Mabuhay Philippines! …Intoxicatingly stunning, if you have the opportunity this is a land you must explore.
The Philippines is made up of over 7000 and is the largest producer of coconuts in the world. If you’re looking for your next wanderlust experience put this high up on your priorities.
Funnily enough, it is the 5th largest English speaking country in the world; so if you’re worried about a translation barrier do not fret. These are also some of the most politest people you will come across…and will refer to you as ‘sir’ or ‘maam’ (like The Queen).
I had an incredible experience there and I thought I would share some of my favourite bits to help you when planning your trip. I can’t cover all 7,000 islands but here is my top places if you escape the city to Paradise for two weeks.
I have mixed reviews about Boracay. It is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines. Loved for its white sandy beaches, nightlife and sea. However, if you are not careful you can end up in tourist trap hell. Lots of parties, tourists, crap overpriced food and in general Magaluf but south side of the equator.
However, this island does have some hidden gems…You just have to find them. You can do what we did and go off the beaten track and enjoy a real hidden treat in the more north part of the island. A slice of paradise away from the noise.
Boracay is a tiny island, so you will need to get a connecting flight from Manilla to Kalibo Airport, which is located further away than Caticlan Airport. You then have to take a bus for 2 hours and then take a ferry to the island.
Where to stay:
We booked the Rock house. Incredible. You have your own private beach away from the noise and your room is over looking the ocean. You can order a bottle of Filipino rum when you arrive. I recommend sitting in your living room and getting over the jet lag slowly sipping with juice.
People may have their negative thoughts on Boracay, but the people are just incredible. I landed on NYE and went for a stroll with my friend just outside of the hotel… we bumped into this crowd below… who invited us to drink, eat, join and be merry to celebrate the New Year.
An absolutely unforgettable moment having travelled 18 hours, 3 connecting flights, a two hour bus ride, a ferry and a taxi. This experience was unforgettable.
If you want a secluded diving holiday in the Philippines that brings mind blowing wreck diving and sumptuous reef diving to your doorstep then look no further.
The tiny island of Sangat lies on the north of Coron Bay in Palawan and is your gateway to a Philippines diving and snorkelling adventure.
Not only that it is a paradise for some secluded time with your partner or friends to really lap up Paradise.
For all the snorkellers out there; they have their own reef abundant in gorgeous fish and live coral life.
Take a canoe and paddle around to dive the wrecks from WW2 – honestly it is incredible.
The place is run by a family who are lovely if they are on the island to meet. Get to know the staff. Enjoy the pool tables. Remember the cocktails are delicious but you will run up a tab!
Where to stay:
There are a number of different types of rooms from your own villa to private beach chalets. I opted for the beach side chalets as waking up to the ocean every morning was incredible.
There are a number of different ways to get there. We organised a fast boat with the island management as it really didn’t cost that much.
As I said there are over 7000 islands to explore; and finding the right ones may sometimes be best left up to the locals. We choose to go on a 7 day private expedition. No phones, no frills, no wifi… just pure off the beaten track experience.
We tasted the most ‘masarap’ (delicious) food, witnessed the most incredible sunsets and stars and swap in oceans that are only imaginable if you have seen Life of Pi.
Your chef will take you to gather fresh ingredients from the islands to cook healthy meals of seafood and whatever else you find, ensuring a constant flow of tropical treats and icy beers from the kitchen.
We slept on beaches and lived by the rise of the sun. It was one of the most memorable and humbling experiences of my life.
The camps are on beaches with jungle trails to trek to the other wild beaches. windswept cliffs and hidden caves. The islands are encompassed by crystal blue waters, snorkelling the preserved reefs teaming with life.
Where to Book:
And make sure no matter WHAT you visit the secret Coron Lagoon.
Things to remember;
- Be respectful at all times – Click to read more
- Exchange pounds to us dollars. In the more rural areas you will find it hard to find places that exchange pounds, especially if the bank is shut.
- The ATM run out of money quickly so do always have spare cash.
- Take plenty of mozzie spray and other first aid. It is expensive and hard to come by in the more rural parts of the islands.
- Take all your basics – shampoo/ soap etc – it is expensive.
- The Filipinos are by nature very friendly people. Smile. A reciprocal friendliness will get you the best friends one can ever find in the world.
- Do not turn down food, and if you do not like it, try and hide it as much as possible. If I am able to do it when trying a Balut… you can.
- DO TAKE EAR PLUGS. This is a land of dogs barking and cockerels… that trust me…not not rise with the sun
- Leave your Western, Busy Schedule, Fast paced lifestyle and creature comforts behind and come with an open mind.
- Get angry. Like most asian countries you must save face and never lose your cool. If a situation gets difficult just smile and walk away.
- Eat a Balut… just don’t.
- Go to the islands marked as unsafe. Kidnapping is a real danger but totally unavoidable if you stay in the right areas.
- Do not walk alone
- Don’t be flashy. Leave your best bits for home.
- Do not be afraid to sit and enjoy the wonderful welcomeness of these people and how they are willing to share the food from their table, the drinks from their kitchen and question you about your life.
Indulge and love every moment