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Philippines' hidden gems for summer.

As Filipinos welcome the official start of summer in the Philippines, expect local and foreign tourists to flock to the country's popular islands. Here are some of the country's hidden gems for those looking for some downtime in secluded beaches.

Entalula Island, Palawan

Complete your Palawan island hopping itinerary with this serene, white sand paradise located just an hour away from El Nido town. The 250-meter stretch of powdery sand is known to be an ideal destination particularly for those looking for a private and idyllic beach for their summer trip.

Entalula Island has three coves or beaches. The largest beach belongs to Ayala Land's El Nido Resorts, while the other two are open to the public. Here, guests can have exclusive picnic gatherings or romantic dinners set up. The exclusive island serves gourmet food, but tourists can also request the food they like.

The island is one of the most popular diving sites in the Philippines for its clear water and interactive reefs, offering you picturesque views from the shimmering waves of cerulean and emerald waters to the spectacular corals below it.

Visitors are also encouraged to bring their snorkeling gear as the island's underwater spectacle is one that is definitely worth seeing. You can sunbathe after to the sounds of the calm waves meeting the shore or take a nap beneath the shades of the island's majestic caves, and you will surely feel like you are in paradise.

To get there: From Puerto Princesa, ride a van or bus to El Nido town, then take a one-hour boat ride offered in the area to Entalula Island.

Balicasag Island, Bohol

One of the hidden gems of Visayas can be found off the coast of Panglao Island in Bohol province. It is a small island that boasts of a diverse marine wildlife and white sandy beaches. Balicasag Island is a marine sanctuary that is about 600 meters in diameter and can be explored in less than an hour.

Despite its size, there are many fun-filled activities on the island such as diving, snorkeling and island hopping.

One of its famous diving spots is Black Forest, a steep slope that goes down for about 40 meters deep. It is called as such because of the numerous black corals that can be found there. It is home to gigantic turtles, schools of jackfish, eels, barracudas and many other species of fish and plants. While island hopping, visitors can also chance upon pods of dolphins surfacing out of the water early in the morning in between the islands of Balicasag and Pamilacan.

Even though a day trip can be enough to accomplish all these activities, there is a resort on the island that offer accommodations for those who wish to stay overnight. It also features native bungalows that are big enough to house couples, families and groups.

To get there: Take a flight from Manila to Tagbilaran City, Bohol. From Tagbilaran, you can rent a van or take a taxi or tricycle to Alona Beach, Panglao. From there, you will find motorized boats that cost P1,600 round trip that can ferry you to Balicasag Island.

Vanishing Island

Natural phenomenon could bring wrath yet it can also create natural beauty.

Such is the case of Vanishing Island, which features a sandbar that occasionally shows itself only during a low tide.

The sandbar, which is located at Cagraray-San Miguel Strait in Bacacay, Albay province, was discovered by accident during a tour in 2013. Locals believe that the sandbar, which is 200 meters from the shore, was formed due to the storms that hit the province. Visiting it requires timing because it only appears 45 minutes after the scheduled low tide each day.

Visitors can also see different marine species like starfish in the crystal waters surrounding it. If you want to rest and fill your empty stomach, you can rent floating cottages, tents and sheds and buy some freshly cooked seafoods.

Because of its prominence, the sandbar has been made part of the province's island-hopping tour package that include San Miguel Island in Tabaco town, and Cabulauan and Guinanayan islands of Albay.

To go there: Take a bus (10 to 12 hours) bound for Tabaco City, either from Cubao or Pasay bus terminal. Get off at the Tabaco Public Market and get on a pedicab going to the Tabaco Port. From there, you may charter a boat (approximately 15 persons) for at least an hour going to Vanishing Island.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Apr 21, 2018
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