The Philippines was long overlooked as a prime travel destination. That has slowly been changing, as word of mouth (and blog) consistently put it on travelers’ lists of favorite countries. The Philippines draws travelers of all types, from two-week tourists, to long-term travelers and digital nomads who choose to live and work in paradise. It is particularly popular with long term expats, as the Philippines is one of the few countries where you can extend your visa for years!
Home to some of nature’s most amazing outdoor spaces, and a veritable wonderland for culture junkies, the Philippines is the perfect playground for anyone with a sense of adventure. Here’s a curated collection of photos that showcases the scope of life and beauty available in the Philippines. Often it’s the people who make the place. Many of these photos were taken by those we have been lucky enough to meet during our time here.
- Ariel’s Point
Adrenaline junkies can get their fix diving into the picturesque warm water. Ariel’s Point is a short trip from the infamous Boracay. A day trip package includes unlimited usage of the varying height diving platforms, lunch buffet, and free flow alcohol and soft drinks. Boracay is one of the most well-known destinations in the Philippines, with good reason! Epic night life and swaths of white sand beaches bring the party people and beach bums in droves.
- Donsol Whale Shark Interaction
Swimming with whale sharks is an ethereal experience. Locally called Butanding, they reside in the waters of Donsol from November to June. We recommend this whale shark interaction over others, as the whale sharks here are not subject to the controversial practice of being fed by humans.
- Tubbataha Reef
Add this to the list of things in the Philippines that are world class ranked! Tubbataha Reef is found in the Sulu Sea, which is considered the geographic center of marine biodiversity. Divers also love the wide range of underwater terrain. Tubbataha reef is 150km from Puerto Princesa, another top destination on the Philippine travel trail.
Home to one of the world’s top 10 surf spots, Cloud 9, Siargao has been named the “Surf Capital of the Philippines.” The pictured break is Stimpy’s, a tubing wave that’s known for being reliable. Siargao has more than 20 surf breaks. It’s impossible to get an exact number as “secret spots” are closely kept secrets. Visitors also enjoy paddle boarding through the mangroves, island hopping, and the surf town chilled out vibe and nightlife.
- Tangadan Falls
Trekking is always best when there’s a reward as pristine as Tangadan Falls at the end. The falls are a hidden gem of the popular surf town, La Union. Go with a guide, or risk getting hopelessly lost. Many lucky travelers find that they have the falls completely to themselves when they arrive.
- Kawasan Falls
The Philippines is a waterfall lover’s dream. This post could easily have been comprised entirely of waterfall photos! Kawasan Falls, in Cebu, are famous for their turquoise color. Hike up to the falls, or make them a last, refreshing stop at the end of a canyoning tour.
- Barracuda Lake
Count Coron among the number of places where you need to be awestruck by the landscape in person. Barracuda Lake is a haven for marine life. Spend the day checking out the various types of sea creatures and marveling at the rock formations. There’s even a little cave that you can swim into!
- Punta Bulata
One of the Philippines many white sand beaches, Punta Bulata is a perfect example of why the Philippines rivals beaches anywhere in the world. Punta Bulata is located on the island of Negros, in the Visayas. Less crowded than Boracay, Negros has everything from underwater coral gardens to the Taj Mahal of Negros, which is ranked 12th for the world’s most fascinating ruins.
- Batad Rice Terraces
The sculpted lush greenery of Batad’s rice terraces round out an often beach heavy Philippine’s itinerary. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Batad is as culturally interesting as it is beautiful. Traditional weaving still occurs here. Maximize your experience by staying in a traditional hut. Bonus: more waterfalls are close by.
- Mayon Volcano
Lovely and dangerous, the world’s most symmetrical volcano is still active. Trek around the volcano, but don’t go all the way up! Mayon volcano is an easy trip from Donsol. The volcano and surrounding landscape have been designated as a natural park.
- Paoay Church
Just one of the many Spanish influenced churches, Paoay Church is the second UNESCO World Heritage Site to make this list. Also known as the St. Augustine Church of Paoay, it’s a striking example of Baroque architecture. Paoay Church is located in Ilocos Norte, which is home to some of the Philippine’s oldest churches. Spanish influenced architecture is common throughout the country, and creates a wonderful mixture of architecture when put side-by-side with the native Philippine’s island style.
- Sinulog Festival
If you’re in the Philippines in January, head to Cebu city to take in the sights and sounds of Sinulog Festival. In a country renowned for their festivals, this is an exceptional one. The huge parade and dance competitions will keep culture junkies happy. Each town also has an annual fiesta to celebrate its’ birth. House hop to meet the locals, eat lechon, and drink the local liquor.
- Bohol Tarsier Sanctuary
Cute and mildly creepy, visitors love these tiny primates. A small information session is given before having a quiet look at the Tarsiers. Huge props to the Sanctuary for putting conservation efforts, and the comfort of the animals, over the natural human desire to want to touch or take flash photographs of these delicate animals. While in Bohol don’t miss the floating restaurant, or cycling along a rope above the jungle canopy!
- Calauit Safari Park
Giraffes don’t come to mind when thinking about the Philippines. However, the game reserve and wildlife sanctuary on Calauit island in Palawan, is a fascinating change of pace. The park has improved the population of the endangered native Calamian deer. Please note that we advocate for lesser human contact with the animals in the park.
Where in the Philippines are you most excited to explore? Do you have a great shot from your trip? Share with us in the comments!