If you’re looking for a new place to explore, consider the province of Masbate. While it may not be a well-known tourist destination in the Philippines, it is home to some of the most beautiful attractions worth visiting.
This province, located in the Bicol Region, is comprised of three main islands: Masbate Island, Ticao Island, and Burias Island. In this article, our focus will be on Masbate Island, the largest and most populous of the three. Here, we present ten of the top tourist spots on Masbate Island that you should not miss.
We have also compiled a separate list of must-visit tourist spots on Ticao Island, which you can find here: Top 10 Ticao Island Tourist Spots You Should Visit | ONLOOQ
1. Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary in Masbate City
One of Masbate’s most popular tourist destinations is the Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary and Sandbar, which earned protected status in 2001. This area teems with vibrant corals and a rich diversity of marine life. The marine sanctuary spans 250 hectares, while the white sandbar stretches to less than a kilometer in length, depending on the tide. At the northern tip of the sandbar, you’ll find a cluster of dwarf mangroves.
Buntod Reef is just a 15-minute boat ride from the city. To ensure the sandbar doesn’t become overcrowded, the city government manages the number of visitors.
Buntod Reef offers a wide range of activities, including swimming, kayaking, pedal boating, scuba diving, and snorkeling. All these activities are provided by the Samahang Mangigisda ng Puro-Sinalikway, Inc. (SAMAPUSI). SAMAPUSI also offers boat rentals to and from Buntod Reef, priced at 500 pesos for 1 to 4 persons and 800 pesos for 5 to 14 persons. Additionally, SAMAPUSI arranges island hopping tours covering Buntod Reef and various spots on Ticao Island, such as Burubangkaso Islet and Rock Formation, Halea Nature Park, and Catandayagan Falls. You can contact SAMAPUSI at 09204338152 or 09179277660.
2. Bat-ongan Cave in Mandaon
Bat-ongan Cave is a remarkable geological formation situated approximately 1.5 kilometers away from the national highway in the municipality of Mandaon. This 150-meter-high cave has seven entrances leading to prehistoric chambers, which hold a wealth of prehistoric artifacts.
American archaeologist Wilhelm G. Solheim II conducted excavations here, unearthing burial jars and ancient pottery. Prior excavations by fellow American archaeologist Warren Smith in the same cave also revealed prehistoric bones, a wooden skull box carved with crocodile head handles, and an assortment of iron tools. Regrettably, signs of relatively recent vandalism now mar the cave walls.
Within this cavernous area, a tunnel connects to another cave located on Zapatos Island in Balud. The caves also serve as a habitat for bats and a source of valuable guano. If you venture further on top of the cave, there is a nearby mini waterfall called the Bat-ongan Falls.
3. Pawa Mangrove Nature Park in Masbate City
In 2022, Pawa Mangrove Nature Park received recognition from DENR as the Best Mangrove in the Bicol Region. This park stands as the largest protected area for mangrove growth in Masbate. Covering 30 hectares and featuring a 1.8 km boardwalk, it is cared for by the Pawa Women’s Mangrove Guardian Association.
The park’s existence is the result of extensive mangrove planting efforts dating back to 2001. This initiative was made possible through collaboration between the Local Government of Masbate City and various government agencies and non-government organizations.
To fully experience Pawa Mangrove, it’s advisable to plan your visit during high tide. This is the only time when you can navigate the mangrove highway by boat, offering a unique perspective. Paddling along the mangrove highway here provides a serene and therapeutic atmosphere.
Additionally, during high tide, you can embark on a boat ride directly from Masbate City Fishport to the mangrove area. If high tide is not an option, you can take a 30-minute land trip from the city center, followed by a 20-minute walk to reach Pawa Mangrove.
Visitors can also engage in other activities such as birdwatching and enjoying a picnic in the middle of this natural wonderland.
4. Palani Beach in Balud
Masbate boasts numerous white sand beaches that can be found across its various municipalities. One of which is Palani Beach in the municipality of Balud, which stretches for over 10 kilometers, making it one of the longest beaches in Masbate.
Palani Beach is a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Masbate City. This pristine shoreline is graced with several resorts, with the standout options being Beatriz Rafaela Resort, Paraiso de Palani Beach Villas, and Palani Beach Park. All of these resorts offer comfortable overnight accommodations, dining options, and breathtaking views of the Sibuyan Sea. For those seeking extra amenities, Beatriz Rafaela Resort and Palani Beach Park feature inviting pools.
Notably, Paraiso de Palani Beach Villas served as a filming location for a TV series entitled ‘A Family Affair,’ featuring Ivana Alawi.
5. La Porta Vega Beach in Dimasalang
La Porta Vega is a beach resort located in Barangay Cadulan, Dimasalang, just an hour’s drive from Masbate City. While Cadulan’s beach may not stretch as far as Palani Beach, it boasts a whiter and finer sand shoreline that can easily rival the beauty of Boracay, lined with dwarf coconut trees. The waters at Porta Vega are crystal clear, and the gently sloping seafloor makes it an ideal spot for swimming.
There are also other nearby resorts in the area, including Dora Beach Resort, Tamayo Beach Resort, and Puka Ciel Resort. All of these resorts can be accessed via a short 15-minute boat ride from the Dimasalang town pier.
6. Jamorawon and Deagan Islands in Dimasalang
Apart from La Porta Vega and beach resorts in Cadulan, the town of Dimasalang is also home to the beautiful islands of Jamorawon and Deagan. In fact, you can arrange an island hopping adventure using private pump boats stationed at the Dimasalang town pier, which can transport you to these islands as well as to La Porta Vega and nearby resorts.
Jamorawon Island features striking rock formations, perfect for cliff diving. Its waters are also teeming with marine life, making it a perfect spot for snorkeling, even in the shallower areas.
On the other hand, Deagan Island boasts its own white sand beach and is home to 9 Sib’s Beach Resort, which offers a range of activities such as paddle boarding, crystal kayaking, tugboat rides, and jet skiing. 9 Sib’s also offers overnight accommodations.
7. Fazenda de Esperanza in Milagros
Fazenda de Esperanza, or the Farm of Hope, serves as a rehabilitation center for individuals recovering from drug and alcohol dependency. This facility is managed by dedicated nuns and volunteers. Situated amid the picturesque hills of the municipality of Milagros, it has become a popular retreat for those seeking relaxation and reflection.
The grounds of Fazenda de Esperanza feature a charming rustic chapel, a serene lake, a cowhouse, and vegetable gardens, all tended to by individuals in recovery. Located just an hour’s drive from Masbate City, reaching this sanctuary is most convenient through private transportation.
8. Libtong Spring in Cataingan
Libtong Spring is a crystal water spring located in the municipality of Cataingan. Although it covers a modest area of around 200 square meters, it boasts some of the clearest waters in the province. Fishes are easily visible as they swim, even without the aid of goggles. The water depth typically averages around 5 feet.
Libtong Spring is conveniently situated near Mintac Port, a hub for ships bound for Cebu and other southern provinces. If you’re starting your journey from Masbate City, it’s a 2-hour and 30-minute drive away.
9. Tinigban Beach in Aroroy
Tinigban Beach, located in the municipality of Aroroy, boasts one of the longest stretches of white sand in the province. Although commonly referred to as Tinigban Beach, it actually extends across three neighboring barangays: Tinigban, Mataba, and Calanay. It is a wide expanse of soft white sand and a gently sloping seafloor, making it an idyllic destination for swimming.
The area is home to several resorts, with the most prominent being the Tinigban Beach Club Resort. This resort offers various amenities, including a huge pool, an outdoor café, comfortable overnight accommodation options, and several water activities for guests to enjoy.
If you’re traveling from Masbate City, Tinigban Beach is approximately a 2-hour drive away. You can also opt for a tour package that covers not only the beauty of Tinigban Beach but also nearby attractions in Aroroy. These include Busay de Gabi Falls, Punta Bugui Lighthouse, and Kalanay Limestone Hills.
10. Mount Mayong Payong in Mobo
Mayong Payong is a mountainous area that has been flattened at the summit, originally intended as a campsite for the regional Boy Scout Summit in 2015. Today, it has transformed into a famous tourist spot, thanks to its breathtaking views, especially at sunrise and sunset. From its peak, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city, its surrounding waters, and even the Buntod Reef Sandbar. The site offers a concrete viewing deck, picnic tables, and charming rustic cottages for overnight stays.
Located in the municipality of Mobo, Mayong Payong is conveniently only a 20-minute drive from the city. Many tourists combine their visit to Mayong Payong with a trip to Holjogon Falls, as they are located in close proximity to each other.
Ron Lao is an engineering graduate with a passion for writing informative content and exploring new places, cultures, and food. He loves science, cats, badminton, and anything wellness-related.