The brief nippy February mornings have lifted. It’s once again time to shed the windbreakers (and admittedly, post-holiday pounds) and get into the skimpiest swimsuits. March is here. Summer in the Philippines has come!
The Philippines indeed is enchanting during cool months, especially during Christmas time. But every local traveler knows that nothing beats the summer in the archipelago. The golden season is the perfect companion to the glistening, pristine beaches, and even the wild water activities that are widely popular this time around.
So start planning your summer as early as now, and take cues from some of the “Hall of Famers” in the travel industry. Some of these are classics that never gets old, some are renowned around the world, and some are just quaint places to spend the sunny months in. Here’s your adventure guide in spending summer in the Philippines:
Summer in the Philippines: El Nido, Palawan
The world has spoken: El Nido has been crowned twice for being the most beautiful island on the planet. If you ever wonder why, just a step inside Hidden Beach or a dive into the entrance of the Secret Lagoon will make you forget you even asked.
El Nido is every backpacker’s paradise because of its raw beauty that no tourist traffic can wipe away. No wonder many Caucasian travelers flock to the small town to get a glimpse of its wonders. Here you can find the limestone formations towering over beige sands and clear waters. This endorsement should come with a warning, though: Once you visit El Nido, you’ll never look at other beaches the same way again.
Summer’s best-kept secret: As there are no direct flights to the town, the entry-point to El Nido is Puerto Princesa City, which is six hours away by land. To make the temporary stay during the summer in the Philippines worth your time, try staying at Aziza Paradise Hotel. It’s one of the most luxurious choices for a hotel in Puerto Princesa, what with its swimming pools, KTV bars, and fancy restaurants.
Summer in the Philippines: Mt. Pulag
Gone are the days when Baguio City was the go-to place in Northern Luzon for summer. The new generation of travelers is now packing heavier bags for the cold of the third highest mountain in the Philippines. Mt. Pulag boasts not only of the frosty weather at the summit that gets as cold as below zero. It also offers a magnificent view of a sea of clouds at certain vantage points. This makes Mt. Pulag the perfect escape from the sweltering heat in the polluted city.
What to do: But first, make sure to weatherproof your hiking gear. Summer in the Philippines can be tricky. While you’re still in a tropical country, rains have become quite unpredictable because of climate changes.
Summer in the Philippines: Cebu
Filipinos might know Cebu only because of its historical significance, being the island where Spanish colonizers first erected the symbol of Christianity. But once you go out of the cosmopolitan city to Southern Cebu, you’ll find that it also teems with natural beauty that’s also worth noting.
Canyoneering is a unique experience to try in Cebu. It’s the jam-packed combination of waterfall- jumping, trekking, and diving into the curves and edges of Southern Cebu. This ultimate adrenaline-inducing adventure climaxes until you reach the most daunting task: plunging from a 20-feet waterfall into the deep, cold water!
What to try: Cebu City is also known for its metro lifestyle that could rival Manila. You can find nightlife and shopping districts at Cebu IT Park, SM Seaside City, and Ayala Center.
Summer in the Philippines – Baler
For locals, summer in the Philippines is the official start of the so-called swell. No, it’s not a form of disease, although once you see it hit, you’re bound to get a natural high! The swell means big barrels of waves from the ocean washing over the shore, making it perfect for surfers to do tricks or to simply ride it.
Baler, which faces the Pacific Ocean, is undoubtedly one of the most poetic places for beginners to enjoy surfing. Aside from getting soaked and stoked, there’s plenty of history surrounding the place. Other places to dive are La Union, Catanduanes, and Zambales.
Surprises in store: You’ll discover the love story of former President Manuel L. Quezon and his wife Aurora, whom the province was named after, right in their hometown. After a day of city touring and beach bumming, you can cap the day off with a cold beer in hand and some live music.
Summer in the Philippines – Davao
Davao is the home of the Philippine Eagle, Mt. Apo, the tallest peak in the country, the durian fruit, and, of course, Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte.
Davao City offers nature and wildlife attractions as much as urban ones. Just visit Philippine Eagle Center, which is the home of the monkey-eating eagle. For a summer filled with extreme sports, try Outland Adventure Camp for zipline rides, wakeboarding at Deca Wake Park, and water rafting along Davao River. Finally, while in Davao, a trip to Samal Island to soak up in the sun is also a great idea.
What to taste: Don’t forget to look past durian’s, well, interesting smell and bite into the sweet fruit. You could also try kinilaw, a popular seafood dish made from fresh, raw tuna or swordfish marinated in vinegar or citrus fruits and topped with red peppers.
This article was earlier published at the The Panorama, Manila Bulletin’s Sunday Magazine on March 12