“My personal favorite destination is not really a secret one because it’s quite well-known. It’s the good old Miniloc Resort of El Nido because it’s what I would consider almost perfect. You live in a water cottage or a room by the beach. There’s a cove in front of you where you have a white sand beach and the bottom slopes gradually—perfect for swimming. Then at the edge of the resort’s wooden jetty, you can snorkel with jacks. Now how many places in the world can you have such things literally in front of your cottage? Then of course, there are other options beyond the resort. There’s kayaking, cave exploration, snorkeling, and diving. Also, when you cruise around the nearby islands, everything is still pristine. You barely see any human habitation or bare patches. Your banca just skims over clear water that changes from turquoise to mineral water-clear. A sea breeze blows in your face and you pass island after island, each with its own small, beautiful cove. Really, how good does it get?
“For a guest, service at El Nido Resort is quite good. On a higher level, I am proud that El Nido Resort has garnered so many prestigious awards, including ‘One of the Best Green Resorts’ from Condé Nast Traveler magazine a few years back. It’s sad, though, that most Filipinos think anything that is abroad is always better. So I always talk about how great our own attractions are. ”—Jun Ventura, publisher and editor in chief, Mabuhay Magazine
“I love Siargao’s year-round beach feel; even when it rains it’s a different kind of tropical paradise! Amazingly warm people. If you’re there more than a couple of days and you make friends, each trip back is like a grand reunion. It caters to a whole variety of activities—mountain biking, kayaking, surfing, beach bumming, island hopping, snorkeling. Food is good, and with great variety. General Luna in particular has a very cosmopolitan mix. Stalls by the roadside attest to this—it’s the only place I’ve seen jaffles, burritos, and pancit together in the short order menu. Pack your board shorts and explore—there’s always an island nearby, just for you.” —Kathy Chua-Grimme, photographer
“I’m in Tuscany now. This place is now my favorite—Castello d Casole, very relaxing, in a vineyard setting only minutes from Florence.
“I also like Amanpulo every time we need to have privacy. Maldives will also be on top of my list.” —Rikki Dee, Mesa, Lamesa Grill
“They’re not so secret anymore, but here’s my list: Pacita
Fundacion in Batanes and Calicoan Surf Camp in Samar, for
peace and tranquility. Bali, not so much for the beach, but for
the vibe, people and culture. Nice to walk around with a beer
in hand. Lastly, Bangkok and Singapore for some retail therapy.” —Joanne Limoanco, Unilever executive chef
“El Nido Resort in Palawan for us. Still one of the best untouched beauties locally. This is no secret, though.”— Princess Pilarta, Bistro Ravioli
“These are not exactly my favorite destinations, as I haven’t been there. But these three places are on my summer wish list of secret places to explore in the Philippines. Number one is the not-so-secret Bellarocca, our own version of Greece’s Santorini.
“Number two is Casa Luminaria in Lipa, Batangas. It is a three-hectare property with lush gardens, a main house, villas/cottages and a pool. They only rent it out to one group at a time so it’s great for a family outing.
“Last on my get-away wish list is this super-exclusive island in Coron, Palawan: Ariara Island. It is a five-star island rented out exclusively to one group at a time (maximum of 17 persons). All villas and bungalows were designed by Jorge Yulo. Beautiful place and so serene-looking but so pricey!”