Philippines … away from the capital

Crowded, polluted and endless traffic jams — these are most probably the three first things that will spring to your mind whenever the Philippines is mentioned. If we are talking about Manila, then let me assure you that you are 100 percent right, but when it comes to the rest of the country, you are equally wrong! Let us take a virtual tour of what the Philippines has got to offer away from the capital.
If you are looking for some serious rest and recuperation (R&R), where you can switch off your phone (that is if you find network to start with) and go completely off the radar grid, then Bacuit Archipelago or some of the smaller islands south of Busuanga is where you should be checking-in. Accommodation often comes in traditional Nipa huts with authentic wooden furniture, and where the resort is deeply in tuned with the surrounding nature. In most cases it is one resort per island, so no need to worry about your space, quietness, or privacy. Lazing in a hammock, watching the spectacle views, or taking endless strolls on white-powder sand beaches is your daily routine. Follow this routine for a week, and rest assured, you will come back a different person.
But…if that is too much for you, and you are more of an adventurous guy then you need to head to Siargao, more specifically Cloud 9.
According to the urban dictionary, cloud nine, as a term, is defined as a feeling of extreme happiness or euphoria … feeling like you’re floating on air. And whether you are a beginner or an avid surfer, this is how you will feel surfing in Sihargao. Sept. 24 — 30, 2016 is epicenter of the surfing fervor, that is when the town hosts its annual Siargao Cloud 9 Surfing Cup. Mark your calendar and get ready to chase the perfect wave.
Island Hopping is a term that I got familiar with when I went to the Philippines. It basically means spending your day hopping from one island to another. When I first heard it, my immediate reaction was “And why would I do that. If I found the perfect island, I would just stay there for the day”. Problem is that there are so many “perfect islands” that would probably take you months, if not years, to stay on just one island a day!
Head to northern Palawan for some of the Philippines’ best island hoping experiences that would take you from one jaw-dropping beach to another, after another, after another … And it is not all about beaches! Some islands offer lagoons for snorkeling, awe-inspired diving sites, and guess what, lakes! Yes, inland freshwater island lakes.
Lake Barracuda and Lake Kayangan are not-to-miss-out-on. While the former offers a unique snorkeling and diving experience with its layers of water that come with temperature shifts, the latter comes with an out-of-this-world vistas and some of the clearest water you can ever find in the Philippines. Whilst snorkeling in Lake Kayangan look for the small cave. Both lakes are located in northern Palawan and both require a brief 10-minute hike over man-made dilapidated steps (don’t attempt barefooted).
What Bali is to Indonesia, Boracay and El Nido are to the Philippines. Dubbed the party island of the Philippines, Boracay’s nightlife is at its most hedonistic. This resort town doesn’t party from dusk till dawn, but rather from dusk till next day’s dusk! El Nido on the other hand, sings on a lower tune, striking the right note with its conglomeration of restaurants, cafes, bars, beaches, and of course diving sites. El Nido and its neighbor further north Coron, offer some of the best diving experiences in the country. While diving El Nido you have a pretty good chance to spot manta rays, turtles, and dugong, diving Coron is like diving in an underwater war cemetery. Coron witnessed some of World War II fearsome sea battles and now about 10 Japanese commercial and warships rest silently on its seabed.
It doesn’t matter if it is a day on the beach or an adrenaline pumping adventure that you are looking for. The Philippines has got something for every tourist; just remember this is an islands nation, and the sea is the name of the game!