Are you dreaming of an escapade in the southernmost part of the Philippines? Let me take you through this visual tour to the province of Tawi-Tawi, an offbeat destination in the country. Not known to many, the province of Tawi-Tawi is home to a number of interesting tourist attractions and beautiful peace-seeking and friendly people. Here’s some of the photos I captured during my first and second visit to Tawi-Tawi. (Read: A Journey to the Sourthernmost Island of the Philippines)
Most travels to Tawi-tawi start off in Bongao, the capital and the most densely populated municipality of the province. Points of interest in Bongao include the famous Bud Bongao, the Sanga-Sanga Channel and the capitol, and busy town market. (Read: Destination : Bongao)
How to get there: From Manila, Cebu or Davao, take a plane to Zamboanga City. From Zamboanga you can either take another plane to Tawi-Tawi for about an hour or you can opt to take a boat that will bring you to Bongao in less than 24 hours. The airport in Tawi-Tawi is located in Sanga-Sanga so you will have to take a tricycle to bring you to Bongao.
Situated west of Simunul is the island of Sibutu, known to be the home of the best ship and boat makers in Tawi-Tawi and neighboring islands. It also boasts of its crystal clear water and pristine white sand beaches open to the public to experience.
How to get there: From Bongao, take a boat to either Tandu Banak or Sibutu town proper. We’ve asked the Philippine Marines stationed at the port and they recommended we take the boat to Tandu Banak, so we did. Travel time is around 3 hours for less than P200. Boat is schedule is usually on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday so it’s better to ask the boatmen from the Chinese port of their schedule a day before or early in the morning.
Saluag is the southernmost island in the Philippine Archipelago. It is locally known as Sikulan and is inhabited by a small community of Sama Dilaut and Tausug that live off the waters teeming with fish and seaweed.
How to get there: From Tandu Banak or Sibutu proper, take a habal-habal (motor taxi) to Tandu Owak. From there, charter a boat to Saluag Island. Travel time is around 30 minutes.
Sitangkai Island is a sword shaped island west of Sibutu, home of the stilted houses of the Sama Dilaut and Tausug.
How to get there: Take a passenger boat from Bongao Port (different from the Chinese port) which 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.
Simunul is a town in Tawi-Tawi located southeast of Bongao. It is an unassuming island that is most famous not for its beaches or its beautiful waters, but for being home to the first mosque in the country. In 1380, Sheik Karimul Makhdum built the first mosque in the Philippines at Bohe Indangan.
How to get there: From Bongao, take a boat to Simunul from the town’s Chinese port. The boats usually leave at noon so you have to be there before lunch time. Unless you are chartering a boat, you will have to stay overnight in the island as the schedule of the passenger boat going back to Bongao is set for around 8am.
Where to stay in Zamboanga? Recommended hotels to stay in Zamboanga City. Please click the name of the hotel below to check the rates and availability.
- Garden Orchid Hotel
- Grand Astoria Hotel
- Ever O Business Hotel
- City Inn Hotel
- Winzelle Suites
- Casa Canelar Pension
Have you been to Tawi-Tawi? Tell us your experience in the comment below.
If this blog has helped you in any way, please like our Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter & Instagram at @escapemanila. Thank you for your support!