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Siquijor, Tablas Island or Palawan in early September 2013?

Seattle, Washington
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Siquijor, Tablas Island or Palawan in early September 2013?

Hi everyone, I want to ask your advice and input on what's the best place to visit during the first 2 weeks of September: Siquijor, Tablas Island or Palawan? This is my first time in the Philippines so I don't know much about traveling there. I am looking for a place that has

- fairly good weather (I don't mind some rain but not all day along),

- good sandy white beaches,

- not too crowded,

- fairly easy transport to and from Manila

Please let me know your recommendation and your thoughts and opinions. I value them greatly. Thanks.

Philippines
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1. Re: Siquijor, Tablas Island or Palawan in early September 2013?

Hi stle,

1) The only place in Palawan which fits into "fairly easy travel from Manila is Coron Palawan - the rest of Palawan is a pain to reach. Fortunately the sights in Coron are pretty close in comparisson with El Nido and PP, with much much less crowds.

In Coron, DO NOT stay in the town proper - it is a dusty crowded place with nothing of note - most people who have stayed in the town had a bad impression. Instead, stay on one of the outlying island s(we stayed in Discovery dive resort which has just one reasonably priced resort in the small island - not much of a beach though)

2) Siquijor - has a far better beach (depends a lot on WHERE you decide to stay.). We stayed at Cocogrove which has excellent facilities (is a bit expensive) and a long white sand beach (and excellent snorkeling and kayaking) + a lot of greenery

3) Tablas island - sorry, not been there yet.

4) However, if beaches are your priority, Malapascua is far better - it has one long white powdery sand beach with very few people. (Palawan tends to have more crowds). Reachign from Manila is easier than Palawan, but not so straightforward.

Easiest way to reach - Take a flight to Cebu, take a taxi from the airport to North bus terminus (unless you wish to spend a day in Cebu and see places like Santo Nino cathedral and the fort), Take the bus to Maya (5 hours), wait for the next Bangka (there is one every about 1-2 hours), take the boat across (1 hour sea travel, in choppy weather, big boat, seats about 30 people comfortably, everyone in the boat gets drenched!). The trip is a wee bit painful, but the island is a beautiful place to relax and lounge.

5) I would have liked to suggest Cacnipa island in Palawan, which has a beautiful beach and just one reasonably priced resort on the small island, but Unfortunately all these places in Palawan's main island are difficult to reach form Manila.

6) How important is proximity to Manila for you? An excellent place is Puerto Gallera - Coco beach resort - it has a beach and many native style but comfortable cottages overlooking the sea, along the slope of a hill in the midst of coconut trees. Easy to reach from Manila - just take a air con bus to Batangas port (3 hours), take a ferry to Puerto Gallera (2 hours - but just 3-4 services per day so best to arrive Batangas in the morning, big boat - seats about 100 people).

Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: Siquijor, Tablas Island or Palawan in early September 2013?

Hi YouLiveOnlyOnce,

Thank you for the excellent detailed information. This is very helpful in planning my trip.

I understand that September is rainy season in the Philippines. I read somewhere that its best to stay in the southern islands on the west to avoid the storms. Is this true? What kind of weather can I expect in some of the locations you suggested?

Thanks.

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3. Re: Siquijor, Tablas Island or Palawan in early September 2013?

@ Stle

Yes - it is true that September is rainy season in the Philippines. However, to be more precise, we have the south west monsoon at that time. While chances of rain in the south are LESSER, this frankly has very little meaning to the tourist, since we have had storms in the center and south for the past two years in this time!

Instead, since the winds during this time will be from the south, it is best to stay in a resort which is on the north / north east coast of that particular island.

For example, if you stayed in Siquijor island at Cocogrove resort, you would face massive waves making it difficult to enjoy snorkelling, while if you stayed in any resort on the northern part of the island, you may be better off.

Having said that, Monsoons are a funny time in the Phils - for example, invariably, we often have bright sunshine during this time for 3-4 days followed by a heavy downpout for 3-4 days! Plus on many days, it is hot and sunny during the mornigna dn daytime, and by 3 pm, suddenly clouds appear, by 5 there is thunder and lightning.

For a tourist, you may think this is bad. Au contraire, it is fantastic! You see - if you decide to stay for a week at a particular place, you are nearly assured even during the rainy season that there will be some days of bright sunshine! Plus it is much cooler during this time. Some of my best trips have been during this season.

Also, Phils weather is NOT just wet and dry seasons - there are FOUR weather regions in the PHils - this image in Wikipedia is spot on and may help you ...

…wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Philippine_climate_…

just superimpose it on any tourist map of Phils to get a better idea of what weather you can expect in which place (keep an open mind that 10% of the time the weather will be different from that expected!)

Incidentally, Siquijor and Bohol comes in the yellow bit (type IV), Cebu island - southern part is red (type 3) while the northern part with Malapascua is yellow, PG comes under the cusp of blue and red

Which brings me to the questions ...

a) how many days do you plan to spend here?

b) I guess you are ok with some air travel locally (it improves your chances of going to good places). We have budget airlines which service Phils domestically, and I have always been comfortable travelling 2 hours by air rather than 5 hours in choppy seas in a boat. (Phils is 7107 islands so there will invariably be some element of boat travel - one just tries to keep this to an hour or 2 in the rainy season)

c) WHY do you want to be close to Manila? Also how close?

Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: Siquijor, Tablas Island or Palawan in early September 2013?

I'm planning to stay from Sept. 4th until 10th.I don't mind flying and boating locally. Actually, I don't have to stay close to Manila but since its my first time traveling in the Philippines, I would like to keep the traveling straightforward (not too many transfers).

I'm looking at a place on the northeastern part of the Siargao Island (tripadvisor.com/VacationRentalReview-g674645…). Any thoughts on the location?

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: Siquijor, Tablas Island or Palawan in early September 2013?

Actually, based on your suggestion, I'm leaning more towards a place on the northeastern part of Siquijor (tripadvisor.com/VacationRentalReview-g664445…).

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6. Re: Siquijor, Tablas Island or Palawan in early September 2013?

@ Stle

Excellent - in that case, my suggestion is fly out of Manila, choose one good place to stay, and stay there all through. For a vacation of 7 days a max of 2 places close by (in time) is just fine.

Actually Siquijor has limited beaches... for example - some specific resorts like Coco grove have an excellent beach while others just have a rocky coastline. A sea facing cottage need not mean beaches :) ... more so in Siquijor.

What else are you looking for other than sandy white beaches?

Too many of those in a country with 7107 islands! Any other desirables? ... that will make it easier for TA users to post their suggestions for you

Seattle, Washington
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7. Re: Siquijor, Tablas Island or Palawan in early September 2013?

Thanks YouLiveOnlyOnce for your helpful advice. Besides the beaches, I like to do some hiking and see nature, waterfalls, summits, etc. Any other island suggestions?

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8. Re: Siquijor, Tablas Island or Palawan in early September 2013?

Of your list, I have only been to Siquijor but it meets all your requirements!

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9. Re: Siquijor, Tablas Island or Palawan in early September 2013?

stle_ us,

Both, Bamboo Garden and Hard rock cottages, maybe a little isolated for you if you dont ride a motorcycle, though both good choices.

You should also have a look at Bohol, which could keep you busy for a week, or possibly do both Siquijor and Bohol for a few days each

Seattle, Washington
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10. Re: Siquijor, Tablas Island or Palawan in early September 2013?

PHoenix242, thanks for the suggestion. I'll definitely look into Bohol. You bring up a good point about transportation within the island. How much should I pay to hire a tricycle with a driver for a day? What would be reasonable fare for shorter trips between destinations on the island?