Masbate has been gaining popularity locally and internationally because of the Rodeo Festival held every April. Aside from this annual event, there are other interesting places to go to explore the beauty of nature in this province.
1. Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary
If you have a limited time in Masbate City and wanted to have instant nature experience, Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary is the place to go. This is just a 15-minute motor boat ride from the city. The most prominent feature is the sparkling white sandbar and the healthy mangroves that protect the islet including the main island. This place has been declared as the 2nd Most Resilient Marine Sanctuary to climate change in Central Philippines. It is managed by a group of fisherfolks who were originally into dynamite fishing. The local government supported them to raise their awareness in taking care of the environment.
The best time to go is on an early morning where you can have the place exclusive to your group. This can be a nature picnic of some sort at a common rest house, so make sure to bring along some food and drinks as they are not usually available there. Be ready to get wet, especially during low tide where you get to wade in the water when riding and going down the motor boat.
Upon docking down the motor boat, you will be welcomed by nature’s beauty of the sand bar. It is best to go barefoot to experience the fine sand under your feet.
There a lot of activities that one can indulge such as snorkeling, diving (by fisherfolks trained as dive instructors), kayaking or island hopping. Or you can simply take a dip in the clear water, chase small fishes, appreciate the healthy green mangroves on the other side of the sandbar.
2. The Cattleman Farm
This place is not the usual tourist destination since this is a private property. However, the owners are accommodating enough that they will allow entry of guests upon prior notice. This is located on the southwest side of Masbate before reaching the Palani, Balud resorts. It is the place where breeding cattle are raised which are available to the different ranches in Masbate. The farm house is located on a strategic and serene location that you can bask nature around with the cool breeze, rolling hills and the sea from afar. Aside from cows, different farm animals abound such as chicken, dog, turkey, pig, and guinea fowl. If you’re lucky enough, you can partake of the beef from their butchered cows which is one of the best organic, grass-fed cows in the country.
3. Paraiso de Palani
Paraiso de Palani is one of the places to go for a decent accommodation in Balud or Mandaon, Masbate. The place is owned by a talented woman who put all her creative juices to work in designing the resort and its rustic interiors. Indigenous materials abundant in the area and driftwood carried by the waves to the shore were used as decors and furniture.
The beach front is very serene, not many people stay overnight so you can have the place to yourself especially on late afternoons and early mornings. Upon request, you can have a bonfire at night on the beach with music for dancing while the fire is burning.
The owner cooks for small groups with freshly caught seafood available from the fisherfolks. The gourmet food with the artistic presentations is served on the hut below or in the restaurant area for larger groups. They have clean, spacious, and well-decorated rooms with dining tables just right outside for eating and drinking. They also have dorm-type rooms for those who are on a budget.
4. Juliana’s Farm
Juliana’s Farm is situated in Tagpu, Mandaon. This is a combination of a residential and office where ACE Masbatenos Advocacy Cooperative operates through the support of Outreach International. The is a showcase of an eco-friendly building in Masbate that utilized bamboo and indigenous materials complemented with solar panels, rain water catchment, and eco-san toilet. There’s a 360 degrees wind circulation and the gentle breeze will lull you to sleep while sitting on bamboo furniture. Freshly caught shells and seafood such as oyster, crabs, fish, and shrimps are the common food available. There are also vegetables and fruits that grow abundantly around.
5. Sutukil Restaurant
Masbate is a haven for fresh seafood such as scallops, prawns, crabs, squid, and a variety of fishes. The best place to have a taste of these is at Sutukil, an acronym for Sugba, Tula, Kilaw which means Grilled, With Broth and Sashimi-style preparation. You can also order fresh coconut juice with the shell then you can scrape the coconut meat once you have finished your drink.
How to get around Masbate
Masbate is accessible from different routes depending on your location of origin. You can go to Masbate coming from Manila and Cebu (by air, land, and sea) or Legazpi/Sorsogon and Iloilo (by sea). The choice will depend on your destination area.
Upon reaching Masbate, you can hire a van exclusive to your group or take the public air-conditioned van at the terminal. There are also public non-aircon vehicles but it will take longer for you to arrive at your destination since they have lots of stops along the way.