Upon finishing my fourth and final year at Edinburgh University I decided I needed a BIG holiday. So a friend and I planned a trip to the Philippines, as I’d heard the most amazing things about it. As the Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands we were spoilt for choice on places to go and we spent months carefully choosing the two islands we would visit during our three-week stint. We settled on Palawan, known for its stunning beaches, and Bohol for it’s Tarsier Sanctuaries, Chocolate Hills and Loboc River. Here are three of the highlights of my trip:
1. El Nido Beach Hotel – We fell in love with El Nido as soon as we arrived on a tiny plane with 15 other tourists where we were greeted by Filipino women singing in Tagalog. After hearing mixed reviews, I didn’t have high expectations for the hotel. However we were greeted by friendly staff and shown upstairs to a double room with the most amazing views over the bay, the sea scattered with Bankas (Filipino boats) and an unforgettable sunset. The buffet breakfast was perfect and the location was also great – a five minute walk to the centre of the Town. The Wi-Fi wasn’t the strongest (which was a little frustrating when I wasn’t able to access my degree results!), but who needs Wi-Fi on holiday anyway! If you’re in El Nido definitely book a private boat tour around the islands, where a local will take you to a handful of the surrounding islands where you can snorkel, stopping for a delicious barbecue lunch of fresh fish, cooked by the tour guide on the boat. We did two private boat tours – it really was an incredible experience.
2. Tarsier Sanctuary – I think Tarsiers (little furry tree mammals) are some of the cutest I’ve ever come across and can only be found living on the islands of Southeast Asia. With their huge round eyes and disproportionately large feet you want to reach out to cuddle them, however, they are very shy, antisocial creatures and have been known to commit suicide if disturbed by humans! You must be careful as to which ‘sanctuary’ you visit, as some care more about making money than conservation of the cute little things.
3. Swimming with whale sharks (Oslob) – We travelled from Bohol over to Oslob one morning by boat and headed to the Whale Shark Centre. From herew you can get into the sea with the awe-inspiring creatures whilst the locals are feeding them. They are HUGE and can grow up to 12.2 metres and swimming with them was unreal!