A country slightly off the radar from major travel destinations in Asia like Japan or Thailand, the Philippines just might surprise you.
Juxtaposing big metropolitan areas and laid-back rural towns, the Philippines turned out to be a delight for Marie Volkert and her boyfriend when they took a chance on a reasonable flight they found that brought them to the Southern parts of the Philippines.
“Had we known the Philippines was going to be this much fun, we would have gone sooner! On our second trip here, we decided to book our tickets to the Southern part of the Philippines,” she writes in her post on Philihappy.com.
Traveling to the Philippines wasn’t in the original plan for the couple. They were saving up for a trip in Central and South America. But after a little internet search, the couple decided to fly to the Philippines for its postcard-worthy landscapes.
First Stop: Siargao
“After one night of transfer, we reached Siargao, the surfing capital of the archipelago. Although Siargao is small, there were so many things to explore. Surfers would definitely love the laid-back vibe and the great waves.
They stayed at Kermit Surf Resort and Camp,a cozy resort for backpackers who want to know what it’s like to be a Siargao local. The place, aside from serving scrumptious Filipino dishes, also had the best Kermit and pizza.
“Because my boyfriend and I were not really talented surfers—we tried it once, but I already got seasick on the way to the spot—we explored the island by scooter instead,” she wrote. “We discovered breathtaking beaches and vibrant green mangrove forests, and we felt very welcomed by the limitless hospitality of the people of Siargao.”
Must-try activities in the Island? Paddleboarding in the mangroves, ride on the back of a water buffalo, and get drunk with exotic Jungle Juice (ahem) at the Jungle Disco.
She added, “After five days of staying on the island, we came to the conclusion that that’s exactly what paradise is like. It might sound a little bit over the top, but we’re not exaggerating. You should go to the far northeast of Mindanao, and you will come to the same conclusion too.”
Next Stop: Apo Island
According to Volkert, Apo Island consists of only 1,000 people, where electricity is only available three hours a day. It’s perfect for people who want to be cut off from the rest of the world.
“We stayed at Mario’s Scuba Diving and Homestay, which was a cozy and amazing place to relax,” she said. “Our room had a nice sea view and we also got to meet Mario, the owner. He was an interesting guy who had traveled a lot and returned to Apo Island to raise awareness for nature preservation and to teach diving.
From her experience, the island was “a secret garden full of diverse fishes and colorful coral reefs.” What made it all the more exciting are the giant sea turtles that lived near the beach — a sign that marine life is well and flourishing in the area.
“It was not hard to spot them. To watch them strolling around and swimming in the water was a unique experience,” she wrote.
She also recommended hiking to the lighthouse located on top of the only mountain on Apo Island.
“We watched the stunning sunset and golden colors overlaying the entirety of Apo Island. And just like that, once again, we were impressed by how beautiful the Philippines is,” she said.
If there’s any advice Volkert could give to would-be tourists, it would be to bring a flashlight because the island doesnt’ have enough power supply.
“The total darkness isn’t so bad, though—it’s the perfect time to watch the stars! At night, the basketball court and the milkshake bar are the places to be, the milkshake was the icing on top of a perfect day in paradise,” she said.
She added, “More than the beauty we had seen were the open-minded and warm-hearted Filipinos. During our stay, we even got invited to two birthday parties. They sure knew how to party and how to start the festivities early!”
So that’s another place to check off your list in 2018, huh?