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Explore the stunning islands of the Philippines

The Southeast Asian country known as the Republic of the Philippines consists of as many as 7107 gorgeous islands. These Philippine islands are classified into three major groups, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, is located on the eastern coast of Manila Bay on the island of Luzon. The city serves as the main access point for travelers desirous of uncovering more of this fascinating country. Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport welcomes a whole host of air carriers from around the world, and this makes navigating the gorgeous islands of the Philippines extremely easy.

Located approximately 300 km (186 miles) to the south of Manila, within the Western Visayas region, the island of Boracay is renowned for its immense beauty and hence is a much-favored holiday destination. The island’s scenic beauty and numerous charms catapulted it to the top of Travel and Leisure magazines’ ‘the best island destination list’ in 2012.

Boracay is just seven kilometers (four miles) long and narrows to measure less than a kilometer at its slimmest point. For such a small locale, it packs quite a punch and attracts scores of vacationers year round from all over the globe.
The island’s biggest attraction is its two-mile-long, pristine oceanfront White Beach. This powder-white sand enclave has three sections. All three sections of White Beach feature resorts, shops, and restaurants. Station 1 has the widest beachfront and hence plays host to several upscale resorts and hotels. Station 2, on the other hand, features a huge concentration of bars and restaurants, and this is where holidaymakers congregate to eat, play, shop and party. Station 3 is the southernmost and quietest end of White Beach, so if you rather eschew rampant commercial tourism, this is the beach for you.

Another beach on Boracay that is worth visiting is Bulabog, located on the eastern half of the island directly opposite White Beach. This beach is known for its enormous waves and strong winds and is a favorite with kitesurfers and windsurfers.

Water-sports are but naturally plentiful on Boracay, and the island offers more than 25 dive sites along with facilities for fishing, sailing, water-skiing, swimming and the hugely popular cliff diving.

The island paradise of Boracay has a wide range of boarding, dining and entertainment options to suit every taste and budget. The best time to visit the island is during the Amihan season (dry season) that extends from November until May.

The gorgeous island of Bohol is located in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines. The province of Bohol features the main Bohol Island and seventy-five several smaller, surrounding islands. A small airport located at Tagbilaran City, the capital of Bohol serves as the main access point for Bohol and its neighboring isles.

The lush island of Bohol offers diverse experiences. If you want to enjoy the classic white sand and azure seas experience, you should make your way out to Panglao Island in the Bohol Sea. The island is connected by bridge to Bohol Island and is dotted with several resorts catering to all price points. Most of these resorts offer a range of active as well as relaxing pursuits such as deep sea diving, whale and dolphin-watching at nearby Pamilacan Island and spa therapies.

Other recommended attractions are a visit to the famous Chocolate Hills in Carmen located within the interior region of Bohol Island. The Chocolate Hills is the name given to more than 1,268 limestone hills of the area. The hills are usually covered with lush green grass but resemble mounds of chocolate during the island’s dry season (March to May) when much of their green cover turns brown.

The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in Corella offers visitors a chance to catch sight of one of the world’s smallest primates, the Philippine tarsier. This strange but cuddly creature measures only three to six inches and has big saucer-like eyes and an extremely sensitive, if not skittish manner. Park rangers advise visitors to maintain complete silence if they want to spot a Tarsier in the wild during their visit to the park.

Aside from its many natural attractions, Bohol also offers several attractions of historical importance in the form ancient churches and colonial homes. One such fine example of the island’s ancient architecture is the Bacalyon Church, which dates back to the 16th century but continues to hold services until today.

Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Puerto Princesa is a city on the island province of Palawan, located approximately 300 miles southwest of Manila. This lush, green city is nicknamed ‘the city in a forest’ and is renowned as the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines.

The city’s main attractions are nature-based, and it is home to an environmentally conscious population, which seeks to preserve the island’s many natural wonders.

Puerto Princesa’s most famous attraction is its Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. This longest, navigable underground river is thought to be the most beautiful one of its kind. As a result, it features as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is counted amongst the new seven natural wonders of the world.

This 8.2-kilometer underground river traverses through a subterranean cave system before emptying into the South China Sea. The journey through the cave system spans 24 kilometers. A crystal-clear lagoon framed by ancient trees is located at the entrance of this spectacular cave system. The entire area is today, a national park home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. The park is renowned throughout the world as a hub of biodiversity and a site of immense natural beauty.

In addition to the park, the island of Palawan is home to several, stunning white sand beachfronts. Honda Bay, located a few minutes to the north of Puerto Princesa is home to many tour operators who specialize in conducting island-hoping boat tours to neighboring islands. The tours take visitors to neighboring isles like Pandan Island, Arreceffi Island, Bat Island and Snake Island. All these island getaways boast of pristine beaches, live coral reefs and calm, azure waters. They, thus offer ample opportunity for diving, snorkeling, swimming and even gentler pursuits like picnicking and sunbathing.

Other natural attractions of Puerto Princesa are located on Arena Island, the home of a turtle sanctuary and Rasa Island, which plays host to a bird sanctuary. About 230 kilometers to the north of Puerto Princesa is the municipality of El Nido.

El Nido is not only renowned for its virgin, natural beauty, but the area also has much archeological significance. Late Neolithic Age fossils and burial sites are being unearthed in the various caves and excavation areas of the municipality. The Tabon Cave complex consisting two hundred caves is yet another significant archeological find located in the Quezon municipality of Palawan. These caves are said to date back to more than 47000 years and host some of the oldest human remains discovered in Southeast Asia.

Nature, adventure, history and scenic beauty, the intriguing islands of the Philippines offer them all and more.

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