Cagayan de Oro White Water Rafting (PH)

Are you a water adventure junkie? The Philippines being surrounded by a lot of water bodies offer infinite choices for a fitting adventure. From sea water (SCUBA, surfing, skin diving) to inland water (kayaking, river rafting, lake paddle boarding) adventure, the list could go on. For the more bold traveler, white water rafting is veracious up your brook.

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There are 3 well-known water rafting spots in the Philippines, 2 of which are in Mindanao. The most established one is in Cagayan de Oro City in the province of Misamis Oriental. It is considered by most rafting enthusiasts as the best white water rafting destination in the country. I was fortunate that I had my first rafting experience in this city way back 2009.

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The Cagayan de Oro White Water Rafting is an adrenaline-inducing experience that also allows visitors to see the striking scenery of the Cagayan River. There are several rafting companies that offer this adventure and would usually pick up people in the city center. Then, the rafting mostly begins at the starting location in Barangay Dansolihon.

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The Rafting Know-How

Upon reaching the starting point of the river, we were prepared with the proper gears and had basic lectures on water rafting. We then did a short trek down the river which was a pretty easy walk and was greeted by our colourful rafts. We were introduced to our guides and further safety briefing (like essential do’s and don’ts) were given. Each raft consisted of 5-6 people, guide included. We then proceeded to start our rafting trip.

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The beginning was actually quite smooth, that gradually became wilder as we go on. I am not very good with words (in terms of describing how the epinephrine rush the activity was giving me). At one point, we were cruising at a steady pace, and the next thing we all know, we were already screaming and our hearts thumping. Waters splashing and slamming against boulders!!! Amazing experience! There were times when everything was smooth and it gave us a great deal of time to marvel at the surroundings. The mostly verdant scenery was absolutely stunning and made me appreciate the beauty of nature even more.

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Overall, we had a blast, I had a blast! I just loved the wonders along the river and the amazing experience of paddling through the river! I promised to do this activity again (which I did the following year in Davao). So, for those of you have this yearning to try something new and adventure-filled, go and grab an oar and try this exciting rafting adventure on the Cagayan River.  Whether you are 10 or 60, experienced or newbie, white water rafting is definitely a fun and a magnificent experience to be enjoyed.

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White Water Rafting companies in Cagayan de Oro City

The following companies offer white water rafting in Cagayan de Oro City:

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How to Get to CDO:

From Manila, fly your way to Cagayan de Oro. Philippine Airlines. Air Asia and Cebu Pacific fly regularly to CDO. Once in Laguindingan Airport, which is roughly 46 kilometers from Cagayan de Oro, several shuttle services offer transportation options for travelers. Boat travel is also available. Cebu Ferries travels to Cagayan de Oro once a week from Cebu, Dumaguete, and Jagna (Bohol). Lastly, if you are coming from mainland Mindanao, you can come to Cagayan de Oro by bus. There are two major bus terminals in the city, one in Bulua and one in Agora. Once in CDO, choose a WWR company and arrange for reservations and agree on the schedule of your choice.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Pinsal Falls (Ilocos Sur, PH)

Pinsal Falls is one of Ilocos Sur’s surprisingly best-kept nature secret. This 85-foot waterfall is located in the town of Santa Maria, which is also the home of the UNESCO-inscribed Santa Maria Church.

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Pinsal Falls is considered as the entire Ilocandia’s largest waterfalls. Its flowing blanket of water runs into natural pools that forage the rivers of Sta. Maria. According to local myths, the biggest from among these pools is said to be the footprint of a giant named Angalo, who was in search of his wife. If one climbs to the top of the waterfalls, a spring with warm water can be found.

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Sometimes, the waterfalls look like a twin falls. There is also a secreted cave behind the main waterfall. And in order to appreciate more of its beauty, you can go and trek your way to the top where more natural pools can be found. There are carved steps on the hillside although one has to be extra careful as the trail can be quite challenging still. Indeed, Pinsal Falls has a charm that is difficult to resist for a swim or an afternoon picnic with family and friends.

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When I went on a solo trip to Pinsal Falls wayback 2011, the waterfall’s flow wasn’t strong due to the summer season. Nonetheless, it is still a beauty to behold.

How to Get to Pinsal Falls:

From Manila, local bus operators like as Partas, Philippine Rabbit and Viron have daily trips to Abra, Vigan and Laoag. All of which will pass by the town of Santa Maria. Inform the driver to drop you off at the town center.

Hire a tricycle that will take you to the waterfall which lies among the hills and mountains of Brgy. Balbalasioan. It is said that the waterfalls may also be reached on foot from the town of Pilar, Abra.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebriwan.

Chocolate Hills (Bohol, PH)

The Chocolate Hills are unique geological formation spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometers in Carmen, Bohol, Philippines.  It is said that there are around 1200 (or more) hills which are covered with grass that eventually turns into brown during the dry season looking like undulating chocolate kisses. To date, it is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the country.

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The rolling terrain of this spectacular mounds in conical and surprisingly in an almost symmetrical shape has drawn the attention of both local and foreign tourists. These karst hills are said to be made of limestone, each with a range of 98 to 164 feet in height.

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This Philippine attraction can be visited anytime of the year as they will be just as spectacular during the rainy season as during the dry one. The thought if standing atop one of the hills maybe pretty delightful however, no one is allowed to climb the hills. Nonetheless, a great way to marvel at these natural beauties is through a viewing deck put up by the local authorities. I believe that this is also a great means of preserving these wonders. The viewing deck is accessible by stairs so one should be patient enough to walk their way to the area.

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How to Reach Carmen, Bohol:

From Manila, fly your way to Tagbilaran City, Bohol’s capital. If by boat, access points are in ports around Bohol like Tagbilaran, Tubigon, Jagna, Ubay, Talibon, and Jetafe which are connected to Cebu, Manila, Leyte, Siquijor, Negros and even some Mindanao provinces. The most popular option is to get to Cebu city via the airport and from there to take a 90 minute ferry to Tagbilaran.

Once in Tagbilaran City, take a ride to the central part of the island, to the town of Carmen. Most common way tourists do is to rent a car or a jeepney in Tagbilaran. If you want to ride a scooter or a small motorbike you will be able to rent one for a day for 400 pesos.

Recommended Place to Stay in Bohol: The Barn

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Balicasag Island (Bohol, PH)

Seemingly floating in the Bohol Sea, is a small island called Balicasag. It is regarded as one of the best dive sites in the island province of Bohol. This marine sanctuary is home to various fishes and corals.

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My 2008 Bohol jaunt gave me a chance to explore the wonders of this island. Recalling my experience then, we were asked to start our day early for our sea tour. My friend and I were staying at the Dumaluan Beach Resort in Panglao. Our habal-habal driver-slash-boatman fetched us early. Because of the early wake up call, we were able to witness sunrise at this side of Bohol.

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Our first stop that day was the much anticipated dolphin-watching near Balicasag Island. I like boat rides in the morning as the sea breeze is cool and not yet sweat-inducing. At around 7 AM, we were already in the middle of the sea, waiting for the dolphins. Accodring to our boatman, it is best to do this activity early morning as the number of dolphins decreases between 8:00-10:00 AM.  There were several boats waiting for the dolphins when suddenly one boat started to chase a group of dolphins. The other boats followed and it was like I was watching a regatta.

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It was my first time to see these loveable mammals. And I love the fact that I saw them in their natural habitat, instead of seeing them at a theme-park making the entire experience surreal, raw, and really gratifying. Despite being elusive, the thought of seeing them with my own eyes is something I was happy about then. After chasing the dolphins, we proceeded to Balicasag Island to snorkel and have our late breakfast.

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Upon docking, I have noticed that the shores of the island is washed up with pebbles and coral pieces (some, pretty sharp, hence it is best to have a footwear). I decided first to walk along the coastline to take some photos before eating my packed breakfast under a tree. At this point, more and more boats were docking bringing in more people.

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So, I decided to go swimming and snorkelling after donning a vest. I must say that the underwater of Balicasag is teeming with marine life – multi-hued corals, vibrant starfishes, diverse fishes, sea grasses and many more. Too bad I didn’t have an underwater camera then. Nonetheless, the memories of that experience are still intact whenever i visit memory lane.

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Right before noon time, we decided to leave the island and go back to mainland Panglao. It was an exhausting but fun-filled day. I told myself that I should return sometime in the future (with an underwater camera at hand) and maybe do some SCUBA diving.
Fees/Charges:

Small paddle boat to snorkeling site – 150.00 Php / pax

Snorkeling Gears with lifevest – 150.00 Php / pax

Aqua shoes – 100.00 Php / pax

Boat Fee  – 1500.00 Php

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How to Go to Balicasag Island:

From Manila, one can fly their way to Tagbilaran (Bohol’s capital). From Tagbilaran Airport hire a van, ride a habal-habal or even a tryke to Panglao and choose a place to stay. From Panglao Beach, they can arrange your sea tour to Balicasag. Alternative route is from Manila to Cebu, the once in Cebu, ride a fast-craft to Bohol.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Corong-Corong Beach (Palawan, PH)

Come watch with me the shaft of fire that glows
In yonder West: the fair, frail palaces,
The fading Alps and archipelagoes,
And great cloud-continents of sunset-seas.

Thomas Bailey Aldrich

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Whenever I travel, I always take note where I could possibly watch the sundown. You see, I have developed this sense of connection with the setting sun. To me, it is one of the most beautiful and magical things in this world.

During an El Nido visit, my friends and I decided to chase the sunset at the quiet and not so touristy Corong-Corong Beach after beach bumming around Nacpan – Calitang Beach (read write up here at https://roamulofied.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/the-twin-beach-of-el-nido-nacpan-calitang/).

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Corong-Corong Beach is located in Brgy. Corong-Corong, (hence the name), a fishing village 2 kilometers south from El Nido town center. Just like the twin beaches of Nacpan- and Calitang, this beach is also laidback yet appealing in vibe. And dissimilar to the beaches at the town’s center, the shore is not obstructed by boats hence a more picturesque view can be seen.

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From the main street, my friends and I walked about a hundred meters until we reached the beach proper.  The golden brown sand stretches long and is fringed with towering coconut trees. The area is dotted with several accommodations and is not congested with bars and restaurants. Obviously, it is a much quieter place that would surely make a more relaxing stay.

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While waiting for the sunset at this side of Palawan, my friends went on to swim and try the clear, shallow waters of Corong-Corong while I took photos of the place. A few more minutes and the sun started to mesmerize us with its golden rays as it says goodbye. As in every sunset I have witnessed, the settling down of the sun always evoke a sense of respite and that it is a beauty to behold.

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Accommodation along Corong-Corong:

RESORT/INN Estimated Price range/Night Contact Number
All Seasons Beach Resort Php 2000-4000 +63917 541 9804

+63919 452 4266

Arbor Beach Cottage Php 700-1000 +63999 385 2566

+63949 390 3163

El Nido Overlooking Php 3500 +63916 631 7078
Greenviews Resort and Restaurant Php 1000-2700 +63921 586 1442
Island Front Cottages Php 1500-3500 +63999 994 1309

+63918 967 6829

Las Cabanas Beach Resort Php 4500 +63917 887 8808
Lugadia Beach Cottages Php 700-1000 +63907 476 5922

+63919 572 6372

Orange Pearl Beach Resort Php 1500-3500 +63906 215 2549

+63930 720 8633

Sheryl May Inn Php 1000-1500 +63930 720 3091

+63916 574 5444

Stunning Vistas Beach Resort Php 1700-3500  +63999 566 0888

+63921 751 5783

Talindak Beach front Cottages Php 1500 +36 909 492 5944

+63 918 679 7643

Telesfora Beach Cottage Php 1000-1500 +63917 731 8034

+63919 697 7378

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How to get to Corong-Corong Beach

From Manila, ride a plane to Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan or a direct (more expensive) flight to El Nido proper. From Puerto Prinsesa airport, there are vans that directly go to El Nido. The travel time would be around 5 hours. Alternative is to ride a bus but will take longer hours of land travel. Once in El Nido town center, ride a tricycle going to Corong-Corong Beach.

You might want to check out http://www.letspalawan.com/  for more…

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.

Playa Tropical (Ilocos Norte, PH)

If you are in search for a relaxing beachfront resort in Ilocos, this Balinese-inspired resort in Currimao just might amuse your taste.
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Created in traditional Balinese architecture, Playa Tropical Resort’s picturesque villas, private pools, distinctive garden bathrooms and delicate interiors with Balinese art, is certainly a relaxing abode for you and your family.

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Features:

Playa Tropical resort comes with 5 two-storey Casas. Each casa has a private pool. The smaller (and cheaper ones) called Casitas house standard rooms that are as good and tidy as the Casas. In between the Casas and the Casitas is a pond that adds beauty to the place.

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At the ground floor is the resort’s inhouse restaurant-slash-cafe called Café Amarra. Some of the food they serve include Ilocano delicacies like poque-poque and longganisa. Although they are good, they are quite expensive.

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Near the seashore is the resort’s large Infinity Pool. There is also a playground for kids and a spa at one side.  One can also stroll along the beach area as it is just a stone’s throw away from the poolside. The sand may be grayish to black but it has to be one of the finest beach sand I have set foot on. One can wait til late afternoon as the sundown is really stunning at this side of Ilocos.

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Other amenities include the following: Wifi access, housekeeping service, Room service, car wash. They also have function rooms and game room. You may also ask them to arrange a tour around Ilocos Norte.

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Fo your reference, here are the room rates:

Deluxe Double (2 double beds, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, standing shower or bathtub combo) – Php 3,800 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 4,180 (Peak)

Deluxe King (1 king-sized bed, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, standing shower or bathtub combo) – Php 3,800 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 4,180 (Peak)

Premier Room (1 king-sized bed with couch, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, standing shower or bathtub combo) – Php 4,000 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 4,400 (Peak)

Royal Suite with Bathtub (1 canopy bed, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, bathtub) –  Php 5,800 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 6,380 (Peak)

Royal Suite with Jacuzzi (1 canopy bed, cable television, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toiletry set, Jacuzzi) – Php 6,500 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 7,150 (Peak)

Casa Room (1 queen Sized bed and 3 single beds, 18 sqm private pool,cable television, mini-fridge, in-room safe, individually controlled air-conditioning, hot and cold water, separate toilet and bath) – Php 12,500 nett (Regular) good for single/double occupancies with breakfast; PHP 13,750 (Peak)

Please take note that prices maybe subject to change without prior notice. Also, rooms that are single or twin sharing have complementary breakfast.

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*Maximum of four adults in a room, 2 excess adults without breakfast

*Extra person: PhP 600 per person per night, PhP 800 (for Casa Room)

*Children 8 years old and below sharing bed with their parents are considered free of charge but without breakfast. 9 years old and above are considered adult with full charge rate.

*Check in time: 2 pm; Check out time: 12 noon. Early check in and late check out is subject to room availability on the day itself.

**If one opts for a day tour, the entrance and pool use is at 200Php/ person.

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Playa Tropical Resort Hotel, Barangay Victoria, Currimao, Ilocos Norte, Philippines

Contact us through (+63) 917 570 0223 or (+63) 670 1211 or email us at stay@playatropical.com.ph

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So the next time you are feeling tired and you want an escape some where north, stay at Playa Tropical Resort. Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust.

Vera Falls (Albay, PH)

Vera Falls is a refreshingly stunning cascade located in the municipality of Malinao, Albay. This 25-meter beauty have mini waterfalls coming out of the rocks at the side of the main falls. It’s very cold catch basin is about 2 meters deep and is really clear and clean. I commend the people who manage this waterfalls because it is well maintained.

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Being tucked within the outskirts of Albay, one will feel a sense of veiled utopia after an easy downhill sauntering (which obviously needs a pretty strenuous trek back). Nonetheless, I love Vera Falls’ charm. It was our last stop for our Bicol trip and we had to cut-short our stay. I wish to get back to this waterfalls the next time I am in Albay.

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Please note that there is a parking area (with a beautiful view of Mount Mayon) near the entrance going to Vera Falls. It is a good thing that no entrance fee is collected. However, there was a person asking for donation for the area’s maintenance. The trek from the parking area to the falls is just around 10 minutes via concrete stairs. A few cottages were constructed near the falls and a small store can be found just before the entrance to the waterfalls.

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How to Get to Vera Falls:

From Manila, the fastest way would be an airplane ride to Legazpi City in Albay. Then, from Legaspi City, one may either ride a jeepney, van, or bus plying the Legaspi City-Tabaco City route. The travel time is about 30 to 45 minutes. Once in Tabaco city, go to the plaza near City Hall where one will find motorcycles or habal habal bound for Vera Falls. The travel time from Tabaco City Hall to the falls is about 20 to 30 minutes through some unpaved terrain. Alternatively, one can ride a tricycle bound for Barangay Soa and then from Barangay Soa, ride a motorcycle to Vera Falls. The tricycle terminal for tricycles bound for Barangay Soa is near the Tabaco church.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust.

Talahid Beach (Biliran, PH)

Talahid Beach is perhaps one of the most popular and frequented beach in mainland Biliran province.The beach, which is located in the town of Almeria, is lined with several resorts and it faces some islands like Dalutan and Capinahan Islands.

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The beach may not have fine white sand (rather, it has pebble to coralline like sandy shoreline) but it possesses a calm and crystal clear water that is difficult to resist. Moreover, the beach becomes magical both in the morning and in the afternoon as the sunrise and sunset can be both viewed from the area.

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There are 3 well-established resorts in the area.

Resort Contacts
Agta Beach Resort +63 927 150 0335, +63 920 583 0480, +63 936 970 2476 or email at
info@agtabeachresort.com
Coco Grove (Talahid Beach Resort) +63 917 826 9321
VRC Resort +63 (0) 9164665809;  vrcresort@gmail.com

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These resorts may arrange your tour within the island like island-hopping tour to Sambawan Island, Maripipi Island, Capinahan Island and Dalutan Island. You may also trek you way to the many waterfalls of Almeria (and Biliran in general) like Ulan-Ulan, Recoletos and many more. If you wish to do various water activities like snorkelling, SCUBA diving, kayaking and paddle boarding, you can just let the resorts staff know.

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How to Get to Talahid Beach:

From Manila, fly to Tacloban City in Leyte. From Tacloban, you have several options to get to Talahid, Almeria, Biliran. The most frequent, and conducive way is to hire a van although there are also public transports like jeepney or taxi that will take you to the van terminal and get on a van to Naval (Biliran’s capital). Once in Naval, ride a bus to Kawayan and get off right at the top of the Talahid Beach where most of the aforementioned resorts driveway are. You can also hire a habal-habal from Naval for a faster means of transport to Talahid.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust.

Sitangkai: Seaweed Capital (Tawi-tawi, PH)

If there is one place in Tawi-tawi that was initially at the top of my list, that has to be the island municipality of Sitangkai. For several years, I have read that this sword-shaped island is the Philippines version of Venice where there are waterways and bridges, instead of roads and streets with a touch of Asian culture. With this narrative alone, it has confined my thoughts for quite some time. (Well who would not have wanted to see Venice?)

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And so, when I had the opportunity to visit Tawi-tawi (the Philippines southernmost province) I did not  let pass by the idea of visiting the famed floating market in the Philippines. During our 2nd day in Tawi-tawi, we made our way to Sitangkai. From afar, one would already notice how the island seems to float on water. It is very noticeable that most of the houses were standing on stilts.

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As we come nearer, we have noticed that despite the very clear waters surrounding the place, a lot of garbages were scattered floating. But I did not allow these sights to affect my excitement. We reached a wide canal to which our boatman remarked that we are now entering Sitangkai’s market. It was as if I was brought to a new world.

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Several smaller boats further greeted us until we docked at an area where there were lots of seaweeds being dried. Sitangkai is also known as the “seaweeds capital of the Philippines” due to the large production of seaweeds. From there, we started to walk our way further inside the market. According to our guide, before, one can reach the end of the canal by riding a boat. But now, that is no longer the practice since some areas of the canal has become more congested.

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It was a humbling experience seeing the life of our Tausug and Sama Dilaut brothers and sisters despite having mixed feelings during our quick walking tour of Sitangkai. The “Venice” I initially had in mind may not be the same with what I have seen personally, but the utter exquisiteness of the town’s core built on coral reefs plus the natural water passageways is purely beyond explanation. However, I am fervently wishing that the people and their leaders do something about the town’s garbage problem. Based on my observations, it looks like the people have the habit of just throwing their trashes into the waterways. I am not certain but I feel that the people are thinking the sea will anyhow wash this garbage away from them.

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I wish that the locals realize how this appalling issue on trashes impact our environment and their future. And that an environmental catastrophe might sooner or later threaten this paradise in the middle of the Sulu Sea.

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How to Get to Sitangkai:

From Manila, ride a plane to Zamboanga City and another plane to to Bongao, the capital town of Tawi-Tawi. From the airport in Bongao, ride a tricycle to the Chinese Pier and look for the ferry (lantsa) going to Sitangkai. The boat (lantsa) ride will take you around 5-6 hours depending on the cargo load of the boat. It leaves Bongao around 10am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Alternatively, if you are already in Sibutu, you can charter a boat from Tandu Owak which is only about 45 minutes ride.

For assistance: Contact Ma’am Salve Pescadera of Tawi-Tawi Tourism Office at +63 910 671 6367 or +63 905 154 7865.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust.

Sulvec Beach & the Grotto by the Sea (Ilocos Sur, PH)

The province of Ilocos Sur is primarily known for its capital city – Vigan. Hence, most people would spend their time in this famous Spanish-inspired “ciudad” (city). While it is true that the Heritage City of Vigan offers a lot to see and experience, the towns one gets to pass by on the way to Ilocos are also worthy of being visited.

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The coastal town of Narvacan (one of the largest in terms of land area and population in the entire Ilocos Sur) would actually capture a traveller’s attention as it imposes a stunning seascape. One particular spot is a rocky beach and a grotto by the sea called Paraiso ni Juan at Sulvec Point. The striking beauty of these vistas would often prompt a traveller to drop by the area. I suggest though that you stay until sundown because the sunset view is just stunning at this side of Ilocos.

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The grotto built by the sea was named after Captain Juan de Salcedo, whose fleet was shipwrecked in this area. Besides the sand dunes of Laoag and Paoay, this spot is also famed for being one of the places where the late Fernando Poe Jr shot his movie “Ang Panday”. TGoing to the grotto may require wading into the water and crossing some coralline rocksduring low tide as it is located several meters away from the beach line. The beach area (Sulvec Beach) is lined with some rock formations, and brown rocky sand. A few huts can be found making it an ideal place for picnic with friends and family.

As a person who loves sunsets, waiting for the sun as it immerses into the horizon at the end of the day, is the one thing I enjoyed the most. Just heart-melting!

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How to Reach Sulvec Beach (Point) and Paraiso ni Juan:

From Manila ride an Ilocos bound bus from Cubao (some in Pasay) Terminal. Bus lines like Genesis, Partas, Viron and Florida have regular trips to the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and La Union. Ride a bus that is Vigan or Laoag-bound then inform the conductor to drop you off at Sulvec point. Just cross the national highway and you will immediately spot the grotto.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’.