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Masbate - The Best Tourist-Free Beaches in the Philippines...

 

 

By Nathan Allen

Updated April, 2017

Hellllllllo Masbate! Wait...Where are the Tourists!??

Masbate (pronounced mah-sBah-tay) is the kind of place you discover and just want to keep to yourself...but then you realize how much tourism would help the province, so you write a blog about it.

 

So why are there no tourists? In the past, Masbate had two things working against it: It was relatively inaccessible, and it had a reputation for being dangerous. *Update* - I'm happy to update that Cebu Pacific is now offering plenty of budget flights!

 

Those willing to make the effort to come here now (by flight or cheaper Roro bus) will be handsomely rewarded; for now is the time to experience the pristine Masbate that tourism may soon change forever.

 

Porta Vega Beach - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Coconut trees on Porta Vega Beach

Is Masbate Dangerous? What About My Safety?

As for safety, I believe it has been known for political violence in the past (this generally doesn't affect tourists). Honestly, I felt just as safe there as anywhere else in the Philippines...perhaps even more so. I think these days it's quite safe...just be street-smart, as you should anywhere you travel. You can research and avoid election season if it makes you feel better:)

 

 

The people I encountered in Masbate were some of the most humble and friendly in all of the Philippines - and their province is absolutely stunning.

 

Island-Hopping - Porta Vega Beach

Porta Vega Beach - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Approaching Porta Vega Beach

 

From Patio Milagros in Dimasalang (one hour bus or jeepney from Masbate City), we hired a boat to take us to Porta Vega Beach Resort. The "resort" is actually just some nipa huts on a stunning beach. This would be a great place to bring some food and have a picnic. There are no facilities, but there is a photogenic chapel tucked away behind the coconut trees.

 

Your Daily Dose of "Vitamin Sea"

I had seen some photos of Masbate beaches previously, but I had no idea they would be this incredible. My friend Edward told me that, after a friend visited Port Vega (above), she told him it was just as nice as Sugar Beach in Bantayan Island, Cebu. I laughed, thinking how impossible that is, but then our boat pulled up to the scene below. It really is true!

(Click photos for more info)

Deagan Island - Marcos Mansion?

 

Afterward, we stopped by Deagan Island, which reportedly was owned by Ferdinand Marcos at one time. After he was ousted, the locals took his mansion back...piece by piece. Now there are just a few scattered remnants near the fishing village. History buffs might want to come here, but from what I can tell, Porta Vega Beach is even nicer.

 

 

 

Catandayagan Falls & Halea Nature Park, Monreal

Catandayagan Falls - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

Day 2 of our island hopping adventure was just as rewarding! Catandayagan Falls plummets directly into the sea - one of very few waterfalls like it in the world! Summer (March-May) might be too dry to see a lot of water cascading down, and I also recommend going in the afternoon if possible. That way the sun will be behind you and not wash out your photos.

 

Halea Nature Park

 

From the minute your boat starts to pull into the cove, you will be mesmerized by this place! There are also great places to picnic, though travelers can also spend the night in the resort or camp on the beach. You'll see some dead coral here if you snorkel, but I believe it is rehabilitating now. Don't worry, because there are still a surprising number of colorful fish!

 

Local Kids at Halea Nature Park - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis


Here I met some local children cooling off...I would have given anything to have a playground like this when I was growing up! Below is "Ferdz" Bravo and family, who very graciously invited me along on both island hopping tours.

(Click photos for more info)

Burubancaso Rock Formation

Burubancaso (also spelled Borobancaso) was another unique stop on our trip. A great place to swim, climb, and take photos! If you were wondering, the main photo at the top of this page was also taken there.

 

Burubancaso Rock Formation - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

Buntod Reef Sandbar

Buntod Reef Sandbar - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

The sandbar at Buntod Reef was another nice surprise - and it can be reached directly from Masbate City! Just tell the trike driver to bring you to the pier at Rendevouz Hotel.

 

Here you can rent kayaks and intertubes, but also snorkeling gear...because the snorkeling is pretty good! As you can see in the photo below, I found Nemo (clownfish), but I also saw quite a few other sea creatures down there.

 

No More Dynamite Fishing

 

I became friends with the fishermen who manage the reef, and I listened to their fascinating stories. It turns out that they used to be dynamite fishermen (you can see some remnants of dead coral as you snorkel).

 

Instead of continuing down that path until there was nothing left, the province decided to start paying them to protect the reef. A few years later, local tourism is really starting to pick up...what a success story! You can book all your island-hopping adventures through them.

(Click photos for more info)

Football and Sunset on Palani Beach

Palani Beach - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

Back in Masbate City, Governor and Vice Governor Vince and Kaye Revil were very kind to invite me to a football event right on beautiful Palani Beach. I've never seen anything like it! I'm not a huge sports fan, but if all games were held on beaches like this, I might be more excited about them. Haha.

 

Palani beach is definitely one of Masbate's gems, and a great place to watch the sunset.

 

It's located in Balud, about an hour and a half away from Masbate City by jeepney, bus, or van. A trike must be taken down the dirt road before you reach Balud proper, so make sure you tell the driver you want to go to Palani Beach. You can also see Fazenda da Esperança and Sese Brahman's Ranch nearby while you're at it!  More on that down below...

(Click photos for more info)

"Like" my page to follow along with me! - Nathan Allen

 

Ticao Island Beaches & Manta Bowl Diving

 Silangan Beach, Ticao Island - Masbate, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Silangan Beach, Ticao Island

Ticao Island is famous for manta ray diving (I have yet to try), but it also has beautiful beaches. Just be warned...for now, apart from the Ticao Island Resort where the divers all stay, there is little to no tourism infrastructure on the island.

 

They have declared an area near San Fernando as a marine sanctuary, but I think it may take some time to rehabilitate it before there is good snorkeling. Honestly, I just loved wandering around the small fishermen villages and meeting all the friendly locals (I was with a guide).

 

I was also able to explore some virgin beaches, but also the beautiful Serrano Century House (pictured below), which has been kept up very well by its colorful owner. Stop by for a visit!

 

 

 

(Click photos for more info)

Minalayo (Snake Island)

I heard stories about an island full of poisonous sea snakes, but I know how people like to embellish things, so I didn't take them too seriously. Well, I found out it really is true! These snakes are banded sea kraits, known as walo walo locally. They are very poisonous, but not aggressive at all. In fact, you'd have to be very unlucky to step on one and get bit.

 

Well, I only see them in the water while I'm snorkeling, and they don't seem to care about me at all. On this tiny island, however, they are crawling all over the rocks, and you really could step on one if you are not careful. My heart really raced as I snuck up on the rocks and then jumped into the water to snorkel through this beautiful cave. How very surreal to be swimming among these beautiful snakes, with bats flying and screeching over my head!

 

(Click photos for more info)

 

If you want to snorkel here, be very careful where you step. I would recommend having the boatmen drop you off in deep water where you can swim into the cave, so you don't have to climb over the rocks to jump in. Just wear a life jacket and aqua shoes and you should be fine. There are some nice schools of fish and corals along the outside of the cave.


(Click photos for more info)

It was nice to return to the boat and see the beautiful rainbow and sunset above during the trip back to Ticao!

 

 

Fazenda da Esperança and Sese Brahman's Ranch

Masbate is fascinating to me, because it has so many sides to it. Not only can you find these incredible beaches, but you can also find authentic cowboy-culture...ranches, cattle, rolling hills and all! I will not spend any time talking about the Masbate Rodeo, because I will devote my next blog to it entirely.


Fazenda da Espeança is actually a drug and alcohol treatment center, but it is located in such a beautiful place - tourists love to visit it!

 


Also worth a visit is Sese Brahman's Ranch. This beautiful property is full of grazing horses and cattle, and a really cool treehouse! Next time I visit, I hope to ride a horse...

Hotels and Accommodations in Masbate

 

Don't expect a lot of tourism infrastructure - this province is only now being discovered:) The following links are to Agoda, but if you prefer booking.com, click HERE

 

Ticao Island Resort - This is perfect for divers who want to explore the Manta Bowl, but it is also good for others who are willing to pay for a secluded, quality vacation experience. Food and service is top-notch. Ferry can be arranged from ports in Sorsogon. Explore options and/or book HERE

Francjoreen Beach Resort - This option is much more affordable, but quite far from most island hopping and rodeo activities.  Explore options or book your stay HERE

 

GV Hotel Masbate - This is a decent and very affordable option right in Masbate City. Staff was very friendly, but I don't think they serve food. You can explore and book a room HERE (Agoda) or for booking.com, click HERE 

 

(I also hear good things about 7AR Resort in Masbate City)

 

More hotel options HERE

 

 

Getting To Masbate..and Around

You can *now* take affordable flights to Masbate City from Manila, or you can take a daily Roro bus from Cubao (Manila as well). The bus will board a ferry after 10+ hours of travel, then arrive on the island of Masbate. Island-hopping tours can be booked from Buntod Reef in Masbate City. You can also get to Ticao island by boat from Bulan, Sorsogon.

 

To travel around once you arrive, head to the Masbate jeepney and bus terminal and tell them where you need to go. For short trips, the trike drivers in Masbate were some of the most honest and friendly I've experienced anywhere in the country...I made friends with many of them!

 

Thanks so much to Governor Vince and Kaye Revil, as well as to the Bravo family - Edward, Ferdz, Mayor Bong, and Congresswoman Marvi. Your assistance exploring this beautiful, up-and-coming province was much appreciated. I hope to come back again someday!

 

- Nathan Allen



Like my page to follow along with me:)  - Nathan


Agoda - a partner of "I Dreamed Of This" - Photo by BM Snapshots

 

Most recent blog: Z Hostel, and the Suprising Tech-Driven Side of the Philippines

 

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