The Philippines: Asia’s undiscovered jewel

Monday, 16 January 2012 9:48 AM

While most tourists head to Asia’s better known beach destinations of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia’s tropical island of Bali, one of the world’s best beach destinations is often overlooked. Consisting of over 7,000 islands and with a staggering coast line of 39,289km, it’s little surprise to learn that the Philippine’s tropical paradise-like beaches are among the best the world.

Stepping off the plane in the country’s crowded and polluted megacity capital - Manila; you would hardly image the country to be full of idyllic deserted islands fringed by palms, fine sand beaches and clear turquoise sea filled with pristine reefs of coral. Yet this is exactly what most of the country is like.

Add this to the Philippines being the world’s largest exporter of coconuts and producer of the best mangos you’ll ever taste, you soon realise that it is the ultimate dream beach destination that we all fantasize over. However, the country is not all about its remote island beaches; it’s also full of large modern cities with five-mile long shopping malls and is home to both the glamour and the poverty.

 

For those who love the beach parties and night life, Boracay is the place to be, one of the Philippine’s most popular holiday destinations. Having said that, Boracay is also an island full of lush mountains, hidden caves, giant bats and wide white sand beaches fringed by emerald palms. It’s the best of both worlds.

The beautiful island of Palawan is perhaps one of the most stunning of the Filipino islands, but it’s hard to judge since they all so closely resemble paradise. Being quite far out, Palawan is not as built up compared to the other islands and is dotted with wildlife sanctuaries, marine reserves and carpeted in lush rainforest. The island is also home to one of the New7Wonders of Nature, the underground river in Puerto Princesa - the longest in the world. If you’re in Palawan then make sure you also take the opportunity to visit El Nido Beach, which has been named by some as the best beach in the world.

If you only have a limited time on the Philippines, then the island of Mindoro is the best beach destination easily accessible from Manila. The resort of Puerto Galera on Mindoro is a popular weekend getaway spot and home to some modest and as well as upmarket beach resorts, mostly owned and visited by Scandinavians. Although it’s a popular spot, there are so many different beaches here that they are never crowded and you’ll always managed to find a secluded spot.

Almost anywhere in the Philippines is perfect for nature lovers, but Bohol is something special. The island is set to become a big eco-tourism destination and is home to the smallest type of monkey in the world as well as whales, dolphins, old geological forests and the infamous Chocolate Hills.

If you’re after glamorous upscale resorts, then the Island of Cebu, a major Philippine tourist destination is the best place to go. Here you’re sure to find luxurious island retreats, but you can always find local Filipino resorts too.

And if you’re into snorkelling and diving, then almost every island in the Philippines provides the chance to view unspoiled brightly coloured coral reefs, surrounded by elegant angel fish, iridescent parrot fish, cute clown fish, barracudas, sea turtles, giant blue starfish, spiky puffer fish and stripy sea snakes, the list of wildlife you may encounter here is endless. In the deeper water you can find sharks, dolphins, endangered dugongs and even whales. Some would even go as far as saying that the Philippines is the best place for snorkelling and diving in whole world.

Escape the hoards of travellers who frequent the world’s most popular beach destinations, by heading to the Philippines, a place of such beauty that it will make you gasp surprise; this truly is Asia’s last undiscovered jewel. But hurry, before the secret is out and everyone decides to make that little detour to the other side of the South China Sea to find their slice of paradise.
 

By Esme Fox 

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