Masbate thoroughly deserves its reputation as an idyllic beach getaway and travellers can really experience a back-to-basics tropical island lifestyle here. It is becoming ever more popular for adventurous island hoppers but still exudes plenty of traditional charm and its tourist infrastructure blends in seamlessly with the enticing scenery.
Masbate is also a firm favourite with seasoned scuba divers. It possesses pristine reefs teeming with exotic marine life and snorkelling is accessible just offshore.
The three islands that make up Masbate province are ripe for adventurous day trips and have a biodiversity that many Philippines islands can only dream of. In addition to dreamy white sand beaches, there are steamy mangrove swamps, rugged mountains covered in dense forest, waterfalls and ancient underground caves.
Immersing yourself in a little local culture is pretty easy and there are several traditional villages within easy reach of Masbate City. Ethnic ‘barangays’ such as Bantigue are open and welcoming to visiting tourists yet still remain true to ancient customs and tradition.
Attending one of Masbate’s lively village festivities is a must. The famous corn festival and the Rodeo Filipino are riotous and unique happenings that will definitely leave a lasting impression.
Getting involved in these traditional celebrations is a experience that will last a lifetime.
Beaches in Masbate
Wherever you go in Masbate, you will never be far from a glorious white sandy beach or near deserted tropical offshore island. The entire coastline is fringed by picture perfect beaches such as Talisay Bay where you can get horizontal among swaying palms or indulge in some watersports. Veagan Island offers a similar idyllic escape. Even more spectacular and just as tranquil is the delightfully named Haya-Hay Beach which translates simply as ‘relax.’ Here you can stretch out in complete seclusion or take a mask and snorkel and glide over pristine coral reefs.
Scuba diving in Masbate
Masbate’s number one attraction is its sublime coral reefs and there is plenty of underwater action for all levels. The waters of the Ticao Pass are a world class dive destination with frolicking whale sharks and vast schools of manta rays a common sight. There are few dive schools on the islands themselves. The best of the bunch is at Ticao Island Resort (website: www.ticao-island-resort.com) who can organize a full range of courses from beginners’ PADI open water to certified rescue diving.
Festivals in Masbate
Try and plan your visit to coincide with one of Masbate’s captivating festivities. Rodeo Filipino (every April) is second to none and features young cowboys proving their prowess riding wild steers and wrestling with fearsome bulls. It has a real ‘wild west’ atmosphere complete with open air barbecue feasting and lots of lively traditional music. Even more of an eye opener is the annual Corn Festivalat San Ramon. This is a wild celebration best remembered for dance displays on glowing embers and fearless visitors are encouraged to take part.
Pawa Mangrove Eco-park
A complete change of scenery awaits at the Pawa Mangrove Park and a day out here will delight nature lovers and especially birdwatchers. There is a vast array of species such as the elusive Rhabdornise which is noted for its multi-coloured stripes. A mile long wooden bridge spans the main lake and offers superb panoramic views and is a great spot to go fishing. This place is also a highly popular weekend picnicking spot for locals.
Caves in Masbate
Masbate is dotted with ancient caves and offers a challenging time for serious spelunkers or a more leisurely stroll underground. The Limestone Hills and Bat-ongan Caves are popular stops on tour itineraries and feature unique remnants of pre-colonial tribes and elaborate cave drawings. The underwater caves at Barangay Boca are an unforgettable treat for diving enthusiasts, only accessible from the ocean and home to mysterious burial caskets dating back well over 500 years.