This is SUCH a late post – so I apologise! But I thought I’d just do a quick run down of our trip to the Philippines in March. It was an amazing trip to a beautiful country, where we met some lovely people and got to have some memorable experiences. Here’s where we went and what we did there:
The less said about this place the better. This was our stopover, after Dubai, on the way to our first island destination.
OK – now on to the real Philippines! For anyone that hasn’t sat on Google for approximately 6 hours a day researching this place (me, before any holiday ever), the Philippines is a group of thousands and thousands of islands. Which makes picking where to go an absolute ballache. In the limited time we had, and taking into account that you really need to fly between islands as opposed to a quick boat trip, we knew we had to pick only two, maybe with a day trip thrown in.
We settled on Bohol for our first island; this was in part down to the fact that a) it wasn’t a tourism-heavy island (my worst nightmare) and b) the AirBnB I found was absolutely incredible.
Bohol is a place heavy set with natural beauty; dozens of white sand beaches, emerald green rivers dotted with whitewater waterfalls, and of course the famous Chocolate Hills, which we got a pretty stunning aerial view of on the airplane over from Manila. Here, we rented a scooter – our preferred choice of transport when on holiday – and zipped around the island over five days.
We stayed in Dauis, which is on the island of Panglao, but only a fifteen minute scooter ride from Tagbilaran City, where most of the commerce/restaurants are. There’s not actually much else there and it’s not a particularly pretty town, but it’s definitely handy in terms of having stores etc nearby.
After our time in Bohol was up we caught a boat from Tagbilaran to Cebu City, and then a 3hr private transfer to our hotel in Daanbantayan. A word of warning – Cebu City is the filthiest place I have ever been to in my life. There were literally mountains of rubbish, and shanty towns built on what looked like landfill sites. But as soon as we were out of the City proper the scenery changed and was honestly so stunning. Valleys filled with tropical plants lined the road, and small villages cropped up every few miles, always complete with an iglesia ni cristo.
We stayed at Kandaya Resort, which was the nicest hotel I’ve ever been to in my life. It’s a small ‘resort’ – 40 rooms or so – way up in North Cebu, pretty much isolated from anything else. We literally did not leave for four days, and we didn’t need to – the food was incredible, there was a private beach, and there were so many activities to keep a busy schedule. On one day we hired a private boat and went for a day of snorkelling off of Malapascua, which was probably my favourite snorkelling experience to date – one of the crew was an incredible diver, who would free dive to the bottom and sit with his legs crossed on the coral! He brought us so much coral back up to the boat, but we had so much time to swim around that we saw plenty for ourselves. Considering I used to be petrified of fish it’s baffling how much I love snorkelling. There’s something about being so close to so many gorgeous colourful fish and coral – I think it’s such a unique experience!
After Cebu it was back to Manila, then home via Dubai again. Overall the journey was horrifically long and we were exhausted upon our return.
Would we go back to the Philippines? Based on our experience, I’d say not. Granted there are more popular islands – El Nido and Boracay being a couple – that people generally visit when they go to the Philippines, and I hear from friends that they are beautiful, though crowded with tourists. I think being so isolated in Cebu meant that we didn’t have as thorough an experience of Cebu as we could have done, but overall, the islands lacked some of the magic that we’ve experienced elsewhere, in spite of being objectively incredibly stunning places.
TTFN – but as always, I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments section!