5 ways to have fantastic, frolicking fun in the Philippines
What have you heard about the Philippines?
Maybe you've heard about it's beautiful beaches, maybe it's turbulent politics, or just maybe , if you are like I was, you've heard just about NADA!!!
Well folks, that is SO about to change.
The Philippines is unreal and I'm giving you my Top 5 to-dos in the Phils.
1.Check out the Chocolate Hills in Bohol.
They are a natural wonder and I truly have never seen anything like it. A UNESCO heritage site, the hills are a geological formation of grass covered limestone. There are many legends that surround the formation of the chocolate hills, from giants battling to carabao defecating. ( I swear I'm not hung up on bodily functions, contrary to what it may seem from my previous posts.)
If you're smart, you'll look up our amazing tour guide at Bohol Tours, Ryan Andagan. Ryan was amazing, he stopped at local markets for us to pick up fresh fruit, took all of our photos - he's pure instagram husband material. This man laid down in the middle of a highway to get us a good photo in the Man-made forest. He also told us story after story to keep us entertained, and the number one appeal is that the poor man let us play our cheesy 90s jams for the whole trip.
2. Swimming with Whale Sharks
I considered not adding this one to the list because of the sustainability implications that came along with it, and before you get up in arms hear me out.
When I went swimming with whale sharks in Oslob in the Province of Cebu, I was completely oblivious to the very real sustainability and preservation implications this tour coud have on whale sharks. That being said it was one of the coolest experiences I had while in the Philippines. Seeing these gentle giants up close and personal and contributing to the local economy was something I thought I could treasure, sans guilt, forever.
Unfortunately when you go swimming with whale sharks in Oslob its crowded, filled with tourists being pumped out in boat after boat. They do make you shower off any sunscreen and tell you not to touch the whale sharks but it's hard to enforce this when there are so many people. This itself kind of seemed like the nature of any tour in high season, but I didn't realize that the major problem lay in the feeding of the sharks
In order to support the huge number of tourists coming to see the whale sharks, the tour operators are feeding krill to the whale sharks for six hours a day. This prevents the natural migration of the sharks, causes them to approach boats leading to injury and prevents them from foraging for food in order to get complete nutrition - problems this already endangered species does not need.
I know what you are thinking.
Tanisha, why are you telling me about this if I can't do it?
Well, flash forward to today writing this post, I decided to do some research. As it turns out, you too can go swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines without contributing to damage of the ecosystem. The ecotourism initiative in Donsol promotes viewing the whale sharks in their natural habitat. The program, led by the World Wildlife Initiative, allows no touching or feeding of these amazing creatures but still provides an amazing experience that contributes to a thriving local economy.
So please, swim with whale sharks, just skip Oslob.
3. Aguinid Falls
If you have read my earlier posts you are familiar with the fact that my travel buddy fell off a waterfall in the Philippines. This waterfall was one of the network of Aguinid Falls in Samboan. While she may not have listed it as a must-see, I beg to differ.
Of all the waterfalls in the Philippines, we were most excited to visit Kawasan and the instagram posts do make me wish we had, but due to this little medical situation we had to end our tour a bit early. That being said, Aguinid falls is nothing to sneeze it.
Aguinid Falls is a network of waterfalls complemented with beautiful blue water, nestled in a wooded area. The tour guides take small groups through the different legs of the journey allowing you to pause where you like. Most of their income comes from tips so they are willing photographers and they take excellent photos.
The waterfalls can be hard to navigate and caution is always encouraged. Move slowly and with purpose as, like we learned, you can injure yourself if you make one wrong move.
4. Party in Boracay
White beaches, crazy clubs and copious amounts of alcohol. Boracay is one wild ride and I think you should definitely make a stop here.
Boracay is every beach vacationers dream location. The sand is pure white and the water is an aquamarine blue that is so clear, you can't help but want to jump right in.
This place has something for everyone. If you want water sports you can partake in kiteboarding, paddle-boarding or even go cliff-jumping. You can find yourself a perfect cocktail at one of the many restaurants and bars located right on the beach.
Sip on fresh coconuts and get your daily dose of vitamin D before the sun goes down and the beach comes alive.My favourite spot for tanning is at Puka beach, it's a little more remote and there are some precious street vendors which adds to its charm.
The beach becomes the busiest, not during the day which you would expect, but when the sun goes down and the nightlife begins. You will find travellers from all over the world partying until the sun comes up. Think disco balls over white sand and flashing lights bouncing off of palm trees. The Boracay party scene is not to be missed.
Warning: After a few days you may find yourself in need of a vacation from all that vacationing.
5. Island hopping in El Nido
There are 7,107 islands in the Philippines so obviously there is no shortness of beaches in this country but some of the best I experienced were on island hopping trips from El Nido.
Tours A and C are the most popular, and for good reason. The tours offer not only a delicious lunch buffet, drinking water and snorkeling gear but a local led tour of some of the most amazing places you will ever see. The tours take you through beautiful beaches and lagoons, allowing you to see the amazing beauty of the aquatic life.
While in El Nido we also did an overnight camping trip on one of the islands and it was the one of the coolest experiences. The water at night was full of plankton that glowed in the dark and the water would light up around you as you swam through it.
El Nido itself had a lot to offer with its amazing sunsets and waterfalls. My only regret is that I didn't spend more time here exploring everything it had to offer.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are a few from my time in El Nido: