Top tourist spots in Mindanao
Guides and Itineraries,  Philippines

25 MUST-SEE Tourist Spots in Mindanao (Cities, Islands, Mountains, Etc)

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I’ve backpacked across the Philippines and nothing compares to the beauty of Mindanao — from its breathtaking nature attractions such as Asik-Asik Falls and Magpupungko Pool to its vibrant towns and cities brimming with unique culture, good food, and even their own dialect. Mindanao is also home to different indigenous tribes in the country, so it’s a great destination for cultural immersion.

Aside from nature, city, and cultural tours, Mindanao also hosts some of the best local festivals in the country including Kadayawan Festival in Davao and Zamboanga Hermosa Festival in Zamboanga City.

Here we’ve compiled the best tourist spots in Mindanao that you should add to your bucket list!

1. Cloud 9

Location: Siargao, Surigao del Norte

Cloud 9 in General Luna, Siargao
Iconic boardwalk in General Luna, Siargao.

Cloud 9 is a surfing haven in Siargao Island, visited by tourists from all over the world for its laid-back vibes, gorgeous views, and of course big waves that are ideal for both beginner and professional surfers. There are numerous surf breaks in and around Cloud 9 where you can test your mettle. Surfing lessons are also available for those who are just starting out.

This tourist attraction can be found in General Luna, the central tourist hub in Siargao Island. It features an iconic boardwalk where you can enjoy the scenic ocean view and wait for the sunset. It’s surrounded by resorts, shops, and restaurants and bar, which makes it the best place to stay at in the island.

The best months for surfing start from September to November. There is also an annual surfing competition held every October.

Where to stay in Siargao:

2. Tinuy-An Falls

Location: Bislig, Surigao del Sur

Tinuy-An Falls in Bislig
At Tinuy-An Falls.

Tinuy-An Falls is one of the most recognizable waterfalls in the Philippines and one of the best tourist spots in Mindanao that you shouldn’t miss. This wide curtain waterfall measures an impressive 95 meters wide and 180 feet deep. It has three layers, with the second featuring the biggest pool where you can swim and ride a bamboo raft to get close to the waterfal ldrop.

Aside from its tourism value, Tinuy-An Falls is also an important part of the local ecosystem as it is home to different flora and fauna, some of which are considered endangered species.

3. Enchanted River

Location: Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur

Enchanted River in Hinatuan, Surigao
Enchanted River.

There is truly something magical about the beauty of Enchanted River. Just the view of its blue, crystal-clear water will make you will like you’re in a fairy tale setting.

Located in the quiet town of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur, the Enchanted River remains a mystery. Its true depth remains unknown, although divers have attempted to explore it in the past. Currently, it is open to tourist who wish to see its beauty in person.

Although the main pool is closed to the public for preservation, there is a designated area for swimming just a few meters away. There you can enjoy refreshing water and snorkel to see the schools of fishes underneath. Make sure to stay for the fish feeding done every afternoon.

4. Zamboanga City

Street of Zamboanga City
Street in Zamboanga City.

Ahhh, the colorful city of Zamboanga City. If you’re on a journey to explore the best tourist spots in Mindanao, then you should consider staying here for a few days at least. There are so many things to do in Zamboanga City that days go by so quickly!

Zamboanga City is the third-largest city in the Philippines and the commercial center in the south. It’s also the gateway to the nearby provinces of Basilan and Tawi-Tawi. It is home to interesting local attractions such as Fort Pilar, Yakan Weaving Village, and Paseo del Mar. You can also visit its local food hubs to taste local cuisine rooted from indigenous culture, Malaysian- or Spanish-influenced heritage dishes, and fresh seafood such as the famous curacha with alavar sauce.

If you’re itching for a nature trip, you can go on a day trip to the Great Sta. Cruz Island, Merloquet Falls, and Once Islas.

Aside from these, this city also celebrates one of the best festivals in the country — the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival, a month-long festivity done in honor of Our Lady of the Pillar.

Where to stay in Zamboanga:

5. Lake Sebu

Location: South Cotabato

Best ecotourism spots in the Philippines - Lake Sebu
Photo from Wikimedia – Peter V. Sanchez.

One of the must-visit Mindanao tourist spots, Lake Sebu is a beautiful community in South Cotabato where a Tboli indigenous tribe resides. It is also called the “Land of the Dreamweavers,” referring to the Tboli’s traditional art of weaving.

There are many things to do in Lake Sebu. One of course is to meet the Tbolis and learn their way of living and their culture, art, and dances. You can also wear their traditional attire and proudly take photos of it while in the community and in a boat over the lake while being surrounded by beautiful lotus blooms. Lastly, you can explore the surrounding areas and trek the nature trails or visit two of the Seven Falls, which is one of the highlights of visiting this province.

6. White Island

Location: Camiguin

Hali in Camiguin
Hali in White Island, Camiguin.

Another spot for beach lovers, White Island is a white-sand sandbar surrounded by clear blue waters, located a few minutes from the mainland in Camiguin. It is originally boomerang shaped, but its shape changes along with the tide every year.

White Island is a great place to beach bum, swim, and take pictures. Though there are no establishments here, there are umbrellas you can rent for shade and vendors selling fresh sea urchin and cool drinks for refreshment.

It’s a nice day trip from the town and is often included in tours in Camiguin Island.

Where to stay in Camiguin:

7. Cagayan River

Location: Cagayan de Oro

White water rafting in Cagayan de Oro
White water rafting in Cagayan River.

One of the best things to do in Mindanao is white water rafting in Cagayan River. For this, you need to take a flight to Cagayan de Oro City, where you can find outfitters that will take you to the Cagayan River for white water rafting.

Choose between the beginner and advanced courses and spend an afternoon navigating the river and the wild rapids. You can also ask for a boodle fight arrangement along the river for a fulfilling experience.

For beginners, the best time to go is from February to May when the river is calm. Those who want a little more challenge can go during the rainy months of July to December.

Where to stay in Cagayan de Oro City:

8. Lake Holon

Location: South Cotabato

View deck of Lake Holon, South Cotabato
At the view deck of Lake Holon.

Also known as the Crown Jewel of the South, Lake Holon is a beautiful crater lake in Mount Parker, South Cotabato. It is also home to the Tboli Tribe, an indigenous local tribe in Mindanao.

Lake Holon is ideal for those who love adventure. It is challenging to trek here, and you need to be physically fit to go. The route requires trekking in the mountains to reach the view deck, where you can see the entirety of the lake, before descending to the lakeside community where the camping site is located.

Once in the campsite, you can enjoy the tranquility of the lake area. It’s also a nice experience to mingle with the locals and get to know their culture and lifestyle, swim and kayak at at the lake, and do stargazing at the clear, night sky. Pro Tip: Due to lack of light pollution, Lake Holon is a great place for astrophotography.

9. Asik-Asik Falls

Location: North Cotabato

Asik-Asik Falls
Asik-Asik Falls.

Asik-Asik Falls is a stunning sight to behold — streams of water running down a verdant mountain cliff, looking straight out of a storybook. This is definitely one of the top tourist spots in Mindanao that you should see for yourself!

This waterfall derived its name from the Hiligaynon word asik-asik (“sprinkle sprinkle”). It was already known by the locals but was only discovered by the public when a photo of it was submitted in a national geography contest in 2012. Since then, it has been one of the best tourist attractions in North Cotabato.

There is no water basin in Asik-Asik Falls, but you can sit in a boulder under the streams for a waterfall shower or swim in the river that runs beneath it.

10. Magpupungko Rock Pools

Location: Siargao, Surigao del Norte

Magpupungko Rock Pools in Pilar, Siargao
Magpupungko Rock Pools.
Small pool in Magpupungko rock pool, Siargao
One of the small pools.

Magpupungko Rock Pools was a popular swimming hole for locals. Over the years, it has risen to become one of the top attractions in Siargao.

Here you can find gorgeous natural pools surrounded by interesting rock formations. The water is so clear and refreshing that you’ll immediately want to dive in!

Magpupungko Rock Pools is located inside a resort. It has a modest in-house restaurant where you can buy food and drinks. Make sure to time your visit here because the tidal pool is only visible during low tide.

11. Sugba Lagoon

Location: Siargao, Surigao del Norte

Sugba Lagoon in Del Carmen, Siargao
At Sugba Lagoon.

To be honest, everything in Siargao is a must-visit and so it is not a surprise that we’ve got another spot for our bucket list of top touris spots in Mindanao!

Sugba Lagoon is a beautiful lagoon with a floating cottage and restaurant, a diving board where you can jump directly to the water, and watersport rental facilities including kayak and paddleboard. It’s a great place for a swim, a kayaking tour, and generally a place to rest and enjoy the beauty of the island.

12. Sohoton Cove

Location: Bucas Grande, Surigao del Norte

Small paddle boat to jellyfish lagoon, Sohoton Cove
Small paddle boat to jellyfish lagoon.

Sohoton Cove National Park is an otherworldly maze of lush islets and caves. It’s only an hour away from Siargao by boat, making it easily accessible as a day or overnight trip.

Here you can kayak in the Blue Lagoon with its clear blue water, venture deep in Crystal Cave or dive underwater to get inside Hagukan Cave, or take a dinghy into the stingless jellyfish lake. Don’t forget to visit the floating restaurant for delicious seafood and Filipino meals to replenish yourself during your adventure.

13. Mount Apo

Location: Davao del Sur and North Cotabato

Mount Apo, Philippines.
At Mount Apo.

Rising over 2965 MASL, Mount Apo is considered the highest mountain in the Philippines. It spans across the provinces of Davao del Sur and North Cotabato.

Mount Apo features different landscapes, from streams and swamps to mossy forests and rocky terrains. Only experienced mountain climbers are advised to go here, as it is considered a major climb with a difficulty of 7/9. The climb from the trailhead to the summit and back usually takes 3 days.

14. Dahican Beach

Location: Davao Oriental

Surfing in Dahican Beach in Mati, Davao Oriental
Dahican Beach.

The Philippines features countless beautiful beaches, and one of them is Dahican Beach in Davao. It features a crescent-shaped shoreline and big waves that make it popular among surfers and skimboarders. It’s also a nice option for people who just want to beach bum or get away from the noise of the city for a while.

15. Sunken Cemetery

Location: Camiguin

Sunken Cemetery in Camiguin
Sunken Cemetery as viewed from the old cross.

The Sunken Cemetery is one of the top tourist attractions in Camiguin Island. Here you can see a unique vista — a giant white cross standing above the sea. It is said the the cross marks the resting place of the island’s first settles who were buried alive during the eruption of Mount Vulcan in the 1870s.

You can take a boat to reach the Sunken Cemetery or watch at the shore for its sunset views. You can also swim and snorkel around the area, where you can find colorful corals and fishes.

16. Great Sta. Cruz Island

Location: Zamboanga City

Kat in the Pink Beach of Zamboanga
The Great Sta. Cruz Island aka Pink Beach.

The Great Sta. Cruz Island, also known as the Pink Beach of Zamboanga, is a must-visit for beach lovers around the world. It is one of the few pink-sand beaches in the Philippines, whose color is caused by the presence of crushed red corals mixed with the sand.

This island is a great day trip from the city. It’s easily accessible, as it only requires a 15- to 20-minute boat ride from the port.

Once at the island, feel free to take a break with the scenic view, take pictures of the colorful vintas (traditional boats), or swim at the crystal-clear beach. There is also a nearby mangrove area where you can kayak and an underwater snorkel spot open for snorkeling and diving.

17. Malamawi Island

Location: Basilan

Boardwalk in Malamawi Beach Resort
Boardwalk at Malamawi Island.

If you’re dreaming of visiting Basilan, one of the spots you should visit is Malamawi Island. This resort features a white-sand beach, baby-blue water, and a long boardwalk where you can take pictures.

You can go here for a day trip and visit another one of Basilan’s hidden gems: Lampinigan Island. Or you can stay overnight in the resort’s rooms and cottages.

18. Bud Bongao

Location: Tawi-Tawi

Bud Bongao summit
Summit of Bud Bongao.

Bud Bongao is a sacred mountain located in the coastal province of Tawi-Tawi. It’s a must-visit destination for hikers and those interested in culture and history — it is said that two followers of an Arabic merchant who taught Islam are buried in the shrines in this mountain, and today it is visited by locals who wish to pray and meditate.

It takes an hour to reach the summit of Bud Bongao. A scenic view of the town including the bridge connecting two islands can be seen from above. It’s also a great place to view sunsets.

19. Jolo

Location: Sulu

Stilt houses in Sulu
Stilt houses in Sulu.

Jolo is the capital of Sulu Province, one of the most underrated destinations in the Philippines. It’s one of the best Mindanao tourist spots to visit for backpackers and those who love exploring off-the-beaten-track destinations.

The main charm of this coastal town is in its unique food, culture, and architecture. Here you can taste its local delicacies (such as the bangbang, a set of Tausug pastries), stroll along the local market, and visit the capitol and church. You can also take a boat trip to discover the islands in Panglima Tahil, which are some of the most beautiful and pristine islands in the country. There are also white-sand beach destinations nearby that can easily rival the kinds of Boracay.

Take note that visits in Sulu should be coordinated with the local tourism office first.

20. Tinago Falls

Location: Iligan City, Lanao del Norte

Tinago Falls in Iligan City
Tinago Falls.

Tinago Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Philippines that you can find. Don’t be deceived by its name though — Tinago Falls (which translates to Hidden Falls) is far from being a secret. In fact, it’s one of the most famous attractions in Illigan City in Mindanao, visited by locals who want to witness its magnificence.

This waterfall is about 420 feet high, with a wide basin filled with deep-cold water where you can swim to your heart’s content. Around the waterfall are food stalls and tables where you can rest and eat while appreciating the waterfall view. There are also rafts that can take you to the stream itself, so you can experience bathing underneath the falls.

21. Aliwagwag Falls

Location: Davao Oriental

Aliwagwag Falls
Aliwagwag Falls.

Aliwagwag Falls is a sight to behold. It stands at about 1100 feet with over 80 tiers, making it the highest waterfall in the Philippines.

This is a great place to swim and enjoy the nature. For more adventure, you can ride the 680-meter long zipline across the waterfall and cross the monkey bridge where you can view the rushing waterfalls below.

Aside from being a tourist attraction in Davao, this waterfall also provides water for irrigation to the surrounding rice fields and renewable hydropower to local communities.

22. Mount Hamiguitan

Location: Davao Oriental

Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary is a UNESCO World Heritage Site found in San Isidro, Davao Oriental. It features interesting landscapes, including a pygmy forest — one of the few existing in the world. It’s also home to various flora and fauna, some of which is endemic to the area, as well as the Philippine Eagle, Philippine Cockatoo, and more.

Reaching the summit and back requires a 3-day trek. If the activity is not for you, you can instead visit the Mount Hamiguitan Natural Science Museum instead or arrange for a day trip to the waterfalls and natural pools in the surrounding forest.

23. Philippine Eagle Center

Location: Davao City

Philippine eagle by the Philippine Eagle Foundation
Philippine eagle. (Photo by the Philippine Eagle Foundation)

For those who are interested in wildlife conservation, The Philippine Eagle Center is one of the tourist spots in Mindanao that you should include in your itinerary.

The Philippine Eagle Center is a wildlife breeding center located at the foothills of Mount Apo in Davao City. Spanning 8.4 hectares, it aims to provide shelter to the Philippine Eagle, which is considered an endangered species. It’s also home to other birds, macaques, and crocodiles.

The center offers a free guided tour to the facilities. You can also ask for a falconry demonstration to see the birds in flight or schedule a Keeper Talk to know more about the center, their work, and the eagles.

24. Eden Nature Park

Location: Davao City

Eden Nature Park in Davao
(Photo by Eden Nature Park)

The Eden Nature Park is a recreational park located at the southern end of Davao City. It’s a place for families or friends to relax and unwind, enjoy the mountain views, and of course engage in various outdoor activities.

The park features 11 attractions: Amphitheater, Birdwalk, Deer Park, Flower Garden, Hiking Trail, Lola’s Garden, Hydroponics, Playground, Butterfly Garden, Tinubdan, and Bamboo Maze. It also has several dining options, such as the Fishing Village where you can catch your own fish for cooking and the Vista Restaurant where you can enjoy food with a view.

You can visit Eden Nature Park as a day trip while staying in Davao City. Better yet, book one of their overnight accommodations to experience everything that it offers.

Where to stay in Davao City:

25. Dinagat Islands

Location: Dinagat Island

Pangabangan Pool in Libjo, Dinagat Island
(Photo by Jaylyne Sarmiento)

Dinagat Islands is another underrated destination in Mindanao. It features pristine beach coves, lakes, and lagoons. Tourists who’ve explored the area often liken it to a raw version of El Nido in Palawan.

Some of the places you can visit here is Lake Bababu, Pangabangan Tidal Pool, and several beaches including Bitaog Beach, Cabacungan Cove, and Hagakhak Island.

There are a few resorts where you can stay at for your island hopping trip in Dinagat Islands. Make room for your calendar because the recommended stay to explore its best spots is 3 days at least.

That ends our list of the best tourist spots in Mindanao! Do you have other places to add? Let us know in the comments section below!

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