San Jose

A farmer at work in a salt field in San Jose (Photo: Samuel de Leon)

Where to stay

  • Ambulong Bluewater ResortAmbulong Island; +63 43 491 2043; facebook.com/Ambulongbluewater. A charming resort that’s ideal for a quiet getaway. It’s eco-friendly too, with green features like solar panels and waste segregation systems.
  • Aroma Family Hotel and Resort Complex, Aroma Center, San Roque 1. An affordably-priced resort located a stone’s throw away from the popular Aroma Beach.
  • Villa Paulina Beach Resort, Bubog Rd; +63 43 306 0003; www.villapaulinabeachresort.com. A clean and comfortable beachfront resort that’s perfect for a peaceful stay.

Where to eat

  • Circle Food Center, Labangan Poblacion. A small and affordable eatery where you can sample local eats like pancit guisado (sautéed rice noodles with meat and vegetables).
  • Glendenning Hotel and Resort, Bubog Rd; +63 999 990 4855. The hotel’s in-house restaurant dishes out super-fresh seafood dishes.
  • Ian Jole’s Camalig Restaurant, C. Salvo St, Buenavista Sablayan; +63 912 961 1465. Must-try dishes here include the adobong pugita (octopus marinated in spices).
  • Kusina ni Lea Restaurant, Sikatuna St; +63 921 322 2218. A homely, air-conditioned restaurant dishing up authentic Filipino fare, such as grilled squid.
  • Macky’s Fast Food, San Jose National Rd. Drop by for some of the best-tasting pancit (stir-fried noodles) in town.
  • Precious Inasal and Bulalo, San Roque, Airport Rd. Try the house specialties, as well as appetizers like chicaron bulaklak (pork crackling) and seaweed salad.
  • Rapsa Eats, A. Mabini St; facebook.com/rapsaeats. A casual restaurant that serves up dishes like bulalo (soup cooked with beef shanks and marrow) and silog (garlic fried rice topped with overeasy eggs and meat).
  • Sikatuna Beach Hotel and Restaurant, Brgy. San Roque; +63 43 491 4108; www.sikatunabeachhotel.com. The in-house restaurant specializes in local favorites like sizzling seafood (seafood on a hot plate) and barbecued chicken.
  • The Pilot’s Lounge, El Mora Hotel, San Roque 1; www.elmorahotel.com. You’ll find both local and imported beer varieties at this aviation-themed watering hole, which is owned by pilots.

What to do

  • Apo Reef Natural Park, Sablayan. This park is the second-largest contiguous coral reef in the world, so it’s surprise that it’s one of the Philippines’ top dive sites.
  • Buhid Mangyan villages. Visit the traditional villages of the indigenous Buhid Mangyan, and learn more about their culture and ancient scripts (which have been declared as National Cultural Treasures).
  • Central Heritage Park, Brgy. Central. This site was once the first sugar mill in Far East Asia. It is currently being developed into a recreational park.
  • Ilin Island. The island’s Inasakan Beach is famed for its powdery white sand and crystal clear waters. You can also experience cave swimming at Sitio Ansiray.
  • Lubang Island. This island was the hideout of Hiroo Onoda, the infamous Japanese WWII soldier who, not believing that the war was over, refused to surrender for 30 years. He finally surrendered in 1974.
  • San Jose Public Market. Stock up on fresh seafood and native delicacies like banana chips at this market. You’ll also find Mangyan handicrafts, such as baskets, bags and woven accessories.
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