I was visiting a friend in Bacolod, the biggest city on the huge island of Negros in the central Philippines and, honestly, two days into it, I wasn’t super impressed. She showed me the usual malls, rows of restaurants and famous dessert cafes, and a nice but not spectacular city hall with a big fountain and plaza in front. I appreciated her taking the time to show me around, but as I eyed my plane ticket out of there the next night, the highlight seemed like it would be touring through the nearby historic town of Sipalay.
What to Know About Lakawon Island
But that last day completely redeemed Bacolod when she took me on a trip to Lakawon Island. While it was easy enough to do for a day trip, you do need to travel a bit to get to Lakawon. My guide had her own car, so she drove me the two hours to access the port, but most people who have to get on a bus probably can double that traveling time. From there, they buy a ticket at a confusing little local port and hop on a local boat for a 45-minute jaunt across choppy waters with ear-splitting engine noise.
But them you are there – Lakawon Island, which is becoming one of the most photographed tourist destinations in all of the Philippines. Coming up by boat, you can see why, with long stretches of white sand beach and an impressively long wooden dock that stretches maybe a quarter mile out over the water. Once you come onto the island, you have nothing but chilling, swimming, and beach activities all day.
Most people come just for the day, but there are also a hotel and guest rooms. They also have a big open-air restaurant area where everyone gets their lunch (the seafood is fantastic) and snacks, or cools down with cold beers. Just get ready that it’s not cheap at the restaurant and service is pretty shoddy, but, of course, you’re not in a rush.
They also rent out snorkeling gear and kayaks if you want to explore, or even a banana boat ride that’s hilarious and makes for great videos and memories. Unlike the food, these rides and attractions are very affordable.
There are also plenty of little cabanas to get some shade, or truly courageous athletes can try kite surfing or play beach volleyball. But if you’re more into just getting some Vitamin Sea, you can chill in the perfect waters and even get a beach-side massage!
But the best part of Lakawon is not actually on the island – but docked a hundred meters offshore. That’s where you’ll find the now-famous TawHai floating bar. It’s SO cool! It can only be described as a huge floating bar and entertainment complex, with the entire outer circumference made of areas for you to lay down and look out over the water with cushions and bean bag chairs. Instead of sails, they have sun shades, and the wooden deck is filled with seating areas and places to lounge with friends. Add in a second deck with a slide and rope swing onto the water, DJs spinning really good music, and a full bar, and you won’t want to leave! And that’s good, because this bar is anchored and floats – but really isn’t a ship at all. Ingenius! If you’re in Bacolod, you’ve got to go check it out!