The Philippines is a sunny country with more than 7,000 islands. We were looking forward to explore part of its natural beauty on our Easter holiday this year. It did not disappoint – the people are friendly, the islands beautiful, the food tasty and the climate pleasant.
After leaving Hong Kong we landed in Manila, its capital (very busy city it seemed, looking at the traffic and buildings). We had a day to see Intramuros (the old city of Manila) and learn about the history of the Philippines – where Spanish, Japanese and American influence is still present today, including the recent South Korean influx of people and goods.
Next day we headed to El Nido, Palawan island. Our flight from Manila was moved to start from Clark Airport, which was two hours drive by transfer bus, so we had a chance to see bits of busy Manila and the countryside.
El Nido is a small local community, which is growing due to the increasing popularity of the place. The islands around are beautiful, the corals and marine life plentiful (as most of the Philippines islands with limited population). The things we did here are all outdoor, including:
– Few visits to Corong Corong beach – a beach on which you can see locals and tourists enjoying the clear calm waters of the sea. There are number of restaurants, and few hotels there as well, including a double zip line connecting the island with a smaller one;
– Island boat tours (named A, B, C, D) – Those are fantastic for a days out around the smaller islands in the area. We had a lovely time visiting the Secret lagoon, Matinlock Island, Ipil beach, Hidden beach and enjoying a picnic lunch on a shell filled, private beach and lagoon ;
– Kayaking and snorkelling – those are a must, if you want to explore actively the lagoons and beaches around the islands;
– Diving experience – it is worth it, as the area is perfect for that;
– Tasting the local food – fresh coconuts, mango salads, fresh seafood and grilled fish… yummy!
The above and below pictures are of the marina in El Nido, where all boat trips start and end.
The view from our villa were fantastic any time of the day …
After spending 5 days in El Nido, it was time fro our next destination the city of Cebu and Mactan Island’s coral reef. A short flight – just over an hour- landed us on Mactan island (Cebu is 45 min drive from the airport linked with two bridges and with busy traffic). We had only two day here allocated for the snorkeling and diving in the famous Olango reef, just 30 min by boat from Mactan island. The reef is beautiful and to my surprise around Nalusuan island was full of tourist boats and people partying, less snorkeling and diving. The mass tourism in this area was explained with the entering of the Holy week and the holidays people take. The majority of tourists were locals and Koreans, according to our guide.
The rest of our holiday was on Bohol Island (very famous tourist destination). A two hour ferry from Cebu to the city of Tagbilaran on Bohol was comfortable (with an AC and a nice movie). Our driver welcomed us and we started the tour of the island’s famous Tarsiers’ sanctuary and Chocolate Hills. Tarsiers are really cute mammals, when you first see them. They are nocturnal and don’t like noise and light during the day. They are now protected species and cared for in the Philippines.
The Chocolate hills are an area in Bohol attracting lots of tourists. They are called chocolate, because the hills vegetation dries out in the dry season and they look brown in colour. We took an ATV and drove close to some of the hills for fun! The viewing point nearby allows you to take panoramic pictures like those…
We stayed on Panglao island of Bohol and enjoyed the beach of South Palms resort, which is the best on the island. We did kayaking and snookering just in front of our beach front villa – splendid! One can see the sunrise, sunset, low and high tides, as well as moon rise.
We also took tours from Alona beach to Balicasaq reef, where we saw sea turtles and plenty of corals and fish while snorkeling and diving.
A memorable experience was our day tour to Oslob, including the swimming with a whale shark and much more! On the way to Oslob we saw lots of flying fish close to our boat – never see them before!
Another event to remember was that one of the Philippines’ famous terrorist leader and his men were killed by the military in Bohol that same week we were there. A military boat stopped us for checks on our way to Oslob, which was very reassuring of the country’s determination to fight terrorist and protect both tourists and citizens. Thank you for keeping everyone safe!
The photo of whale shark credit to Wikipedia. ( we have only videos with the sharks)
Even though the whale shark place in Oslob was overcrowded with tourists like us, the sight of the shark and the feeling of being next to it was truly unique!
Another interesting experience on the island was the night firefly watching in Loboc river. We had a small paddle boat and the boatman paddled for about an hour in the dark river, so we can spot the fireflies. It was very unique and fun way of seeing fireflies. To add to the nature’s light show, frequent lighting joined now and then, and soon after we ended the trip a thunderstorm landed on the area (luckily we were inside the restaurant enjoying our food).
At low tide one can see the locals collecting sea urchins, sea cucumbers and other edible sea life
We enjoyed our stay in the Philippines with lots of memorable experiences and friendly people.