Philippines — Things to Do
An island destination with tropical climate, water plays an important role in many of the things to do in the Philippines. From snorkeling with whale sharks at Donsol to white water rafting along the Chico River, there are fresh and salt water adventures for all tastes and abilities.
On land, try your hand at hiking, golfing or mindlessly zoning out at a sandy beach. For those in need of rest, relaxation, or rejuvenation, the Philippines is a spa heaven that’s quickly gaining world-wide recognition, with many five-star resorts offering massages and other traditional therapies.
The fish and coral-filled tropical reefs of the Philippines are well known for their superb snorkeling off the coast of Boracay and Malapascua. The waters of the Palawan archipelago are UNESCO designated biosphere reserves for their marine diversity. GoPalawanTravel offers daytrips to the wrecks and reefs of the Coron Islands and lakes. The best time to spot whales sharks off Donsol Bay and Sorsogon in Luzon is between February and May. Snorkeling expeditions can be booked through Donsol Tourism Office.
The Palawan draws many scuba diving enthusiasts and the areas of Coron Bay and Sangat Island are known for their wrecks. Apo, Boracay, Malapascua, and Puerto Galera also have many notable underwater sites to explore in the Philippines. Sangat Island Dive Resort runs regular tours to the many sunken relics of WWII. Apo Reef Marine Sanctuary is another popular spot where divers can join a Pandan Island trip to spot barracuda, manta rays, turtles, and sharks.
The multitudes of tropical islands that make up the Philippines are ideal for beach hopping. The Visayas region has has the best of the best, but White Beach, Puka Beach, and Baling-Hai on Boracay Island are also famous. The island of Boracay has about 12 beaches and a good way to see them is by chartering a paraw, or a traditional sailboat for a few hours from the Red Pirates.
The Philippines is emerging as a world class destination for surfing, with some of the best spots at Siargao Island, home to the incredible Cloud 9 break, Surigao del Norte, Baler, Aurora, Daet, and Camarines Sur. Turtle Surf Camp, based in Siargao, offers lessons and surfing safaris. The Philippine Surfing Academy (PSA) is another surf school in Manila that offers classes in a wave pool, as well as daytrips to the ocean at Real, Quezon and Calicoan Island in eastern Samar.
The Philippines has a number of excellent golf spoits, particularly clustered around the cities of Manila, Cebu, and Davao. Manila-based Philippines Golf Tours offers all-inclusive packages to a number of holes, including the two Robert Trent Jones Jr. courses at the Canlubang Golf and Country Club and the championship courses at the Riviera Golf Club. Golfing Philippines has a number of deals, including the opportunity to play the championship course at the Cebu Country Club or the Rancho Palos Verdes course at Davao designed by Andy Dye.
The natural beauty of the Philippines makes it a great place to go trekking. The crater lakes, canyons and rugged terrain of Mt Pinatubo volcano in Central Luzon is a popular destination, with Mt Pinatubo Tours offering daytrips from Manila to climb the summit. Another well-known challenge is Mt Apo, the tallest volcano in the country. ToursByLocals.com offers four-day Mt Apo adventures that include hot springs, zip-lining and a trek to the peak.
Kayaking is growing in popularity, particularly in the Palawan region. Kayak Island Trips offers adventures exploring the caves, corals and beaches of beautiful El Nido Island in North Palawan. LJL Expeditions offers half day to multi-day tours around Bacuit Bay.
The wet tropical climate feeding the rivers also lends itself well to white water rafting. Chico River Quest offers thrilling rafting trips with cultural immersion on the Chico River at Kalinga. Cagayan de Oro is another popular destination, with safety-conscious Kagay offering daytrips for all abilities.
The Philippines has a thriving health and wellness industry, with many spa resorts in Manila, Boracay, and Tagaytay offering traditional hilot massages and other therapies. Nurture Spa on Tagaytay is one of the best and has a range of healing therapies, including the nilaib, which is the Filipino version of a hot stone massage, carried out using heated banana leaf pouches filled with herbs. Further afield at San Benito, Batangas, is the highly recommended The Farm, specializing in holistic healing, nutrition and detoxification.