Magat Dam - one of the best Isabela tourist spots
Guides and Itineraries,  Philippines

17+ BEST Isabela Tourist Spots and Things to Do

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Why visit Isabela? Also known as the “Queen Province of the North,” Isabela is a province rich with scenic natural landscapes, delicious delicacies, and unique culture and life. Where else can you find a province that honors the bambanti (scarecrow) annually?

It is the second largest province in the Philippines, coming next to Palawan. Due to its fertile agricultural lands, it supplies many important grains to different areas in the country — including rice, corn, munggo, among others. As such, it has earned various nicknames such as “Corn Capital of the Philippines” and “Rice Granary of the Philippines.”

Isabela Province is home to well-developed cities and towns, where you can enjoy a relaxed vacation. It is also home to the Sierra Madre mountain range, offering opportunities for hiking, trekking, and wildlife spotting. You can explore lush forests, jump into waterfalls, and take a dip into scenic rivers, and more.

In this guide, we’ll talk about the best Isabela tourist spots that you should include in your bucket list.

1. Ilagan Sanctuary

Ilagan Sanctuary is the most popular attraction in Ilagan City, the capital of Isabela. As an established eco-tourism park, it offers a serene escape from the hustle & bustle of the urban life while also offering various types of adventure.

Strap on your boots and go on a short trek to see Pinzal Falls. Or explore the caves within the sanctuary with a guide, who will tell you about their ecological history and features. Other recreational areas include the mini-zoo, botanical gardens, and sports amenities such as zipline, hanging bridge, and boats.

Alternatively, just grab a table and have a picnic with your family!

Either way, Ilagan Sanctuary is one of the must-visit tourist spots in Isabela for families and nature enthusiasts.

Location: Ilagan City

2. Magat Dam

Magat Dam - one of the best Isabela tourist spots
Magat Dam.

Next up on our list of amazing Isabela tourist spots is Magat Dam, located in the town of Ramon.

Magat Dam is one of the largest dams in the Philippines, and even Southeast Asia. It is an important architectural piece in Isabela, as it supplies irrigation to farmlands and generates hydroelectric power, which supplies electricity in the whole province!

You can visit here to see the breathtaking views of the reservoir and surrounding mountains. Picnicking is also a popular activity, with families using the public cottages and sheds in the area. For a more immersive experience, you can take a relaxing boat ride around the lake, which will allow you to appreciate the scenic landscape, dam structures, and even fish pens that local fishers maintain for growing different types of anglers.

Location: Ramon

3. Dibulo Falls

Dibulo Falls in Dinapigue, Isabela
Dibulo Falls.

One of the most majestic waterfalls in the Philippines, Dibulo Falls is a 100-meter-high waterfall tucked away in a mountain in the town of Dinapigue, Isabela.

Visit here for a short nature trek, where you can enjoy the cool splash of the waterfall and have a picnic at one of the cottages. Even though it is a little far from towns, there are toilets and showers where you can refresh afterwards.

And best of all — visiting here is completely free!

Location: Dinapigue

4. Blue Lagoon

Kat at Blue Lagoon, Palanan, Isabela
(Photo by JV Francisco)

One of the most beautiful nature attractions in Isabela — and a bucket list item in many — is Blue Lagoon. Tucked away in the town of Palawan, the Blue Lagoon features crystal-clear, turquoise waters set amidst a lush setting.

Make sure to pack a cutest swimwear so you can take gorgeous snaps of the lagoon, as well as a pair snorkel to see the fishes underneath! Drinks and snacks are also a must, with cottages available for picnicking and rest.

Location: Palanan

5. Dicotcotan Beach

Dicotcotan Beach in Palanan, Isabela
Dicotcotan Beach.

Another must-see attraction in Palawan is Dicotcotan Beach, a 3-kilometer stretch of sandy shore bordered by a small seaside town and forest. The beach is perfect for those looking for an idyllic beach vacation in Isabela.

A handful of resorts line the beach, where you can book a room for spending summer days in. In the morning, take a stroll along the shore and bask in the sun. Ready your snorkeling set to see coral reefs, fishes, and marine turtles. If you’re lucky, you might even spot dolphins playing together!

Of course, a beach vacay wouldn’t be complete without seafood galore! You can buy freshly caught fishes and seafood like prawns and lobsters for cheap, as well as other local delicacies.

Location: Palanan

6. Saint Matthias Church

Isabela Province is home to numerous beautiful churches, and one that stands out is St. Matthias Church, located in the town of Tumauini.

Also known as Tumauini Church, St. Matthias Church is a magnificent architectural gem built during the Spanish colonial period. It features a baroque design with red brick exteriors and a unique cylindrical tower — in fact, the only one made in that period. It was built in honor of Saint Matthias, who took the place of Judas after his betrayal of Jesus Christ.

This church earned its distinction as a Natural Cultural Treasure of the Philippines.

If you like visiting heritage churches, make sure to include St. Matthias Church in your Isabela itinerary. Also consider coming here in the next Visita Iglesia.

Location: Tumauini

7. Ilagan Japanese Tunnel

The Ilagan Japanese Tunnel is a historic landmark located in Ilagan City, Isabela. During the WWII, the tunnel served as headquarters for Japanese soldiers. The original tunnel has been preserved and the surrounding area has been transformed into a park with lush gardens, torri gates, and food stalls.

You can explore the tunnel and learn about the history of the city, take pictures of a kimono outside, and have a laid-back snack with your family and friends afterwards.

Location: Ilagan City

8. Our Lady of the Pillar Parish Church

If you’re visiting Isabela, chances are you’re staying at or near Cauayan City, in which case, why not make a stopover at Our Lady of the Pillar Parish Church?

Built in the 1700s, Our Lady of the Pillar Parish Church is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It boasts of beautiful red-brick architecture and interior decoration that is just as beautiful. Once you’re done appreciating its old-world charms, check out the intricate sculptures outside and the stunning murals in the ceiling.

Regardless of your faith, this is one of the best Isabela Province tourist spots that you should see.

Location: Cauayan City

Where to stay in Cauayan City:

9. San Pablo Church

Speaking of old churches, this list wouldn’t be complete without including San Pablo Church (also called San Pablo de Cabigan Church Ruins), a prominent landmark in Isabela Province.

Built in 1624, it is the oldest church in Isabela. It was built using adobe instead of red bricks, which makes it unique among similar Spanish-era churches, and features a six-storey bell tower, the tallest in Cagayan Valley Region.

The church was damaged during WWII and then later an earthquake, thus creating the ruins that we know now. In the 1950s, a smaller church was built within the ruins, which is currently where the locals visit to reflect and pray.

If you love old architecture, the San Pablo Church should be included in your list of Isabela Province tourist spots to visit.

Location: San Pablo

10. Abuan River

Once a route for illegal loggers, Abuan River is now one of the ecotourism spots in Isabela Province. Locals often come here for family outings, to bond and enjoy the cool, flowing water, said to be cleanest in Isabela.

Aside from swimming, kayaking and boating are also popular activities. Those who are looking for more adventure can try rappelling, waterfalls trekking, and seasonal whitewater rafting. Picnic areas and parks dot the riverbank, providing spots to rest and take respite from the heat.

Location: Ilagan City

11. Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island, Divilacan, Isabela
Honeymoon Island.

One of the most well-known Isabela Province tourist spots, Honeymoon Island is a naturally heart-shaped island nestled in the town of Divilacan. The island boasts fine, white sand and crystal-clear waters.

However, the island is currently private so you need to ask permission in advance to visit.

Location: Divilacan

12. Bonsai Forest

A testament to the rich biodiversity in Isabela Province is the bonsai forest discovered in a mountain in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park. Covering approximately 13,000 hectares, the bonsai forest is home to different varieties of bonsai trees ranging from 1 foot to 7 feet in height, as well as rare plants including pitcher plants, yellow ground orchids, and more.

To get here, you need to secure a permit from the LGU and then get a guide that knows the location of the bonsai forest. Ride a motorcycle or a 4×4 vehicle that can navigate through mountain trails and then hike a steep road for about 30 minutes.

Despite the challenge in reaching the area, the bonsai forest is still one of the recommended Isabela tourist spots, especially for those who love discovering flora and fauna.

Location: Dinapigue

13. Dilakit Falls

Another hidden gem in Isabela Province is Dilakit Falls, a small waterfall tucked away in a mountain forest in Divilacan. It is also home to flying foxes, a species of large bats seen at night.

Due to its location, the waterfall is often uncrowded and makes for a great place to relax, recharge, and swim.

Getting here is tiring but doable. From the jump-off point, you need to trek for an hour across rough trails and wooden bridges. Make sure to bring a reusable water bottle to keep yourself hydrated from the heat and a nice camera or phone for memories that last.

Location: Divilacan

14. Dimasilong Ecotourism Park

Dimasilong Ecotourism Park - one of the must-see Isabela Province tourist spots
(Photo by DOT – Region 2)

One of the lesser-known Isabela tourist spots is the Dimasilong Ecotourism Park (simply referred to as Binombong by locals).

The eco-park features crystal-clear streams, perfect for a dip especially during hot summer days. The water here is so clean that it is inhabited by a variety of fishes! Visit here to enjoy the water, the unique rock formations, neighboring caverns home to bats, surrounding flora and fauna.

The perfect place to disconnect and enjoy nature, make sure to include Dimasilong Ecotourism Park in your itinerary!

Location: San Augustin

15. Philippine Crocodile Conservation Center

Baby Philippine crocodile

For those interested in wildlife conservation, the Philippine Crocodile Conservation Center is a must-visit.

Located inside the Isabela State University in San Mariano, this center aims to conserve the population of the Philippine crocodile. The Philippine crocodile, an endemic species found in fresh water such as ponds, is currently endangered, with less than 100 adult crocodiles found in the wild.

You can visit here to know more about the Philippine crocodile and the center’s ongoing efforts. Holding pens are also open for tourists, allowing you to see baby and adult crocodiles in person.

Location: San Mariano

16. Queen Isabela Park

Have a break and take a stroll at Queen Isabela Park, a large public park located just across the Isabela Provincial Capital in Ilagan City. Named after Queen Isabela II of Spain, the park offers a place for families to get together and enjoy the outdoors.

It is also the site of main events, including Christmas bazaars, concerts and performances, as well as the Bambanti Village — a trade fair held during Bambanti Festival.

Location: Ilagan City

17. Sample local delicacies

Pancit cabagan
Pancit cabagan.

A visit to Isabela Province wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of its well-known local dishes! Try the famous pancit cabagan, a stir-fried noodle dish served with crushed chicharon (pork cracklings), calamansi, and vinegar. Dinengdeng, an Ilokano dish made up of fried or grilled fish and vegetables in a soup base. For snacks, try inatata (sticky rice), bibingkang kanin, and pinataro.

If you’re feeling adventurous, buy a pack of delicious crispy crawlings (deep-fried worms). Don’t forget to buy pasalubong, including munggo and banana chips, canned longganisa bits in oil, corn coffee, and more.

18. Join the Bambanti Festival

Bambanti festival street dance

Every January, the locals of Isabela come together to celebrate the Bambanti Festival, which celebrates their agricultural harvests, culture, and lifestyle. “Bambanti” is a local term for scarecrow, and even though bambantis are rarely used in the fields anymore, it is still an important symbol for Isabelanons.

During the festival, you can visit the Bambanti Village, a market filled with booths by the different cities and towns in Isabela Province. Each booth features a giant bambanti and their own products, including woven clothing, bags, accessories, and various food and drinks.

You can also see numerous performances, including the most-awaited Street Dance Performance, Festival King and Queen, Queen Isabela, and live concerts.

Read about the Bambanti Festival here.

How to get to Isabela

Isabela is about 10-12 hours away from Metro Manila. Here’s how to get from Manila to Isabela Province:

By land

Ride a bus (Victory Liner, Florida Bus Liner, Dalin Liner) to your destination in Isabela: Santiago City, Ilagan City, Cauayan City, or Tuguegarao City.

By air

Fly from NAIA or Clark to Cauayan City or Tuguegarao City.

What other tourist spots in Isabela Province should we include in this guide? Let us know in the comment section below!

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