Masbate is one of the archipelagic provinces in the Philippines made up of three islands – Masbate, Ticao, and Burias Island – together with smaller islands and islets. Masbate is relatively inaccessible compared to other destinations with direct flights only from Manila. Some tourists have to travel by bus and then by boat to get to Masbate. Still, this doesn’t stop people from discovering this underrated destination and appeals to those who like visiting off-the-beaten path places. Read on and see what awaits you in Masbate province.
1. Enjoy the sandbar of Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary
It’s hard to skip this attraction due to its beauty and accessibility - this sandbar and marine sanctuary is only a short boat ride from the capital city of Masbate. Soft sand, clear waters, and a long sandbar, Buntod has a protected mangrove where fish can safely lay their eggs. Aside from swimming, put on some snorkeling gear and spot various types of fish and colorful corals. You’ll surely spot one or two clownfish.
Website: Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary
2. Discover a hidden paradise at Palani White Beach
Hailed as the best thing to do in Masbate, it takes an hour and a half from Masbate City to get to Palani Beach. This 10-kilometer (6.2 mile) beach is situated in the town of Balud, on the eastern coast of Masbate Island. Slowly, resorts and other tourist infrastructure are being built. Intrepid travelers who have seen numerous beaches in the Philippines claim that Palani White Beach is a secret paradise with crystal clear waters and powdery sands. The best part of this beach is its stunning sunset.
3. Wander around the city
Travelers who are based in the capital city can take some downtime acquainting with the local scene. Masbate remains a developing province in the Philippines and spending time even at its capital provides a glimpse of small-town life. Stroll around the streets, passing by key buildings like the capitol, ancestral buildings, and Masbate Cathedral.
4. Wild wild west with Rodeo Festival
If there is something that draws a large volume of tourists to Masbate, it would be its Rodeo Festival. The charm of Masbate, is although it is gifted with beaches, it also has rolling hills providing great pastures for farm animals like cows. During the Rodeo Festival, you can enjoy the festivities and watch activities like Barn Dance or the heart-pumping Cattle Drive and Bull Riding.
Website: Rodeo Festival
5. Be a cowgirl and cowboy for a day
Post festival or when visiting Masbate on a different date, visitors can still enjoy the wild wild west thing. Sese Brahman’s Ranch offers tours, where guests get to know the day-to-day operations in a ranch. Real cowgirls and cowboys act as guides, taking guests to the hills and pastures where the Brahman cows graze, and teach about other animals like horses. Part of the tour also lets guests see various activities like branding and trailing. Before leaving, learn the skill of lasso.
Sese Brahman's Ranch
Address: San Juan, Mandaon, Masbate
Price: from 4 USD
Duration: around half-day.
Contact: +63 0565882263
Facebook: Sese Brahman’s Ranch
6. Aroroy Lighthouse
Set on the hill in Bagui Point, an hour and a half from Masbate is Aroroy Lighthouse. Located in the northern part of Masbate Island, this centuries-old lighthouse is one of the many lighthouses built during the Spanish colonial era but this particular lighthouse was constructed in 1896, the year when the Filipinos began their revolution against their Spanish colonizers. Thus it took some years for it to be functional – during the American Occupation in the country. The lighthouse bears similarity to other Spanish-era lighthouses in the Philippines. Rustic, this is one historical structure to visit without the crowd.
7. Feel like a castaway at Burias Island
Another island composing Masbate Province is Burias Island. Though Masbate Island is more developed that Burias, this island excels more when it comes to unspoiled beaches and smaller islands. A must-do while in Burias is to visit its sister islands, like the sandbar of Tinalisayan, the turtle reserve of Sombrero Island and the outstanding rock formations in Animasola Island. In the town of San Pascual is a family where 80,000 swiftlet birds form a colony in their residence. Visitors can enjoy freshly cooked birds nest soup here. With no tourist infrastructures, Burias Island only relies on its natural wonders to lure visitors to its virgin coasts.
8. Feel the solitude at Ticao Island
Completing the province is the island of Ticao. Just like Burias, there are only limited tourist establishments, save for budget accommodations and diners. However, Ticao is home to Manta Bowl, where divers can freely swim with Manta Rays. This is the reason why international divers flock to Ticao, to experience this one-of-a-kind dive. In Ticao, whale sharks as well as sharks can be spotted. The island is also home to secluded beaches, Halea National Park, and the famous Catandayagan Falls.
9. Have the best adventure at Halea National Park
Masbate’s pride and one of the main attractions in Ticao Island is Halea National Park. It is beautiful beyond words. Crystal clear waters with fish of different types and colors, which fill its shores and coves, soft sand and lush vegetation, complete with colorful flowers. The result is a paradise that you are tempted not to tell everyone about and just keep to yourself. Enjoy swimming or various activities from kayaking to snorkeling. With its rich underwater life, never forget to bring an underwater camera.
10. Be amazed by Catandayagan Falls
Falls naturally attract travelers with their cold water, giving the perfect remedy to the humid weather in the Philippines. But Masbate’s Catandayagan Falls in the Philippines is far more unique, as this 60-foot (18 meter) falls pours its water into the sea. The contrasting and unlikely sight make it one of the most dramatic scenes in Masbate. Swim around the falls or be brave enough to check out the cave beside it.
11. Taste local cuisine
Get to know Masbate more with its food. Feast on fresh seafood while in Masbate, as well as beef tapa (fried marinated beef strips, akin to beef jerky). Unlike other places in the Philippines, Masbate produces cheese and can be bought during weekend markets. Top delicacies are their version of pastillas (pill-shaped milk candies) using carabao milk, their own version of peanut brittle and molido (milled sweet potato mixed with crushed pili nuts) and coconut bits.
Those who want to experience authentic travel by detaching from modern conveniences should think about visiting Masbate. Various destinations in the Philippines seem to have lost their paradise appeal with commercialization and for those who want to experience being a castaway and find tourist-free beaches, it is worth the visit. What this province offers is nothing but real natural wonders and beauty of its land, sea, and people.
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