Scuba Diving The Philippines | Topside Activities
The Philippines is a land of adventure and discovery. There is a lot more to experience than just the wonders under the ocean – here is just a small sample of the treats in store when you start to explore…
The Philippines is the land of fiestas and festivals – from the smallest barangay (village) parade to madness in Aklan at the Ati Atihan (above), there is a street party to celebrate every conceivable holiday. Most are religious – this is the place to enjoy Easter – some are just an excuse for a party and all involve lots of dancing.
SURFING IN SIARGAO
Facing the Pacific Ocean, just north of the island of Mindanao is Siargao, one of the Philippines’ surf centres. The town sees a steady stream of dedicated surfers who arrive to challenge themselves on the island’s famous Cloud 9 reef break. Novices can hire trainers, who you can find on the beach, for around £7 per hour, or you can book a package from a surf hotel The best waves are during the monsoon season from May to August and reach up to 4m.
CHOCOLATE HILLS & NOCTURNAL TARSIERS
No visit to Bohol is complete without an inland detour to visit the unique Chocolate Hills and to see one of the world’s smallest primates, the bug-eyed tarsier. Rent a car or motorbike and plan to get there for dusk when the grassy mounds spread out to a misty horizon.You can search for tarsiers in the wild on night safaris, but your chances are slim, so head to the nearest tarsier sanctuary where you are guaranteed to see these tiny (150g), nocturnal primates.
FEEL THE HEALING
Bentosa and Hilot are Filipino alternative ways of healing. Bentosa is a massage therapy endorsed by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow where small glass cups are placed on specific acupoints on your back. A vacuum seal is created by burning a cotton ball inside the cup. The vacuum lifts the skin and supposedly draws out all the pain beneath. Hilot is the Filipino term for massage and is often available at dive resorts and odd venues such as the waiting areas of airports.
If you are diving the wrecks of Coron a great extra adventure is to potter about in a sea kayak and explore the idyllic islands in the area that have wonderful spots to camp. You can fish for your food and enjoy true isolation. Another spot is the spectacular limestone formations of Bacuit Bay off El Nido.
HANGING COFFINS OF SAGADA
Head to North Luzon for some impressive trekking. In Sagada you can see the unique hanging coffins stacked in niches cut into the rocky cliffs. The town is a favourite for laid-back backpackers and is an ideal base to explore the stunning rice terraces and impressive jungle scenery of the north.
Tamaraw Falls gets its name from a water buffalo endemic to the island of Mindoro. A great day trip from Puerto Galera, Tamaraw Falls is a twin waterfall about three storeys high. The waterfall runs under a bridge, and through cascades of man-made pools below. It’s free to take photos from the bridge and there is a small charge to swim in the cooling pools. You can hire barbeque grills and there are plenty of food stalls along the highway.
RING OF FIRE
The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo sent ash clouds around the globe and altered the earth’s climate for a spell. Today you can explore Pinatubo’s moonscape and swim in its bright blue crater lake. One of the easiest volcano climbs is up Mount Taal also on Luzon Island – it is also one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines with at least six eruptions in recorded history.