Experts consider the Philippines as the “center of marine biodiversity.” They marvel at the Verde Island Passage, in particular. But there are other Philippine sites on the global scuba diving map, too: Anilao, Calamianes, Cebu, Malapascua, Coron, Apo Reef, and Tubbataha Reef, among others. They offer clear water, vigorous corals, intense drop-offs, and crazy, Manila-style rush-hour traffic of marine life — including rare sightings of endangered species. And at El Nido, the dive sites will give you a first-hand look at history: what happened to battleships sunk during World War II.
Swimming with whale sharks in Donsol and Oslob
Don’t be intimidated by their name. Whale sharks are really just fish — except that they’re the biggest fish in the world. But they eat planktons, not humans. So you can swim with them, and have a selfie or a video taken while cavorting with them underwater. The best places to meet and greet these marine darlings are in Donsol, Sorsogon, at the Donsol Whale Shark Interaction Center, as well as in the central Philippine town of Oslob in the island-province Cebu, through a community-based ecotourism initiative.
Paddle boarding down the Loboc River
The town of Loboc in Bohol island, near Cebu, is known for its children’s choir, and the sweet angelic voices sometimes waft down the river running through the town as you skim its bucolic surface on your paddle board. This is the route of the famous Loboc River Cruise, where many tourists are wined and dined on a bamboo raft as they navigate all the way to the waterfalls in the hinterlands. But you’re not the touristy type, right? So, yes, you can go paddle boarding into the heart of the Philippine jungle and let out your primal Tarzan roar.
White-water rafting in Cagayan de Oro
It’s a whole-day scream-all-you-can ride in the southern Philippine city of Cagayan de Oro, where it’s white-water rafting season all year round. The ride actually begins at the central Mindanao mountain province of Bukidnon, whose waters feed into the great Cagayan de Oro River. The river boasts all classes of white-water rafting: still water (class 1), ripply stream (class 2), straight rapids (class 3), extremely difficult rapids (class 4), and rapids requiring technically challenging maneuvers (class 5). From first-timers to extreme adventure enthusiasts, there’s an adventure package for everyone. And the packages include a shameless dig-in-with-your-bare-hands picnic lunch to remember.