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Negros Occidental is known mainly for two things: the beautiful city of Bacolod and sugar. Now, while those are indeed sweet, the Visayan province has sweeter things to offer, especially to those looking for Boracay (too crowded) or Palawan (too expensive) alternatives.

We mean: beaches, islands, hidden coves—you get the gist. Whether you’re looking for a solo trip out, a fun family trip, or hey to bond with your squad, Negros Occidental has it.

1. For a fun family time: Punta Bulata

Punta Bulata is a family-owned resort in the municipality of Cauayan. With only 19 rooms, cabanas and casitas spread over 20 hectares of landscaped gardens, a limestone forest, and a one kilometer-stretch of white sand, a supremely private family vacation is almost promised. There’s an infinity pool overlooking the Sulu Sea, a spa, a chapel on a hill, a beach volleyball court, and various pockets and corners that affords that sweet “me time.” It’s located in Cayauan town, which is a three-hour drive away from Bacolod, and just 20 minutes away from Sipalay. Website

2. For a solo trip out: Sugar Beach

Before it was called Sugar Beach, the stretch of fine brown sand—like sugar!—was called Langub. In 2003, the famous German travel writer Jens Peter called it Sugar, and the name stuck. It’s a quiet, secluded stretch peppered with resorts that favor sustainable tourism above all: hardly any promotionals, no parties, no stand-alone bars even! Hammocks here come aplenty, as do libraries. As such, it’s become a favorite among the strange European set either starting their two-month trip across Southeast Asia or winding it down with a laid back vacation on the beach. If you’re not feeling Boracay and Palawan is a little too expensive, and you really just want a slice of the island life, Sugar Beach is for you.

Stay: Takatuka Lodge has crazy themed rooms, which the common area, teeming with a sense of humor, should clue you in. Driftwood Village meanwhile has charming bungalows for the true blue island life.

3. For a diving adventure: Punta Ballo

Ah, the gateway for diving in Negros Occidental. There are over 40 diving sites in the area, offering different diving trips, among them explorations of coral reefs and shipwrecks. If you prefer to stay on land, you’ll be cool too as the resorts come aplenty—all of them with a cool pool, a bar, and a fantastic view of the famous, jaw-dropping Sipalay sunset.

Stay: Artistic Diving Resort, whose owners Swiss Arthur Mueller and wife Evelyn, actually mapped out Punta Ballo’s many different diving sites.

4. If you want to be one with nature: Danjugan Island

To be clear: Danjugan is not a hotel or a resort. There is no electricity or running water here, yes, but there is everything else: 572 species of fish, 244 hard coral species, 72 bird species, 22 butterfly ones, a sighting of an eagle, five lagoons, vast limestone forests, several beaches, so it goes. It’s a marine sanctuary that prioritizes nature over humans. As such, they limit the number of guests on the island. If you’d like to escape from humanity, see more, and do less, here’s your best chance. Website

5. For a cool teambuilding type of a trip: Campomanes Bay

It’s just a 20-minute boat ride away from Punta Ballo but is Campomanes Bay seems completely separate and cut-off from Punta Ballo. The marine protected area, which boasts of pristine waters, a white sand beach, and beautiful underwater perfect for snorkeling, lies hidden from the world, thanks to the beautiful concave of the mountains. This makes Campomanes perfect for teambuilding and bonding types of a trip—it’s just you and your team, on strip of beach, with good food, accommodation, and electricity. What else are you looking for?

Stay: Bugana is a new resort that sits on a prime beachfront spot in Campomanes Bay.

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