When many Americans think of adventure vacations, they think of tangled routes through the Amazon in South America or epic climb up the mountains in the Himalayas. One place serious adventurers usually neglect to consider is the Philippines. This is a mistake since adventure travel in the Philippines should be in everyone’s bucket list.
The Philippines has worked hard to construct an atmosphere of luxury and relaxation in its best tourist areas. Truly, the Philippines vacation resorts leave little to be desired, with pristine beaches and world-class amenities. However, the Philippines have much to satisfy the adventure traveler as well. From terrific treks to rewarding rafting, traveling to the Philippines will scratch any adventurer’s adrenaline itch. If you’re feeling ready for adventure, keep reading.
Trekking in the Philippines
While they’re known for their tropical island atmosphere, the Philippines actually have a range of terrains that make overland travel exceedingly interesting. You can participate in guided backpacking trips that will take you up mountains, through rivers, and across valleys all over the countryside.
To get the most out of the islands’ terrain, travelers should sign up for the Puerto Princessa trek, which goes through jungle and rice patty and over rivers and streams. At the climax of the trek, guides will introduce you to one of the three indigenous Palawan tribes who still live deep in the rain forest.
One of the more popular treks takes backpackers to see the volcanoes that created the island chain. Mount Mayon is famous around the world for its iconic symmetry and offers a challenging and scenic trek through rice patties. Mount Bulusan and Mount Pinatubo also offer popular trails and beautiful geology.
In Dumaguete, Mount Kanlaon trek is a great option.
Finally, the Mindoro Island trek doesn’t require flying to a different island; instead, travelers will go by sea to Mindoro Island, witnessing the pristine ocean waters and beaches in the Philippines.
Hiking in the Philippines
Many of the same trails that trekkers take for days or week-long adventures can also be used for pleasant day hikes. If travelers don’t want to commit to carrying every necessity and camping in the wilds of an unknown land, the scenery accessible during a regular day hike is spectacular as well. Packing a picnic lunch from the delicious fare in Manila will create a simple and enjoyable adventure outside the city while ensuring the return to the comfort of Filipino luxury by evening.
Rafting in the Philippines
It’s accurate to say that water is abundant in the Philippines, and much of that water churns and swirls in the rapids of the country’s many rivers. Luzon is the largest island in the country, and as such, it contains the largest and most thrilling rivers to explore. Chico River in Luzon is the most popular white water rafting spot in the whole country for its huge rapids and excellent scenery, but there are plenty of other mountain and valley rivers to choose from. The Visayas is made up of several smaller islands, and the rafting opportunities are fewer and shorter. Finally, the Mindanao region offers a handful of excellent rivers that showcase the beauty of the island and present challenging rapids for rafters of all experience levels.
For an atypical rafting experience, look into touring the Puerto Princesa Underground River. On this trip, you’ll see one of the Philippines’ most prized World Heritage sites: a cave accessed only by boat and filled with centuries-old stalactites and stalagmites.
Sailing in the Philippines
Because of the quality of the waters of the Philippines, many travelers prefer to take to the seas during their Filipino adventures. Since the country is composed of a chain of islands, there are myriad ports from which travelers can rent sail or motorboats and explore the nearby waters. The ocean off Puerto Princesa is lauded as some of the most pristine, but El Nido also presents thrills for experienced sailors.
Diving in the Philippines
While onboard a sailboat, or even from the comfort of the beach, travelers can don the proper equipment and explore the creatures of the deep. Snorkeling and scuba opportunities abound around the Philippines, and travelers will be astounded at the wealth of sea life they can find in the clear blue waters. During the early summer, divers even have the chance to spot the rare dugong, more commonly called the sea cow, munching on seagrasses of the Palawan archipelago. However, these animals are timid — not to mention endangered and protected — so travelers would be wise to admire the creatures from a safe distance.