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Western Mindanao region may have had its share of bad publicity, due to the pestering conflict there between separatist rebels and the government over the years. But, if you take a really close and more balanced look at this area, you’ll be so surprised to find a lot of areas that show great promise, especially in terms of travel and tourism. Located just a few hours away from Sabah, Malaysia, Tawi Tawi is an island-province blessed with white sand beaches, dive sites, stunning mountain lookouts, prehistoric caves, and more. For the bold and daring, there are a lot of rewards for visiting this gem in the Sulu Sea.

Sangay Siapo Island

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If you want to feel like a castaway for a day in a majestic island, then take a boat ride at the Bongao port and head to Sangay Siapo Island. Once you arrive here, you’ll be mesmerized by the turquoise, blue-green waters that surround this small island. A trip to this far-flung outpost should make a perfect addition to your Philippine Beach Holidays!

According to a local caretaker, the island used to be a popular resort, until the original owners fell into tough financial times. The resort’s main structures have now been abandoned, and remain in disrepair. That’s why if you plan to come here, make sure you bring your own food, as well as your own diving and snorkeling gear, because the waters off the island teem with lovely coral reefs and rich marine life!

You could also ask your guide to buy “Junay”, which is rice steamed in coconut milk with toasted coconut, from the public market. This aromatic rice is wrapped in banana leaves, and goes well with salty dried fish, along with shredded mango in soy sauce and chili. Now isn’t that delicious?!

Sandbar Beach Lepa and Restaurant

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If Sangay Siapo is too far for you at the moment, you can actually swim, snorkel and dine at one of the newest tourist resorts near the capital town of Bongao, and it’s called Sandbar Beach Lepa and Restaurant.

This is located on a very scenic part of the town, where the mountain meets the sea, and visitors can enjoy a hearty meal and go swimming afterwards! The resort has stylish, good-looking villas for overnight stays, and its main restaurant is designed like the “lepa” boat, which is the houseboat of the Badjao tribe.

Other Nice Things To Do In Tawi Tawi

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Apart from swimming, diving and snorkeling, visitors to Tawi Tawi will also  enjoy exploring Bolobok Cave, and paying a visit to the Tawi Tawi Provincial Capitol too. Likewise, they can buy dried fish and other seafood at the market and Old Chinese Pier,  also souvenir items at the Badjao Village. A quick trip to the mangrove forest should also offer a refreshing respite.

And of course a trip to amazing Philippine Tourist Attractions like Tawi Tawi will not be complete, if you don’t experience hiking up Bongao Peak, or Bud Bongao! Locals often go up the cliff to pray for good health and more blessings, as well as enjoy the sweeping views of Bongao Island. Don’t forget to bring bananas for the monkeys living along the hiking trail!