The Philippines has some of Earth’s most beautiful, diverse, and breathtaking natural landscapes.
From rolling green hills to white-sand beaches, from misty mountains to towering volcanoes…the country offers a dizzying array of surreal settings for adventure seekers.
And it’s not just geography that makes this archipelago such a fantastic destination for all types of outdoor pursuits.
In addition to having one of the world’s best climates year-round, the people here are among Asia’s friendliest and warmest inhabitants! Read on for tips on making your next trip here more successful than ever before!
The adventures here are endless, from diving to trekking, mountain climbing, and bird watching. And there’s so much more beyond that. Here are some of the outdoor activities you can take part in:
1) Hiking and Mountaineering
My favorite! The Philippines is a treasure trove for hikers of all abilities, with its many mountainous regions and sprawling wilderness areas.
The best part? You can find a trail that fits your skill level, from bad to worse, with more than enough challenging trails thrown in the mix!
While the hikes here are like a guidebook’s dream (and make great photographic opportunities), exploring on your own is not recommended if you don’t know your way around.
What better way to get acquainted with the Philippines’ fabulous natural scenery than by grabbing a trail map and a sturdy pair of boots and hitting the wilds?
Here are some of the country’s best places for hiking:
- Palawan Natural Park, Puerto Princesa: The sprawling park is a sanctuary for the flora and fauna of the Sierra Madre mountain range. Many trails can be explored on foot or by mountain bike. The most popular ones include Mt. Abra de Ilog (strenuous), Laguna Lake Loop Trail (accessible), Sundown Point Viewpoint (strenuous), and the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes National Park (moderate to complex).
- Mount Batulao, Tagaytay: A popular destination for hikers because of its formidable but relatively short climb. This is a great beginner’s hike if you’re not afraid of a bit of vertical gain. It’s also a great training ground for more advanced climbers looking to tackle the massive Mount Makiling just east of Manila.
- Mount Pico de Loro, Maragondon: This mountain peak is part of Mt Bulusan Volcano Natural Park, about an hour and a half drive from Manila. Though technically only 100 meters tall, it’s the highest peak in Cavite at 1,531 meters above sea level. It is also a popular destination for climbers due to its proximity to Manila.
- Mount Mayon, Ligao City: One of the country’s most iconic peaks is a great climb for beginners and experts alike. It’s relatively easy to summit compared to other Philippine mountains. But despite its accessibility, don’t let that fool you–this mountain is steep, with plenty of loose boulders and rock formations on the way up! Experienced climbers should ascend in a day but expect to take two days for beginners to ascend and descend.
- Mount Kitanglad, Bukidnon: One of the Philippines’ highest peaks at 2,899 meters above sea level; this is an extreme expedition that should only be attempted by more experienced mountaineers with proper gear. It takes about two weeks just to trek to the base camp. The climb to the top is technically challenging due to the lack of good anchor points when ascending and descending.
- Mount Pulag, Luzon: This mountain tops at 2,922 meters above sea level and can be tackled by more advanced climbers who are experienced with longer treks. If you’re looking for a challenge, look no further! The mountain is the second-highest peak in the Philippines, taking most climbers at least five days.
2) Skydiving over some of the best beaches in the world.
The best part of this pastime? After jumping out of the plane, you have to make a choice:
Do you stay low and skim the water’s surface as you head back to shore, or do you ride a thermal upward until you’re 1,500 feet in the air over an empty beach? That’s right.
I’m talking about some world-class beaches like this one at Nami Island:
Or this one at Boracay Island:
And the list goes on and on.
All you need to do is contact one of the dozens of skydiving schools in the Philippines and tell them where you want to jump out of a plane. For example: If you’re going to jump out of the aircraft over a beach, you can do that. If you want to jump out of a helicopter over a volcano, as this guy did, that’s your call.
And skydiving is legal in the Philippines, so there’s no real need for any sort of try-Harding about “hiking” to the spot you’re jumping out of. Tell the folks at your skydiving school where you want to go, and they’ll take care of the rest.
Here are some of the country’s best places for skydiving:
- Donsol, Sorsogon: One of the country’s best dive sites is along the coast of Luzon. It’s perfect if you want to jump out of a plane and land in the sea. This is also a great place to snorkel and whale watch.
- Pilar/Batangas: This region is famous for diving and snorkeling, but you can also attempt to land on the beach here. The beach itself is a bit drab, but the water is gorgeous.
- Moalboal/Cebu: Snorkeling enthusiasts will love this area, where the water in some spots is crystal clear. Here you can jump into the ocean and attempt to land on the beach simultaneously!
- Baliuag/Bulacan: Jumping out of a plane here allows you to reach up to 200km per hour, as this guy did. (He landed pretty hard, by the way.)
- Batangas/Batangas: If you want to make it a twofer and swim with some of the cutest creatures on Earth, jump out of the plane here. You can also land on one of the many nearby islands, including Pansipit Island.
3) Bungee jumping from the highest bridge in Southeast Asia.
Lucky for you, Bungee jumping was recently legalized in the Philippines, so it’s now easier than ever to find a place to let you jump off their bridge (or other structure).
There are quite a few options, including:
- Cavite/Batangas: several schools offer bungee jumping down below the majestic bridge in this area.
- Pampanga: You can jump off a 62-meter bridge here.
- Cebu: This city offers some of the most beautiful sights for bungee jumpers.
- Baliwag/Bulacan: Located at the edge of Manila, this bridge is perfect for bungee jumping. The locals say that this is a great place to go for beginners.
- Himaylan/Negros Oriental: This is another beautiful area with crystal clear waters and an excellent bridge.
4) Experience one of Southeast Asia’s coolest (and cheapest) surfing spots.
If you’re not a surfer, there’s no excuse not to partake in the current craze.
Just hop on a plane (or better yet, take a short trip by jeepney) south, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by some of the best waves in all of Asia, with accommodation costs far cheaper than its more famous counterpart up north. Seriously, surfing lessons are more affordable here than in Bali.
Some of the best surfing spots:
- El Nido: This place is known as one of the top attractions in Asia, but it’s often overlooked by tourists who have their sights set on nearby Palawan. Don’t make that mistake!
- Matnog / Sorsogon/ Albay: If you don’t mind a bit of a drive, this area is famous for producing some of Luzon’s giant and best waves.
- Siargao/Surigao Del Norte: This island off the coast of Mindanao is home to one of Asia’s most famous surfing spots, also featured in the movie “The Bourne Legacy.”
- Clark/Pampanga: A little bit closer to Manila, this is home to some of the best surf breaks in Luzon.
- Anawangin / Zambales: You can find great surfing spots outside Subic Bay.
5) Explore some of our more spectacular caves.
Because we could successfully get rid of the terrorists in the area, there are now several world-class caves you can visit around the country without worrying about being turned into a human kebab.
Here are some of the country’s best caves:
- Sagada/Lagaw: If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure combined with a cultural experience, these two towns are the perfect place to start. Not only are they home to more than 2,500 caves and limestone formations, but there are plenty of rice terraces and tribal villages nearby.
- Butuan/Agusan Del Norte: This is one of the lesser-visited caves in the country, but it’s well known for its intricate formations.
- Tarlac / Pangasinan: These provinces are home to what’s likely to be one of the Philippines’ most beautiful caves.
- Abra: A combination of stalactites, stalagmites, and ice crystals makes this cave genuinely unique.
- Sagada/Lagawe: Aside from what’s mentioned above, these towns are also home to the country’s largest cave chamber that can simultaneously fit more than a thousand people inside. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there’s also a cliff home to around 60-100 bats.
6) Find your own adventure at one of our underground river parks.
If you’re not a fan of the beach but want to try something new, consider taking an underground adventure through one of our many caves around the country.
Several different park operators offer guided trips into the labyrinthine caves, with various activities ranging from kayaking in underground rivers and exploring caverns to rappelling down vertical walls (with a professional guide).
7) Discover some great islands off the coast of Mindoro.
In The island of Mindanao, you can spend a week at one of its many beautiful beaches and resorts. The island is home to some of the best diving spots in Asia, so you can also try your hand at scuba or just enjoy the sun and sand while surrounded by blue waters.
8) Philippines’s beautiful Waterfalls.
Head off to the mountains, and you’ll probably come across one of our many spectacular waterfalls. The calm, fresh waters are an excellent place for swimming on a hot day, but even if you want to take in the beautiful views from above, they’re still worth seeing!
Below are some of the best places to find them:
- Bukidnon: This northern province is home to several beautiful waterfalls you can dip in or enjoy their natural beauty.
- Ifugao/Batad: Head into the mountains and eventually come across one of these crystal-clear cascades.
- Baguio: The country’s summer capital is also home to several beautiful waterfalls, so you can enjoy them on a warm day while taking in the natural beauty of one of our many mountains.
- Davao/Southern Philippines: If you’re looking for something closer to Metro Manila and want to skip the airplane ticket, you can find plenty of waterfalls in Mindanao and nearby islands.
9) Bathe on one of our many beautiful beaches.
We may have a reputation for being an impoverished country, but that doesn’t mean everything’s dirty and falling apart. Most of the time, people think we’re very clean, and it’s for a good reason- our beaches are spectacular!
Here are some of the best places:
- Boracay: This island may be one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, but that only makes sense because it has fantastic sand and water and an abundance of bars and restaurants to keep you busy.
- El Nido/Bohol: El Nido is another beach island, but Bohol’s sandy shores are just as pristine and beautiful.
- Cebu: Cebu City may not be the most attractive city in the country, but it’s surrounded by several beautiful beaches like Moalboal that you’ll want to check out.
- Puerto Galera: This southeastern province is home to some of the country’s best beaches, with several popular sites constantly buzzing with activity.
- Palawan: If you’re looking for a quiet escape where you can spend some time away from civilization, look no further than the island of Palawan.
10) Visit one of our many museums and historical landmarks.
If you want to know more about the country’s history, there are plenty of places you can visit to brush up on important events or learn a bit more about where you live.
You don’t have to read through dusty history textbooks that are killing time in classrooms.
Here are some of the best places to visit:
- Manila: Head into any big city in the world, and you will immediately find a local museum where you can learn more about its history. However, we’ve made things easier for you by narrowing it down to one of two national museums. The first is Intramuros, which has detailed exhibits about the city’s former military district, once surrounded by a colonial-era wall. The other is the National Museum, which features a wide range of exhibits from the country’s prehistory to its coffee industry and even some Filipino clothing for good measure.
- Ilocos/Vigan: If you find yourself in Northern Luzon, you won’t want to miss this old Spanish settlement that has become a historical landmark.
- Banaue/Ifugao: This beautiful Northern Cordillera region has several historic rice terraces. You can learn how they were built during the Ifugao’s Golden Age during one of their many festivals.
- Cordillera/Mount Pulag: This mountain range is home to a variety of interesting landmarks that have become tourist attractions, including the Banaue Rice Terraces, Mayoyao Twin Falls, and several waterfalls.
- Davao/Southern Philippines: If you’re looking for something closer to Metro Manila and want to skip the airplane ticket, you can find plenty of historic sites in Mindanao and nearby islands.
11) Get a taste of Pinoy culture.
There’s no beating around the bush with this one–we’re all about our food! We eat Kare-Kare, sinigang, sisig, lumpia, and countless other dishes daily.
If you want to sample some of our local cuisines, here are some places that will give you a taste of the culture too:
- Bicol: Bicol is known for its unique food offerings like mountain rice cakes or kakanin, fish dishes like ginataang dalaguan, and even bagoong alamang, which is made from tiny fermented crabs. Don’t forget to have some Lechon too!
- Pampanga: This central Philippines province offers plenty of local delicacies you can’t find elsewhere, like kibul-kibul or freshly slaughtered pig. They also have special rice cakes called puto bihon.
- General Santos City/Davao: If you’re looking for a taste of the country’s Muslim tradition, this region is home to some excellent offerings like the halo-halo, bibingka, and Sama Badjan sauce.
- Davao/Southern Philippines: Here in Mindanao, we’ve got some delicious offerings like Sulu sili, Kapampangan specialties like the suman, and even delicious Adobo dishes. Don’t forget to sample the famous banana-based Laguna empanada too!