On our adventure to Southeast Asia, we knew we couldn’t go all the way there from the United States without stopping over in the Philippines, even if it was just for 5 days.
Of all the places we’ve traveled to, the Philippines fights for a spot in the top 3 favorites- easily! The people, the prices, and the untouched beauty of these islands had us hooked and we only dream of returning again one day to explore the MANY islands. If you’re planning a trip to Asia and have time for just a quick introduction to the Philippines, this post is for you!
We started in Cebu, a large island that is easy to fly into from most international airports. Cebu is home to plenty of waterfalls, luxury hotels, and the famous whale sharks.
We stayed at Crimson Resort & Spa. This luxury hotel provided us beautiful views and a great location in Cebu (Mactan Island) in our private villa. Due to flight cancellations and delays, we actually missed our first full day in Cebu- which we were so sad about! We enjoyed our first day exploring the property and lounging by the pool to fight the jet lag, before our 3:30am wake up call to head south for an incredible day with Travel Cebu.
Our full day tour with Travel Cebu included pick up from our hotel, breakfast, swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob, drive to Kawasan Falls for a few hours of cayoneering, lunch, and a ride back to our hotel. This tour is not for the faint of heart! It’s adrenaline rushing, tiring, hours of driving, and a very long day. BUT it is so worth it!
The 3:30am wake up call is necessary for many reasons. First, it is about a 3 hour drive to Oslob to swim with the whales. Second, you can only swim with the whales in the morning as they tend to move on to other spots after about 10:30am we were told. The process to swim with the whale sharks, if I’m being honest, was a giant headache. We showed up at 6:45 am, bought our tickets, went through orientation, and had to sit under a tent in a waiting area for 2.5 hours. They only allow a certain amount of people to swim with the sharks (which is great because it’s not over crowded in the water). Because of this, you have to wait until your number is called. There were so many people waiting and you are allowed 30 minutes in the water with these giant beauties.
As for the care of these animals, these are wild whale sharks. You are not allowed to wear sunscreen in the water and you are NOT allowed to touch them. There is a marine biologists kayaking around the waters and if you get too close, you’ll get a whistle blown at you and potentially fined a large amount of money. I know animal tourism is controversial, but I genuinely felt these sharks can come and go as they please and were not being harmed in anyway.
Swimming with them was incredible. These gentle giants moved so beautifully and it was a once in a lifetime experience to witness them that close! Sometimes the best experiences require a little headache to make it happen!
From whale shark swimming, we moved onto canyoneering at Kawasan Falls- the land of the bluest waterfalls and rope swings. It’s basically a natural waterpark! I highly recommend not doing this tour on a Sunday, we were told this is the busiest day to go and unfortunately it was the only day we had.
From flipping, sliding, swinging, and jumping, we had a blast going through these falls and stepping (jumping) out of our comfort zone! To see more videos, head over to my instagram page and watch the story highlights- so much fun! We slept the whole car ride back to our hotel anxiously awaiting our early morning flight to Coron Island.
I’ve always said that Greece is hands down my favorite place in the world, but I think Coron Island takes a close second. To get to Coron, you can take a direct flight from Cebu or Manila (a short 1 hour flight) and fly into Busuanga. We were told Coron was much less touristy than El Nido, and we hope it stays that way!
We stayed at the beautiful Two Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel and couldn’t get enough of the sunset views and the surprisingly incredible food at the hotel’s restaurant!
There are many options of things to do in Coron from snorkeling, diving, hiking, hot springs, and beautiful beaches. In our opinion, the best thing to do is to hire a private boat for the day and go explore all the lagoons, caves, and snorkeling spots Coron has to offer. We went with Mystery Expedition Coron, you can find them and book them through Facebook! The guides were fantastic, English speaking, and went out of their way to show us all the best spots around the island. We met our boat down at the dock at 8:30am and stopped at a local market to pick up any meat or fish you wanted, and they’ll cook it for you on the boat for lunch! This whole day cost us around $100 USD and it was incredible value for the price!
We went to Banal Beach, Twin Lagoon, Barracuda Lake, Kayangan Lake, Skeleton Shipwreck, and a few others. Each place we went to had its own charm and perfectly clear blue water. There aren’t enough words to describe this day!
Some Coron Island Tips:
- If your boat captain will let you leave early in the morning- do it!
- Bring extra cash, there are small entrance fees at each lagoon or lake
- Bring waterproof case or Go Pro!
- Put down your camera for a bit and enjoy the views- they are some of the most beautiful in the world!
Twin Lagoon pictures above
My absolute favorite view in the Philippines, there are some steps to climb to get to this spot. You must walk up the steps to get to the lake behind this view point- you can’t miss it- there are signs! We were so thankful for such a clear day at Kayangan Lake!
Coron blew away any expectations we could have had. The convenience getting around, the food, the prices, and the raw and natural beauty of the island was something no blog post could do justice for. I highly recommend hiring your own private boat so you can choose where you want to go and how long you want to be there! We will absolutely be back to Coron one day 🙂
For any questions, feel free to email me or reach out through instagram! Xoxo