With over 7,000 islands in the Philippines, one will definitely not run out of things to do. The Philippines has it all from rich history, beautiful nature, and bustling city scenes, there’s something for everyone to enjoy! Check out some of our suggestions on what to do in paradise!
Cliff-dive at Gibitngil “Funtastic” Island
“Aptly named “Funtastic” by the locals; Gibitngil is a small island in Medellin, Cebu. Frequented by more locals than tourists, it is often overlooked by travellers passing through Medellin on their way to the northernmost tip of Cebu in search for world-class diving spots at Malapascua Island.
Unlike getting to Malapascua from Maya, there isn’t a regular public boat service to Gibitngil from where we were staying in Kawit, Medellin. As it was low season and there wasn’t anyone around to join us, my girlfriend and I persuaded a local to take us there and back in his pump boat for Php600 (~£10).
The journey itself was breathtaking. Paradise island views, cool air and soles of leaping flying fish!
Upon landing at Funtastic Island, you can hire one of many colourful open-cottages for just Php135 (~£2). You can brave their zipline, swim, and rent kayaks for Php150 per hour (~£2.50). There’s plenty of friendly locals around who are happy to help.
But I came for the 40-foot cliff diving platform, awarded “Adventure of the Year 2014” by ABS-CBN’s local show MagTV, and that’s the first thing I did.” -Dave Weatherall from That Travel Blog
Kayak in El Nido, Palawan
“When in El Nido it is obligatory to do an island hopping tour. I did tour A and loved it, it was unbelievable. However, with organized tours come crowds and time restrictions. So several days after the tour, I rented a kayak with my friend for Php400 or US$8.
The paddle to Paradise Beach took us less than 40 minutes at a leisurely pace. Only one other kayaker was resting on the shore and he left soon after we arrived. For the first time in El Nido we had an entire beach to ourselves. We both took off exploring, climbing trees and discovering small caves and coves.
Next we pulled into a little bay close to Pasandingan Cove that had a great rock for jumping from. Unfortunately all the rocks in El Nido are incredibly sharp, which makes cliff jumping almost impossible in some locations. The cliffs always look amazing but they are not climber friendly whatsoever.“ –Jackson Groves from Journeyera
“The islands in Palawan make up some of the best island and beach destinations in the World. Oddly though, few people spend the time to venture away from the popular El Nido or Coron to discover beyond the tourist trail. This is why we recommend a kayaking trip like no other. Typically starting in either of the two popular towns, you’ll make your way to the other on a banca supported kayaking expedition. You’ll carry only what you need, stopping at islands to restock food stores, purchase fish and refill water. Your days are spend kayaking dramatic coastlines, snorkeling and enjoying the banca deck. Your evenings are spent around a campfire, relishing in out of this world sunsets while cooking the days catch. At night, you’ll camp on the shores of remote, uninhabited islands under a blanket of stars. It’s a once in a lifetime kind of trip and a real adventure to be had in one of the last remote places in the world.” -Lina Stock from Divergent Travelers
See fireflies in Cortes, Bohol
“It seemed everywhere I looked there was twinkling light. I had come to the Abatan River in Cortes, Bohol, for a night kayaking trip to see fireflies. We pushed off the dock, me rowing in front and my guide, a university student, in the back. Overhead, the moonless sky was dense with stars. As we rowed, the still and silky river waters held plankton that lit up with every stroke of the oar or swish of my palm. Soon, we arrived at our first of six mangrove trees. At each one, fireflies darted in and out of branches in swarms so large that it gave the trees the rhythm and motion of a beating heart. It was all so simple and yet so magical. The kayak and guide cost Php700 in Bohol. As I continued my travels in the Philippines, I discovered you could also see fireflies in Palawan (though for a higher price) and in Donsol.” –Bridget DeMouy from A Bigger World
Skydive at Clark Pampanga
“Sky Diving in the Philippines is very rare. But a rarer opportunity is to Skydive in the Hot Air Balloon Festival. An event that only happens once a year during February!
In this crazy but adventurous activity, you are to tandem skydive and witness the amazing views near a couple of beautiful hot air balloons in the entire Clark Pampanga. You will also get to see the thousands of tourists that are watching you from afar!
You can also experience a side tour of spectacular air shows and other aeronautics-related stuff after you have landed. Skydiving in Clark is an awe-inspiring scene that adventure seekers must do at least once in their lifetime! For just a US$400 ticket that can be bought in their official webpage, you will get to experience your nerve wrecking adventure!
You can also ride inside the Hot Air balloons that will fly by the morning, an aerobatic flight, and a tandem paragliding. If having a crazy sky dive wasn’t enough for you, you can also book a helicopter ride for a change. Just remember to check your health or consult your doctor before doing anything crazy!” -Joe Gibson JR. from Best of World Travel
Skydive again in Zambales
“Skydiving is one of the most adventurous activities you can do in the Philippines. There are skydiving sites in Vigan and Cebu, as well as Zambales. Zambales is popular because it’s near the capital city of Manila.
Rates at skydiving start at Php13,000 for a solo jump and Php17,000 for a tandem jump. You don’t need any certificate prior to the event, just lots of courage. Newbies are highly welcomed. There’s an orientation hours before the dive, where each participant is taught how to properly let go from the chopper and go down in a radio-assisted jump. There are certified divemasters in the event to give instructions and overlook the activity.
Skydiving is scary in thought and even more so when you’re about to do it. However, it is also fulfilling. The view of the beach and landscape below during the dive is incomparable. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” -Katherine Cortes from Tara Let’s Anywhere
Hike the rice terraces in Banaue and Batad
“Before visiting the Philippines I was told that making my way from the popular pristine beaches to the rice terraces in the north was mandatory. I took an overnight bus from Manila to Banaue to experience the beautiful, breathtaking greenery of the rice terraces in both Banaue and Batad.
However, no one visits the rice terraces without being prepared to hike. Hiking is one of the main and only activities you do when you visit, but don’t worry; there are different hikes for different levels of hikers. The most popular routes are to do one that is around three hours long through the Banaue rice terraces and the other is much harder in Batad to the Tappiya waterfall.
Although I was challenged over my three days in the rice terraces, nothing can beat the views and scenery I saw while I was there. Not to mention the extra friendly faces and welcoming homestays you get to stay in while you’re there. Even if the thought of sitting on an overnight bus to get there may sound unappealing to you, it’ll totally be worth it! This was definitely one of my highlights from my three weeks in this beautiful country.” –Lauren Marinigh from Twirl the Globe
Visit the Cambugahay Waterfall
“Siquijor is one of my favourite islands in the Philippines and one of my favourite things to do in Siquijor is visiting Cambugahay Waterfall! We visited one day last November, while on a tricycle tour of the island. The beaches of Siquijor are definitely amazing, but after spending five days at the beach we wanted some adventure and refreshing air, and Cambugahay was the perfect place. It’s just a quick tricycle ride from the coast, immersed in the forest. The waterfall is beautiful, and the atmosphere is calm and relaxing, and it’s much cooler than on the coast so it’s perfect on very hot days. But the reason why I loved Cambugahay so much is the swinging rope! Somebody attached a rope to one of the trees, allowing you to swing like Indiana Jones into the water. I was really scared at first (I think you can see from the picture!) but after trying once, I couldn’t stop! Definitely one of my top experiences in my whole time in the Philippines, and it was amazing to relax with some fresh buko (coconut) juice afterwards!” -Margherita Ragg from The Crowded Planet
Scuba dive and discover sunken Japanese war ships
“Everyone knows that the Philippines has some of the best diving in the world. But, did you know that there is a Filipino island with sunken Japanese war ships just off the coast? Seven ships sit at varying depths on the ocean floor off of the coast of Coron. This means no matter what your certification level is there’s a ship you’re able to dive. If you have advanced open water certification or higher you are able to penetrate the wrecks.
Being able to swim through the remains of this massive ships with light pouring through what used to be portholes is an incredible feeling. Schools of fish now make their home in the ships skeleton as coral has also begun to grow. Make sure to plan a visit to dive the wrecks when planning your time in the Philippines!” -Nathan Aguilera from Foodie Flashpacker
Go spelunking in Sagada
“I had never been spelunking before making the journey to Sagada. There is this thing called The Cave Connection on the island of Luzon that connects one cave to another. The first thing you see when starting this adventure is a cave filled with coffins. If that doesn’t reassure, nothing will. Luckily, they’re not from people who perished while spelunking, it’s part of an ancient tradition here in Sagada. Once inside, my guide lit a small kerosene lantern and we made our way from Lumiang Cave to Sumagunig Cave. When I say “made our way” I mean that we squeezed, pushed, climbed, waded and shimmied our way through these caves for about four hours! This journey, although exhausting, was totally worth it and at the end there are dozens of amazing formations to marvel at and explore. This excursion in the Philippines is a highlight of my time in all of Southeast Asia.” -Paige Wunder from For The Love Of Wanderlust
Surf in Dahican Beach, Mati, Davao Oriental
“Off the beaten path, a trip to Dahican will score you quality waves for beginners and experienced surfers alike. You can take lessons, rent surfboards, party on the beach or contemplate the beauty of life with the serene coast. I spent a week here surfing and mingling with the locals. I left the place completely stoked and knowing I’d be back again.
From Manila, I flew into Davao, went to the Ecoland Bus Terminal to catch a noontime bus to Mati, which took around five and a half hours. If you can get your hands on a surf board and a tent, bring it to save some cash. I ended up spending Php400 a day there with my own board and tent, including three to four litres of drinking water and two meals a day. There are many accommodation options ranging from Php200 to Php4,000 a night.
Best time to surf in Dahican is during what is known as the North Swell, when surf comes from the North. These are between the months of October and March, give or take 1 month – due to changing times and changing weather patterns.” -Ramon Pastelero from Mindfully Exploring
Become a mermaid in Boracay
“Ariel has always been my favourite Disney princess and growing up in the beautiful island of the Philippines, the ocean has always been close to my heart and I have always dreamt of becoming a mermaid. When I found out about Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy, I knew it was my chance to make my dream come true. They offer mermaid swimming lessons as well as mermaid makeover and photoshoots. I did them all. I booked a two-hour mermaid swimming lesson with my cousins and aunt and I also booked a mermaid makeover and photoshoot. Having it done in Boracay, one of the best islands in the world, was just the cherry on top. It definitely was an unforgettable memory and something I always recommend to girls (and guys!) who want a unique and magical activity to do in the Philippines!” -Justine Kimoden from Jusz Travel
Swim with stingrays in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur
“Everyone knows the Enchanted River in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. It is the famous tourist spot in the area. However, you can get a chance to experience Hinatuan in another way.
Brenda is a nice stingray in Sibadan Fish Cage located in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. You can swim with her along with the other two stingrays and big fishes in the cage. At first, it might be scary but as soon as you get comfortable, you will definitely have a fun and memorable experience.
You can also feed the fishies, and once you throw the food, they will immediately grab it. It will create big splashes since they are very huge. Brenda on the other hand, can’t compete with the other fish during feeding time. She prefers to be fed near her mouth. Just be careful. Also, you can touch her gently. Just so you know, it is quite slimy.
From Enchanted River, you can go to Sibadan via boat for Php100 for five people, one way with an entrance fee of Php20. If you want to spend more time there, they have a reasonable rate for accommodations. Also, Sibadan offers delicious fresh seafood!” –Roneth Politud from The Fickle Feet
Motorbike in El Nido, Palawan
First off – if you do this, please be very, very, careful. Not recommended for first timers or super-adrenaline seekers. These bikes can FLY and it’s easy to go very, very fast. In retrospect, I should’ve been a lot safer by wearing better shoes (not flip flops) and not weaving in and out of traffic like a stuntman.
But! Having said all that, it was without a doubt one of the coolest experiences of my life. The combination of pure freedom and pumping adrenaline was intoxicating.
Also, the island itself is gorgeous, and as you distance yourself from all of the backpackers of El Nido, you can really explore and see a more authentic side to the island.
Often we didn’t see anyone for miles – just us, our bikes, and the beautiful landscape. You can rent a bike for a day for less than US$15. If you go, do it safely, but I cannot recommend it enough.” -Aaron Radcliffe from Nomads Nation
Meet the tarsiers of Bohol
“Wondering what are Tarsiers? These rat sized monkey like animals are native to the Philippines and are very difficult to find. You can see them if you visit the Tarsier Sanctuary in Bohol‘s Loboc town. The entry to the sanctuary is only Php40 per person. Tarsiers are very shy and they get nervous at loud sounds or bright flashes of lights, so you must remember to keep quiet when you visit the sanctuary. A tarsier is typically the size of a grown up’s hand, so be sure to carry a camera with zoom lens if you want to click some decent pictures.” -Sonal Paladini from Drifter Planet
Island Hop in El Nido, Palawan
“A visit to Palawan would not be complete without spending a day island hopping through El Nido’s secluded islands. There are a lot of companies that offer Island Hopping tours in El Nido town. These often include kayaking, snorkelling as well as lunch and take you to a specified number of islands along with a group of other travelers. While this is definitely a lovely way to spend a day, visiting the islands with a group of others will reduce the appeal and that “cast away” feeling that you get when you visit these stunning spots on your own.
So our advice is to hire a local fisherman with a boat and ask them to show you around some of their favourite spots in the area. They may not take you to the most popular islands, but they sure will be able to take you to an island that you can call your own… even if it’s just for an hour or two!” -Oksana St. John from Drink Tea and Travel