nature

the perfect 12 day itinerary for philippines

Doing research on putting together an awesome itinerary for the Philippines? LOOK NO FURTHER, because I spent hours on hours on researching what to do/where to go and successfully going on one off the most amazing trips of my life THAT I NOW GET TO SHARE WITH YOU!

*Please note- this is a trip that my husband and I took our moms on so it is not your typical money-saving, hostel-staying trip that I usually do. We spent a little extra more on accommodations, but because we were a group of 5 traveling, the per-person rate was not that high. Beside paying more for accommodation, the rest of our trip was SUPER cheap. The transport and food has an unbelievably low cost!!

Because of our group size, we had private transport wherever we went and had a private van (only if going long distances, otherwsie we took two of the little cab tricycles). For example, to get to Oslob back to the airport in Cebu City we paid about 18 dollars per person for the 4-5 hour ride.

The trip was a total of 12 days long- (1 day flying there was totally killed so I Lost a day, that’s why it really only shows 11 days in the itinerary) 

MOALBOAL

Day 1 - Arrived and went straight to White Beach, Moalboal

Stayed one night in airbnb. (I would have liked to go straight to Oslob but the flight was so long and I figured it would be nice to go somewhere closer vs farther away straight off the plane.)

Moalboal was about 2.5 hours from the airport vs Oslob would have been about 4-5.

I loved the airbnb that we stayed at, the house was in a perfect location on white beach, which is a super clean powdery white beach. I don’t have much else of a review of white beach because we arrived in the afternoon and left at 6 am the next day. --PS don't be afraid to negotiate a bit with airbnb prices, it's worked for me in the past!

 

KAWASAN FALLS and OSLOB

Day 2-

Left Moalboal at 6:30 to Kawasan Falls (This is en route to Oslob.)

I read numerous blogs on getting to Kawasan Falls EARLY to avoid crowds. I’m so glad I took the advice because we arrived around 7:15 and we were 1 of 2 groups there. It was so lovely to have the whole waterfall to ourselves. We spent about an hour at Kawasan waterfall and then headed to Oslob and  to get to our next Airbnb and we got there around noon.

We spent the rest of the day lounging in the amazing pool, drooling over the edge at the views (which is directly in front of Sumilon island!)

THIS AIRBNB IS MAGICAL- The location is perfect especially if you are going to swim with the whale sharks. *It's only 8 minutes away from whaleshark watching site* It is one of the most beautiful villa rentals I’ve seen in my life- literally sits on a cliff and you see a beautiful sunrise every morning. There are a couple of different airbnb pages for the villa based on what you want to rent- You can rent the whole villa, or just parts of it if you are looking for a cheaper price. We ended up renting the whole villa because we had a larger group and also wanted privacy because it was more of a family trip. The staff is super accommodating, and I spent time with each of them and left with friends :) *IF you want to rent here send Fay a message through airbnb, and PLEASE mention my name (Danielle Peterson Thurber)  I became friends with the owner and would love to send more guests her way. It’s always nice to hear your word-of-mouth referrals are working !! 

 

WHALE SHARK WATCHING AND SUMILION ISLAND

Day 3- Woke up early in Oslob and was at the whale sharks by 7 am. Again, I read tons of blogs saying GO EARLY NO LATER THAN 7!And they were all right. There were already heaps of people there by 7 am. If I did it again I may even try to arrive by 6 am :) Swimming with the whale sharks was such a cool experience, but you only get a short amount of time in the water with them, about 15-20 minutes if I recall.

The rest of the day we spent lounging in the pool staring at the views again (lol) and then the staff organized a boat to come pick us up right from the waters below the villa (AWESOME!) and take us to Sumilion island which is right across from the villa you can see in my picture. 

YOu can pay to go on the island which is a resort with a pool, but because we have the amazing airbnb pool (photo below) we didn’t feel the need to do that, so instead we just hung out for a few hours at the sandbar around the island and snorkeled in the crystal clear waters. I repeat, crystal clear. Reminded me of water in the Bahamas.

 

EL NIDO PALAWAN

Day 4- Woke up early to drive back to Cebu City for our AirSwift flight to EL Nido, Palawan. Arrived in El Nido around 4 pm and stayed at Aetas Glamping, which I found on AIrbnb.

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This is SERIOUSLY an amazing gem I found, and we stayed 3 nights here. The experience was something unique and different, and I wouldn’t have traded this stay for anything else. The staff was unbelievably accommodating, and they left little surprises on our bed every day (homemade organic lip balm, homemade hair masks, bed decorations, afternoon snacks, welcome drinks, etc) Seriously read the reviews on this place, and I Hope they convince you to stay there like it did me!!

We had breakfast at Aetas daily, but got recommendations for lunch and dinner in El Nido town for all other meals and they directed us to the best of the best local food joints in town which was SO AWESOME!

 

ISLAND HOPPING- BIG AND SMALL LAGOON

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Day 5- Woke up early to do combo island hopping tour, again EARLY we went at 8 am

 

DULI BEACH

Day 6- woke up early to do the last combo island hopping tour, again early 8 am- Then we rented scooters (Right at aetas) to go on a 45 minute ride to Go to DULI BEACH! DON’T MISS THIS BEACH- totally beautiful, white sands cove beach, HAS SURFING !!! There are 2 little beach restaurants at the end of the beach where you can rent surf boards. I went surfing and it was SO MUCH FUN. The restaurant's have a laid back surf vibe. This day was awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

APULIT ISLAND, EL NIDO RESORT

day 7-  Left early to go to APulit Island El Nido Resort- It was an 1.5 hour shuttle across the island and then an hour ferry ride to apulit island. Decided to splurge on our last few days (but even splitting the large water cottage between 5 people wasn’t even that bad!)

All meals and activities are included here. Free island hopping tours and snorkeling, free kayak and sup rentals, free rappelling, rock climbing, etc!

This place was everything and more!! Such a beautiful island to explore and relax.

 

Day 8- Apulit Island

 

Day 9- Apulit Island

 

Day 10- Fly airswift back to Cebu City (stayed one last night in Cebu CIty as transit point)

 

Day 11- FLY BACK TO CHICAGO EARLY!

 

Recommendations/What I would do differently:

I feel like my time in both Cebu and Palawan was sufficient and wouldn’t change my itinerary that I completed.

What I would do differently- I would spend more time in the Philippines but go to a couple more islands! One Island that I REALLY wanted to go to was Siargao, which is known as their surfing island and has a super tranquil, laid back vibe. Another island that I would have liked to go to is Siquijor, which is known for its mountain healers and being a “mystical island” - The terrain is supposed to be untouched and beautiful!

Because the Philippines is SUPER CHEAP, I would definitely recommend spending a little extra on the accommodations (if you are able to and it's in your budget, or finding a group of people to be able to do the larger airbnb rentals) I wouldn’t change for the world the places that I stayed, it really made it quite unique and adventurous.

 

TAKEAWAYS

All I have to say is VISIT THE PHILIPPINES!!! I got so much heat from people, "why would you want to go there? It's such a poor country, " they would say. 

Why wouldn't I? Just because a country is poor does not make it any less appealing to visit. The beaches and ocean was a blue unlike any other I've seen, the jungle landscape lush, and the people were absolutely beautiful, kind and accommodating. 

Traveling around the country was the cheapest of any place I've ever been to, and I got roundtrip tickets from Chicago for $500 through EVA air!!!!!!!! 

 

Your Best 6 Days In Washington

By: Danielle Peterson

If your looking for the perfect itinerary to escape to the Pacific Northwest, you've come to the right place. I've done all the research and experienced first hand the ultimate trip that YOU DEFINITELY DON'T WANT TO MISS. 

Washington state is considered the heart of the Pacific Northwest, and also takes the title of my new favorite state. I instantly fell in love with the diverse landscape, including the bustling seaport city of Seattle and expansive Olympic National Park, in which you can explore three distinct ecosystems;  temperate rain forest, rugged Pacific shore and mountains/meadows. 

I’ve put together an itinerary for those who only have 3 days to explore Olympic National Park. And for those lucky enough to have a bit more time, I’ve added on some extra bonus days for you, and I promise, you’ll want to see this trip out to the very end.

 

Olympic National Park in 3 Days

Day 1: Hurricane Ridge , Marymere Falls and Lake Crescent

Hurricane ridge is located 17 miles from Port Angelus.  The trails offer views of glacier-clad mountains showcasing viewpoints of Olympic Mountain and the Olympic Peninsula coastline. Chipmunks, ground squirrels, marmonts and black tailed deer wander the ridge, and we saw all of them.

After hiking Hurricane Ridge, we drove to Lake Crescent, a 624-foot deep shimmering glacier-carved jewel. You can stroll the shore, or rent rowboats at Lake Crescent Lodge (where accommodation are also available).  Because the water was choppy, we didn't go boating, but  instead enjoyed a DELICIOUS lunch right at the lodge with views of the lake.  **The food was absolutely amazing, and it was a great time to rest after the hours of hiking we did at Hurricane Ridge.

Follow the signs to Marymere Falls from Lake Crescent Lodge and enjoy a short hike to the 90-foot waterfall. This was a must for me, as I'm a waterfall lover, and the walk to get there was easy and beautiful.

Accomodations: If you are up for adventure, I highly recommend couchsurfing at Lonnies which is located in Port Angelus. Port Angelus is a great base point for your first day visiting Olympic National Park. We stayed two nights at Lonnies : The night we landed in Washington and after Day 1 of hiking Hurricane Ridge. Lonnie is a wonderful man who has built cabins for travelers who come to experience Olympic National Park. He has hosted over 600 travelers over the past couple of years. Staying is free, just sign up on couchsurfing.com. (You will find his profile once you search hosts in Port Angelus.) However, come ready to share stories, laughter, wine and bonfires with Lonnie himself.  It is the ultimate adventure, and a great way to start the trip. Families or individual travelers are all welcome. The night I was there there were 9 people total, and yes there is room for everyone! A great way to meet other travelers and share your tales of adventure. 

****We flew into Seattle, rented a car (NECESSARY FOR THIS ITINERARY) and drove to Port Angelus, where we stayed the night.  Drive time from Seattle Airport to Port Angelus is about 2.5-3 hours. We took the route south through Tacoma as we didn’t want to deal with crossing the ferry/lines at ferry, etc. So Day 1 starts our first day in the park, but technically second day in Washington.****

 

 

Day 2- Hoh Rainforest and Sunset at Rialto Beach

The morning of Day 2 we woke up and after Lonnie shared some of his fresh farm eggs with us, and then we were on our way to drive to the Hoh Rainforest. The drive time from Port Angelus to the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center is about 1 hour 50 minutes.

We spent the day exploring the moss-draped maples, Douglas-firs and Sitka spruce trees. This temperate rain forest receives over 12 feet of rain a year, and hiking the trails is nothing short of spectacular. The emerald and mossy greens create a canopy above you as the sun peaks through highlighting the trails in front of you.

 

Accomodation: Manitou Lodge Bed and Breakfast.

*It is best to call or reserve reservations ahead of time*

After hiking we went to check in at Manitou. All of the lodge rooms were full, so we ended up renting one of their campsites. Glamping at it’s finest. We arrived and our campsite was already pitched. Blown up mattresses, carpets in the tent with a table and lamp, warm blankets and a campfire with complimentary smores kit. This was my kind of camping. I actually preferred staying in the campsite than inside the lodge. The campsite is pitched right in the forest, surrounded by the massively tall trees, with the sound of nature around you.

 

After getting settled in, we headed to Rialto Beach, which is only three miles from Manitou Lodge. Here you can catch a pretty spectacular sunset.

 

Day 3- La Push Beaches while heading back to Seattle

Instead of heading back toward Port Angelus to get to Seattle, we decided to continue south and take the slightly longer (barely) route back to Seattle. This way we were able to see more of the La Push Beaches and take in some different scenery.

Just south of the village of La push are three olympic coast charms: First, second and Third Beaches. Each one is sandy, broad and hemmed in by dramatic bluffs and headlands. With roadside access, First Beach is the easiest to get to and so can be crowded. Third beach requires a 1.2 mile hike down a forested trail. But Second Beach is just right: a hike just long enough to discourage crowds, het short enough to encourage those who want to see the beautiful beach.

Accommodation: Drove from beaches to stay in Seattle

 

Day 4- Seattle

I don’t have a specific accommodation referral as I stayed with a cousin who lives out here, but there are plenty of accomodations for all budgets here in this beautiful city.

We only had one day to explore Seattle, and for me this was enough since I’m more of a nature gal. We hit the highlights such as the Pike Place Market, walking along the waterfront to see the boat houses, and visiting the troll under the bridge. I’m not a museum gal and we also skipped out on the space needle.

Accomodation: Left Seattle mid afternoon to check in at River View Cabin, Gold Bar

Day 5 and 6 – Gold Bar, River View Cabin and Bridal Veil Falls

This was by far the highlight of my trip, and if you are able to make it to this gem, only an hour and 15 minutes east from the Seattle Airport, I highy recommend it.

Located in Gold Bar, this tranquil house rental sits right on the Skykomish River at the base of majestic Mt. Index. The view from the cabin windows and Jacuzzi is a unique and unsurpassed experience. The cabin is private, charming, comfortable and I promise, two nights is probably not enough. You’ll want to stay forever. Bonus points: DOG FRIENDLY!

From the cabin you can walk and then hike up to Bridal Veil Falls, a spectacular waterfall with unbelievable views. There is also a 7 mile roundtrip hike to Lake Serene, if you have the energy by the end of this trip!

Accomodation: River View Cabin

 

Leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear your favorite places to visit in Washington, or the Pacific Northwest!!!!

 

Last Stop: Tucson

 

 

Saguaro National Park:

Tucson was our last (and quick) stop on our road trip through Arizona. Before flying out we took some time to check out Saguaro National Park, home of the largest cacti. From Native American artwork to Arizona souvenir travel mugs you are probably familiar with seeing the famous saguaro cactus, which has become the universal symbol for the American West.

 

The Saguaro National Park is unlike any other view I have seen before. There are approximately 1.6 million individual saguaro plants growing within the national park. The beautiful red mountains in the background make it one hell of a site to see.

 

Saguaro National Park has two districts, encompassing a total  91,327 acres. The Rincon Mountain District is located to the East of Tucson and the Tucson Mountain District is located to the West of Tucson.  There is a visitor center in each of the two districts.  For directions to each district please visit here.  

 

DID YOU KNOW: The average lifespan of a saguaro cactus is 150 years, but some plants may live more than 200 years. A 20 foot tall saguaro weighs approximately 1 ton (2000 pounds).

 

The park is open every day of the year except Christmas, and the busiest time of year is Nov- March due to the cooler weather.

 

Late April and March is when you will see the iconic saguaros begin to bloom, along with many other wildflowers.

 

 

Did you know? Saguaros are a very slow growing cactus. In Saguaro National Park, studies indicate that a saguaro grows between 1 and 1.5 inches in the first eight years of its life.

 

 

ADMISSION FEES:


Entrance fee paid for admission to Saguaro National Park is good for seven days and includes both the Tucson Mountain District (West) and the Rincon Mountain District (East).

Saguaro National Park Weekly Pass - $10.00 (U.S. Dollars)
Admits one single, private, non-commercial vehicle or motorcycle and all its passengers. Organized groups are not eligible for the vehicle permit.

Saguaro National Park Individual Weekly Pass - $5.00/person (U.S. Dollars)
Admits one individual when entering by foot or bicycle. Individuals 15 years or younger are admitted free of charge.