The year started with a bang as the Department of Tourism unveiled its brand new campaign: It’s more fun in the Philippines.
The truth: it really is. The campaign went viral immediately after release, trending worldwide on Twitter and producing over a thousand shares on Facebook. People began actively voicing out their opinions on what makes the Philippines the number one destination for fun. This year, as you plan your personal trips and getaways, we hope that you consider exploring the many islands and attractions that our country has to offer.
Here are some places that offer extremely fun activities for you and your family to enjoy. Happy travels!
1. Bolinao, Pangasinan
Bolinao is one of the more prominent beach destinations in the primarily coastal province of Pangasinan, and for good reason. The area boasts many different white-sand beaches and an array of resorts providing accommodations at price points from inexpensive to splurge, with the attendant facilities to match.
It should come as no surprise that most activities in this area revolve around being in the water. Aside from swimming (the surf is typically calm in all but the worst weather), you can easily rent a boat to take you around the area for a little exploring, snorkeling or diving. If you’d like a bit of exercise, kayaks are readily available for DIY sightseeing, whether alone or in tandem.
Bolinao is also home to many tide-lapped caves that you can actually swim in. The Tara and Bolinao waterfalls, and the Subor Nan Bolinao (a freshwater reserve) are other aquatic options. A camera is a must here, as the rock formations found at different areas along the coast and the incredible sunset are both awesome and very picture-worthy.
No trip to Bolinao would be complete without a stopover at the Bolinao Lighthouse. The structure was built in 1906 and is among the tallest in the country. The effort of climbing to the top will be amply rewarded by the 20-mile panoramic view of the South China Sea.
2. Caramoan, Camarines Sur
Caramoan in Southern Luzon is perhaps best known for being a favored location for the international Survivor series. In fact, some seasons of the Serbian, Israeli, Bulgarian, Swedish and French iterations of this show have been shot there. The fine sand, warm waters and postcard-perfect views in this area have had much to do with that.
As this area is not one of the common tourist haunts, the range of activities is not very extensive but the beautiful setting and relatively unspoiled nature of the destination provide more than enough distractions. Island hopping is always a popular option, and one that allows you to select from the nearer or farther set of islands. If your taste runs to fresher water, Hugsad and Layahan waterfalls are nice ways to beat the heat as well.
For the more adventurous, spelunking gets you out of the sun and into chilly air with lots of stalactites and interesting rock formations. Be warned though, some are home to thousands of bats (with, of course, the deposits that these creatures make). If you’d rather visit some man-made sights, the Parish Church of St. Michael the Archangel (built in 1619) should definitely be on your list. Not yet footsore? Try taking the 524 steps to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. The statue is 26 feet high and performs the additional task of lighting the way back for night fishermen.
Located in the northern region of Mindanao, Camiguin is among the lesser-known travel destinations in the Philippines. Still, this island-province has much to recommend it, including a cemetery that sunk in 1871. This is a popular diving spot and is marked by a large floating cross.
The island is also home to waterfalls in Katibawasan and Tuasan. Both are readily accessible by land, and provide cooling relief after being under the hot sun on the trip going there. For tourists in need of warmth, on the other hand, the natural hot springs from the volcanic Mount Hibok-Hibok soothe aching muscles and promise release from the stress of work or running a household.
White Island, located just off the coast of Agoho, is possibly Camiguin’s iconic spot. This is actually a sandbar with nothing on it but fine white sand, perfect for tanning and splashing about in the sea. If it gets too hot, the friendly local fishermen are more than happy to rent out spare sails to use as a makeshift cover.
To get to Camiguin, fly to Cagayan de Oro (Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines have direct flights from Manila). From the airport, take a cab to the bus terminal at Agora market. The bus will take you to Balingoan, where you can take your final ride of a ferry for Camiguin Island.
4. Moalboal, Cebu
Home to many popular destinations, Cebu also has several relatively unknown places that are still worthy of a visit. Among these is the municipality of Moalboal on the province’s southwest coast. The beaches typically have fine and white sand, ideal for lazing around and soaking up the sun’s rays.
If you’re into diving, Moalboal offers myriad options to explore the briny deep. In particular, the baranggays of Basdiot, Tuble and Saavedra are actually marine sanctuaries flush with large coral formations housing various species of aquatic life. Sea turtles and sharks are common underwater sights as well. If you’d rather not bring your gear, the local dive shops are complete and more than willing to rent out equipment. Further, the area around Pescador Island is another marine sanctuary with schools of large fish such as barracuda. An option for adventure seekers is the Cathedral, a vertical tunnel from 15 to 35 meters underwater.
Busay Cave is a dark and cool option for when the sun’s rays get too much to bear. The 200 meter-long tunnel is not very challenging to walk through, and has many stalagmites and other attractive rock formations as well as a fresh water spring. Don’t be alarmed if you see a dark shadow swoop by your head, as bats make their home in this cave,
5. Britania Islands, Surigao del Sur
Considered to be the Mindanao version of Pangasinan’s famous Hundred Islands, the Britania Islands comprise 25 separate islands and islets that are mostly full of lush vegetation and powder-fine white sand that positively gleams in the sunlight. The singular exception is a stark white sandbar that offers no shade but plenty of tanning potential.
Naturally, the thing to do here is island-hop. Boats can be rented out to take you to as many of the islands as your heart desires. With judicious planning and an early start, all of the islands can be covered in a single day. There are no stores and barely any structures, so bringing your own supplies is a must, although you can always ask the boatmen if you’d prefer grilling the catch of the day on the beach.
Snorkeling is definitely an option, although you may have to move a little further out from the shore to see fish in large numbers. While the waves are by no means as strong as in Siargao, surfing can indeed be done here as well off select islands. In general though, the tide from the Pacific Ocean is calm and soothing, allowing for frolicking in the water without fear of being tipped over by an errant wave. Cave exploration, mangrove touring and birdwatching are some of the activities available for people looking to add variety to their beach trip.
Offering different adventures of the best kind, one thing that can truly be said about these places that are off the beaten track- they live up to the slogan’s message: nobody does fun like the Philippines.