2016 Mid-Year Report: The 10 Best Outdoor Adventures In The Philippines

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While other people have to spend hours on a plane, flying across the globe just to find adventure, Filipinos are fortunate enough to have all the adventure we could ever ask for here at home.

Everywhere we turn, there’s a mountain begging to be climbed, an island waiting to be docked on, or a waterfall screaming to be Instagrammed. The only drawback of having so many things to experience is the impossibility of staying put! It’s kind of like being on a never-ending season of Amazing Race, constantly on the lookout for the next flight out or the next daring challenge to conquer.

If you’re down with a case of itchy feet right now and you’re dying to bust out of your office chair, here are ten of the best outdoor places to visit in the country! These were the most popular spots among looloo reviewers for the first half of the year and every single one on the list will make you want to file a VL, pack up your bags, and head out the door!

10. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
Burgos, Ilocos Norte

Van Gogh, Da Vinci, and Picasso may have left behind plenty of masterpieces for the world to admire. But the most impressive artworks aren’t found on canvass–they’re in nature! And the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation is definitely proof of that. This beautiful, all-natural structure is the product of years and years of nothing but sedimentation.

The word puraw, which means ‘white’ in Ilocano, is the perfect descriptor for the limestones. They’re pristine, especially when the sunlight reflects off of them, so you might want to wear shades before you start gawking! The best time to visit is early in the morning so you don’t feel like you’re getting baked in the oven.

Read what looloo reviewers wrote about Kapurpurawan Rock Formation.

9. Mt. Ulap
Ampucao Seven Peaks, Itogon, Benguet

If you’re tired of doing the same old things in Baguio year after year, ditch the city for a thrilling trek up Mt. Ulap. A fairly new attraction, this mountain was opened to the public just late last year. It’s the perfect addition to your Baguio itinerary because the jumping off point for the hike is just forty five minutes away from Burnham Park by jeepney!

Mt. Ulap, Itogon, Benguet

Photo from Kenneth Joy D.’s looloo review for Mt. Ulap

It’s a three to four-hour ascend to the peak, with a stopover at Gungal Rock where you can take impressive buwis buhay shots. The descend, which includes a haunting visit to Pong-ol Burial Caves, takes roughly about the same time. It’s a climb that even beginner mountaineers can try out but everyone should take extra precaution on rainy days because the trails get extremely muddy, making the trek that much more challenging.

Read what looloo reviewers wrote about Mt. Ulap.

8. Mt. Daraitan
Tanay, Rizal

Found in Rizal’s Sierra Madre mountain range, Mt. Daraitan is definitely doable as a dayhike due to its proximity to Metro Manila. This makes it perfect for those who can’t wait for the next long weekend to go on an adventure. And an adventure is definitely what you’ll get up in this mountain! Aside from hiking, other things to do here are camping, spelunking, and river wading.

Mt. Daraitan, Tanay, Rizal

Photo from Pauline Y.’s looloo review for Mt. Daraitan

The journey to the summit is 600 meters of straightforward trekking, which may feel steep to beginner climbers. But the view from the top is worth the tired legs because you get to gape at the Sierra Madre mountains, Laguna de Bay, and the province of Rizal. On the way down, it’s obligatory that you pass by Tinipak River, known as one of the country’s cleanest water sources, for a refreshing dip. Tinipak is also popular spot for overnight camping and cave exploration.

Read what looloo reviewers wrote about Mt. Daraitan.

7. Kawasan Falls
Badian, Cebu

This year, we got the crushing news of the suspension of all canyoneering activities in Cebu. But the local government assures the public that the downtime is only temporary and that it’s for safety purposes. So as we wait it out, we cling on to the hope that when the canyoneering tours resume, it will be a much safer experience for tourists and Badian will be a much more secure home for the locals.

Kawasan Falls, Badian, Cebu

Photo from JP G.’s looloo review for Kawasan Falls

All canyoneering excursions culminate at Kawasan Falls but did you know that you don’t have to go through all the rappelling and the cliff jumping to get to this stunning tourist spot? From the highway of Badian, you can go directly to the lowest layer of Kawasan Falls via a scenic twenty-minute trek that passes through rivers, a hydroelectric plant, and an ancient bridge. You’re then immediately rewarded with a wide basin of turquoise water and forty meters of cascading water!

Read what looloo reviewers wrote about Kawasan Falls.

6. Hulugan Falls
San Salvador, Luisiana, Laguna

To put it lightly, reaching Hulugan Falls is no easy feat. Even getting to the jumping off point for the hike is hard enough as you’d have to endure slow-moving traffic and drive through long, winding roads. As for the trek itself, it involves a lot of maneuvering through a steep, downward trail that gets extremely slippery on rainy days. And like that’s not challenging enough, you also need to climb up and down massive boulders to get to the basin!

But don’t let that scare you from going on the adventure because seeing Hulugan Falls with your own eyes is quite the unforgettable experience. Standing tall at 235 feet (71 meters), looking up at its massive stature will make you realize just how small you are. And getting drenched in its refreshingly cold water will be enough to make you forget about everything you just put your body through! (ALSO READ: Getting To Hulugan Falls Is Not Easy But Here’s Why It’s Worth It)

Read what looloo reviewers wrote about Hulugan Falls.

5. Mt. Pulag
Mt. Pulag National Park, Kabayan, Benguet

Found practically on every adventurer’s to-climb list, Mt. Pulag is probably the most sought-after mountain in the country. That being said, there are now stricter rules in place to regulate the influx of visitors for conservation purposes. On a daily basis, the number of trekkers can’t exceed 500, while groups can only have a maximum of twenty members.

Mt. Pulag, Benguet

Photo from Glenn E.’s looloo review for Mt. Pulag

As of now, all weekends of 2016 are fully booked. So if you were able to secure a schedule for your Mt. Pulag climb this year, consider yourself lucky! To make sure your hike is a smooth one, secure your medical certificate (a requirement for all climbers) ahead of time and remember to pack heat tech clothes as the weather up there can get extreme. It would also be useful to bring lots of snacks to energize you on your arduous journey and headlights to help you see in the dark! (ALSO READ: Climb Mount Pulag In 7 Simple Steps)

Read what looloo reviewers wrote about Mt. Pulag.

4. Kayangan Lake
Coron, Palawan

Google Coron and you’ll most likely be met by hoards of Kayangan Lake pictures. But it’s understandable why everyone loves snapping photos of this popular tourist attraction–it’s fascinatingly beautiful! Dubbed as “The Wonder of Coron,” its water is crystal clear and colored with the most enchanting hue of turquoise. And because it’s a mix of 70% freshwater and 30% saltwater, it’s perfect for swimming!

Kayangan Lake, Coron, Palawan

Photo from Minerva D.’s looloo review for Kayangan Lake

The most famous shot of Kayangan Lake is from the top. If you want the same angle for your IG post, take the steep trek up to the peak where you’ll be provided with a spectacular bird’s eye view of the majestic limestones and its surrounding water. But if you want a not-so-common shot, make your way down to the lake, put on your snorkeling gear, and take underwater pictures. The limestone formations underneath are just as awe-inspiring! (ALSO READ: Coron, Palawan: Make Sure To See These 8 Places When You Visit This Paradise)

Read what looloo reviewers wrote about Kayangan Lake.

3. Sabang Beach
Baler, Aurora

Sabang Beach doesn’t discriminate. Everyone, meaning both professionals and amateurs alike, are welcome to grab a surfboard and have some fun in the water. For the experts out there, Sabang Beach has plenty of gnarly waves for you to catch, especially during the peak season of October to April. And as for the noobs, there’s no need to worry because the beach is littered with instructors who are there to make sure everyone gets to stand up on their board!

Sabang Beach, Baler, Aurora

Photo from Kyle B.’s looloo review for Sabang Beach

After riding countless waves (or face planting countless times in the water), chances are you’re famished after your surfing session. So it’s great news that the entire beach is lined with places to eat! Some of the more popular restaurants here are Baler Surfer Grill, Bayler View Restaurant, Gerry Shan’s Place, Beach House, and Kusina Luntian. (ALSO READ: Baler For The Non-Surfer and The Hungry Traveler’s Guide To Baler)

Read what looloo reviewers wrote about Sabang Beach.

2. Boracay Island
Malay, Aklan

Everyone knows that if you’re looking for a weekend of spontaneous fun, you fly out to Boracay. But this island isn’t just about night clubbing, bar hopping, or fire dancing. There are countless other things to do that don’t involve partying!

Boracay Island, Aklan

Photo from Louisse S.’s looloo review for Boracay Island

If you’re a fan of the water, there are tons of ways to make a splash. You can put on some fins and try ‘mermaiding’ (you’re taught how to undulate across the water a la Dyesebel!) or you could hop on a sailboat and go paraw sailing. If you’re feeling extra brave, you could even try jumping off the highest cliff at Ariel’s Point! Other popular water-related activities here are kiteboarding, windsurfing, and scuba diving.

But if you want to use your Boracay time exclusively for chilling out, you have loads of options too. All along the white stretch of sand are different massage shops where you can have all your tight knots removed. You could also try going for a relaxing night swim!

Read what looloo reviewers wrote about Boracay Island.

1. Calaguas Islands
Vinzons, Camarines Norte

There are two main types of vacationers: the lazy vacationer and the adventurous vacationer. But whichever category you fall under, Calaguas Islands should be on your travel bucket list!

Calaguas, Camarines Norte

Photo from Julienne D.’s looloo review for Calaguas

If you’re the former, Calaguas’ Mahabang Buhangin is every beach bum’s dream come true. This mile-long cove is peppered with fine, white sand, making it an ideal place to tan, read a book, or do absolutely nothing. At night, fireflies are known to gather in the area so make sure you kick back and watch them light up the sky!

But if you’re the latter and you find sitting still impossible, there are numerous adventures to embark on at Calaguas. You can climb to the top of Tinago Hill and marvel at the view of Mahabang Buhangin or you can go scuba diving to see the coral gardens at Pinagtigasan Beach. If you have energy left in you, you can even go island hopping to nearby destinations like Cumalasag, Pinagtakpan, and Huag! (ALSO READ: Calaguas Islands: One Of The Best Beach Destinations In The Philippines)

Read what looloo reviewers wrote about Calaguas Islands.

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About Author

Denise Jose

Denise is a recovering food addict. She distracts herself with photography and keeps off the pounds by doing pilates. She is still struggling, however, and has occasional relapses. Her food comas are mostly induced by oily burgers and chocolate desserts.