It’s been on my bucket list for an eternity and now my boyfriend and I finally had the chance to travel to Cebu, just one of the beautiful islands of the Philippines. Situated in the western Pacific Ocean and surrounded by Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, the country consists of about 7.641 islands. This number sounds incredibly high, but when you’re visiting the Philippines you will notice that it can be quite this number.
So planning a trip to the Philippines can get quite challenging when you have to choose two or three islands out of more than 7.000 islands in total. That’s where I get into the game, because I hope with this guide I can help you to choose the right islands like we did. So let’s dive straight into this!
Best travel time
First off, I must confess that we wanted to travel to Bali (which was and still is on my bucket list, too) in the first place. But when I read that it’s rainy season in February – and this was the month we wanted to leave cold Germany – we decided to check off something else from our bucket list. The Philippines were a great alternative, since February is the best month to go. And we didn’t get disappointed. We had lovely warm weather and always about 30°C (86°F). It rained once, but it was just a 15-minute-rain, so I believe that doesn’t count.
All in all, the Philippines have a rainy and dry season. From May to October it’s usually wet. From November to April you can expect dry months, although it can also rain sometimes. February is the month with the least amount of rain.
Our travel route
I googled many times and checked a lot of blogs to find out how many and especially what islands are perfect for a two-week-itinerary. My boyfriend and I wanted to have fun and do some activities in the first week. In the second week we had the plan to rest and chill out at the beach most of the time.
Because we both love diving and snorkeling, we really wanted to do the whale shark watching in Oslob on the island Cebu. So there we had our first island. Due to the fact that Bohol is located right next to Cebu and shows off with its famous Chocolate Hills, we made Bohol to our second destination.
Though there was still the question where to head next. I’ve heard and read a lot of good things about Palawan, including the fact that Palawan was ranked as the most beautiful island in the world multiple times! This was indeed a good reason to visit this island and convince ourselves of its beauty. So it is no surprise then: Palawan was our third and last destination before heading back home.
First stop: Cebu
I want to dedicate every island a post. So in this one I would like to focus on the island Cebu. Although the island is not quite big with a length of 220 km (137 mi) and a width of 40 km (25 mi) it takes a while to get from A to Z, because of the street conditions.
So when we landed in the capital Cebu City in the evening, we decided to stay overnight and drive with the bus down to our first resort in Santander the next day. It took about four hours, but it was absolutely worth it! Santander is located in the South of Cebu and the perfect place to do activities from there instead from the very touristic city Oslob.
While in Cebu City we stayed in a basic hotel called Southpole Central Hotel (which is conveniently a 15-minute walk away from the bus terminal from where we took a bus to our next destination), in Santander we were in a nice and cozy family resort called The Farm Resort.
The bus driver dropped us off at the main road, so we had to walk about 15 minutes to the resort on a smaller side street. But there was no problem to find it. And then we were finally at the place that was our home for the next three days.
There I noticed for the first time how friendly and nice the Filipinos are, because the lady who runs this place made us feel home in every ways. She made breakfast – even at five o’clock in the morning and cooked lunch and dinner for us which was always delicious. She organized a driver for our trips and was always there if we needed something (e.g. like a good massage).
Although there are not many rooms (I guess four or five), the place is still big, because of the huge garden. There is also a gate in the back of the garden to get out and walk in just two minutes to the beach. It was very empty and felt a bit like a pleasant place after such a long journey. And I think finally we arrived in heaven.
The Farm Resort was always our starting point. From there we traveled around and discovered the southern part of the island Cebu. We told the housekeeper around what time we would want to leave and she organized a driver (tricycle) for this time. You should be on time, because the drivers usually come very early (like 15 minutes before).
So one of our tours was to the famous Kawasan Falls in Badian. It’s a waterfall west of Cebu with divine turquoise water. You can swim, eat and just sit there and watch the water falling. Especially when you’re early you might have a chance to be there all by yourself!
We also did a canyoneering tour which was fun on the one hand and dangerous if you’re not careful on the other. Our tour guide’s name was Mark and he was awesome. He always said, “If we don’t want to jump from the rock, you don’t have to.” It’s all up to us and there is always a possibility to walk instead of jumping.
For you guys who don’t know canyoneering: it’s like hiking down a canyon that includes walking in water, jumping and climbing. You always get a helmet, non-slippery shoes and a life jacket. It was incredible and you should definitely get a GoPro to capture this adventure!
On our way back we visited another waterfall which is called Hidden Falls. It’s not as famous as Kawasan Falls, but at least as beautiful as Kawasan. And you know what? It was empty! That means we had the whole waterfall for us which was amazing. So if you still have time on your way back, check out Hidden Falls and you won’t regret it.
Whale Shark watching
As I mentioned above we also really wanted to see the whale sharks which Oslob is known for. The good thing was that we were still jetlagged, because you only have the chance to see the whale sharks between six and eleven in the morning. So we got up at 4.30 AM and took one of the first tours at 6 AM. I can highly recommend doing it so early, otherwise it gets really crowded. And I can imagine that later on the animals are getting tired.
Our driver knew where to bring us, because we had no idea. So after a 30-minute ride he dropped us off at The Aaron Beach Resort which is specialized in organizing these whale shark watching tours. We could book the tour right there – so no booking in advance was needed.
The place in Oslob is very touristic and the whale sharks are fed all morning long to please the tourists. It brings the animals out of their usual environment which might be a problem for some. I’m sorry and I feel a bit pity about those tourist attractions with animals. But we had the chance to do it and we took it since we always wanted to swim with them. And it was very impressive. Did you know that whale sharks can get a length of 13 m (42 ft)? They were so huge and it was definitely an experience that was worth it!
But after three days, it was time to leave Cebu and head to our next destination Bohol. Have you ever been to the Philippines? And if yes, where have you been and what have you experienced? Would love to hear your thoughts.