A taste of San Vicente

A taste of San Vicente

See the quaint town in Palawan, two hours south of its famous big sister El Nido, while the crowds haven’t arrived.

The creamy sandy beach stretching to 14km++, rightfully called Long Beach, is the piece ‘d resistance of San Vicente

San Vicente, Palawan is still relatively unknown—or at least compared to the big towns and cities that have helped put Palawan on the map. It’s tucked in between El Nido in Northern Palawan, and Puerto Princesa City, world-famous because of its Subterranean River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So if you’re looking for that spot in Palawan where you want an idyllic seaside experience—pretty much how Palawan was before its heyday—then it’s the place to be.

Getting there

Getting to San Vicente is less than an hour’s flight direct from Manila onboard SkyJet Airlines. So yes, it’s off track. But no; it’s not at all difficult to get to—thanks to SkyJet’s five-times-a- week flights to the sleepy town.

Touch down

From the airport, resorts within the area are minutes away, and getting to each one is a breeze. Island traffic is something still unfamiliar here. Best to have a pre-arranged pick up from the resort you’re staying at because while there are multicabs around, they’re scarce.

Stay

The rooms at Club Agutaya are on point: modern comfort meets local and green

It’s not beach weather when we visited but I’ve gotten a feel of the island vibe, luxe style—thanks to Club Agutaya, the only five-star hotel and one of the most established properties in town.

Guests are greeting by friendly staff and these refreshing lemongrass drink

Club Agutaya checks all the things a responsible and conscientious traveler would look for. You’d be welcomed into a grand hall, themed Filipino, along with staff who’d offer you cold towels and blue flower-infused lemongrass refreshment. Check-in is fast—and organized. You’d be given a bag tag so you can leave your luggage behind for the resort staff to take to your room. Once you’re settled in your room, somebody comes knocking at the door to offer you WiFi access codes and homemade insect repellent, which you could replenish at any time. Talk about service deluxe. Plus they’re big on sustainable practices.

View from Dash editor Monica De Leon’s hotel room + homemade insect repellent + high speed WiFi + Filipino accents. What’s not to love?

My seaview hotel room at the third floor is bright and airy, with two queen size bed, large bath room with hot and cold rainshower. Loved the Filipino accents all around. The closet door is finished in native weaving.

The club has a pool and its own patch of beach. The dining hall is like a museum at night, while the bar at the center is a place you can get lost in chit chatting with your friend, favorite cocktail on hand.

Simple pleasures

white sand beach with palm trees and the sea

A 15-minute drive will take you to the aptly named Long Beach and I’d tell you why. Long Beach is indeed the longest uninterrupted beach in the Philippines at over 14km. It’s like Boracay’s White Beach three times in length. It’s easy to fall in love with Long Beach and these are the reasons: creamy beige sand that are nice to walk on to; clean waters lapping its shores; almost zero crowd most of the time; and the absence of modern structures, enabling it to flaunt its unadulterated beauty.

The Department of Tourism along with the local government and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) hosted our seaside lunch, and it was heaven on earth: fresh steamed crabs, grilled fish and squid, mussels bigger than your hand, locally made rice cakes puto and biko. And we devoured everything while taking turns in the karaoke.

Verdict

Will I go back? In a heartbeat.

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By Monica De Leon

5 scenic motorbike rides in the South

5 scenic motorbike rides in the South

Riding a motorbike is one of life’s greatest joys (or, at least, it should be), and here’s where you should do it.

Since it’s not as wet in the South as it is here in the North, and since motorbiking is life, giving you an adulterated freedom to see and experience sights at your own pace, cheating city and inner town traffic, here are five destinations you can fly to and enjoy the sights of, after renting a motorbike. Bloggers Kara Santos and Louie Pacardo curate.

Siquijor

Islands like Siquijor are often best explored on two wheels. Photo by Kara Santos

The island province of Siquijor is a scenic island worth exploring on a day motorbike tour. Often associated with stories of witchcraft and mysticism, Siquijor offers enchanting beaches, beautiful waterfalls, and other architectural gems. The most interesting spots are scattered around the island—a bit difficult to access by public transportation but best if via a motorbike.

Glan, Sarangani Province

Sarangani is about as far south as some people would like. These open roads give you a view of Sarangani Bay, as shown here by Louie Pacardo. Photo by Louie Pacardo

The road going to the beach town of Glan is already a destination.  The coastal road along the edges of Sarangani Bay offers scenic views of the mangrove-rich and white sand beach strips. Glan is best known for its white sand beaches and heritage sites. Biker-friendly resorts include Kamari Resort and Hotel which offers a spacious and guarded parking area.

Glan is about one hour’s ride away from General Santos City in Mindanao

Alamada, North Cotabato

Head for Alamada in North Cotabato if you’re looking for something that’s definitively off the beaten path. Photo by Louie Pacardo

Alamada is among the lesser known riding destinations in Mindanao with unique landscapes and roadside views.  The 120-meter wide Asik-asik Falls is the top destination going to this silent town in North Cotabato. Another emerging must-stopover is Daday Falls, a tall drop settled in a Jurassic period-like landscape sandwiched by steep gorges in Barangay Dado.

Alamada is about three and a half hours’ ride away from Davao City

Lebak, Sultan Kudarat

This is the view that awaits any avid rider after taking on the hundred motorcycle bankings. Photo by Louie Pacardo

This coastal town facing the Celebes Sea in southwest Mindanao is best known among riders because of its twisting roads. You’ll do about a hundred motorcycle bankings going in and out of this sleepy town in Maguindanao Province. Lebak is best known for its tasty crabs and seafoods and its many waterfalls like Tres Andanas Falls.

Precaution: Mindanao is generally peaceful. However, just like when traveling in any part of the country or even the world, it is still best to check the present security situation in particular areas with previous peace and order issues.

Siargao

What better way to explore the country’s top surfing destination than on two wheels? Photo by Daniel Soriano

For beach-lovers and surfers, the island of Siargao is one of the best places where to ride. Aside from the main surfing area of Gen. Luna, the island conceals beautiful uncrowded spots like Malinao, Magpupungko Tidal Pools, and Pacifico, that you can easily ride to. There’s a variety of motorbikes for rent, including ones outfitted with surf racks—well, for packing your surfboard—and gorgeous bespoke bikes handcrafted by 3B Customs, a bike builder from Surigao City.

Words: Ferdz Decena

5 destinations that look like they’re not in the Philippines

5 destinations that look like they’re not in the Philippines

We tell you: You can go overseas without having to leave the country. Read how.

The Philippines may be a tiny archipelago but it’s so beautiful and blessed—thanks to its 7,000++ islands making it almost have a bit of or something similar to what another country has to offer.

Here are five places in the Philippines that transport you to places outside the Philippines.

The rolling hills of “New Zealand” (Batanes)

By Ferdz Decena

This one’s no secret. Every time we see someone post about one of the ultimate #travelgoals, it almost always involves a sense of awe.

The northernmost province of the country, Batanes, is home to rolling green hills dotted with livestock that resembles the home of the Kiwis. You may not see fluffy flocks of sheep, but you will see herds of cattle and/or cows grazing among all that beauty, a rare combination in the country. There’s also the clear skies that add to the whole “this shouldn’t be in the Philippines” vibe.

There’s a particularly good spot that will make you say “Am I REALLY in the Philippines?”: Rakuh-a-Payaman in Mahatao.

“African safari” (Calauit Safari Park in Palawan)

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Blending in. 🦓

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It’s safe to say you’re not really going to find wild zebras and giraffes running around in open fields ANYWHERE in the country; they’re usually seen in enclosures inside zoos. Not that we’re complaining, but we’d like to see them in their element, similar to their brothers and sisters in Africa.

Luckily, there is a place just like the African safari that’s within 35 minutes of Metro Manila: the Calauit Safari Park. It’s home to reticulated giraffes and Grévy’s zebra that get to run around and play alongside local species, some of which are endemic to the Calamianes Islands where the park resides.

Experience the rolling hills of Batanes by booking #DashHolidays!
Tel: +63917 840 6853, +639917 627 6179
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Time travel to “old Spain” (Vigan, Ilocos Sur)

Vigan itself looks like an old Spanish colonial town, but this street is what transports you to Spain. Photo by Ray in Manila

UNESCO calls it the “best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia,” and it’s not hard to see why.

Vigan, Ilocos Sur is a remarkably well-preserved Spanish colonial town thanks in large part to the people taking pride in their heritage. One street, in particular, gives this city that true “old Spanish town” feel: Calle Crisologo. This cobblestone street is at the heart of Vigan’s very best when it comes to preserving old Spanish architecture. That, coupled with local laws that prevent extensive modifications to heritage houses, make this sight unique to Vigan.

“Japanese Bamboo” Forest (Man-made forest in Bilar, Bohol)

It’s not bamboo, but it is just as quiet and as peaceful. Photo by R294

This is not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, but the way the Bilar Man-Made Forest looks really gives you that feeling of being inside the Sagano Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, Japan.

You won’t see a single bamboo tree standing here (nor will mahogany make the same soothing sound when they get hit by a breeze), but you have to admit that the tree tunnel it creates is eerily similar. It’s like going through a wormhole that will transport you to somewhere completely different.

Going “Dutch” with flowers (Sirao Flower Farm, Cebu)

You can’t grow tulips in the Philippines without a truckload of struggle. Does this mean Amsterdam’s flower gardens are a far-fetched dream reserved for those lucky enough to get a Schengen visa? No.

A trip to Cebu is all you need to see sights similar to those in Amsterdam. The Sirao Flower Farm started making rounds in social media before the 10,000 Roses Cafe was even a thing. It looks spectacularly like the flower gardens in Amsterdam even without the tulips thanks to a more Philippine-friendly flower that’s just as colorful: the celiosa flower or cock’s comb.

Do you know of other destinations that you feel are similar to those overseas? Let us know and we’ll do a second set!

Dashing Spot: Mantigue Island

Dashing Spot: Mantigue Island

There’s more to Camiguin than its famous sandbar. Case in point: Mantigue Island.

Mantigue Island's white sand beach with a view of the mountains of Camiguin
It’s a marine sanctuary with a white sand beach. What more can you ask for? Photo by Daniel Soriano

When people hear Camiguin, the image that first pops out is usually that of White Island. The popular sandbar has always been one of its major tourist draws, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one.

In fact, there’s this four-hectare island off the coast of Mahinog that gives you the same white sand beach experience coupled with more things to do: Mantigue Island.

Mantigue has a bit more cover than White Island—thanks to the small beach huts on the southern part of the island. There’s coverage in the form of mangroves along its shores as well as vegetation in the middle part of the island, where you can find a restaurant, which doubles as the island’s tourism office. The waters surrounding Mantigue has been declared a marine sanctuary, making it perfect for snorkeling or diving. There’s also a small fishing community on the northern part of the island.

How to get there

SkyJet Airlines offers direct flights to Camiguin five times weekly. We suggest renting a motorbike (Php500 or about USD10 per day) and driving to get to Brgy. San Roque in Mahinog, which should take around 30 minutes. In San Roque, board a motorboat (Php600/boat, maximum of six people) to the island, where you can stay for four hours maximum. If you stay longer will set you back Php75 per hour per boat.

Things to do

There are a couple of things you can do in Mantigue Island, even if you’re only limited to for-hour stays.

Mantigue Island fees as of May 2019.
  • Stand-up paddle board
  • Diving
  • Glass boat rides
  • Kayaking
  • Beach bumming for the Gram
  • Talk to the island locals, and (maybe) buy fish from them (fresh or sundried)

Camiguin’s best kept secret: Peninsular Kape Art

Camiguin’s best kept secret: Peninsular Kape Art

Camiguin has a gem of a restaurant at its helm serving delicious Spanish cuisine.

Good food at island destinations usually means a visit to someone’s home or a quick trip to the public market, where small eateries usually reside. Visiting Camiguin will almost tempt you to do this—until you actually explore the area around where most of their resorts reside.

Tucked away among the homestays, apartelles, and resorts of the closest beach to White Island is Peninsular Kape Art, a quaint restaurant that not only serves great coffee but also acts as a place where most foreigners, especially Spaniards, flock in.

It feels like home. It’s all wood, and has that vibe of a Spanish villa.

The all-wood interiors give off a vibe unlike any you’ve seen in Camiguin, apart from the ultra-high-end Bahay Bakasyunan. You’ve got a near-perfect view of White Island with tables set-up so you can enjoy your meal alongside the sounds and smells of the sea.

Food

Their Seafood Paella is to die for, and is as close to authentic as you can get in Camiguin.
The Gambas ajillo is simple enough: shrimp, garlic, and olive oil. Do it right and it will be a good start to your night.
This is Laura, the woman behind all that is good at Peninsular Kape Art.

The lady in the kitchen, Laura, is a Spaniard, and she whips up some of the best grub on the island. Make sure you get the Arroz Negra or the Seafood Paella. It’ll blow your socks off. Can’t decide on your tapas? Go for their sampler plate!

Drinks

These imported cold cuts go well with beer… or a red sangria. Or both.
Make sure you ask for at least ONE of these after your meal (from left to right): brownie with ice cream, frozen cheese cake, mango float. They’re all so good!

Another thing that sets this place apart from other restaurants in the area is their extensive drinks menu. They serve a mean pitcher of sangria made with fruits that are in season. Don’t forget to ask for craft beers from Cebruery if you’re in the more for more booze.

The basics
Php800 (USD16) per person
Rocky Village, Yumbing, Mambajao, Camiguin
Tel: +63977 855 2050
Facebook.com/PeninsularKapeArt

SkyJet Airlines offers direct flights to Camiguin 5 times weekly.

Experience all-in hassle-free tours of Camiguin by booking #DashHolidays
Tel: +63917 840 6853, +639917 627 6179
Solar Century Tower, 100 Tordesillas cor. HV Dela Costa Streets, Salcedo Village, Makati City

Words: Andrew De Rosario Photos: Daniel Soriano

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