The Adventure Lover’s Guide to the Philippines

The Philippines is best known for its islands and idyllic beach landscapes, making it a top destination for rest and relaxation. But while the beaches and resorts are ripe for a ‘flop and drop’ escape, the Philippines is also home to a raft of exciting adventure activities waiting to be discovered.

Whether you’d prefer to hike the country’s top mountain ranges or explore the abundance of surfing and diving spots, here are some of the best adventure journeys where you can appreciate the Philippines’ boundless natural wonders and regional culture.

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Bicol

Whale Sharks in the Philippines. Credit – Wowie Wong

Interacting with these gentle sea creatures is one of the most unique experiences you can do in the Philippines. Whale sharks can be found all around the country’s coastline, but in Donsol, Bicol, you can have an almost guaranteed encounter during the whale shark season (April and May). What’s more, Donsol is a protected area for whale sharks, and operators practice tours ethically and within regulations, meaning that there are stringent rules about human interaction and visitor numbers.

Walking the Banaue Rice Terraces

Hiking Banaue Rice Terraces. Credit – Russel Llanera

Often dubbed the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World,’ the Banaue Rice Terraces are carved into the mountains of Banaue, Ifugao, on the northern island of Luzon. The terraces are said to be around 2,000 years old, and some parts have even been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. They are all the product of the Ifugao ethnic group, a minority community that has occupied these mountains for thousands of years. It’s estimated they stretch approximately 12,500 kilometres long.

Hiking Mt Pulag

Sunset over Mt Pulag, Benguet. Credit PDOT

Hiking Mt Pulag is on every mountaineer’s bucket list and is one of the Philippines’ most rewarding and scenic hikes. The highest mountain peak, also in Luzon, towers at an altitude of 9,640 feet above sea level. Mt Pulag is considered the ‘playground of the Gods’ by locals thanks to the majestic view above the clouds that awaits you as you ascend. With rolling hills, breathtaking uphill trails, and scenic sunrises, it’s not hard to see why this mountain attracts intrepid climbers from across the world.

Surfing Siargao’s ‘Cloud 9’

Philippines surf trip to Siargao Island; Surigao del Norte in Mindanao. Credit – Tommy Schultz

With a total land area of only 437 square kilometres, the entire Siargao Island can be circumnavigated in less than a day. World-class surf spots, sparkling white sand islets, turquoise tide pools, and palm tree-laden lagoons are all awaiting visitors – but the island haven is becoming best known for a barrelling right-hander known as Cloud 9. The spot, in General Luna on the southeast corner of the island, is an almost guaranteed perfect break. Whether you’re a die-hard surfer or not, a visit to Cloud 9 promises to impress, especially around sunrise and sunset.

Getting up close with rare Thresher Sharks in Malapascua

Thresher Shark in Malapascua Isaland. Credit PDOT

Known for their unique tail and interesting hunting habits, threshers are frequent visitors to Malapascua Island, one of the only places in the world where you can dive with these stunning creatures in their natural habitat. The Monad Shoal dive site is one of Malapascua’s best known spots for consistent Thresher shark sightings, with divers committing to a well-worthwhile 4am departure to witness them.

There is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new sun. This is Where Wild Things Roam.