Top 5 Water Activities to do in the Philippines
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5 Water-based Adventures in the Philippines
The Philippines is a water-lovers paradise and tourists flock here every year to try something new. With thousands of islands scattered over 300, 000 kilometres, marine parks, rainforests and lakes, the Philippines is the perfect place to uncover your hidden adventurer!
If you’re short on time it can sometimes be more cost effective to do adventurous activities with the help of a local agency. The Philippines are notorious for delays and cancellations and it can get stressful dealing with these on your own. An agency will help organise everything for you, getting the best deals and making sure you save precious time and even money. Here are five of the best tours in the Philippines.
Did you know you can find 7 ft waves in the Philippines? Actually, several islands here have some of the best surf in the world! Ranked 9th in CNN’s list of best surf spots, Siargao has been attracting surfers from all over the globe. The most famous beach is Cloud 9 and that’s where most of the action goes on. But it’s also easy to get away from the crowds and surf an entire beach to yourself. Here is a list of the top places in the Philippines that have great surf.
Where to surf in the Philippines
👣 Surigao del Norte: General Luna (dubbed as Cloud 9), Jacking Horse, Tuason Left, Rock Island, Stimpies and Pacifico
Luzon, a drive from Manila
👣 Baler: Sabang Beach, Cemento, Charlie’s Point, Lily’s Point
👣 La Union: Beach Break, The Bowl, and The Point, San Juan, Carille (continuous 300m right-hand point break), Bacnotan and Darigayos
👣 Zambales: San Antonio (magic left), San Narciso (left and right breaks), Lahar
👣 Surigao del Sur: Siargao Island, Lanuza Bay
👣 Dahican: Billabong Surf School and Dahican surf resort
Bobon, Catarman, Gamay, Geron, Borongan, Calicoan Island (Guiuan)
Camp on a deserted island
This is the ultimate Philippines adventure! With over 7,000 islands in the Philippines, there are hundreds left uninhabited that you can camp on and live out your castaway fantasy. It’s really easy to rent a local boat that will drop you off and pick you up. You can do one night up to about two weeks on these islands. You can also go from extreme castaway (catch your own fish with a spear) to glamping (the boat person will cook for you). Here is a list of popular starting points for travellers wanting to be dropped off at nearby uninhabited islands.
Where to camp on deserted islands in the Philippines
👣 Palawan: El Nido, Port Barton
👣 Camarines Sur: Caramoan Islands
👣 Guimaras Islands
👣 Zambales: Nagsasa Cove or Anawangin Cove
Dive or snorkel with whale sharks
Whale sharks are nature’s gentle giant and the largest fish in the world! Swimming or diving with them is a bucket list item for many. Spotting whale sharks in the Philippines is almost guaranteed since the warm waters make up their feeding ground. This makes the country one of the top places in the world to swim with whale sharks. However, they are migratory so make sure you research the best time of year to see them in the destination you are heading to. Many of the places listed below allow you to dive in the Philippines with these impressive creatures, and all of them allow snorkelling.
Where to dive with whale sharks in the Philippines
👣 Oslob: The most famous and popular place to dive with whale sharks in the Philippines. They do feed the whale sharks here though so it’s possibly not as ethical as other places
👣 Tubbataha: A protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the best places in the country for incredible big fish action. Consisting of two coral atolls and the Jessie Beazley Reef, Whale sharks are often spotted at dive sites located about 20km north of the atolls.
👣 Sogod Bay: An excellent place for whale shark sightings. Because Leyte isn’t as well-known for diving, once a shark is spotted, chances are you’ll have it to yourself!
👣 Donsol: This is reportedly where whale sharks were ‘discovered’ in 1998. Whale sharks are protected here and only snorkelling is allowed with them. You also must have a trained spotter with you at all times who will seek out the shark for you. Tours are a must.
Canyoning down rapids, rivers and waterfalls
Not everything has to revolve around the ocean in the Philippines! These adventurous tours will take you deep into the forest streams and back out again. Canyoning or canyoneering is an extreme activity that involves scrambling through ravines, descending down waterfalls and cliff jumping. The tours usually start with a hike in the forest until you get to the river. It’s a fun and thrilling activity that both beginners and advanced canyoners can all enjoy. You don’t even need to know how to swim because life jackets are provided. The following is a list of the very best places to do waterfall canyoning in the Philippines.
Where to do waterfall canyoning in the Philippines
👣 Kawasan Falls: These naturally beautiful falls have been drawing tourists for years. Whole day tours include rappelling down 30-meter waterfalls and free jumping into deep natural freshwater pools.
👣 Alegria: A good option for beginners. Kanlaob River has stunningly blue waters, beautiful ravines, and relatively low jumps and water slides.
👣 Badian: Over 10km of hopping, skipping, jumping, swinging, swimming and scrambling through bright turquoise waters.
👣 Baccong-Pongas Canyon: A series of dramatic and beautiful waterfalls flowing down a deep gash in the ridge west of Sagada. It starts with a 1.5hr hike, then rappelling, scrambling, swimming, and jumping down gorgeous waterfalls and ravines
👣 Sampao River: For adrenaline-junkies looking for a challenge. Accessing the site involves hiking through virgin forests then scrambling down rocks and boulders amidst spectacular scenery.
👣 Camarines Sur: Lots of rope descents in this amazing tour! A definite try if you’re in the area.
Go diving inside shipwrecks
There is just so much good diving you can do in the Philippines! During World War 2, the Philippines was a popular thoroughfare and hiding ground for Japanese warships. Coron is host to a huge variety of ships that were all sunk by a squadron of US air fighters in September 1944. Many of the ships still have cargo and machinery intact. This makes it ideal for underwater adventures! After over 70 years underwater, these wrecks provide a playground for interested dive enthusiasts. Take note, however, that most wreck penetration dives require an advanced or wreck penetration specialty certificate. There are options for beginners, such as wreck snorkelling, but they are limited.
A popular wreck of note is the Kogyo Maru lying on its side and has a bulldozer hanging next to bags of cement that tumbled as the ship sank. But Coron isn’t the only place to dive with shipwrecks. Many other accessible ones are scattered around the Philippines. The best shipwreck dives in the Philippines are listed below.
Where to shipwreck dive in the Philippines
Coron – Coron Bay
👣 Irako: A Japanese refrigeration ship located at the mouth of Coron Bay. This is probably the best wreck dive in the Philippines since it is still intact because of the depth.
👣 Okikawa Maru: In length, width and volume this is the largest wreck in Coron. There are many penetration possibilities for advanced wreck divers including penetrating up the propeller shaft from the outside of the ship all the way into the engine room.
👣 Kogyo Maru: Japanese freighter carrying construction materials for building a runway for the Japanese war effort in the Pacific. Kogyo Maru offers swim throughs into all six holds and through the engine room and bridge area.
READ: Where to Stay in Coron
Central Luzon Island near Manila
👣 Subic Bay, Zambales: Subic Bay is the home to more than 10 wreck-sites suitable for both beginners and advanced divers. The USS New York is its most popular wreck dive site.
👣 Sipalay: For scuba divers, both professionals and amateurs alike, Sipalay is the place to be for its beautiful dive spots. It boasts 44 sites several of which are shipwrecks.
👣 Juliens Wreck: A shallow dive at only 6-7 meters while the surrounding area can go as deep as 10-15 meters. The wreck site is covered with colourful, beautiful corals and loads of fish.
Cebu – Malapascua
👣 Lighthouse wreck: A Japanese World War II landing craft. It was bombed just before landing with a large shipment of cement destined for a gun emplacement.
👣 Dona Marilyn Wreck: A Cebu-Manila passenger ferry that sank in a typhoon over 20 years ago. It was a huge disaster and many people lost their lives. The wreck is around 100m long and is still all in one piece. Long lost fishing nets encrusted in coral are draped all over it, giving it quite an eerie feeling!
So you now know what awesome water-based activities to do in the Philippines. But do you know where you want to go? Check out these amazing places in the Philippines to get some ideas.
Language: Many; officially Filipino, but also Tagalog and English
Currency: Philippine Peso
$1 USD = ₱44.65
I was there: June 2013
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