Located smack dab in the middle of the Philippines, the Visayas (also known as the Visayan Islands) is one of the country’s three main island groups. The Visayas made up of four regions, sixteen provinces, thirty-two major towns, and hundreds of islands.
Visayas is perhaps best known for its beaches, and there’s plenty to choose from. There’s the ever-popular Boracay in the province of Aklan, famed for its white sand and clear turquoise waters. Thousands of visitors flock to Boracay each year and international airlines even offer direct flights to the area.
There’s also Mactan Island in the Cebu province, which houses some of the country’s best resorts and diving spots.
If you’re someone who’s hoping to avoid tourist traps, there are also plenty of secluded beaches in Visayas. Check out Paliton Beach in Siquijor or Bantayan Island in Northern Cebu. Who knows, you may even spot a whale shark or a few dolphins in these areas.
Hikers also have a number of mountain trails to choose from here. There’s Osmeña Peak, the highest point on the island of Cebu. For those who are looking for a test of endurance, there’s also Mount Talinis in Negros.
The Visayan Islands are known for their festivals and each town has a distinct one. There’s the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan, which mixes the town’s indigenous heritage with Catholic and Christian traditions. There’s the Sinulog Festival in Cebu that celebrates the feast day of the Santo Niño every third weekend of January. Bacolod has its Masskara Festival in October, where the town’s streets are filled with people donning colorful masks.
You’ll never go hungry in the Visayas, as there’s plenty of food to be found here. Each town even has its own signature dish.
There’s the famous lechon (roast pig) of Cebu, which TV host and chef Anthony Bourdain claims to be the best pig he’s ever eaten in his life. There’s the chicken inasal of Bacolod, a type of chicken barbecue that’s marinated in lime juice, salt, and pepper. Iloilo has its La Paz Batchoy, a noodle soup made with pork organs, chicken broth, and round noodles, topped with ground-up chicharon (pork cracklings) and green onions.
The Visayas may be a group of islands clustered together, but each region, province, town and island couldn’t be more different from one another. No matter where you go in the Visayan Islands, there’s always something new to discover.