Monday, March 23, 2015

19 Summer Destinations Near Manila

Getting away from the hustle and bustle of Manila’s city life with just an entire weekend to spare is truly possible. There are in fact a lot of summer destinations to choose from which can be explored by land and by boat without riding an airplane. Here is a quick guide for you to consider as you plan your most sought after dream weekend escape in Luzon. 

Unwind in Anawangin, Nagsasa Cove and Capones Island in San Antonio, Zambales

Capones Island / Photo by Chris Domingo

 Anawangin Cove,  Camara and Capones Island Tour For as low as Php1,800/pax


 At present, Anawangin and Nagsasa Coves rose as famous tourist spots for its ash-covered sands and Agoho Trees which are likened to pine trees, promoting a vibe where Baguio is combined with the Boracay set-up. When tourists began to jam-pack in Anawangin, Nagsasa Cove took over the spotlight and offered a more tranquil sanctuary thru the Nagsasa Cove. Nagsasa Cove is just around 30 minutes boat trip from Anawangin and is a perfect destination for those who are in for a refreshing swim. Furthermore, there is another must-experience beach gem to be found in Pundaguit, Zambales- Camara Island. It may not be surrounded by several trees but its breathtaking rock formations and unique spot which overlooks the ocean makes it picture-perfect. 


Trek Mt. Pinatubo

Photo by Mark Albert Alejo Cruz

Mt. Pinatubo Day Tour Package for as low as Php1,999/pax

Mt pinatubo boat

Climbing rocky, steep land for many hours may not be interesting to a lot of tour-goers, but mind you all the efforts are worth it the instance you are welcomed by the stunning sight of the Pinatubo crater with its turquoise-hued lake and breathtaking environment dotted in Tarlac. 


Uncovering Borawan Island in Padre Burgos, Quezon

Photos by Chris Domingo

For beach lovers out there, Borawan Island in Padre Burgos, Quezon is one of the must-explore destinations that are not so far from Manila. It takes about 3 hours drive from Manila and 15 minutes boat trip to the island. Borawan Island is just a small island which offers a nice place to unwind with family and friends. It is ideal for those who are into camping, bonfire, drink some booze and just appreciate the view of the beach and nature. The island also has complete amenities to offer its tourists from new huts to newly-built comfort rooms, cooking stations, tents for rent and a shop where you can buy food and your other personal needs.


Be Moved by Tagaytay and Taal Volcano

Appreciating Taal Volcano from afar is nothing compared to the experience of being on the volcano itself. For adventure seekers there are several trails to choose from which usually ranges from 1-4 hours hike. Nonetheless, if trekking doesn’t appeal to you, you can forego such activity and simply take pleasure on the mere sight of the lake and volcano from a distance. Tagaytay boasts of its awesome scenery coupled with soothing cool air and ambience. Tour around the Sky Ranch and take a ride on their huge Ferris wheel which offers beautiful views of the lake. If you have the fear of heights, you may skip the Ferris wheel ride and just visit Tagaytay’s gardens and parks instead or you may opt to enter into a coffee shop, just hang around and relax while enjoying a hot cup of coffee.Tagaytay can be easily reached through 1-2 hours bus ride from Manila to Batangas.


Trace back Corregidor Island’s rich history

Photos by Mark Albert Alejo Cruz


Corregidor is a little rocky island advantageously situated 48 kilometres west of Manila and is just a ferry ride trip from Manila Bay (formerly Hoverferry Terminal). Corregidor served as a historical legacy of the heroism of Filipinos and Americans who courageously defended the Philippines against the strong forces of the Japanese during World War II. Until now, some of the remains of the combat base are still preserved and is waiting to be visited and explored by history enthusiasts. 


Beach bumming at Nusugbu, Laiya, and Calatagan, Batangas

Canyon Cove in Nasugbu
Laiya  Beach

It is no longer a secret that Batangas is a top summer spot target because of its several beautiful beaches plus its strategic location being only two to three hours drive from Manila is already relatively near if your end destination is beach bliss. Reaching some of Batangas’ famous beaches such as Laiya, Nusugbu and Calatagan may be somewhat tiresome for some but rest assured you’ll be treated with the wonderful view of lush greens, mountain scopes and impressive clear waters kissing the white sands along the journey. Island hopping, snorkelling, diving, kayaking and even camping are just among of the fun-filled activities which you can enjoy in the beach destinations of Batangas. 

Relax in Potipot Island, Zambales

Photo by Milko Chua


 Potipot Island is roughly around 240 kilometres away from Manila and can be reached via bus from Cubao to Iba, Zambales for about 4 hours. From Iba proper there are buses to Sta. Cruz which pass by Uangco which is the main entry point to Potipot. From there you can ride a tricycle which can lead you to the local boat docks that can give you a lift towards Potipot Island. Boat rides usually don’t take longer than 10 minutes. Bear in my mind that Potipot is a secluded island without any resorts providing accommodation or stores that sell water and food so it is highly recommended for tourists to bring their own tents and food for more convenience. Potipot Island offers an ideal place for relaxation offering lush green trees, powdery white sands which encompass the entire island with tranquil clear waters that are truly charming. 

 Hundred Islands, Pangasinan

Photos by Mark Albert Alejo Cruz 


Nestled in Alaminos, Pangasinan is Hundred Islands; one of the top tourist attractions in Luzon situated 240 km north of Manila. Hundred Islands boasts of its attention-grabbing islands that are perfect for island-hopping. All the islands have something unique to offer ranging from refreshing turquoise hues of waters to captivating coral reefs and outstanding views of hilly terrains that are ideal for trekking. Devil’s Island, Kissing Island and Governor’s Island are just among the well known names of Islands to be found in Alaminos, Pangasinan.

Puting Buhangin and Kwebang Lampas Pagbilao, Quezon

Photo from

 If you are longing for a beach escapade close to Manila that is peaceful, has white sand and in a hidden location then, Puting Buhangin is the place to be. It takes around 3 hours ride from Manila to Lucena if you take the early morning bus trip from Buendia/Gil Puyat along Taft Avenue. Just take note before traveling that Puting Buhangin doesn’t offer resort-like accommodations and restaurants, so it’s either you bring your own food and tent with you or avail the tents offered for rent in the place. Kwebang Lampas on the other hand is perfect for photo-ops addicts. It is situated in Barangay Isla Polo of Pagbilao and can be visited only during low tide. During high-peak season, the cave may be crowded by a lot of tourists but nonetheless, you can still take a glimpse of the cave from afar and still be captivated by its views.

Be Captivated by Subic, Zambales

White Rock Beach / Photo by Chester Luna
Lying on the serene outer reaches of verdant tropical forests where white sand beaches and blue waters meet and offer a great setting for romantic escapades, fun get-togethers and exciting in-door and outdoor sports activities. In addition don’t forget Subic also houses the best attraction for kids and children-at-heart with its Ocean Adventure. In Subic, you are indeed bound for an awesome, all-encompassing vacation experience. Subic is situated not so far away from Manila which takes 2-3 hours ride to Zambales.

See the sights of Daranak and Batlag Falls in Tanay, Rizal

Photo by Jhai Sunio
Just 2 hours drive from Manila, you can discover Daranak and Batlag Falls which are deemed as two of the beautiful, cascading waterfalls in Tanay, Rizal. The mere view of the falls is breathtaking enough to watch that you’ll be drawn to take an invigorating plunge into the cool waters. After taking a dip, you may visit the antique San Ildefonso Church or you may watch the enchanting sunset close the Parola. 

Discover Cagbalete Island in Mauban, Quezon

Discover Villa Cleofas in Cagbalete Island
Around 4-5 hours from Manila nestles an island in Mauban, Quezon which has captured the attention of several city-dwellers who wish to have a serene getaway next to the beach. Cagbalete Island is surrounded by a lot of resorts featuring comfy places to stay, calm waters where you can swim, kayak and take lots of beautiful photos to your heart’s content. 

Experience Diving in Anilao, Batangas

Being just 3 hours away from Manila, Anilao, Batangas has been one of the preferred diving spots by many professional and aspiring divers. Whole day courses are offered for amateurs who desire to excel in diving. Batangas offers a broad scope of marine flora and fauna that will totally captivate your being. However, If diving doesn’t tickle your interest, you may choose to trek Mt. Gulugod Baboy or ride a boat to Sombrero Island and enjoy being sun-kissed with your hot bikini outfit. 

Take a dip in Puerto Galera

Photo by Jun Bucao

There is certainly more to experience in Puerto Galera than what meets the eye. Being just a 3-4 hour bus and a boat ride from Manila, it is no longer surprising why Puerto Galera has been dubbed as one of the favourite summer spots to visit by Manila-dwellers and foreign tourists. Aside from swimming and sunbathing, one of the exciting things to explore in Puerto Galera is its diving destinations which are considered to be endowed with rich aquatic biodiversity.

Be drawn by the Waterfalls in Pagsanjan, Laguna.

Photo by Jojo Nicdao

Situated 97 km away from Manila, Pagsanjan Falls isn’t just like any ordinary waterfall destination since it’s the whole journey towards the end which truly makes the experience memorable. Ride on a small boat and be stunned with the skills of the boatmen as they manoeuvre the strong rapids and rocky watercourses to the waterfalls.

Reminisce the Death March and Relax in Morong Star Beach, Bataan.

Reminiscing the Death March through visiting Bataan can be very gratifying for those who love to dig deep thru Philippines’ touching history. Bataan is roughly 3 hours away from manila when travelled by land. It is bordered by Pampanga and Zambales to the north, Subic Bay to the north-west and Manila Bay to the east. Once you’re already in Bataan, don’t forget to also explore Mt. Samat and Morong Beach to add more fire to your weekend getaway. Morong Star Beach Resort features several activities and services to enjoy with a beach setting that is perfect for leisure and enjoyment. Also, if you happen to visit in November, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to take part in Bataan’s Pawikan Festival and get to see firsthand the baby turtles as they walk their way back to the sea. 

Take a Pilgrimage at Monasterio de Tarlac

Photos by Mark Albert Alejo Cruz


For devoted Christians, a pilgrimage to Monasterio de Tarlac may be one of the most fulfilling spiritual journeys to take in Tarlac. The monastery is dotted at the center of Tarlac’s Ecotourism Park in Brgy Lubigan, San Jose, Tarlac and takes around a 3 hour drive from Manila. Monesterio de Tarlac holds the holy relic of the True Cross which has been authenticated by the papal seal and is only shown for adoration twice a year, usually every 3rd Saturday of September. 

Bamboo rafting in Minalungao National Park, Nueva Ecija

Photos by Mark Albert Alejo Cruz

Minalungao National Park in Nueva Ecija takes pride for its majestic rocks with wonderful shapes that serves as a safe haven for clear turquoise waters, flowing calmly in the centre. For the longest time, Minalungao has remained to be a well-preserved gem which awaits to be visited. It can be reached through riding a bus bound for Cabanatuan from ES Transport at EDSA Cubao. Upon boarding the bus inform the driver or conductor ahead of time to drop you off at the main city of Gapan. From Gapang, tricycles can take you to Papaya Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija then another trike ride that heads to Minalongao. Upon arriving at Minalungao, tour-goers can completely enjoy the picturesque scenery of the place while riding on bamboo rafts. Local boatmen are usually more than excited to tour around visitors. 

Wakeboarding in Nuvali, Laguna

Photo by Gay General

 At long last, wakeboarding is now possible in Nuvali, Laguna which is just around 2 hours drive from Manila if you take the South Luzon Expressway. You don’t have to visit Camsur or Calatagan just to experience this heart-stopping sport with your friends, colleagues or family. Just keep in mind that bringing your own food and drinks is not allowed in the place since there is an open view restaurant in the area.