The Philippines has numerous superb beaches from the unspoiled and tranquil beaches of Bohol to the buzzing, white sanded beaches of Boracay; there is a beach for everybody’s taste. We suggest to start your trip close to Manila and head out to White Beach in Puerto Galera. Nearby Puerto Galera are several other beaches, the most notable being Big Laguna, Small Laguna and Sabang. This are certainly not the best beaches, but the active nightlife, affordable accommodation and good diving attracts every year thousands of visitors. Puerto Galera is a good place to learn sailing or diving and even has a small golf course. Some people stay 6 months and others are fleeing this place after one day in Sabang.
From Puerto Galera take the ferry and bus back to Manila and fly to Cebu or Tagbilaran for a visit to the beaches of Bohol. To really get away from it all, spend some time at Anda Beach. A good alternative is the popular Alona Beach on Panglao island which has a more developed tourist infrastructure. Bohol has numerous tourist sights and some of the best dive spots in the country and you could easily spend 1 or 2 weeks exploring the island and it’s attractions.
After this unspoiled beach it’s time for the Philippines most popular beach destination – Boracay. There are flights between Cebu and Caticlan, just in front of the island of Boracay. Another option and sometimes cheaper is to fly to the city of Kalibo. You can only take 10 kg of check in luggage if flying to Caticlan, because of the small landing strip.
Boracay has two major beaches; The palm fringed white beach popular for sunbathing and with door to door shopping. Bulabog beach on the opposite side of the island is a the place for watersurfing and kiteboarding in the Philippines. Boracay is also one of the most expensive places to stay in the country and could easily blow away your budget.
There are plenty of more good beaches in the Philippines, if you still have time and money, Coron would be a good destination. TO get there you will have to fly back to Manila or Cebu and from there fly or take a ferry to Coron. Hidden coves on the islands in the vicinity of Coron harbor unspoiled beaches and can give you that Robinson Crusoe feeling. Tour operators are offering overnights stays on these beaches and organize day trips including lunch.
Volcanic activity has created a mountainous interior that is asking to be explored. We start in Manila and take the bus to Tagatay, a 2 hour bus ride south of Manila. This is a popular place for weekend trippers from Manila so try to go there during the week, to avoid the crowds. Taal Volcano can easily be climbed in a half day trip from Tagatay, including a trip across Taal Lake. Spend 2 to 3 days here and then continue your journey to Banaue. The rice terraces of Banaue are world class and the small town is still largely authentic due to it’s remote location. There are countless hiking trails in this region and you could easily spend 1 week in this place. From Banaue, a half day trip by jeepney over mountainous roads leads to Sagada, famous for the hanging coffins. There are several options for hiking and caving around the neatly kept town. After 1 week or so in Sagada the next destination is Baguio, also dubbed the City of Pine. Unfortunately in recent days, fumes from cars and jeepneys have replaced the smell of pines. However there are still some interesting attractions and the excellent and cheap restaurants are a good reason to stay a couple of days, before heading back to Manila.
The waters surrounding the more then 7000 Philippine islands harbor a large diversity of marine life and coral reefs. WWII and older wrecks complement the underwater scene and are slowly turned into an artificial reef.
We start our trip in Subic nearby Manila. Subic is a former US navy base transformed into an economic free zone. The diving here mostly focuses on WWII wrecks located a stone’s throw from shore. The most notable is the USS New York, laying within recreational depth limits and penetrable by experienced divers. Visibility can be a problem a bay, due to volcanic ash dropped into the bay by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. 3 or 4 days in this place will be sufficient to dive most sights.
Continue the itinerary to Puerto Galera, also close Manila. To get there you will have to cross the Verde Island Passage from Batangas to Mindoro island. The macro life is abundant and conditions are good throughout the year. For an exciting dive try the “washing machine” in front of Verde Island. Tides create an unpredictable pattern of currents that will sweep you through a canyon. There are more the 20 dive sights around Puerto Galera, so plan to stay at least 1 week if you want to dive them all.
From Puerto Galera we could to take the plane or If time is not an issue a ferry to Cebu or Tagbilaran. If you are flying it is recommended to don’t dive 18 hours before the flight, to prevent decompression sickness. Dive sites nearby Cebu or not spectacular, but the reason we come here are the pristine dive sites surrounding Balicasag island. Several dive operators are based in Panglao beach are offering daytrips to Balicasag Island and several other dive sites nearby Pangalo Island.
We end our journey in Coron also known as the wreck diving capital of The Philippines. A dozens or Japanese war ships were bombed by the Americans in WWII and have created an underwater graveyard of ships which are slowly being absorbed by nature.