The province of Masbate (“Maz-bah-tee”) lies in the centre of the Philippine archipelago. It is comprised of the island of Masbate with its small capital city of the same name, two secondary islands called Burias and Ticao, and numerous smaller islands. There are a number of exceptional beaches on Masbate, such as Bituon and immense caves in thick jungle such as Kalanay and Batongan. It’s the infrastructure that’s lacking. This is slowly changing, however, with an increased emphasis on tourism and developments such as an anticipated new ferry route to Manila via Caticlan (and therefore Boracay).

The position of Masbate at the heart of the Philippines leads to some complicated cultural blending, with a mix of languages including Cebuano, Bicolano, Waray, Ilonggo, Tagalog and Masbateño. The province has long had something of a reputation for violence, with an image throughout the Philippines as a lawless “Wild East” frontier province. Like many isolated areas of the archipelago, Masbate does seem a law unto itself and political killings are certainly not unheard of, but its reputation for goonish violence is mostly unfair. In any case it is highly unlikely that tourists will feel any less safe here than in most other parts of the country.

The Wild East moniker is, however, apt for reasons other than lawlessness: Masbate ranks second only to the landlocked province of Bukidnon, Mindanao, in raising cattle. There’s even an annual rodeo in Masbate City in May, where cowpokes do battle for big prize money. Farming is the second most common form of livelihood, fishing the third.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Philippines features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Modern Bangkok, historical Hanoi and tourism-boom town Siem Reap — home to the world-famous Angkor Wat temples — are some of Southeast Asia's best drawcards…

21 Nov 2017 • Marco Ferrarese insert_drive_file Article
A postcard from the Philippines: saving the tarsiers in Bohol

A postcard from the Philippines: saving the tarsiers in Bohol

Tarsiers are the world's smallest primate – and 20 years ago they were dangerously close to extinction. But numbers are rising in Bohol, in the Philippines…

03 Nov 2017 • Mike MacEacheran insert_drive_file Article
Is Camiguin the most beautiful island you've never heard of?

Is Camiguin the most beautiful island you've never heard of?

The Philippines has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the last few years. From Typhoon Yolanda, the superstorm which left a band of destruction fro…

02 Oct 2017 • Mike MacEacheran insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook