natural forces has caused the islands to take on distinct and interesting shapes. Geologists from the University of the Philippines state that the rocks date back from the Early Miocene Period, and their ages range from five to 23 million years old.
BUCAS GRANDE ISLAND. Surfing is not the only thing that Surigao has to offer. In the town of Socorro in Surigao del Norte lies the Bucas Grande Islands or the Sohoton Cove National Park. This island is packed with numerous caves and white sand beaches, waterfalls, mangroves, iron woods, inland lakes, fishing grounds, and corals. The famed Blue Lagoon which is a labyrinthine place made of limestone islets .On the other hand, the Tojoman or Jellyfish Lagoon is home to millions of no-sting and friendly jellyfish.
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY. Cagayan de Oro is famous not only for its white rapids but also for its people. Cagayan de Oro may very well be the happiest place in the country. The “City of Golden Friendship,” as it is sometimes called, is home to especially friendly and warm Filipinos. Their ready smiles are a fitting welcome, with Cagayan de Oro’s accessible location also making it the “Gateway to Northern Mindanao.”
CALAGUAS ISLAND. The Calaguas Islands are located in the Municipality of Vinzons, in the Province of Camarines Norte. It is known for its pristine beaches—the most popular among these is the Mahabang Buhangin beach, which is made up of a long stretch of powdery white sand.
BUSUANGA AND CORON. Both located in the municipality of Coron in Palawan, these destinations have been cited by the National Geographic Traveler Magazine as one of the Top 10 scuba sites in the world. These destinations are the most popular sites for wreck diving in the Philippines. Other activities which can be done here are swimming, hiking, diving, snorkeling, and trekking.
CAMIGUIN ISLAND. Camiguin is the country’s second-smallest province. In spite of this, the island packs quite a punch. It has three mountains, three hot springs, two waterfalls, and one active volcano. It even has an underwater cemetery, which has been featured in TV programs both here and abroad.
CAMOTES ISLAND. The Camotes Islands are located in the Camotes Sea, off the coast of the Province of Cebu. It is known for its crystal clear waters, extremely fine white sand, and the spectacular view of sunset that it offers. It even has a place in Philippine history– Antonio Pigafetta, one of survivors of the Battle of Mactan, stayed there for several days before going to Cebu.
CARAMOAN ISLANDS. The Caramoan islands stem from the rugged Caramoan Peninsula, which is located in the province of Camarines Sur. The islands, however, are isolated from the main province. This makes it perfect for island hopping, hiking, diving, and even spelunking. The unexploited and uninhabited islands of Caramoan have been featured in several franchises of the hit TV show Survivor.
DANJUGAN ISLANDS. Danjugan Island is a marine and wildlife reserve, located in Barangay Bulata, Cauayan, Negros Occidental. It is covered with a rainforest and has five lagoons, three of which are landlocked and two of which are flooded at high tide and colonized by coral and reef fish species. The island is fringed with beaches where turtles nest. It is also surrounded by diverse coral reefs.
DONSOL. Donsol is known primarily for whale watching. Here tourists can interact with whale sharks (butanding in local parlance) by snorkeling, diving, or by simply waiting for them in areas where they come right up to the surface. Donsol has been recognized as the “Whale Shark Capital of the World”. Whale sharks are best sighted from February to April.
KAPURPURAWAN ROCK FORMATION. The Kapurpurawan rock formation is located on the rocky coast of Burgos, Ilocos Norte. It is known for its creamy white and streamlined limestone formations, which have been sculpted by different oceanic and weather forces. Burgos is located on the northwestern tip of Ilocos Norte.
LAKE SEBU. Lake Sebu is one of the Philippines’ most important watersheds and a major provider of irrigation to the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato. It is located in the ancestral domain of the T’boli and Ubo tribes. The DOT has promoted the lake as one of the prime eco-tourism destinations in Mindanao.
MT. PINATUBO. Mt. Pinatubo is no longer the terror that it was more than two decades ago. It is now a prime tourist destination which offers various kinds of adventures for those gutsy enough to go through it. You could trek through Pinatubo’s Crow Valley Canyon, view its crater through a chartered light aircraft, visit the Tayawan Caldera, and even get a Pinatubo spa using lahar sediments left by the eruption.
MT. PULAG. Mount Pulag borders the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya. It is the Philippines’ third highest mountain and Luzon’s highest peak. The mountain hosts more than five hundred plant species. The dwarf bamboo, for instance, is endemic to the mountain. It also houses several endangered species of mammals. Mount Pulag is definitely a haven for nature lovers.
PAGUDPUD BEACH. Pagudpud is a coastal town located at the northernmost tip of Ilocos Norte. It is known as the “Boracay of the North”, but it has so much more to offer apart from its pristine coastline. Pagudpud’s Bangui Bay also features 20 wind turbines, which makes it Southeast Asia’s first windmill farm. Pagudpud is also a highly popular surfing site.
PANGLAO ISLAND. Panglao is found in the Municipalities of Dauis and Panglao, in the province of Bohol. It is known for its white sand beaches, several resorts, and over the years has emerged as one of the Philippines’ top beach destinations. It has been cited in CNN Travel as one of the Philippines’ best beaches and island destinations.; It is a pleasant alternative to the much more popular Boracay.
SAGADA. Sagada is already well-known for its rice terraces, but the Sumaguing Caves provide a different kind of adventure altogether. The Sumaguing Caves are the largest of Sagada’s many caverns, and it is a popular site for spelunking, trekking, and recreational cave exploration.
SIARGAO ISLAND. Siargao is an island of nine municipalities in the province of Surigao del Norte. Known as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines”, Siargao is mainly responsible for introducing surfing to the country. Apart from surfing, Siargao is also open to other activities such as cave explorations and rock climbing.
SIQUIJOR ISLAND. Siquijor is the third smallest province in the Philippines. It is recognized as a center of mystic power and a capital of mystic activities and black magic. Siquijor is known for the infamous agimat and gayuma. In spite of this, Siquijor offers incredible sites and sights and is rapidly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines.
TAYTAY. Taytay is a highly popular wreck diving site in the northern coast of Palawan. It is also a famous site for dolphin watching. Taytay also has several easily accessible historical landmarks. It was one of the 12 finalists in the 2013 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.
MT. KANLAON. Mt. Kanlaon bisects the Negros Island, and it is also the highest peak in Central Visayas. This makes it popular among mountain climbers and hikers. The fact that it is an active volcano adds a certain kind of thrill. Mt. Kanlaon is truly only for the daring. Apart from trekking, it also has an art gallery, a zipline, and it also offers river trail adventures.