The Philippines’ location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the Equator makes the country prone to earthquakes and typhoons, but also endows it with abundant natural resources and some of the world’s greatest biodiversity. From Boracay’s white sand beaches, to the seaside cliffs of Palawan, this humble archipelagic nation with 7,641 islands is filled with incredible scenery, amazing adventure and fantastic food. Here is a snippet of some of the things you can do – prepare to do a lot of island hopping!
Start off in the capital city of Manila. A city bustling with people, Spanish colonial architecture and street vendors. You simply have to try street food like quack quack (battered quail egg) and caramelised bananas. Throughout the city, you will also see the Jeepney. If you want to get around The Philippines, a Jeepney is the way to go. They were first introduced to the islands after the US military left thousands of these army jeeps after World War Two. They have since been used as the main public mode of transport and over time, the tradition has been to paint them in bright, vivid colours.
From the capital, head to North Luzon. No trip to North Luzon is complete without visiting it’s highest peak, Mount Pulag, at 2,926m above sea level. In total, the trek takes approximately 4-6 hours with a couple of rest breaks before reaching the ‘sky of clouds’. Then head to the UNESCO Banaue Rice Terraces for a glimpse into the world of the local rice farmers and stunning crag landscapes.
From here, go to Sagada, home to the infamous hanging coffins. The Igoret tribes of the North have long practiced burying their dead in coffins nailed against the side of cliffs, believing they will be closer to heaven. This tradition is slowly dying out, so this is a rare chance for a deeper glimpse into traditional tribal life.
This is where the island hopping begins. Go to Donsol, located in Luzon in the northern Philippines, to swim with whale sharks. It is a protected area for whale sharks and its eco-tourism has an ethical reputation with strict regulations monitored by WWF. Visitors count on their luck to have an encounter with whale sharks, but there is a higher chance of swimming with them during the whale shark season from November to February.
Head over to the small island of Boracay in central Philippines. It is famous for its white 4 km beach which was once voted the best beach in the world.
Then onto Coron. Coron is dubbed the shipwreck capital of the world due to a large number of shipwrecked Japanese cargo and warships which sunk during World War Two. These are all within a 20-minute boat ride of the main town. A perfect spot if you fancy doing some scuba diving. Coron also has Kanyangan Lake. Kanyangan Lake is the cleanest lake in The Philippines. With crystal clear emerald waters, it’s only right to go and have a dip.
Next stop is Bohol. What makes Bohol unique is the Philippine Tarsier – a tiny monkey-like animal that moves during the night. It is endangered and extremely sensitive to light and sound. They are known for their huge eyes, which do not rotate. Instead they can turn their head a full 360 degrees. Visit the Tarsier Sanctuary to get a chance to see this incredibly rare species. Then go to the Chocolate Hills which are a series of over 1,500 nearly symmetrical hills. They get their name from the chocolate brown colour they turn to in the dry season and are truly breathtaking to look at.
From Bohol go to the Cambugahay Falls in Siquijor Island. Cambugahay Falls is a three-tiered waterfall with three large lagoons. There are rope swings and platforms to chill on as well as bamboo rafts to lie on at each level of the falls. Enjoy the water gently cascading over the rocks while you relax in the beautifully warm water.
The final stop on your island-hopping adventure is Siargao Island. Siargao must be one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines and it’s the country’s surf capital. There’s a wave out there for surfing beginners to surfing experts! Siargao is a perfect place to go island hopping and one of those destinations on your island hopping adventure would be Sugba Lagoon. There’s a diving board here so you can jump into the lagoon and swim in the aquamarine waters. You can also rope song from a coconut tree into the Maasin River and end your Philippines trip with a splash!