Have a look at my Philippines itinerary. I spend 8 days island hopping and exploring lush jungle, pristine beaches and crystal clear water. In my itinerary I'm sharing some Philippines travel tips.
AsiaPhilippines8 days / April 2019
Highs & Lows
Island hopping in El Nido - beautiful lagoons and white sand beaches!
The weather was unpredictable and it rained often.
The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 beautiful islands and is home to some of the world's top-rated beaches. I have been to the Philippines twice and left each time wishing I had stayed longer.
This Philippines itinerary will take you to three islands and two of the most popular beaches. We will start the trip trekking through the jungle in Cebu to Kawasan falls, head over to Palawan to visit one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, island hop in beautiful El Nido and end our trip relaxing at a luxury resort and one of the world's most pristine beaches.
Fly to the island of Cebu and drive 3.5 hours to the quiet town of Moalboal. The town itself is fairly small, however, it is popular among divers and has many dive schools to choose from if you are looking to get certified. It is also close to the famous Kawasan Falls, a series of waterfalls known for its stunning turquoise blue pools. Moalboal has several dive shops along its main street. If you are planning on canyoneering to Kawasan falls, I recommend picking up a dry bag at one of the shops here, as your belongings will definitely get wet!
Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls
Start your trip with some adventure by canyoneering through the jungle to Kawasan Falls. Trek, climb over boulders, swim, and slide down waterfalls as you make your way to the falls. There are also several cliffs you can jump off of along the way, ranging from 15 to 50 feet. Make sure to bring shoes with good support that you don't mind getting wet, as the rocks you will have to climb over are slippery and there are a few steep sections you will have to climb down. The full canyoneering tour is 4-5 hours, depending on how long you decide to relax at the falls once you get there. After your day of adventure, spend the night in Moaboal before departing to Palawan the next day.
Cebu to Palawan
Drive 3.5 hours from Moalboal back to Mactan Cebu International Airport and fly to Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan. Once you arrive in Palawan, check into the luxurious Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa and spend the rest of the day relaxing at the resort. The resort has a spa, several pools and restaurants and is located right on the beach, offering an incredible view for sunset.
Visit Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a UNESCO heritage site and one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. The park contains an 8.2 km underground river of which 4.3 km are navigable by boat. Take a boat tour through the underground river and be awed by the incredible limestone formations in the cave. It is recommended to bring a flashlight or a headlamp on the tour, as the cave is pitch black aside. Also note that there are lots of bats flying around in the cave.
Puerto Princesa to El Nido
Wake up early and drive 5 hours from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. The drive is long but definitely worth it. El Nido is a protected area on the north end of Palawan known for its natural beauty, including white-sand beaches, limestone cliffs and crystal clear water.
Zipline to an Island
After you check into your hotel, head to Las Cabanas beach to relax after the drive. At the beach, you can sip a coconut on the beach, rent paddleboards or if you're feeling like more adventure, hike up a hill and zipline to a small island in the middle of the ocean. There are also several restaurants and lounges located right on the beach with an excellent view for watching the sunset.
El Nido offers several full-day island hopping tours that will take you to some of the most beautiful lagoons and beaches in the area. There are 4 different island hopping tours offered in El Nido (A, B, C and D) with different itineraries of lagoons, caves, beaches and snorkeling. The most popular tour is Tour A, which takes you to the Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Shimizu Island and Seven Commando Beach. Make sure to bring your own water in a reusable bottle in a reusable bag on the tour, as single-use plastic is banned in El Nido and you cannot bright single-use bottles or bags onto any of the boats. The tour will pass through several islands with stunning limestone cliffs and I highly recommend bringing a drone if you have one as well as a GoPro.
Dinner in a Tree House
After spending the day on the water, end your day with sunset yoga and dinner in a treehouse. The Birdhouse El Nido is a boutique glamping hotel located high in the trees with beautiful decor. You have to climb several stairs to get there, but the views are worth it, as you will have a stunning view of Las Cabanas beach. Wind down with a sunset yoga class at their yoga studio and a delicious three-course dinner at their restaurant, The Nest.
Relax at a Luxuary Resort
Fly from El Nido to Boracay and end your trip relaxing at the luxurious Shangri-La Boracay resort. Boracay is one of the most popular travel destinations in the Philippines and is famous for its picture-perfect white-sand beaches. The Shangri-La is the only luxury 5-start resort on the island and offers several amenities including its own private beach, several pools, an incredible breakfast buffet, an eco-center with snorkeling tours and a rejuvenating spa. Take a few days to relax and enjoy the many amenities this luxury resort has to offer!
Venture outside of the resort and visit Boracay's main strip, including its most famous attraction, White Beach. Stretching 4km, White Beach is famous for its fine white sand and lush tropical scenery. As this beach is open to the public, make sure to get there early to avoid the crowds. There are several shops and restaurants located along White Beach, making it a great place to spend the day.
Book a parasailing excursion and view Boracay from above. The tour will take you to a small recreational center in the middle of the ocean. Once there you'll be strapped into your parachute and cruise around the ocean, allowing you to marvel at the beauty below.
Q & A
What would you have changed?I wish I stayed longer in El Nido to do more island hopping tours and hike Taraw Cliff. I also wish I went to the island of Coron after El Nido.
Anything go wrong during the trip?The weather was variable and there were quite a few periods of rain. I also forgot to reapply sunscreen and got badly burned while island hopping in El Nido.
Restaurant recommendations?The Nest, El Nido
Tips you would give a friend?If you need to transfer flights in Manila, make sure you have lots of time between flights. You will likely have to switch terminals and the traffic is very congested. It took 40 minutes for me to transfer from terminal 1 to terminal 3 and I barely made my flight.
Packing tips?The climate is very humid so I'd recommend packing light clothes that are easy to wash. A dry bag and a good pair of walking shoes will also come in handy.
Transportation Tips?Some of the drives are quite long so I'd make sure to arrange transportation for those drives in advance either with the hotel or through a tour.
Any surprises?I wasn't expecting the weather to be so humid.