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5 must-go-to hotspots in the Philippines

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By Samantha Isabel Coronado

 

Before we knew it, the brief nippy February mornings and evenings have lifted. It’s once again time to shed the windbreakers (and admittedly, post-holiday pounds) and get into the skimpiest swimsuits. March is here. Summer has come!

The Philippines indeed is enchanting during cool months, especially during Christmas time. But every local traveler knows that nothing beats the summer in the archipelago. The golden season is the perfect companion to the glistening, pristine beaches, and even the wild water activities that are widely popular this time around.

So start planning your summer as early as now, and take cues from some of the “Hall of Famers” in the travel industry. Here’s your adventure guide in spending summer in the Philippines.

DARE TO BARE The trip to El Nino takes about six hours from Puerto Princesa, but once you’re there, you’ll never look at other beaches with the same way again.

DARE TO BARE The trip to El Nino takes about six hours from Puerto Princesa, but once you’re there, you’ll never look at other beaches with the same way again.

  1. El Nido, Palawan

The world has spoken: El Nido has been crowned twice for being the most beautiful island in the planet. If you ever wonder why, just a step inside Hidden Beach or a dive into the entrance of the Secret Lagoon will make you forget you even asked.

El Nido is every backpacker’s paradise because of its raw beauty that no tourist traffic can wipe away. No wonder many Caucasian travelers flock to the small town to get a glimpse of its wonders. Here you can find the limestone formations towering over beige sands and clear waters. This endorsement should come with a warning, though: Once you visit El Nido, you’ll never look at other beaches the same way again.

Summer’s best-kept secret: As there are no direct flights to the town, the entry-point to El Nido is Puerto Princesa City, which is six hours away by land. To make the temporary stay in Puerto Princesa City worth your time, try staying at Aziza Paradise Hotel. It’s one of the most luxurious choices for a hotel in Puerto Princesa, what with its swimming pools, KTV bars, and fancy restaurants.

TOP OF THE WORLD Mt. Pulag, the highest peak in Luzon, allows you to gaze at a sea of clouds at certain vantage points.

TOP OF THE WORLD Mt. Pulag, the highest peak in Luzon, allows you to gaze at a sea of clouds at certain vantage points.

  1. Mt. Pulag, at the border between the provinces of Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya

Gone are the days Baguio when was the go-to place in Northern Luzon for summer. The new generation of travelers is now packing heavier bags for the cold of the third highest mountain in the Philippines. Mt. Pulag boasts not only of the frosty weather at the summit that gets as cold as below zero. It also offers a magnificent view of a sea of clouds at certain vantage points. This makes Mt. Pulag the perfect escape from the sweltering heat in the polluted city.

What to do: But first, make sure to weatherproof your hiking gear. After all, you’re still in a tropical country where rains have become quite unpredictable because of global warming.

LUSH The southern part of Cebu province offers regular travelers to the city plenty of new water attractions to discover and delight in

LUSH The southern part of Cebu province offers regular travelers to the city plenty of new water attractions to discover and delight in

  1. Cebu

Filipinos might know Cebu only because of its historical significance, being the island where Spanish colonizers first erected the symbol of Christianity. But once you go out of the cosmopolitan city to Southern Cebu, you’ll find that it also teems with natural beauty that’s also worth noting.

Canyoneering is a unique experience to try in Cebu. It’s the jam-packed combination of waterfall- jumping, trekking, and diving into the curves and edges of Southern Cebu. This ultimate adrenaline-inducing adventure climaxes until you reach the most daunting task: plunging from a 20-feet waterfall into the deep, cold water!

What to try: The city of Cebu is also known for its metro lifestyle that could rival Manila. You can find nightlife and shopping districts at Cebu IT Park, SM Seaside City, and Ayala Center.

JUST SWELL Catch the waves in the waters facing Baler, Aurora, an ideal place for newbie surfers.

JUST SWELL Catch the waves in the waters facing Baler, Aurora, an ideal place for newbie surfers.

  1. Baler, Aurora

For some Filipinos, summer is the official start of the so-called swell. No, it’s not a form of disease, although once you see it hit, you’re bound to get a natural high! The swell means big barrels of waves from the ocean washing over the shore, making it perfect for surfers to do tricks or to simply ride it.

Baler, which faces the Pacific Ocean, is undoubtedly one of the most poetic places for beginners to enjoy surfing. Aside from getting soaked and stoked, there’s plenty of history surrounding the place.

Surprises in store: You’ll discover the love story of former President Manuel L. Quezon and his wife Aurora, whom the province was named after, right in their hometown. After a day of city touring and beach bumming, you can cap the day off with a cold beer in hand and some live music.

OASIS OF PLEASURE The Aziza Paradise Hotel in Puerto Princesa is one luxurious hotel and watering hole in the city you should try on your way to other parts of Palawan.

OASIS OF PLEASURE The Aziza Paradise Hotel in Puerto Princesa is one luxurious hotel and watering hole in the city you should try on your way to other parts of Palawan.

  1. Davao

Davao is the home of the Philippine Eagle, Mt. Apo, the tallest peak in the country, the durian fruit, and, of course, Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte.

Davao City offers nature and wildlife attractions as much as urban ones. Just visit Philippine Eagle Center, which is the home of the monkey-eating eagle. For a summer filled with extreme sports, try Outland Adventure Camp for zipline rides, wakeboarding at Deca Wake Park, and water rafting along Davao River. Finally, while in Davao, a trip to Samal Island to soak up in the sun is also a great idea.

What to taste: Don’t forget to look past durian’s, well, interesting smell and bite into the sweet fruit. You could also try kinilaw, a popular seafood dish made from fresh, raw tuna or swordfish marinated in vinegar or citrus fruits and topped with red peppers.

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