Here are six jaw-dropping adventure spots in the Philippines.
Bohol is known for glistening white sand beach resorts, extensive coral reefs, world class diving spots, the Chocolate Hills (near symmetrical mounds of limestone formations that look like Hershey’s Kisses), and the iconic tarsier (the oldest species of extant primate in the world). However, this large Philippine Island has lately been a recurring item in the global tourism grapevine for yet another attraction: the Danao Adventure Park. Managed by the local government with the aid of private advocacy groups, the adventure park has become the ultimate hub for eco-adventure activities. The park offers more than a dozen extraordinarily thrilling activities that leverage the nature park’s rugged and profoundly varied topography. Accommodating travelers of any stripe–from calm and composed bird watchers to extreme adventurers, Danao Adventure Park showcases the scenic Wahig River, a forested mountain range, a native cultural community, self-sustained organic farms, and cave complexes that provide hours of spelunking excitement. Popular activities include kayaking, wall climbing, trekking, camping, cave explorations, village tours, educational tours, and extreme in-the-park-only challenges such as the Ziplet, Skyride, Plunge, Suislide, Cliff Rappel, and Root Climb.
Very few places offer travelers the same level of profound thrills as the unique city of Davao. Dubbed the Eco-Adventure capital of the Philippines, Davao City is home to the country’s highest mountain peak and to the noble and extremely rare Philippine Eagle. Davao is thoroughly cosmopolitan, being the country’s third largest city and a regional economic player in Southeast Asia. Even then, only 7% of the city’s total land area is urbanized, with around 50% classified as forests or timberland and 40% appropriated by the state-of-the-art agriculture that has catapulted the city among the world’s top producers and exporters of fruits and flowers. Considered the cleanest, greenest and safest city in the Philippines, Davao offers some of the most unique and memorable travel experiences anywhere in the world. From mountaineers to beach bums, from extreme sports enthusiasts to cultural historians, and from artists to ecologists, tourists of every stripe flock to the city to experience its gripping cultural and natural wonders. Dotting its coasts are top-rated beaches and uninhabited islands while exotic plants and animal species dwell within the spellbinding topography of its interior.
Donsol pulls and beguiles. For travelers who demand nothing but authentic and transformative experiences, the idyllic coastal town of Donsol in central Philippines provides a one-of-a-kind setting for unforgettable encounters. By itself, the town already possesses the attractions that make other destinations elsewhere a hit among global tourists: fascinating local culture, gorgeous beaches of fine sand, lush forests and stunningly rugged coastlines. At least for most travelers, these attractions are enough reasons to pack their luggage, book accommodations, and hit the trail. But Donsol offers a lot more. If nature had a soul, then Donsol provides a rare window from which to see it in perfect clarity. Something in the town attracts two sensitive indicator species that are disappearing in much of their former ranges. There are only a few thousand whale sharks left in the world and most congregate and frolic in the waters of Donsol. Meantime, as human development encroaches on natural habitats, fireflies are also becoming a rare sight and very few young people even remember seeing them. Fortunately, they are in jaw-dropping numbers along the course of the Donsol River. In Donsol, just a few hours after daybreak, people can literally swim at arm’s length with the gentle but colossal whale sharks. After the sun sets, on the other hand, when only the night sky offers some glimmer of light, thousands of fireflies synchronize their biolumiscent abilities to add a spectacular surreal gleam to the riverscape.
Combine seven lakes, coral reefs, mangroves, white sand beaches, a native islander culture, and more than a dozen islands to explore and you’ll get the phenomenal Coron experience. Isolated from urban centers by the windswept sea, Coron Island is one of the finest eco-adventure destinations in the world. The extensive reefs surrounding the island play host to highly acclaimed diving spots while sections of its coasts are protected by mangrove forests that also provide a secure habitat for different species of birds, reptiles, mammals and marine life. Sustainably managed by the peace-loving Tagbanuas–the native tribe that has ancestral dominion over the island–Coron Island is off limits to visitors at night while daytime excursions are carefully regulated. Fishing and tourism are the two industries that keep the island thriving and its precious natural resources conserved. Trekking, island hopping, scuba diving, swimming, and interacting with the natives are just some of the memorable activities that provide priceless thrills when done in Coron.
5. Cordillera Highlands
The imposing Cordillera Mountain Range courses through much of the north central part of Luzon and is the prominent terrain for the autonomous region that takes after its name. The area showcases the profoundly inspiring natural and cultural voices of the Philippine highlands. Given the region’s rugged beauty and the fascinating highland tribes that lend it an extraordinary character, tourism ranks high among the top sectors that provide the stimulus for the regional economy. Waterfalls, mountain forests, millennia-old rice terraces, folk art, burial caves, and nature trails are the irresistible attractions that draw local and foreign tourists to the Cordilleras. Diverse and colorful, the region’s richness permeates the traditional summer capital of Baguio City, the ecologically fascinating Mount Data National Park, the moving aura of Sagada, and the magnificent expressions of folk art in Bontoc and Batad. But perhaps the most well-known landmark in the area is the sprawling Banaue Rice Terraces, an engineering and agricultural marvel that has been carved by hand from the slopes of the mighty Cordillera Mountain Range several thousands of years ago. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the rice terraces continue to nourish the unique tribal cultures that inhabit the region. Memorable Baguio hikes, challenging bike trails, waterfall and cave explorations, nature trekking, bird watching, white water rafting, rappelling, cultural/historical immersions, and meaningful village interactions await travelers who are looking for unforgettable and extraordinary experiences in this one-of-a-kind location.
Unforgettable. Beguiling. Palawan. Three interchangeable words as far as natural splendor is concerned. Voted by Conde Nast as the destination with the best beaches in Asia, Palawan offers more than pristine sands and one of the richest reef ecosystems in the world. Isolated from the Philippine’s major urban centers, Palawan retains much of its old-growth rainforests that shelter a surprising number of exotic and endemic species. Extensive mangrove areas hedge its coasts while lush canopies lend a rich verdant accent to its rugged interior, attracting a wide variety of plants and animals that call Palawan their home. Across its beaches are magnificent limestone islands that jut out of the surf to play a breathtaking symphony with the sea, while farther across are marine sanctuaries that international teams of experts consider unparalleled in terms of species density. Hosting the primary airport of the island province, Puerto Princesa is the gateway to the Palawan experience and the hub for numerous initiatives on nature conservation and biodiversity protection.
It is also just a few kilometers from the world-renowned Underground River, a ribbon of crystal clear water that flows through spectacular limestone formations over an area that fully encapsulates a mountain-to-sea transition. Because of its unique richness, the Puerto Princesa Underground River was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site and was just recently included in the Seven Natural Wonders of the World Project. There are countless ways of experiencing Palawan. Aside from taking a breathtaking journey across the Underground River, travelers can explore the exotic string of islands that provide a profound natural contrast to the placid contours of the sea. Travelers have the option to go midpoint between sea and sky by para-sailing or reacquaint themselves with the element of water by exploring the destination’s unmatched snorkeling sites. Scuba-diving is also a popular attraction, especially to those who wish to interact with the stunningly colorful denizens of the coral reef. Simply put, Palawan is the epitome of a tropical paradise and is unmatched by any place in the world for its ruggedly beautiful terrain, breathtaking seascapes, world class diving sites, exotic wildlife, nature trails, extensive sanctuaries, and fascinating native cultures. Nature trekking, swimming, snorkeling, island hoping, local dishes & delicacies, scuba diving, bird watching, parasailing, tattooing, ecological research, bar hopping and photography are just some of the experiences that become strangely distinctive when done in Palawan.