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17 Must-Visit Underrated Destinations in the Philippines

While popular spots like Boracay and Palawan often steal the spotlight, lesser-known gems await discovery. This guide will unveil some underrated destinations that promise a unique and memorable adventure.

What’s Inside

1. Camiguin

Photo Source: nolisoli

Dubbed as the “The Land Born of Fire,” Camiguin boasts a stunning landscape shaped by volcanoes and surrounded by clear waters. Despite its beauty, it remains one of the less crowded destinations in the Philippines.

Sunken Cemetery Camiguin
Photo Source: Jonny Melon

Visit the Sunken Cemetery, explore the mystical Katibawasan Falls, and dip in the Ardent Hot Springs. Camiguin’s volcanic scenery and natural wonders provide a tranquil escape for nature enthusiasts. Aside from the rich natural beauty and cultural scene, this place boasts of their sweet and delectable lanzones!

2. Iloilo

Photo Source: Traveling Light

Iloilo may often be overlooked, but it’s got its charm. Starting from its Spanish colonial allure, evident in landmarks like Miagao Church and Molo Church. You can also venture off the beaten path to discover Islas de Gigantes’ pristine beaches and Garin Farm’s picturesque landscapes. 

3. Zamboanga

Merloquet Falls Zamboanga
Photo Source: No Juan Is An Island

Zamboanga, situated in Mindanao, is an underrated gem in the Philippines with a diverse cultural tapestry and stunning landscapes. The city showcases the iconic Fort Pilar, a historical fortress blending Spanish and Muslim influences. Beyond the urban center, hidden gems like Merloquet Falls offer a tranquil escape with its cascading waters down a rocky structure amid lush greenery. 

Photo Source: Laagsparkles

The vibrant pink sand of Sta. Cruz Islands and the untamed beauty of Great Sta. Cruz Island makes for a captivating beach destination. Zamboanga’s unique blend of history and natural wonders makes it a must-visit for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path Filipino experience.

4. Romblon

Romblon Island
Photo Source: The Coastal Campaign 

Romblon, a province comprising numerous islands in the Philippines, is a hidden treasure to explore. Known as the “Marble Capital of the Philippines,” Romblon boasts exquisite marble quarries that produce high-quality stone. The town of Romblon is home to centuries-old churches and charming Spanish-era architecture.

Its serene ambiance, rich cultural heritage, and natural beauty make it an underrated destination, appealing to those seeking a quieter and authentic Filipino experience.

Islands like Carabao Island and Tablas Island offer pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, perfect for relaxation and water activities. Bonbon Beach, with its long sandbar, is a picturesque spot as well.

Related: 19 Must-Visit Beaches in the Philippines for the Best Summer Vacation!

5. Siquijor

Photo Source: The Travelling Pinoys

Siquijor is a mystical island in the Philippines that holds enchanting allures. Known for its folklore and traditional healing practices, it offers pristine beaches like Salagdoong Beach and stunning natural attractions like Cambugahay Falls. The century-old Balete Tree, believed to be enchanted, adds to the island’s mystique. Siquijor’s laid-back charm and rich cultural and natural wonders make it a captivating destination for those seeking an offbeat and magical escape.

6. Surigao del Sur

Surigao del Sur
Photo Source: Caraga Region

If you love a good adventure, you might have even planned to go to Surigao del Norte, the island of adventures. But have you considered going to Surigao del Sur? This place may often be overlooked by its counterpart as it appears to be more laid back, but like any other underrated destination in the country, it offers more than you expect. 

Surigao del Sur, located in the Eastern Coast of Mindanao, is another hidden gem in the Philippines. Blessed with diverse natural wonders, it features the captivating Tinuy-an Falls, often called the “Philippines’ Little Niagara.” The Enchanted River in Hinatuan is renowned for its crystal-clear blue waters, surrounded by lush greenery.

Surigao del Sur

One of the must-visits in this place is Britania Group of Islands, a cluster of islets with pristine beaches and lagoons, offers a tropical paradise for nature enthusiasts. Surigao del Sur’s unspoiled beauty, friendly locals, and unique attractions make it an underrated destination for those seeking a tranquil, off-the-beaten-path Philippine experience.

7. Tawi-Tawi

Photo Source: Out of Town Blog

Tawi-Tawi, the southernmost province in the Philippines, is a remote yet culturally rich destination often overlooked by mainstream tourism. Known for its vibrant Sama-Bajau culture and traditional wooden stilt houses over the sea, Tawi-Tawi offers a unique glimpse into the indigenous way of life.

The province boasts pristine coral reefs, making it a haven for diving enthusiasts. The Panampangan Island, with its long sandbar, and the Bud Bongao Peak, offering panoramic views, are among the natural wonders worth exploring.

Tawi-Tawi’s untouched landscapes, warm hospitality, and cultural authenticity make it a hidden gem for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure in the Philippines.

8. Dumaguete

Photo Source: Cebu Insider

Dumaguete, often referred to as the “City of Gentle People,” is a charming destination in Negros Oriental, Philippines. Known for its laid-back atmosphere and friendly locals, the city exudes a welcoming vibe. Dumaguete is a gateway to stunning attractions like Apo Island, a renowned marine sanctuary offering vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life, perfect for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.

Silliman University campus
Photo Source: Traveloka

The Silliman University campus adds a touch of historical and cultural richness, while the Rizal Boulevard provides a scenic waterfront promenade. The city’s culinary scene, influenced by a mix of local and international flavors, adds to the overall appeal of Dumaguete as a delightful and underrated destination in the Philippines.

9. Leyte

Photo Source: Lady and her sweet escapes

Leyte, an island province in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines, is historically significant and offers a blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. It gained prominence as the landing site of General Douglas MacArthur during World War II, marked by the iconic Leyte Landing Memorial in Palo.

The Leyte Gulf, one of the most enormous gulfs in the world, provides a picturesque setting for coastal exploration. Canigao Island and Cuatro Islas showcase pristine beaches and clear waters, attracting beachgoers and nature lovers. The San Juanico Bridge, connecting Leyte and Samar, is a landmark feat of engineering and a scenic spot for travelers.

Leyte’s historical significance and natural attractions make it a compelling destination for those interested in Philippine history and seeking picturesque landscapes.

10. Samar

Photo Source: Nomadic Experiences

Offering a diverse mix of natural wonders and cultural experiences is Samar, an island province in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines. The Sohoton Caves and Natural Bridge in Basey present stunning limestone formations and water activities. At the same time, the Ulot River Torpedo Boat Adventure provides an exhilarating ride through a lush river gorge.

Samar is also home to picturesque beaches like Biri Island’s rock formations and the white sands of Marabut. Historic churches like St. Michael the Archangel Church in Jiabong reflect the island’s rich cultural heritage.

For adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts, Samar is an underrated gem with its unique landscapes and opportunities for exploration.

11. Masbate

Photo Source: Nomadic Experiences

Masbate has idyllic beaches like Halea Nature Park and Ticao Island, where visitors can enjoy pristine shores and vibrant marine life. Rodeo Masbateno, an annual festival, showcases the province’s cowboy culture with bull riding and other rodeo events. It is a mix of natural beauty and cultural richness. Known for its rural charm and warm hospitality, Masbate provides a tranquil escape from more touristy destinations.

12. Sorsogon

Photo Source: Out of Town Blog

Unlike Camarines Sur and Albay, its neighboring destinations, Sorsogon is an underrated destination. Nevertheless, that doesn’t rid this province of its natural wonders and cultural attractions. Sorsogon is known for its stunning beaches, such as Subic Beach and the pink sand beach of Tikling Island. Butanding (whale shark) interaction in Donsol is a significant draw, providing a unique opportunity to swim with these gentle giants.

It is also home to the beautiful Bulusan Lake, surrounded by lush greenery and offering a serene escape. This also includes Barcelona Church, which was built by the Franciscans in 1874, is a centuries-old architecture, reflecting the province’s historical and cultural heritage.

13. Capiz

Photo Source: TripMoBa

Dubbed the “Seafood Capital of the Philippines,” Capiz offers a delectable array of fresh seafood, attracting food enthusiasts.

Santa Monica Church
Photo Source: Philippine Faith and Heritage Tours

The province is home to the historic Santa Monica Church in Panay, featuring the most prominent church bell in Asia, the Pan-ay Bell. Meanwhile, the Panay Church Convent showcases Spanish colonial architecture.

Nature lovers can explore the captivating Olotayan Island’s pristine beaches and coral reefs. The Pilar Cave and Suhot Cave provide spelunking adventures for those seeking an underground exploration.

Capiz’s unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty makes it an underrated destination that offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers.

14. Southern Leyte

Southern Leyte
Photo Source: Sogod Bay Scuba Resort 

Now, we’re off to Southern Leyte — a province in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines — a destination known for its pristine landscapes and vibrant marine life. The province is a haven for divers, with dive sites like Sogod Bay offering opportunities to witness diverse coral reefs and marine species.

In addition to its underwater wonders, Southern Leyte is home to the scenic Maasin City Cathedral, known for its beautiful architecture and religious significance. Hinunangan’s Tahusan Beach, with its powdery white sand and clear waters, is another gem along the province’s coastline.

Southern Leyte’s combination of underwater treasures and natural beauty makes it an appealing destination for those seeking a quieter and immersive experience in the Philippines.

15. Bukidnon

Skip the beach and bask in the many beautiful mountain views in Bukidnon. Located in Northern Mindanao, Philippines, this province is a picturesque destination known for its lush landscapes and cultural richness. Often referred to as the “Food Basket of Mindanao,” Bukidnon is a central agricultural hub producing various crops.

The province is home to the stunning Del Monte Pineapple Plantation, where vast pineapple fields stretch across the horizon. Adventure seekers can explore the Dahilayan Adventure Park, offering thrilling activities like zip lining and a treetop adventure course. Bukidnon is also known for its cool climate and panoramic views of the Kitanglad Mountain Range. 

16. South Cotabato

South Cotabato
Photo Source: Guide to the Philippines

South Cotabato, located in Soccsksargen on the island of Mindanao, Philippines, is a province known for its vibrant culture, diverse landscapes, and rich agricultural heritage. The serene Lake Sebu, surrounded by rolling hills and indigenous T’boli communities, offers a tranquil escape and showcases traditional T’boli art and crafts.

The province is recognized for its T’nalak fabric, handwoven by the T’boli people, reflecting their intricate artistry and cultural identity. South Cotabato’s blend of cultural authenticity, natural wonders like Seven Falls in Lake Sebu are truly remarkable places that should be seen and appreciated more.

17. Iligan

Photo Source: Guide to the Philippines

Iligan, often dubbed the “City of Majestic Waterfalls,” is a captivating destination in Northern Mindanao, Philippines. Renowned for its stunning waterfalls, including Maria Cristina Falls and Tinago Falls, Iligan offers breathtaking natural beauty and opportunities for eco-adventures. Known for its dynamic spirit and lush landscapes, Iligan combines industrial prowess and natural wonders. 

From majestic waterfalls and picturesque landscapes to rich cultural heritage and unique adventures, exploring these off-the-beaten-path locations promises an unforgettable and authentic experience for travelers seeking the untold beauty of the Philippines.

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