Traveling through the Philippines and discovering what these islands have to offer parents and kids can be the best thing that happened to any family. From teaching youngsters about what kinds of subcultures and cuisine these thousands of islands have hidden between shores, to getting the kids engaged in sports, or teaching them to love Philippine nature and history—here are some highly recommended highlights for local travel destinations for the family that you can visit throughout the year.
1. Baler, Aurora
Baler is Luzon’s destination for surfing on the eastern coastline, rivaling La Union’s waves to the west. Dozens of beginners on the surfboard can be seen at odd hours of the day, training with a local surfer. The magic of learning the rhythm of the wave, knowing when to paddle as you slice through water, then getting up on your board is what it is all about on Sabang Beach. You’ll feel like a surfing god or goddess after a one-hour session, but the true lesson lies in how humbling it is to anticipate the swells that come in from the sea.
Breathe in the briny breeze that comes sweeping into the promenade in the evenings. Baler is a worthy city escape for the entire family.
2. Batanes Islands
Batanes is comprised of 10 islands that form the northernmost part of the Philippines. Only Batan, Sabtang, and Itbayat are inhabited. While on Batan, visit Naidi Hills with its lighthouse overlooking the entire town. Take a tricycle out to view the breathtaking grassy slopes of Racuh-a-Payaman, otherwise dubbed as “Marlboro Country.” There won’t be anything like it anywhere else in the Philippines.
Batanes is a part of the Philippines you never thought existed: rolling hills, rock formations that shape the ragged beaches, the song of the surf pounding on the shores this far north of Metro Manila.
The tranquil waters of “The Lost Horizon of the South” are perfect for parents who want to languish in the sun while kids frolic over peaceful waves. The surf is as gentle as most nestled coves are in the Visayan region. While in Camotes, try Mangodlong Beach or Santiago Bay as your ultimate sun-soaked getaway. Get the kids fit through a round of beach volleyball while here.
4. Donsol, Sorsogon
The top reasons for this destination are supporting ecotourism and teaching the kids more about the rich aquatic life of the Philippine islands. Take a boat out with one of the locals. They are experts at knowing the butanding’s movements, and can tell you precisely when to jump ship and swim after these gentle giants as big as buses. Keep that snorkel in your mouth, rely on it, and paddle like mad after that whale shark! They may look slow as they filter the water for plankton with their teeth, but they are incredibly fast compared to a human’s freestyle.
Coming here is a great way to teach the kids about being kind to the Philippine environment and fostering in them a love for what swims through our waters. Book your tour with Donsol Eco Tour or Whale Shark Adventure & Tours.
5. Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Visit Puerto Princesa’s famous undergrund river for a jaw-dropping experience. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park will have you getting into a boat with safety helmets and life jackets. You’ll slip into this great cavern with majestic stalactites and stalagmites. You will be amazed at the 360- m-long Italian Chamber, one of the world’s largest cave rooms. The sensation of the boat cutting silently through the water makes you feel as if you are gliding into another world.
Lastly, Palawan is known for its limestone formations in the beautiful Bacuit Archipelago, as well as the fantastic aquatic life one can see through diving or snorkeling trips. You’ll just have to traverse the 200 km north from Puerto Princesa to get there.
Read more on the geological wonders of the Philippines inside the magazine, available in all leading bookstores nationwide or downloadable from Magzter.