Secret island in the North, found

Secret island in the North, found

There may be some debate on whether Immuki is actually an island or not, but one thing’s for sure: it’s paradise.

You can really only get this shot in low tide (morning).

Immuki Island has a three-part lagoon that forms part of Paraoir Beach in the town of Balaoan in La Union province. It has crystal clear water that perfectly reflects the clear blue sky, and that’s about at the right temperature for swimming, and pockets of sand that allow you to set up a small picnic mat.

If you’re lucky, you’ll meet these kids on your way to Immuki Island!

Apart from the scenic blue water and the ocean surf, it’s the name that should draw you towards this tiny island in Balaoan. Immuki comes from the Ilocano word for a woman’s genitals (uki), though it also refers to sea slugs or babao. Bao, in case you’re wondering, also refers to the same body part.

Playful locals then named the other two lagoons Bimmuto (male genitals) and Immubet (anus). Quite cheeky, if you ask us.

Things to do

You can freely swim in any of the three lagoons, though diving isn’t allowed. Go in feet-first and make sure you wear slippers because the dead corals (paringit) could hurt. You can also board a raft for Php250 (holds three to four people at most) and have a meal while you go to the island.

Get there. Ride a Partas bus bound for Vigan, Laoag, or Abra and asked to be dropped off at Balaoan. Ride a tricycle to Paraior and asked to be dropped off at the baranggay hall. From there, you’ll have to pay Php20 per person (environmental fee) before you can get to Immuki Island, a five-minute walk from the baranggay hall at low tide (10 if it’s high tide, and you have to wade through waist-deep water).

Photos: Andrew Del Rosario

Peace and quiet on private island, North Cay

Peace and quiet on private island, North Cay

Found: A place in the far end of Busuanga to rest when you feel like other islands are too crowded.

It’s a tiny island you can get to know within an afternoon. Perfect for those people-free selfies! Photo by Daniel Soriano

North Cay Nature Island is one of the lesser-known private islands. Located about an hour away from the town of Concepcion in Busuanga, Palawan (two-and-a-half to three if you’re coming from Coron), this little island gives you unobstructed views of Busuanga Bay’s fiery sunsets from its own viewdeck, a tiny bar of sorts where you can enjoy simple cocktails, and huts you can rent for as low as Php3,000/night. If day tours are more of your thing, it’s only Php200 per person to get in.

It has a small white sand beach that doubles as the island’s docking area, a spot that you’ll usually have to yourself because of how far this island is from Coron. The waters around it are good for snorkeling, especially the north side of the island.

Get there. SkyJet Airlines has 21 flights to Busuanga weekly. Hire a boat from either Concepcion or Coron to take you to North Cay Nature Island. Boat rentals go from between Php2,000 to Php3,000 per boat.

Dashing Spot: Darigayos Cove in Luna, La Union

Dashing Spot: Darigayos Cove in Luna, La Union

La Union isn’t just for surfers. Case in point: Darigayos Cove.

You can surf in San Juan or simply enjoy this view in Luna. Photo by Jerico San Andres for Tupang Gala

Everyone knows that La Union is to the North what Siargao is to the South. It has surf spots for days, with locals that would drop everything once the swells are up.

What most people don’t know is that La Union offers so much more than surf spots. A perfect example of this is Darigayos Cove, a scenic, 800-meter beach in the small town of Luna. Known mostly for its pebble beaches, the town of Luna is best known for the Baluarte Watchtower, a Spanish-era fort that sits in the middle of the town, and this diamond amongst its pebbly beaches.

The beach has fine to coarse white sand and is a great place for sunsets. Most of the resorts in Luna are located here, so expect a small crowd midday. It becomes a surf spot during the months of September to November, with waves higher than those in San Juan.

Things to do

  • Visit the USAFIP NL Military Shrine and Camp Spencer (free)
  • Swimming
  • Snorkeling and Diving (guides needed, check with local resorts for the spots)
  • Beach bumming

While there are resorts in the area, it’s best to rent one of the cottages on the beach for the day, which can go for as much as Php500 (USD10) each.

Get there
Take a Partas Bus bound for Vigan and get off at Bacnotan, La Union. You can then ride a jeep from Bacnotan to Luna and get off at Darigayos.

The story of the most popular boulder in San Vicente, Palawan

The story of the most popular boulder in San Vicente, Palawan

What was once a hangout of a child is now the most famous view deck in Palawan’s growing hotspot, frequented by tourists

Whenever you search for photos of San Vicente, Palawan, chances are you’ll find this photo:

The photo that pops up the most when you search for San Vicente, Palawan on Google. Photo from SkyJet Airlines

It’s often mistaken for Long Beach, but it’s actually called Irawan Beach. The place where this quintessential San Vicente photo is taken from? It’s on top of a boulder that’s up a short hill… and it’s called Bato ni Ningning.

This is the view from Bato ni Ningning. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Named after a television show it was in, Bato ni Ningning is perched on top of a hill in Brgy. Alimanguan, the northernmost barangay of San Vicente.

Getting to Bato ni Ning is a 47-minute drive from the airport or a 22-kilometer drive through paved and dirt roads. It’s best to take a guide with you and rent a motorbike to get to the hotspot.

Introducing Bato ni Ningning. Photo by Harvey Tapan
Irawan Beach from the air. Photo by Harvey Tapan

Once there, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Brgy. Alimanguan, with Irawan Beach right in the middle. Simply pay the Php20 entrance fee, stand atop the boulder, whip out your camera, and either take a selfie or replicate that photo of San Vicente you always see online.

Get there
SkyJet Airlines ( flies direct from Manila to San Vicente four times weekly. Flights are to increase to six times weekly beginning October 27, 2019.

Dashing Spot: Lakawon Island

Dashing Spot: Lakawon Island

White sand beach, azure water, with an amazing floating bar make this hotspot your barkada’s next holiday destination.

Photo by Pat Cordova

If you’re looking for an island where you can find a pristine white sand beach with an exciting vibe, you should be booking a trip to Lakawon Island in Negros Occidental.

It’s roughly two hours by land and sea combined from Bacolod with a stunning white beach as its main centerpiece, is in tune with nature, and dotted by palm trees. The cabanas complete the island paradise look that makes it seem like the island was made for relaxation.

It’s closed right now, but once Tawhai re-opens, you’re going to WANT to go there.

Enjoy a walk on the beach, swim in the clear waters, or try your hand at kitesurfing. If you’re feeling peckish, Sunset Bar offers local-inspired dishes whipped with the the day’s fresh catch.

Get there

Coordinate with Lakawon Island Resorts and Spa ( for a van to take you from Bradco Port to Lakawon and back for Php4,500.00 roundtrip (six-14 pax). To get to the Bacolod Bradco Port, simply ride a ferry from Manila to Bacolod.

Entrance fee is at Php350 per person, with the umbrella hut starting at Php600. Overnight stays are from Php2,500 per night (good for four to six people) at the Tropical Bamboo House.

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