Beaches Living in Paradise Trip Reports

Things to do in the Philippines

The Philippines is an incredibly picturesque country, with amazingly complex geography and warm, welcoming people. But it’s also the home of some serious fun! In fact, I’ve been visiting the country of 7,600 islands for twenty years now on and off, and have lived there full time for almost two years. So when people are traveling there, they inevitably ask me what there is to do and see on the perfect one-week, two-week, or even a lifetime vacation if they move there!

Here are some of my top activities and things to experience in the Philippines:

Zip line in Cagayan de Oro:

There are several zip lines around the country, but my favorite is at an action park in the mountains above the city of Cagayan De Oro in Mindanao. They actually have the longest zip line in Asia, and it’s insane! There are also several zip lines in the Philippines that you can also bicycle across!

Witness Taal volcano:

One of the most unique geological formations on earth, this is actually a tiny island, inside a volcanic lake, on an island, inside a lake, in a bigger island, in the ocean. SO cool!

Be a beach bum in Boracay:

Boracay is the #1 tourist destination in the Philippines, a small island with a stunning 2-mile stretch of powdery white sand beaches. While it’s becoming way too crowded, you’ll still enjoy the sun and ocean, walking on their white-sand “road,” and doing some serious partying at night!

Cast away on Bantayan Island

If you want white sand beaches that are less crowded, touristy, and far more adventurous (i.e., no airconditioning or wi-fi), check out the stunning white beaches of Bantayan. It’s a little hard to get to, but you can actually rent a 3-seat airplane charter from Cebu and fly in and out.

The Philippines has plenty of bars – sandbars!

There are plenty of once-in-a-lifetime photo ops in the Philippines at sandbars in Leyte, off the coast of southern Cebu, and my favorite, the Manjuyod sandbar near Dumaguete, where they have four stilted buildings rising out of the shallow aqua water, earning it the nickname, the Maldives of the Philippines.

Swim with whale sharks in the wild:

In Oslob, on the southern tip of Cebu Island, you’ll get the chance to swim with schools of whale sharks. Don’t worry – they don’t bite, but they are huge and majestic, and you’ll capture it all on your GoPro.

DO go chasing waterfalls:

There’s nothing that says “I’m in the tropics on vacation while you’re stuck in the office” like an Instagram photo of you in a jungle waterfall, the Philippines has plenty of those. Two of the best are Kawasan Falls on Cebu and the seven-tiered waterfall on the haunted island of Sijiour, where you can launch into the Gatorade-blue waters on a rope swing! 


With thousands of islands and so much sea on all sides, it’s no wonder why the Philippines is also one of the best places to SCUBA dive in the world including Malapascua and Apo Islands.

Explore the incredible island of Palawan

Voted by travel magazines as one of the top (or sometimes, #1!) islands in the world, Palawan is truly spectacular. Most people check out the underground caves that are the second longest in the world, but just as popular is island hopping off of El Nido or Coron. The pics will be your screen saver for life!

But skip the cities of Cebu and Manila

You’ll probably fly into Manila, the capital, or Cebu, but cities in the Philippines are insanely crowded, with traffic so bad it’s hard to believe. Stay at a nice hotel, go get some good food and drinks, and fly out to the islands the next morning – don’t waste your time on any city tours or activities in my opinion. 

Surf’s up in Siargao!

I love Siargao! This island is known as the surfing capital of the Philippines and has a really unique, natural, Rasta/surfing vibe. You can easily fly there from Cebu or Manila and witness all of the nature and chill experience without the crowds – yet.



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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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