10 Underrated Bucket-List Worthy Places To Visit In Mindanao

If you have this desire to travel, immerse, or just simply get on the road and go somewhere you haven’t been to, we suggest you go further south – into the third island group of the country, Mindanao. It might not be your easiest out of town get-away but it is undeniably worth it!

Underrated, rich in culture, breath-taking sceneries, appetizing cuisines – and other exciting surprises will get your feet moving in no time. Book a ticket after reading this list and share to us your travel story!


With its incredible natural beauty, fascinating cultures, rich crafts tradition and vibrant marine ecosystems, Tawi-Tawi is a true jewel of the Philippines. Despite the terrors that cover the land and waters surrounding this place, Tawi-Tawi remains a fascinating and dangerous frontier in one of the most beautiful seas on earth.

HIDDEN TREASURE OF THE SOUTH – Tourists enjoy the fine white sand and prestine water of Panampangan Island in the municipality of Sapa-Sapa, Tawi-Tawi in the Sulu Archipelago, home of the longest sandbar in the Philippines stretching more than 3 kilometers. ⠀ Kevin Tristan Espiritu © 2018 ⠀ #PanampanganIsland #SapaSapa #TawiTawi #Mindanao #Philippines #ARMMazing #everydayPhilippines #everydayasia #everydayeverywhere #befullyinformed #instagram #natgeo #natgeoyourshot #photojournalism #natgeoasia #beautifuldestinations #documentaryphotography #streetphotography #photography #magnumphotos #whenwithfilipinos #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines #sinoPinas #explorephmag #ChoosePhilippines #The_PH #streetphotographyinternational #wtnadventures #neverstopexploring

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Panampangan Island has the longest sandbar in the Philippines, stretching over three kilometers long or 3,128.37 meters (m). Here you can enjoy being under the sun and just appreciate how wonderful God’s creation is. The crystal clear hues of the water makes this island serene and captivating.

You can’t visit Tawi-Tawi without hiking one of the province’s highest peaksBud Bongao Eco Park. It stands 342 m high, rising proud and tall like a sentinel safeguarding its natural resources. Reaching the peak makes the trail worthy!

It is best to visit Tawi-Tawi on September 25 because the province celebrates the Agal-Agal (Seaweeds) Festival. Known as the seaweeds capital of the Philippines and Carrageenan capital of the world, they honor the bountiful harvest of seaweeds and showcases the rich history and culture of the Sama, Badjao, Jama Mapun and Tausug of southern Philippines through the festival.

Cagayan de Oro

Known as the “City of Golden Friendship,” the capital of the Province of Misamis Oriental and the “Gateway of Northern Mindanao,” Cagayan de Oro is not just a hub full of friendly people, but it also a thriving destination with a variety of thrills to satisfy your adventure cravings and itchy feet.

One of the things that CDO is known for is its challenging water rafting adventure which made the city tagged as the white water rafting capital of the Philippines. Ideal for those tropas who are fond of the water and heart-pumping adventure!


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Cagayan de Oro offers one of the best Sinuglaw’s in the Philippines. For everyone’s knowledge, Sinuglaw is actually a combination of “Sinugba”- grilled pork meat that has been sliced or cut into chunks and the “Kinilaw”- a raw fish being bathed in vinegar with ingredients like ginger, onion, salt, “suha” (citrus and/or native lemon), salt, and a spice of red chili pepper.

Fun activities and attractions await for visitors of different parks in CDO such as the Mapawa Nature Park where you can enjoy the waterfalls, horse-back riding, zip-line courses, cliff jumping, canyoneering, water slide, and forest and river trekking. If you’re an adrenaline-and-adventure junkie, you should definitely try this out!


Basilan is the largest and northernmost of the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago and is located just off the southern coast of Zamboanga Peninsula. All these tales of treasures hidden in Basilan’s many remote, unpopulated islets gave it the nickname “Treasure Islands of the Southern Seas.” One of the remaining unexplored locations in the country because of terrorism around the area, this island is a promising place to go for your travels.

Malamawi Beach is a beautiful pure white sand beach in Basilan – one of the secret gems of Basilan. It is a clean and crowdless paradise because it is not so very popular among tourists. It is a kilometer long white sand beach – best spot for swimming, snorkeling and taking plenty of pictures for your Instagram!

Dipping the afternoon away at Bulingan Falls.

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Hidden in the forest of the province’s capital, Lamitan City, lies one of Basilan’s natural wonders, the Bulingan Falls. Waiting to be rediscovered and experienced by every Filipino, the most remarkable feature of Bulingan Falls are its walls – you will be amazed to find out that the wall is a natural rock formation!

Las cucarachas

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The curacha has become a Zamboanga icon and it is best eaten either steamed or boiled. It is found in most markets around Zamboanga City and restaurants usually have it either fresh or frozen. Cooked on coconut milk with a pot of rice and you will have one of the best meals you had in your life!

Sultan Kudarat

You are surely in for a diverse and beautiful experience in the province of Sultan Kudarat. The province abounds with waterfalls and hot springs, which provide ample opportunities for recreation and relaxation – a land blessed with rich natural resources right inside their backyard. Your vacation is surely one for the books in this place!

Baras Bird Sanctuary is the only city park in the Philippines where you can commune with 20,000+ birds going in and out of the sanctuary, day in, day out, day or night! Rey Malana, the sanctuary chief guy is the man who sacrificed his plantation to give birds a home. Truly a remarkable safe haven for the flyers!

Balot Island #BalotIsland #Kalamansig #Lebak #SultanKudarat #WhiteSandBeach #Beach

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A secret island complete with the ingredients for a perfect getaway – Balot Island is every sun worshippers’ paradise. It boasts of fresh sea breeze, calm turquoise waters, pristine white sand beaches, satisfying every real beach lover’s dream. Balot is one of the six islets in Barangay Paril, Kalamansig. The town of Kalamansig itself is a worthy attraction – famous for its beaches and special coves which you can have all to yourself!

The new capitol of Sultan Kudarat dubbed as “Taj Mahal of the South” is one of the Asia’s most impressive state buildings, inspired by a blended Malay-Arab contemporary arts. The design integrates a function hall, executive office and a hallway reminiscent of the 13th century sultanate palace. At the center stood an edifice of the great Muslim hero, sultan Mohammad Dipatuan Kudarat which is whom the province got its name!


Surigao is divided into the provinces of Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte, which are both part of the Caraga region. This region of the Philippines is known to be shrouded in mystery but gifted with unspoiled tourist spots filled with wonders that border on magical. If you are fascinated by being in the water, this is a must-go place for you!

Curtain ?? [?: @jerome_ongue] #iamsurigao #tinuyanfalls #bislig #surigao

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Safely tucked away in the outskirts of Bislig City, Surigao del Sur, is one of Philippines’ most prized gem. Often called the “Niagara of the Philippines,” the massive Tinuy-an Falls is one of the country’s largest and widest waterfalls at 95 meters in width and 55 meters in height. You can ride a bamboo raft if you want to get a closer look at the powerful water curtain or climb the waterfall via an access trail beside it so you can reach the third tier, which looks like a big stairway. This will leave you with the feeling of awe on how wonderful Mother Nature is.

Allegedly known as the gateway to the secret realm, the Enchanted River in the town of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur is a 150-meter deep sinkhole where at the bottom of the lagoon, the cold water has a dark blue shade, contrasting the aquamarine hue of the surrounding area. At the bottom of the sinkhole is a small cave that leads to vast underwater cathedrals; the extent of the cavern system below the Enchanted River has not been fully explored yet. It remains up until today as a mysterious place tourists are mostly fond of.

Happiness comes in waves.? #SaltyLife

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If you’re definition of a perfect beach is limited to white sand, head out to Mabua Pebble Beach in Surigao del Norte and be mesmerized because the entire seashore is lined with exceptionally smooth pebbles! Unique among the beaches in the Philippines, the pebbles make a strange gurgling sound as the waves retreat towards the sea. Numerous resorts, stores, and nearby conveniences make Mabua Pebble Beach a pleasant place to stay!


Home to a wealth of picturesque landscapes, a variety of natural attractions and a host of activities to suit any travel agenda, Davao fits all kinds of description of a traveler – adventure junkie, foodie or animal-lover, there’s something for everyone. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder millions of tourists and locals alike flock to this renowned destination each year.

If hiking is something that you enjoy, then making the trek up Mount Apo, the “King of Philippine Peaks” will be one of your desired achievements. There are three trails that you can take up the mountain, all of which offer a different hiking experience for visitors. There are seven different peaks on the mountain, but the highest is 3,144 meters above sea level. The hike is quite a feat to achieve, so on the way back down, don’t forget to stop and relax in the hot springs that can be found in the foothills!

Live like a local by perusing the Roxas night market that is widely popular with native Davao residents. Roxas Avenue has stall after stall of fresh and cooked seafood, meats, veggies, and more for you to pick and choose. Sit down for a flavorful soup or take some grilled pork on a stick to go. Aside from affordable shopping centers, you can fulfill your appetite with variety of food choices!

If you are into adventure and extreme sports, then visit Outland Adventure Camp in Davao City. Not only do they have the best zipline in the Philippines, but they are also the largest ropes course facility in the Philippines, situated in a private nature sanctuary just minutes from downtown Davao City. For fun-filled outdoor activities that could be a great bonding for you and your friends, go to this camp and be prepared for an adventure you’d never forget!


Iligan City, the bustling Metropolis of Lanao Del Norte is also dubbed as the “City of Majestic Waterfalls” because it houses 23 stunning waterfalls within its vicinity. Aside from the gift of Mother Nature this place has to offer, the food, people, and ambiance are the reasons you would go to this place. Truly one for your bucket list!

Tinago Falls, Iligan City —Photo by @the.cake.engr— #iligan #philippines

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One of the most finest waterfalls and included in the city’s Tourism triangle, alongside Maria Christina and Mimbalut Falls, Tinago Falls is supposed to be the hidden sanctuary but because of the popularity, a lot of tourists have already been here. Despite that, the falls continues to be a haven for those with worn-out spirits who long to be one with nature. It is around 240-feet high and is well-love for its striking waters, cascading magnificently into a deep, tranquil puddle which embodies that of a blue-hued lagoon that is ideal for swimming and immersion with the diverse flora and fauna in the surroundings.

With the combination of strategic location, great ambiance and food, and fine company as well, what makes Paseo De Santiago popular to visitors is the iconic blocks of letters present in the area. PHILIPPINES and ILIGAN CITY signs are available for access to the public – perfect for photo-ops! Splashed with colors and music, this place will give you the chill vibe you needed in an escapade!

THE POWER OF WAVE ??? #PAINIT #summer2k17?

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Located at the town of Linamon, the so-called beach capital of Lanao del Norte,Mago-ong Beach is one of the most-sought after beaches in the area. In a beautiful morning, the brownish black sand, the dark shade of blue waters, fresh breeze of the wind and heat of the sun will gladly greet you. Who said Siargao is the only place you could enjoy surfing? The wave formations in Mago-ong would also give you a breath-taking experience!

General Santos

Known as the Tuna Capital of the Philippines and home of the one and only Pacman, GenSan is considered as the shopping district for people in nearby provinces, as it abounds with several shopping centers and the treasure trove for fresh tuna, salmon, and other sea foods. These excite the avid traveler and make them wonder, what is life like in General Santos?

#Nature #KlajaKarst #OcularVisit

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It’s named after a frying pot where Bisaya people call it “kalaha” because of it’s basin like appearance. Klaja Karst is located in Barangay Conel. It is 15- kilometre away or 15- pesos ride from barangay proper. Bunga Spring is found in the center of the Kalaha Karsts Area in General Santos City. The place has a campsite for tourists and stargazing is a great night activity.

Sanchez Peak is the place where hiking, adventure and tranquility collide. It is situated at the margins of barangays Olympog and Conel, 800 feet above sea level and you have a bird’s eye view of GenSan. It can be reached through two trails — the Balakayo (in Barangay Conel) and Balsinang (in Barangay Olympog) trails. For those who like a thrilling challenge, one has to take the Balsinang route. For neophytes, the Balakayo route is recommended because it is penetrable by motorcycles or “habal- habal.”

Seafoods ??????

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One of the most exciting places to have some gastronomic experience at GenSan is the Tiongson Arcade. The place is a series of eateries which offers a wide selection of seafood dishes. Apart from their ready-to-eat offering, the place is also known for their paluto where raw products will be chosen and they will simply cook it for you according to your preference. You can have your seafood grilled, cooked as tinola or sinigang, sizzling, adobo and much more. Yum!


Camiguin is perfect for those who love exploring nature, be away from the hustle and bustle of the city and just have a stress-free travel! Known for its sweet lanzones fruit as well as unspoiled tourist spots, it is being dubbed as “The Island Born of Fire” due to the volcanic origins and historical eruptions which caused havoc to its lands. Despite this, it shaped most parts of the island and emerged charming tourist spots and several known paradise islands which makes it a very promising Tourism Hub in the country.

Mantigue Island is the best place in Camiguin for snorkeling. Also known as Magsaysay Island, it is a 4.4-hectare island declared as a National Park and Sanctuary composed of lush vegetation at its center and surrounded by pure white sand beach. The crystal clear waters surrounding the island is teeming with corals and biodiversity making it one of the best snorkeling and scuba diving destinations in the province.

At the heart of Camiguin Island covered with thick forests lies the adventure trekking destination in the province, the Binangawan Falls. Sometimes people refer to it as the “Rainbow Falls“, due to the vapors from the gushing waters of the falls being exposed to sunlight, thus creating a rainbow. It is a dreamlike spot where waters cascades on a mossy cliff and the entire area is surrounded with greens, boulders and some singing birds.

Mount Hibok-Hibok, also known as Catarman Volcano, is a popular mountain trekking destination in the island province of Camiguin. It is one of the identified active stratovolcanos in the province – standing 1,332 meters above sea level. Conquering the mountain is a challenging 3-5 hour adventure wherein visitors will pass though steep ascends as well as slippery and sharp boulders. On a clear day, the peak offers breath-taking panoramic views of the mainland of Camiguin, White Island, and looming large islands of Bohol, Siquijor and Mindanao.


Aptly titled as “Asia’s Latin City,” Zamboanga City is the third oldest city in the country, having served as the main stronghold of the Spaniards in the South during the colonial period. As such, it is a city rich in history and culture. Zamboanga is also known as the “Sardines Capital of the Philippines” where 9 out of 12 sardines company in the country is currently operating. Perfect fit for any kind of traveller as it has much to offer in terms of culture, adventure, religion, or even just for relaxation!

Love this beach??

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For those who fancy a trip to a lovely island, Sta. Cruz is the ideal place to go. The gorgeous pink-sand island is reachable by boat, and will take only 15 minutes to get there. The pink highlights in the sand come from crushed organ pipe corals that once blended with the other crushed white corals, look pink in broad daylight. You could also explore the lagoon and visit old Badjao burial graves within the area!

You wouldn’t want to miss the best view in town for a heart-stopping sunset, right? Get your spot at the Paseo Del Mar – either hanging around along the pathways or riding a Vinta in the waters. You could also catch the musically fountain for a colorful and very entertaining show at night and enjoy cheap and fine bites and drinks around the stalls!

when in Zamboanga City..

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For cheap finds, pasalubongs, or Zamboanga’s very own crafts and products – there is no better place to shop but in Canelar Barter Trade Center. You can even haggle with them if you want to! Enjoy and explore varieties of goodies and souvenirs!

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