Between the Mountains and the Sea it’s the beautiful Philippines!! A destination with the absolutely most insane marine life you’ll see. I’m talking Discovery Channel type shit like water animals you’d never even knew existed until you see it with your own eyes. The Philippines is starting to become a more tourist country to visit which has it’s ups and downs. With their islands situated not too far away from each other, it makes it an incredible backpackers destination to island hop through flights and boats.
I personally only did 2-3 islands because of the limited time I had but also because I enjoy staying in one place and getting to know it better then just seeing it for a day then leaving – again, it depends on you for how you want to use your days for travel! There’s no right or wrong answer. Here’s my 9 day itinerary on what I did (and what I would recommend doing) in the Philippines:
Stay at 1521 Hostel. One of my favourite stays in the Philippines. A locally runned Hostel only 10 minutes away from the airport making it the perfect location for lay overs in Cebu. The rooms at 1521 hostel are so comfy and clean you’ll definitely want to stay in the hostel to relax and sleep. It was hard for me to even step out of the hostel because the beds and rooms instantly made you feel comfortable like home. The staff represent the feeling of family – I met Therie the receptionist during my bike tour and now we are international friends making memories together for a life time!
Don’t forget to visit the well known historic Lapu-Lapu Shrine to see the history behind Cebu, chill out and swim at Mactan Newtown Beach and eat Halo Halo!!
Island hop to local village called Olango island for bike rides with 1521 Hostel (whom runs these programs). Visit the bird sanctuary to find exotic species, eat live seafood cooked before your eyes, and lastly a Filipino tradition dinner Boodle fight!! A huge plate of rice and different assortments of meats, fish, veggies (eat with your hands!!!) and more with 4-5 people at Tiki Restaurant on Mactan Newton Beach.
Note: Cebu is actually known for their south side which has whale shark swimming and Canyoneering which I didn’t do because of some personal reasons I didn’t feel comfortable with their procedures in running these tours.
Tips: Ride a jeepney compared to Uber. I was told my other travellers I should be using Uber in the Philippines compared to Taxi (which is true) but it is worth the experience to try riding a jeepney and saving a shit ton of money along the way. One ride with jeepney $7 philipina pesos vs. 1 ride with Uber $90 philipina pesos.
Arrival El Nido
Fly into El Nido and do a Island Hopping Tour! Word around El Nido Town has it that Tour C is the best option you can choose from: A, B, C, D. I did Tour A which consisted of 2 snorkelling spots, a lagoon kayaking spot, and a beautiful lunch on a private beach. Booze included in your Tour. Costs about $1000 pesos and worth it. I have never seen such exotic marine life then in the Philippines. It’s truly another world in the water filled with the type of sea creature’s you would see on Animal Planet. Don’t forget your Go Pro’s!!
If you love to be surrounded by new people, love going out to party, a huge extrovert, and enjoy the nightlife you should stay at Outpost Hostel. Personally I found it a bit overwhelming at this Hostel because of the constant interaction you have to have with everybody but if you love talking and love being around people you will love this hostel in El Nido. If you want your own privacy and more of a peaceful stay in El Nido try Inngo Tourist Inn Hotel in town for a relatively cheap price with your own room.
Head to Ziplining near Outpost Hostel and see an amazing overview os Las cavanas beach. Costs about $500 Pesos. After you finish that, head to the local store a bit on the outskirts of Outpost hostel and buy your rum there for $100 pesos to drink instead of buying drinks at the Hostel which costs pretty much $100 for 1 drink (do so discretely lol).
Rent motorbikes or meet friends with motorbikes to ride around the island. Start off getting Buko Juice from the market where most of the bikes are being rented out. Then head off to the Kayan Waterfalls which is about 1 hour away and one of the most beautiful rides you’ll see. The plantation, the summer breeze, the honks and waves from fellow bikers, the landscape, and of course your company. Shout out to Joey and Vince for sharing these amazing memeories with me. (My favourite day in El Nido)
Once you get to the Waterfalls, it’s a $200 peso entrance fee and DO NOT ask for a tour (it’s a scam). You can find your way on your own. There are 3 waterfalls: 1st one is for swimming, 2nd one is for cliff jumping, and third one is forbidden.
After the waterfalls, finish off your day at Naptang Beach (my favourite beach in El Nido) which is another 45 min to an hour away from town but totally worth it. The most beautiful way to end your day with the perfect water and waves to ease off into the orange sunset. Ride back to your acommodation at night and see the night stars shine back at you.
If you love going to coffee shops, there is one called Cafe Calaan in El Nido town which is super cute and has great wifi. I spend the day doing blogging and work here. A bit on the pricey side but it has a awesome atmosphere and makes you feel motivated to centrate happily. Note: their coffee’s are amazing!
Nightlife in El Nido – always something happening in town. You have a choice between bars to go out to if you don’t like the music from one place you’ll always have another choice to go to! I think experiencing the night life here once should be on your list coming to the Philippines to see how they do it here!
Beach it or do another Tour! Depends on what you feel like doing. If you want a chill day go to a beach and just spend the day by the water – you can’t go wrong with that! If you’re feeling more of activities, human interactions, and sight seeing, go on another Tour – the more the merrier!
Departure El Nido
Spend your last day at Las cabanas beach and chill out to some awesome music played at the restaurants and bars along the beach side as you float in the water. If you walk all the way down, you can rent snorkel gear and you can chill in the hammocks at that resort if you rent from them. I would highly recommend snorkelling here. I found some crazy ass starfishes like a star fish bigger then my head with black spikes all over it and I was like yay! And found nemos as well.
Random Travel Tips: El Nido is quite difficult to get around from one place to another leaving you with two options. Either commute through Tricycles which can be quite pricy overtime with each ride for about $50-300 Philippines Pesos. Instead I would recommend renting a motorcycle if you know how to ride one to save you a lot more time commuting and actually getting to experience the amazing motorbike ride views from one destination to the other.
If you are looking to exchange money or extract more money – DO NOT exchange in town at a shop. Instead go to the Bank and use your debit card to take out money, it will save you a whole lot more with a fee of $200 phillipines pesos compared to being ripped off at a money exchange shop.
Would recommend going to town and have nice lovely dinner with some close friends and eat ice cream by the beach at night. hehe.