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Google Map Views of Interesting Places in the Philippines (1 of 3)

Crater lake of Mt. Pinatubo
Getting there: Easy with the use of 4x4 vehicles and a trek of 1-3 hours (depending on the route taken)

With more than 7,000 islands that mostly rose up from the bottom of the sea over the process of 50 million years, its no wonder that we would find a lot of interesting places in the Philippines. And with the help of Google maps, what we will see will astound us!

We could see more (believe me, there are hundreds of them!), but not all areas have clear maps and some are even clouded over. But these ones I got should already make some of you giddy and ready to pack your bags!

Not all of them are easy to reach, though. So I have put some "how to get there" kind of a travel tip.

Islands of Mercedes, Camarines Norte. The one on the right is Apuao Grande and the one on the left is the little brother called Apuao Pequena. There are other islands in this area and you can have an entire day jumping from one beach to the next.

How to get there: Easy. Bus to Daet, jeepney or hired van to Mercedes Port, then hire a boat for island hopping

Banaue Rice Terraces. See that huge building on the left? Yes, that one with a swimming pool? That's the 70's resort hotel (of course, called Banaue Hotel) built by the goverment. But don't let the age of hotel fool you, sit on the veranda in the early morning and you can already see the Kinakin Rice Terraces in front of you. If you opt to stay in an inn instead, there are a lot available in the town proper of Banaue.

How to get there: Very easy. Just be ready for the 8-9 hours land travel.

Batad Rice Terraces. The viewpoint of the rices terraces near the town proper of Banaue is for those who are easily satisfied and don't want to get tired (okay those with limited time to spend). But for those willing to trek through mountain trails, Batad is THE ONE! Its not called the amphitheater for nothing. Plus, there is a bonus visit to the huge waterfall when you're in Batad Village (with more trekking through rice paddies that rise up to 20 feet, with no hand holds!)

How to get there: With effort. Hire a jeepney or a tricycle from the town proper of Banaue to the Saddle, then trek (45 minutes for the fast ones, 3 hours for the potato couches).

Y'Ami Island, Batanes. Yes! This is the ultimate island! The northernmost island of the Philippines.  There are no people living here. It's so isolated and very hard to reach that probably only .0001% of Filipinos could get here.  You could see more Taiwanese fishing boats (hmmm...) when you're standing on its shore. You want a Philippine bucket list entry?

How to get there: Almost impossible. Must have lots of money to hire a boat willing to take you there. Sit on the side of the boat or be ready with your barf bag. A helicopter for the insanely rich should be a better option.

Calaguas Islands, Camarines Norte. I had several opportunities to visit this place since 1999. All of them failed. Now, I drool with envy whenever I read articles of travelers who had great fun in these fairly isolated islands.

How to get there: A bit easy, but definitely a long boat ride.

Caramoan, Camarines Sur. This is a quite old map still used by Google. There are already beach villas in Gota Beach. Spent two nights camped on the beach many years ago with plate-sized crabs crawling beside our tents. Island hopping, snorkeling, the beach life.... you know the rest. Now, you cannot camp on Gota Beach anymore, you have to do it in other beach areas with no people.

How to get there: long boat ride (3 hours, plus 1 hour land travel from Naga City) or a combination of fairly long land travel and a bit shorter boat ride.

Corregidor Island, Cavite (yup, not Bataan). Definitely for history buffs or those who want a combination of real stories and great views. I won't talk about the ghost stories like the company of Japanese ghost soldiers marching on the island.... nope. Take a real close look at the big guns, the bullet holes and try to imagine how horrifying it should be to be in a time of senseless war.

How to get there: A bit expensive to typical Pinoys. Must get a tour package if coming from Manila. Another option is to travel by land to Cabcaben in Bataan then hire a boat for 15 minutes of travel. This is not a regular thing, so be ready for the hassle of finding a boat and haggling.

Fort Drumm or El Fraile (The Priest) Island, near Corregidor Island. Very interesting this thing is. An island boarded with steel and shaped like a ship. With huge cannons that fired at Japanese invaders. With an underground/undersea tunnel that connected it to Corregidor Island! But now flooded.

How to get there: must have kayak or boat to get near it.

Hundred Islands, Alaminos City, Pangasinan. There used to be only three islands where tourists can visit. But have a hired boat then you can visit more!

How to get there: Easy by bus from Manila then by boat.

La Mesa Watershed, Quezon City. See that lake? That's the water that feeds almost the entire 16 million Filipinos living in Metro Manila. See that green area? That's the forest that makes sure that the water level is maintained.

How to get there: Easy, by private or rented vehicle. Just tell the guard you're going to La Mesa Ecopark.

Paoay Lake and Desert, Ilocos Norte. Enjoy sand boarding in the desert, hop on your vehicle then enjoy the view of the lake. That's what life is.

Like feathers and other beautiful things. You want to find out what this is? Just scroll all the way to the top. Then go back here to click the "Next" link and see more great places.