Philippines is definitely one of the most incredible, fun-filled and diverse destinations that I have been to. While it has something to offer for every kind of traveler, here is an attempt to list down some of my best experiences to help make your trip to this beautiful country freaking awesome!
Swimming with Whale Sharks in Oslob, Cebu
While planning my trip to Philippines, I stumbled upon on an article that said you can swim with the whale sharks in Oslob. I knew it right then that these babies have to feature in my itinerary. And when this finally happened, it turned out to be the best 30-mins of my life I spent underwater. Within minutes of getting into the water, we were swimming in the company of a couple of friendly whale sharks. The sheer size of these creatures left us speechless. And just when we got acquainted with these gentle giants and thought that nothing else could surprise us, enters the show stopper, almost twice the size of others! But you need not be afraid of them, irrespective of the fact that they are 40-feet sharks! They are completely harmless to humans and primarily feed on planktons and tiny fishes. By giving you a lifetime experience of swimming next to them, they are playing their part of being amazing hosts; make sure you also play your part of being amazing guests by simply following the rules based out during orientation.
Canyoneering in Badian, Cebu
I’m sure you have felt shiver run down your spine when you are about to take your fear head on! Canyoneering is an activity which will definitely get adrenaline gushing through your body. About 60 kms away from the home of Whale Sharks, are the cliffs of Badian where you can climb, jump, and swim through the rugged and scenic canyons. The entire activity takes roughly 4 hours which starts with a stroll through the jungle and opens into natural canyons with bluest of waters. What follows next are continuous bouts of hiking and swimming that are riddled with insane cliffs where you are startled into jumping from a height of up to 30 feet! At many places, water has eroded the rocks to carve out natural water sliders, add to that a rope swing – this will sure enough tickle the kid in you. And that’s not it, the cherry on top is that, at the very end of the canyon, you arrive at the one of the most famous waterfalls – the beautiful Kawasan Falls!
Island Hopping Tours in Palawan
Island hopping in Palawan is an absolute must-do in Philippines! This is the most touristy thing and brings in all the crowd but trust me, it’s totally worth the hype! The beautiful pictures that a google search on El Nido and Coron gives you are all from the locations you will cover as a part of these island hopping tours. In Coron, we opted for Ultimate Island hopping tour which combines the best of all tours in one with a little less time at each stop. Where as in El Nido, there are four island hopping tours available – A, B, C and D with tours A and C being the most popular ones. Each of these tours lasts for about 6 hours, starting at around 9 in the morning. Since we had only one day planned for island-hopping in El Nido, we opted for Tour A which covers big lagoon, snorkeling and secret beaches with each place having its own charm. I wouldn’t be exaggerating in claiming that we wore an expression of ‘awe’ throughout these tours – just about when we thought we had managed to soak in the charm of previous destination and had begun admiring the serene journey we were on, sitting by the edge of our boat with feet dipped in the vast blue waters, our eyes were hit with another magical island! You will also be treated with freshly cooked Filipino buffet prepared by the crew on the boat. And to top it all, we got to play volley ball on the beach with the locals. If you have the luxury of time, I would highly recommend taking all these tours.
Kayaking in Big Lagoon,El Nido
Although this is a part of island-hopping tour A itself in El Nido, it deserves a special mention for the spectacular views it offers. Big lagoon can be easily called the most scenic and recognizable natural landmark of Philippines. Boats are not allowed inside the lagoon anymore due to environment reasons and kayaking is the only way to truly experience this place. As you row further inside, it feels like you have entered Avatar sets where you see those tall dramatic limestone rocks emerging from emerald crystal-clear water. Our boat was the first one to reach there and hence there were just 3-4 kayaks in addition to ours in the entire lagoon. We spent around half an hour rowing through the calm waters and didn’t want to leave.
Stand Up Paddling in Loboc River, Bohol
Loboc river has this unique jade-green color due to reflection of the palms growing on its bank. The non-conventional and probably the best way to experience the beauty of this place is by standup paddling. We booked an hour-long beginner course though SUP Tours Philippines. They also offer full day tour and yoga classes (yes people do yoga on these boards!). Don’t worry if you’ve never done SUP before, its lots of fun and easy even for first-timers. Before you know it you’ll be gliding, captain of your own board, soaking up the scenes and sounds of river life. We found small huts perched on water’s edge and local kids jumping from the rope swings into the river. We also spent another half an hour sipping on some coconut water by the river after that upper body workout!