2015 Mid-Year Report: The 10 Best Outdoor Adventures In The Philippines

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There’s a thrill-seeking explorer in everyone just raring to come out. But for the lot of us with “normal” jobs, our days are usually spent behind a desk without having so much as a glimpse of the sun.

So when the long weekends and holidays come rolling around, the usual thing to do now is to book a flight away from the concrete jungle or to make a long drive to a place where nature is abundant. We then come back to the office feeling a bit more refreshed but also with an itch for another adventure.

To feed your wanderlust, here’s a roundup of the top 10 outdoor destinations in the Philippines that have gotten the most hype on looloo. Start planning your trips and check them off your list!

10. Tumalog FallsOslob, Cebu

From the highlands of Oslob, Cebu, there are two ways to get to Tumalog Falls. The first and easier option is to ride a habal-habal, while the second, and more adventurous method, is to rough it and walk. Many prefer to do the latter because despite the steep and slippery path, you get a perfect view of the majestic falls. A view that you would miss if you were riding on a motorbike.

By foot, it takes around 15 tiring minutes to reach Tumalog Falls; but once you get your first glimpse of it in all its glory, all feelings of exhaustion quickly disappear. To stand at its foot is a humbling experience. You’re reminded of how just small you are as it towers over you.

Even from afar, you’ll be hit with splashes of its icy cold  water.  But you can’t leave without taking a proper dip. According to Zia M. on her looloo review, swimming in its basin is an effective way to forget about life’s little problems.

9. Mt. PulagKabayan, Benguet

As the highest mountain in Luzon at 2,922 meters above sea level, it’s every local outdoor junkie’s dream to climb Mt. Pulag. It’s no easy feat though, so you earn some bragging rights if you do make it to the top.

Mt. Pulag, Benguet

Photo from Kindred P.’s looloo review for Mt. Pulag

Some of the usual obstacles encountered along the Akiki trail are the extreme cold (temperatures drop to as low as zero degrees!), the steep and winding slopes, and the thinning air as you get to higher altitudes. But not to worry beginner climbers, there’s another way to reach the summit: the Ambangeg trail. With its rolling terrain, you can take a much more leisurely walk to the peak.

Regardless of which path you choose, you get rewarded with a breathtaking view when you’re finally above the sea of clouds. You’re extra lucky if you chance upon the sunrise! It might just make you forget about everything you put your body through.

8. Mt. DaraitanTanay, Rizal

Mt. Daraitan lies at the border of Tanay Rizal, making it easily accessible for the lakwatseros of the Metro. From Shaw, ride a jeepney to the Tanay terminal and from there, take a tricycle to Barangay Daraitan. Tada! You’re ready to climb.

Mt. Daraitan, Tanay, Rizal

Photo from Ernesto P.’s looloo review for Mt. Daraitan

The 600-meter ascent to this mountain’s peak comes as a surprise to many first timers. It may be a straightforward climb but the steep trail will leave you panting and your legs feeling like Jell-O. And according to Roy Lambert T. on his looloo review, sometimes, all you have to hold on to are rocks and dangling branches! But the difficulties along the way are nothing compared to what’s in store for you at the top.

Upon finishing the grueling hike, allow yourself that “I’m the king of the world!” moment, because you’ve certainly earned it. You can then feast your eyes on the majestic view of the sprawling Sierra Madre mountain range and the winding river that forms a heart around Tanay. As a warning, the hike down will be just as difficult as the way up, but a dip in Tinipak River’s clean waters will wash your tiredness away.

7. Mt. BatulaoNasugbu, Batangas

Mt. Batulao is a great place to start for wannabe mountaineers. The 811-meter climb is challenging enough to get your heart pumping, but not too difficult that you can’t make it all the way up. A tour guide isn’t even necessary for the trek because it’s a straightforward route. n weekends, there are a lot of other hikers on the path, making it impossible to get lost.

Mt. Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas

Photo from Mitzi B.’s looloo review for Mt. Batulao

But as with climbing any mountain, there will be some challenges. looloo reviewers have said that the lack of trees means full exposure to the sun and the loose soil makes for quite a dusty hike. Also, you might not want to look down if great heights freak you out  because walking along the narrow trail gives you a fantastic view of everything that’s below!

Jeah Maureen D. said on her looloo review that the most exciting part of her Mt. Batulao experience was actually the descend because it involved a 30-foot rappel down a steep slope. Talk about intense!

6. Calaguas IslandsVinzons, Camarines Norte

It takes an 8-hour bus ride followed by a 2-hour boat ride to get to this group of islands in Camarines Norte. A journey that takes up almost a whole day will leave some people shaking their heads, but before you completely write Calaguas off, know that it has been described as “heaven on earth!” and some have even dubbed it as their favorite beach in the Philippines.

Calaguas Islands, Vinzons, Camarines Norte

Photo from Ronith Jazel D.’s looloo review for Calaguas Islands

Upon finally reaching your destination, expect powdery white sand, crystal clear waters, and fresh air to welcome you. Worth it, right? There are no hotel accommodations on this beach (remember to bring your own tent!) and don’t even bother trying to find signal for your phone here. This place is completely remote and is the perfect getaway if you want to completely unplug. For the full Calaguas experience, Jaypee D. on his looloo review says that you should buy food from the wet market near the Paracle port and have them cooked by Calaguas locals!

5. Sabang BeachBaler, Aurora

Maybe you’ve started to notice the number of surfing pictures that have been popping up on your social media feeds lately. But it’s no wonder people are getting their surf on because the country’s surf paradise is highly accessible from the metro! Sabang Beach in Baler is just roughly 5 hours away from Manila and is definitely drivable. You can also hop on a bus (the fare for the normal air-conditioned Genesis bus is ₱550 and ₱750 for the luxury Joy bus) to get there in no time. Just be sure to buy tickets ahead of your trip though, because they do get packed.

Sabang Beach, Baler, Aurora

Photo from Maye D.’s looloo review for Sabang Beach

The best time to go to Sabang Beach is from October to May when the waves are big and consistent enough to ride. First timers, there’s no need to fear because the helpful instructors will teach you the basics of the sport and give you tips and tricks to help you get the hang of it. Finally being able to stand up on your board is the greatest feeling ever, making you forget about all your previous wipeouts! Surfing is known to work up a big appetite, so after your session, you can get get your fill of food from the many restaurants that line Sabang Beach, made specifically to feed hungry surfers.

4. Paoay Sand DunesPaoay, Ilocos Norte

Aside from stuffing your face with bagnet and empanada, there’s another thing you can’t miss out on when you’re in Ilocos Norte. Sandboarding in the Paoay Sand Dunes is an activity all adrenaline junkies need to try, said to be an experience that will get your heart racing and your  blood pumping!

Paoay Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte

Photo from Pauie P.’s looloo review for Paoay Sand Dunes

To get here, you need to shell out  ₱2,500 to rent a 4×4 vehicle (it can carry up to 5 people so just split the cost among yourselves). While the price may be steep, the ride is part of the adventure itself. A professional driver will give you a tour of the sand dunes while you stand at the back of the truck. Be sure to hold on though because it will get bumpy!

When you’re finally on top of a dune and about to take your first slide down, don’t hesitate to just go for it, as advised by Ria B on her looloo review. Stumbling and falling is all part of the fun and you’ll soon find your balance on top of the board. You get unlimited tries at it so sandboard to your heart’s content!

3. Puerto Princesa Underground RiverPuerto Princesa, Palawan

A trip to Palawan wouldn’t be a complete experience without a visit to the Puerto Princesa Underground River.  Getting here is already quite the adventure as youhave to ride a boat that will bring you to an island full of mischievous monkeys. According to Abby C. on her looloo review, she had to cover up her plastic bag because a little hooligan tried to steal it from her! After a short trek, you then wait for your paddle boat that will tour you through the world-renowned river.

Before you make your way in, it’s important that you listen to everything your boatman tells you. Don’t even try to be sneaky and dip your hand in the water because sea snakes are known to inhabit the water. You might also want to wear clothes that cover you up because you don’twant to get pooped on by the 15 species of bats that live here.

Inside the dark cave, expect an eerie kind of beauty. Stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over the course of time give you an astonishing view to marvel at (the lucky person sitting at the front of the boat is given the job of shining the flashlight around the place) and if you’re brave enough for the special 2-hour tour, you get to see dolphin and dugong fossils on the cave walls!

2. Mt. Pico de LoroTernate, Cavite

The handful of looloo reviewers who said that Mt. Pico de Loro was an easy climb are probably seasoned mountaineers; because for the majority, it was a challenging experience that required strength and stamina of both the body and mind. It seemed like the only easy part was getting to the base of the mountain which is only a 2-hour drive from the Metro.

Mt. Pico de Loro, Ternate, Cavite

Photo from Nicole R.’s looloo review for Mt. Pico de Loro

To conquer Mt. Pico de Loro, you’ll need to get through a 7-kilometer trail, most of which is steep and rocky. Stephen C. on his looloo review says that a good pair of hiking shoes are definitely a must and that packing light is advisable if you don’t want your thighs to die climbing up this mountain. The most difficult part of the hike is said to be the last 15 minutes to the peak, but that’s when you really gotta push through. Mind over matter!

Upon finally making it to the top, you’ll see that the view is thrillingly beautiful, one that calls for a “Thank God I’m alive!” moment. But if the daredevil in you is still not satisfied, you can make your way up the monolith (also called Parrot’s Beak) for a 360-degree view of the whole of Nasugbu!

1. Mt. PinatuboBotolan, Zambales

Having laid dormant for 500 years, everyone was caught by surprise when Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, causing massive destruction to the nearby provinces and surrounding cities of Luzon. But as widespread as the devastation was, it made way for the creation of something breathtakingly beautiful. The collapse of Mt. Pinatubo’s summit formed a caldera (a basin-like depression) which slowly filled up with rainwater to become what we know now as the Pinatubo Lake.

Mt. Pinatubo, Botolan, Zambales

Photo from Reisha D.’s looloo review for Mt. Pinatubo

Reviewers on looloo are going on and on about its magnificence, but take that trip to Mt. Pinatubo so you can gawk at it yourself! There are two methods to get to the mouth of the crater: You can either go for the easy route, which means getting dropped of by a 4×4 truck near the opening, or you can be real adventurous and take the full 2-hour trek. Once you get to the top of the crater, it’ll take you another 10 minutes to go down to the actual lake, which according to JP G. on his looloo review, is the most challenging part. Be prepared to take enormous steps that will make your thigh muscles sore!

The acidic composition of the Pinatubo Lake makes it impossible for visitors to swim in its waters. But staring at, resting beside it, and simply marveling at how it came to be, is enough to make the whole trip worthwhile.

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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.