Best of Visayas (Tourism & Vacations)
The Visayas is not actually one big island like Luzon, but a string of islands a banca-ride away from each other. It is the best place to visit for seafood and nature lovers, and those with an adventurous spirit. Here are some of the best of Visayas for tourists and vacationing locals alike.
Negros Oriental is the southeastern half of the Negros Island, and some say used to be part of the Mindanao until the melting ice separated them. Another natural occurrence (a 6.8 magnitude earthquake) produced Laka Balanan, surrounded by forestlands. This makes it a perfect spot for the outdoorsy type with kayaking, swimming, and zip line adventures. You can also head over to the Apo Island Marine Reserve if you plan on diving and snorkeling. There are currently 650 fish species and 400 coral species documented so far.
Bohol is more or less a circular island right next to Cebu, and known for its range of small hills about 30 meters high of limestone, sandstone, and shale called the Chocolate Hills. Its resemblance to the tasty treat is especially striking during the summer, when the grasses dry out and turn brown. Whiole you’re there, you might also try a ride down the Loboc River, or visit the historic Blood Compact Shrine in Tagbilaran, the capital of Bohol.
Dumaguete is a tiny island where everything is accessible by tricycle alone. It is the home of the 1,000-foot deep lake Lake Balinsasayao, surrounded by a forest of varied species of plants and animals. Try kayaking if you know how to swim. If not, better stick to the viewing deck and relax.
Cebu City is one of the most developed cities in the Visayas, but it still has its fair share of tourist attractions. You can visit Magellan’s Cross, which is supposed to contain relics of the of the first black cross of evangelization in the Philippines. There is also triangular Fort San Pedro, an authentic Spanish fort built in the 17th Century with a colorful history. Many people next visit the Basilica De Santo Nino, the oldest church in the Philippines, and then head over to the Cebu Taoist Temple to read the fortune sticks.
Another historical site near Cebu, but actually on Mactan Island, is Magellan’s Marker. This is the place where he was struck down, and appropriately enough, the Lapu-Lapu Monument is just a stone’s throw away. Be sure to visit the place during the Kadaugan sa Mactan Festival on April 27, where the slaying of Magellan is re-enacted.
Technically, Moalboal is still part of Cebu, but it has such a wealth of natural attractions that it deserves its own spot. Dive enthusiasts and nature lovers alike will have a ball in Moalboal with its Pescador island, Tongo Island, and Ronda Island marine reserves. These places team with all types of marine life, including whale sharks, and the corals are stunning. An added bonus with Pescador Island, aside from the Sardine Run, is a network of caves called the Cathedral you can explore in between dives.
You can take a break from all that nature by heading over to Panagsama Beach, where you can relax with a cocktail or dig for treasure in the numervous dive shops there. If you want less noise and more beach, you can try White Beach.
You can make the most of your Visayas trip by spending it in this group of islands. Many people visit the great beaches in the 20 or so resorts, but it still remains mostly unspoiled. You can also check out Lake Danao, Holy Crystal Cave, and Buho Cave for other types of adventures.
You could say that Panglao island is to Bohol as Boracay is to Aklan. You have your basic white sand beaches, premier diving, accommodations for all budgets, and a roaring nightlife.
Okay, so maybe visiting a bridge is not a typical tourist activity, but you have to admit that there’s something cool about being on the longest bridge in the country. It stretches 2.16 kilometers across the San Juanico Strait to connect Samar and Leyte. That is impressive, considering long bridges don’t fare well in typhoon-ridded areas like the Philippines. You can also see one of the best sunsets in the country from the bridge. If you time it right, you might also be able to enjoy the Sto. Niño de Leyte Fiesta, which begins on June 30.
One of the least known Visayan provinces (perhaps because it takes a lot of doing to get ther!), the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines is actually a great place for tourists to visit. It has everything: the white sand beaches, the diving, the mountains, the festivals, and the historic sites. When in Masbate, you should check out the Buntod Marine Sanctuary and Catandayagan Falls. If you want to see giant manta rays, Ticao Island is for you. There are also ranches and a rodeo festival, hence the moniker.
A list of tourist spots in the Visayas will not be complete without mentioning Boracay. It is admittedly less pristine than when it first became popular in the 1970s after the movie Too Late the Hero was filmed there. However, the beaches are still white and good food and a lively nightlife more than makes up for the lack of local flavor.