26 Underrated Destinations in the Philippines That You Should Visit Now

26 Underrated Destinations in the Philippines That You Should Visit Now

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Kalanggaman Island in Leyte and Cambughay Falls in Siquijor

Kalanggaman Island in Leyte and Cambugahay Falls in Siquijor

The Philippines has some of the world's best white sand beaches, scenic landscapes, historic sites, and delectable Filipino cuisine. The best islands in the Philippines are endowed with a unique combination of natural and man-made features. 

Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao are the three primary island regions that make up the Philippines geography. If it's your first visit to the Philippines, you will most likely arrive in Manila, the capital city on the island of Luzon via Manila Airport or NAIA, one of the main Philippine airports.

 

 

If you’re planning to go island hopping in the Philippines and book at extended-stay hotels or beach resorts in the Philippines, most white sand beaches in the Philippines and sandbars in the Philippines included in the best Philippine beaches are found in Visayas and Mindanao. There are direct international flights to Cebu Airport in Visayas and Davao Airport in Mindanao. 

While the Philippines' most well-known destinations like Boracay Island known for White Beach, Palawan Island known for El Nido, Coron, and Puerto Princesa, Cebu Island known for diving spots and beaches, Bohol Island known for Chocolate Hills, and surfing capital Siargao Island are must-visits in your tour to the Philippines, there are a plethora of undiscovered places in the Philippines that are still relatively uncrowded and brimming with surprises.

Aside from the popular and best places in the Philippines, plan an itinerary that includes these underrated tourist spots in the Philippines and underrated beaches in the Philippines located in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao:

Underrated Destinations in Luzon Philippines

Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao

Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao

Luzon is the biggest island in the Philippines and is loosely split into four divisions: Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, and the National Capital Region or Metro Manila. Most of these are accessible through international and domestic flights to the Manila Airport, and land vehicles like buses and private guided Luzon trips with transfers from Manila City.

Some of the top tourist destinations in Luzon include Manila City, Baguio or the Summer Capital of the Philippines, surfing spot La Union, historical spots in Ilocos tours which includes Laoag and Vigan, Bicol's Legazpi in Albay province known for Mayon Volcano, Batanes known as the smallest island province in the Philippines, surfing spot Baler, and the highlands of Sagada.

Some of the top tourist spots in Luzon include Intramuros in Manila, Batad Banaue Rice Terraces, Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Albay tour package adventures to Mayon Volcano and Daraga Church, and Palawan's Puerto Princesa Underground River, which is also one of the UNESCO heritage sites in the Philippines,

Baguio tour packages comprising of tourist spots like Camp John Hay and Burnham Park, Zambales tourist attractions like Anawangin Cove and Nagsasa Cove, Puerto Galera tourist spots like Talipanan Beach and Tamaraw Falls, and Taal Volcano view in Tagaytay, which is one of the most iconic volcanoes in the Philippines, are also in Luzon. Day tours near Manila are also a popular activity in Luzon.

Most 5 star hotels in the Philippines, hiking places in the Philippines, cultural activities in the Philippines, architectural landmarks in the Philippines, farm resorts in the Philippines, and luxury resorts in the Philippines are also in Luzon.

However, if you want to visit a less-crowded destination, there are many underrated destinations in Luzon for you to visit. Here are some of the must-visit lesser-known destinations in Luzon that you should explore:

Catanduanes

Catanduanes

Catanduanes is situated in the southern portion of Luzon, off the coast of the Bicol Region. It has two districts: West Catanduanes and East Catanduanes. This province has a lot to offer visitors, with its eclectic mix of Spanish Colonial cathedrals, waterfalls, great surfing waves, and beaches that are yet to be explored by many travelers.

Some of the top Catanduanes tourist spots, mostly located in Virac, Catanduanes, include Amenia Beach, Maribina Falls, Virac Cathedral, Bato Church, Museo de Catanduanes, and many other interesting outdoor attractions. 

 

 

Marinduque

Rice terraces in the Marinduque Wildlife Sanctuary

Photo by Marinduque Wildlife Sanctuary

Marinduque is a Philippine island province located in the MIMAROPA area between Tayabas Bay and the Sibuyan Sea. The province, which resembles a heart, is home to more than 200,000 people. It is densely inhabited and is thought to be the geographic center of the Philippines owing to its central position.

The best time to visit is during the Lenten season when Marinduque celebrates the Moriones Festival, one of the country's oldest religious Philippine festivals. Some of the top tourist spots in Marinduque include Maniwaya Island, Poctoy White Beach, Malbog Sulfur Spring, Boac Cathedral, and Marinduque Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

 

Masbate

Aerial view of Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary and Sandbar

Photo of Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary and Sandbar by JM Nga Vlogs

Masbate is a rural island province in the Philippines that is a part of the Bicol region. It comprises three large islands: Masbate island proper, Ticao island, and the Burias archipelago.

Masbate Island is endowed with a variety of natural wonders, including hills, beautiful white-sand beaches, and fascinating marine life. Some of its top attractions include Palani White Beach, Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary and Sandbar known as one of the best Philippine sandbars, Animasola Island, and Tinalisayan Island.

 

 

Occidental Mindoro

Diver in Apo Reef Natural Park

Photo by Apo Reef Natural Park

Occidental Mindoro is located south of the province of Batangas in the southern Luzon region of the Philippine mainland. Several mountain ranges, valleys, and vast plateaus make up its landscape. Paddy fields and mountain ranges are abundant in Occidental Mindoro, but the region has a lot more to offer than that.

The province is a viable center for ecotourism because of its pristine white beaches, diving spots, and other mesmerizing views. Apo Reef, the Philippines' biggest reef and one of the emerging diving destinations in the Philippines, is located in Occidental Mindoro. It is the second biggest connected coral reef in the world, covering 34 square kilometers, and is in the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Other must-visit spots on Occidental Mindoro include Inasakan Beach, Ragara Beach, and Hulugaan Falls.

 

 

Palaui

White sand shore on Palaui Island

Palaui Island is a peaceful ecotourism spot that is known for its immaculate land, virgin ecosystems and rock formations, a wide variety of land and sea animals, and beautiful landscapes. Located in Cagayan Valley in North Luzon, it gained popularity because of the TV program Survivor. 

A 20 KM sandy beach, sea grass beds, coral reefs, mangroves, and tropical and narrow forests make Palaui Island a great destination to visit. Some popular tourist spots in Palaui include Cape Engaño Lighthouse, Anguib Beach, Crocodile Island, Punta Verde Falls, and more.

 

 

Romblon

Fort San Andres

Photo by Romblon Provincial Tourism Office

Romblon province is a series of islands situated in the middle of the Philippine archipelago, notably to the south of Marinduque, in the Luzon area of the Philippines. The amount of marble found in Romblon has earned it the nickname "Marble Capital of the Philippines”, which is also a major source of income for the locals.

 

 

Woman standing on Bonbon Beach

Some of the top tourist spots in Romblon include gorgeous white sand beaches, historical landmarks, and the Mt. Guiting Guiting, one of the most difficult hiking destinations in the Philippines, in addition to the region's well-known marble products. Some of the must-visit Romblon tourist spots include Aglicay Beach, Looc Marine Sanctuary, Mabiaran Falls, Bon Bon Beach, and Fort San Andres.  

 

 

San Vicente, Palawan

Long Beach in San Vicente Palawan

San Vicente is located between El Nido and Puerto Princesa in Palawan. The island is most known for being home to the famous Long Beach, the longest beach in the Philippines. It also has a quaint fishing town atmosphere with a slew of other attractions. Unspoiled rainforests, beautiful islands, spectacular waterfalls, charming mangroves, and a wide variety of flora and wildlife may be found in the area.

Aerial view of San Vicente, Palawan

 

 

Port Barton, a popular tourist site on the island of Palawan, is also located near San Vicente. You may combine a visit to Long Beach with a stop in Port Barton or stay at Port Barton resorts. Other tourist spots in San Vicente, Palawan you can add to a Palawan tour package aside from Long Beach include Inoladoan Island, Naonao Beach, Bigahoi Waterfalls, and Cagnipa Island.

 

 

Sorsogon

Viewing platform at Bulusan Volcano Natural Park

Sorsogon province is in the Bicol region of the Philippines and is the southernmost province on the island of Luzon. There is a lot of trade and commerce in Sorsogon City, the province's capital. Sorsogon has a lot of beaches, coves, and lagoons. There are also beautiful islands that are just off the coast of the province.

Some prime sites in a Sorsogon travel package include Tikling Island, Bulusan Volcano Natural Park, Ogod River for firefly watching, and Donsol for whale shark watching.

 

 

A whale shark swimming near the surface

 

 

South Palawan 

Diver swims by school of fish in Tubbataha Reef

Palawan is famous for its north destinations like Coron, El Nido, and Puerto Princesa. But there's so much more to explore in South Palawan that are included in our list of top Palawan tourist spots. Balabac Island in the south, Brooke's Point in the east, and Quezon in the west are some of the must-visit spots in South Palawan.

Scuba diving and island hopping are the most popular water activities in South Palawan. Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, with its islets and diverse animals, is a must-see when in this section of Palawan. It is located just southeast of Puerto Princesa and is one of the top diving spots in the area. Other beautiful wonders in South Palawan include Tabon Cave, Punta Sebaring Beach, and Onok Island.

 

 

Underrated Destinations in Visayas Philippines

White Beach in Boracay

White Beach in Boracay

The Visayas Island group is situated in the archipelago's middle region. This region is made up of hundreds of tiny islands and is known for its Philippine sceneries. It is also readily accessible since top destinations like Boracay and Bacolod have domestic airports. However, the region's primary transportation center is Cebu airport, which offers both local and international flights.

 

 

Some of the must-visit tourist spots in Visayas include White Beach Boracay, Chocolate Hills and Loboc River cruise included in a Bohol countryside tour and most Bohol packages, Kawasan Falls included in most Cebu tour packages, and Iloilo tourist spots like Islas de Gigantes island hopping and Jaro Cathedral.

Most natural swimming pools, treehouse resorts, honeymoon resorts, eco-friendly resorts, scuba diving holidays for beginners, vacation packages for couples, and romantic places in the Philippines are in Visayas.

Here are some of the must-visit underrated destinations in Visayas perfect for a relaxing and less-crowded trip:

Antique 

Mararison Island

The province of Antique is situated in the Western Visayas area of the Philippines and is only a few hours away from Boracay.

Adventure seekers will find much to do in this laid-back province as their attractions include riverbank jungle hot tubs like the kawa hot bath, idyllic beaches, rice terraces tucked away in secluded mountain towns, gorgeous waterfalls, clear rivers and springs, mountain highlands, and breathtaking karst cliffs, among other things.

While in Antique, it is recommended to visit top tourist sites like Antique Rice Terraces, Mararison Island, Tibiao Museum, and Igpasungaw Falls.

 

 

Capiz

Suhot Cave and Springs in Capiz

Photo by Capiz Tourism and Cultural Affairs 

Capiz province located on Panay Island is a developing ecotourism destination that offers various activities for every kind of traveler. Roxas City, the capital of Capiz, is recognized as the country's Seafood Capital and one of the best food destinations in the Philippines.

Capiz tourist spots include historic and religious spots, off-the-beaten-path natural wonders like islands and waterfalls, caves with gorgeous stalactites and stalagmites, and local handicrafts you can bring home.

Some of the must-visit attractions in Capiz include Baybay Beach, Olotayan Island, Mantalinga Island, Palina Greenbelt Ecopark, Suhot Cave and Spring, and Malinamon Falls.

 

 

Dumaguete

Woman swimming by a sea turte in Apo Island, Dumaguete

Dumaguete or the City of Gentle People is the capital of Negros Oriental, a region of Negros Island in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines. Dumaguete City is a popular retirement destination for expats because the beach town is a haven of peace and quiet.

There are several tourist attractions in this province, including a natural volcanic crater lake, a beach with a long sandbar, and gorgeous waterfalls. Dumaguete tourist spots included in Dumaguete tours include Silliman University, Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park, diving in Dauin and Apo Island, among many others.

 

 

Guimaras

Balingasag Beach in Guimaras

Photo by Guimaras Tourism

Guimaras is located in southern Panay and north of Negros. This island province lies near the city of Iloilo, just a 30-minute ferry ride away. Aside from its ancestral houses, lighthouses, parks, farms, caves, beaches, and islands, Guimaras is highly renowned for its sweet mangoes which for most households are one of the primary sources of income. 

Visit some of its prime attractions like Guisi Beach, Guisi Lighthouse, Tatlong Pulo Beach, Taklong Island National Marine Sanctuary, and Baras Cave. Join a Guimaras city tour after your other activities in Panay like Gigantes Island Iloilo package tour

 

 

Leyte

Kalanggaman Island in Leyte

Leyte is a must-visit in the Philippines whether you're looking for a tropical escape or a glimpse into the country's rich history. Located in the Eastern Visayas region, it's most known for being home to the breathtaking Kalanggaman Island, located off the coast of Leyte, which has white powdery sand beach and a clear turquoise waters.

 

 

San Juanico Bridge in Leyte

Aside from Kalanggaman Island, Leyte is also known for the previously longest bridge in the Philippines, the San Juanico Bridge, which links Leyte to Samar province. Other tourist spots in Leyte include Leyte Landing Memorial Park, Lake Danao National Park, Tongonan Hot Spring, and Canigao Island.

Samar

Lulugayan Falls in Samar

Samar, the Philippines' third biggest island, is endowed with natural wonders such as caverns, beaches, waterfalls, and rivers. Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar are the three provinces that make up the island. It is known as the "Caving Capital of the Philippines" because it's home to Asia’s 2nd largest cave system – the Langon-Gobingob Caves in Calbiga and other world-renowned caves.

Aside from caves, it's also a must-visit if you like activities such as kayaking, hiking, swimming, white-water rafting, and waterfall hopping. Other op attractions in Samar include Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park, Malajog Beach, Lulugayan Falls, and more.

 

 

Siquijor

Cambugahay Falls in Siquijor

Siquijor, located in Central Visayas region, has a reputation for being associated with mystic traditions which have sparked the curiosity of many travelers. Siquijor even celebrates healing ritual festivals where locals sing incantations and make potions from herbs, roots, and insects.

Apart from its stunning beaches, Siquijor also has old cathedrals, waterfalls, marine sanctuaries, man-made and natural parks, and other unique landmarks. Some of the prime attractions included in a Siquijor tour are Cambugahay Falls, Salagdoong Beach, Old Balete Tree, Tubod Marine Sanctuary, and Kagusuan Beach.

 

 

Southern Leyte

Agas-Agas Bridge in Southern Leyte

Southern Leyte is a Philippine province in the Eastern Visayas area, comprising the eastern part of the Visayas archipelago. Southern Leyte is a one-of-a-kind province, with one side facing the vast Pacific Ocean and the other covered in lush forests. The province has many tourist attractions such as white-sand beaches, islands, and springs.

The majestic twin barangay islands of San Pablo and San Pedro in Hinunangan are just a few of the must-visit areas. Other tourist spots in Southern Leyte include Tangkaan Beach, Tagbak Marine Park, Agas-Agas Bridge, and Cambaro Caves.

 

 

Underrated Destinations in Mindanao Philippines

Guyam Island in Siargao

Guyam Island in Siargao

Mindanao, the second biggest major island in the Philippines after Luzon, comprises the archipelago's southernmost region. Although it is the farthest island region from the capital Manila, it is still accessible to travelers by domestic and international flights to Davao International Airport, among other airports in Mindanao.

Some of the prime destinations and tourist spots in Mindanao include Davao City, the tallest mountain the Philippines called Mt. Apo, the beaches of Samal Island, surfing capital of Siargao Island, the colorful city of Zamboanga known for the Pink Beach, whitewater rafting capital Cagayan de Oro, and the Sunken Cemetery and White Island in Camiguin.

 

 

Because of the big Muslim population in Mindanao, the provinces here are also some of the best halal destinations in the Philippines.

Check out our list of the must-visit underrated destinations in Mindanao:

Basilan

Bulingan Falls in Basilan

Basilan is located south of the Zamboanga Peninsula. It is the largest and northernmost of the main islands of the Sulu Archipelago, and it is also the most populous. Basilan is home to a variety of natural tourist attractions including Malamawi White Beach, Lampinigan Island, Bulingan Falls and Tenusa Island

Basilan also has a peninsula point called Punta Matangal in Tuburan that's known as a surfing destination, with waves that are very similar to those found on the north shores of the Hawaiian islands. 

 

 

Bukidnon

Panoramic view of Mt. Kitanglad's ridges

Photo by Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park

Bukidnon is a landlocked province in the Philippines, situated in the Northern Mindanao area. The province of Bukidnon is regarded as the "Pineapple Capital of the Philippines" and the "Food Basket of Mindanao," and it is home to a large number of pineapple plantations.

Zipline in Dahilayan Forest Park

Photo by Dahilayan Adventure Park

Travelers can enjoy its mountains, ridges, lakes, adventure parks, and other rich natural landscapes such as Mount Kitanglad, Dahilayan Adventure Park known for having Asia's longest zipline, Panimahawa Bridge, Bukidnon Pineapple Farm, Alalum Falls, and Mount Dulang Dulang.

 

 

Dinagat Islands

Shoreline of Dinagat Island

The Dinagat Islands are a group of islands in the Philippines that make up a province in the Caraga region, located at the south side of Leyte Gulf. It is often regarded as a hidden treasure as biodiversity and bountiful resources abound on the islands. The white sand beaches of the Dinagat Islands are surrounded by a breathtaking diversity of massive rock formations.

The caves, lakes, beaches, and other prime attractions of the islands are must-visits which include Bitaug Beach, San Juan Cave, Lake Bababu, Hagakhak Cave, Tagberayan Beach, Legaspi Water Falls, and Quano Cave.

 

 

Iligan

Wide shot of Maria Cristina Falls

Located in northern Mindanao, the city of Iligan is the industrial hub of the southern Philippines. Most people know it as "The City of Majestic Waterfalls" because of its numerous beautiful waterfalls, but it also has a wealth of other natural wonders, such as springs and lakes.

Other cultural landmarks in Iligan include churches, ancestral homes, and historical sites like heritage houses and historic constructions. Some of the must-visit tourist spots in Iligan include Maria Cristina Falls, Tinago Falls, Paseo de Santiago, St. Michael’s Cathedral, and Hindang Cave.

 

 

Maguindanao

Exterior of Maguindanao's pink mosque

Maguindanao, one of the underrated historical places in the Philippines, is a province in Central Mindanao, which is part of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). In a place filled with natural beauty and cultural diversity, it is also home to important landmarks like mosques, historic homes, rolling hills, mountains, and pristine lakes.

Some of the must-visit tourist spots in Maguindanao include Cotabato Grand Mosque, White Mosque, Masjid Dimaukorn or the Pink Mosque, Timako Hill, Liguasan Marsh, Limpongo Hot Spring, Blue Lagoon, Lake Buluan, Al Jamelah Weaving Center, and Mount Minandar.

Mati, Davao Oriental

Mount Hamiguitan's hidden garden

Mati, the capital of the province of Davao Oriental, Philippines, is situated on the south-eastern side of Mindanao. The three protected areas in Mati include the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, Mati Protected Landscape, and Pujada Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape.

Dahican Beach in Mati

Unspoiled beaches with powdery white sand and clear blue waters await visitors of Dahican Beach in Mati, Davao Oriental, an underrated surfing spot in the Philippines. Other tourist sites in this province include Subangan Museum and Mount Hamiguitan Nature Reserve.

 

 

South Cotabato

Lake Sebu at sunset

South Cotabato, situated in the Soccsksargen region or the south-central part of Mindanao, has developed into one of the country's premier ecotourism locations. Its broad and diverse environment is home to a plethora of eco-cultural treasures.

Lake Sebu is South Cotabato's modest second municipality. More than just a picturesque tourist attraction in Mindanao, Lake Sebu serves a wider function since it is one of the country's most significant watersheds and a source of irrigation for some provinces.

Not only will you see gushing waterfalls, mystical lakes, and lush woods, but you will also get the opportunity to interact with several indigenous tribes. Some of South Cotabato’s top spots include Lake Holon, Mount Matutum, and Tupi Tarsier Sanctuary.

 

 

Surigao del Sur

Enchanted River in Surigao del Sur

Surigao del Sur, along with its counterpart Surigao del Norte, the Agusan region, and the Dinagat Islands, is a province in the Caraga Region, located in the northeastern section of Mindanao. The province is home to a variety of natural wonders that are ideal for adventurous tours.

While Siargao in Surigao del Norte is known as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, Surigao del Sur also boasts waves for surfing including Lanuza Bay. Skimboarding is also available in a number of municipalities. Some of the prime attractions in Surigao del Sur include the Hinatuan Enchanted River, Tinuy-an Falls, Britania Group of Islands, Cagwait Beach, Cabgan Islet, and more.

 

 

Tawi-Tawi

Bud Bongao Peak in Tawi-Tawi

Tawi-Tawi is the southernmost province of the Philippines, sharing sea borders with Sabah, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Tawi-Tawi is considered one of the most off-the-beaten-path destinations in the Philippines. This small island province is blessed with idyllic islands, mountains, mosques, great cuisine, and other noteworthy attractions.

Boatmen on Sangay Siapo Island in Tawi-Tawi

Some of its top tourist attractions include Panampangan Island known as the longest Philippine sandbar, Balobok Rock Shelter, Sama Dilaut and Tausug Stilt Houses, Bajau Village, Sheik Karim al Makdum Mosque which is considered the oldest in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, and Bud Bongao Peak with a panoramic view of the town. 

 

 

Start Exploring the Underrated Spots in the Philippines

People floating on raft by the Tinago Falls in Iligan

With this list of underrated destinations in the Philippines, your list of reasons why you should visit the Philippines is sure to be longer now! Discover unique natural wonders and hidden gems, visit ancient houses and religious sites, and learn about history through the eyes of locals in these lesser-known but beautiful places in the Philippines when you book Philippine travel packages with a legitimate travel booking website like Guide to the Philippines.

For those who want to learn to dive like fun dive, there are many incredible Philippine diving spots including emerging Philippine diving spots across the 3 main island regions. 

 

 

Read more about the best places to visit in our Philippines travel guide, book the best Philippine vacation packages, and check out the latest Philippine travel requirements.