Although known for its beaches, Philippines adventure holidays offer plenty to get your adrenaline pumping. You can find the best Filipino action sports and activities across the country offering something for everyone.
Guide to Philippines adventure holidays
The Philippines is made up of more than 7,600 idyllic islands. It has a reputation for world class surf breaks and some of the best scuba diving on the planet. But the Philippines remains something of a hidden gem for adventure holidays.
Almost six times more Brits visit Thailand each year than the Philippines. This is despite a similar choice of accommodation and activity options. In many ways the best Filipino action sports are better than those available in Thailand. In fact they can compete with the best anywhere on the planet.
This guide to the 15 best Philippines adventure holidays gives you a glimpse into the range of activities on offer. Perhaps it could be your next adventure destination?
The Philippines: What you need to know
The country is generally very safe and with tourism accounting for around 10% of its GDP it plays a big part in the economy. Facilities are good and welcomes are warm.
There is a good choice of hotels catering for everyone from budget conscious travellers to those looking for luxury. There is an improving transport infrastructure and all the amenities a traveller could want.
Travel and cost of living are low, so Philippines adventure holidays are more affordable than you might think. There are plenty of ATMs and you can easily send money to the Philippines from home if you run out of cash.
Flight times from the UK to the Philippines are around 14 hours direct costing from £550. But there are also a wide range of indirect flights from the UK to the Philippines offering interesting stop overs from around £400.
15 best Filipino action sports
Keep reading to find out about the best adventure activities that are available in the Philippines.
Scuba diving and snorkelling
The Philippines is widely recognised as offering some of the world’s best diving. There are more spots than we can include in this guide to Philippines adventure holidays so check out our article about the best Filipino scuba diving for more info.
One of the best spots is Apo Reef off the island of Mindoro. It’s a mostly sunken atoll just a few hours off the west coast of the island. You’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer variety and numbers of sharks, rays and turtles that inhabit the reef.
You can get to the reef by heading to the town of Sablayan, with good flight connections of Manila making it relatively straightforward.
And if you are not up for full submergence you can always snorkel on the surface. In most destinations there is still a lot to see including colourful reefs and whale sharks in certain locations.
Trekking and hiking
Luzon, the largest and most populated island of the Philippines is a trekker’s paradise. The rugged northern Cordillera mountains are the perfect spot for hitting the trail.
You can hike and camp on peaks up to 3,000 metres, including Mount Pulag and Mount Napulauan. You’ll be treated to spectacular views and beautiful sunrises if you reach a peak early enough.
You can also hike around UNESCO World Heritage sites in the form of the rice terraces at Banaue in the Ifugao Province. To the south of the island you’ll find the perfectly formed cone of Mount Mayon, an active volcano that frequently shows signs of activity – be sure to avoid the exclusion zones.
With reliable swells forming big waves, the Philippines is emerging as one of the world’s most popular surfing destinations. You can discover plenty of almost unknown breaks as well as better known surf spots where you can hang out with like-minded people.
Check out La Union, just five hours drive from the capital and one of the most relaxed destinations. There are three breaks on the main beach but you can also check out nearby Carille and Bacnotan. The surf schools are very affordable, and the conditions are good for all levels.
Kitesurfing and windsurfing
It is not just waves that are reliable but also the wind creating some fabulous kite and windsurf conditions. Combine that with idyllic white sand beaches, clear waters and the low cost of living and you can see why kite and windsurfing are one of the best Filipino action sports.
Boracay has long been a favourite with kitesurfers and windsurfers and has become a bit of a party island. But it is far from the only spot.
There are good conditions throughout the Philippines archipelago. Check out this guide to less well known kite spots in the Palawan islands to escape the crowds.
Samar Island – the 3rd largest – is talked about in hushed tones by surfers for the epic waves off the east coast that are open to the Pacific Ocean. But it’s the underground world this island has to offer that is the biggest adventure.
Get into your body suit and strap on a lamp before following your guide deep into the subterranean world. You’ll pass through vast underground chambers and narrow tunnels, exploring a place that few people have ever been before.
Back above ground, you can also explore the vast forests for some jungle hiking. If lucky you can spot the endangered Philippine eagle.
Rafting and kayaking
The northern part of the Philippines biggest island, Luzon, does have a few safety concerns. But if you avoid the trouble zones you can find some world class rafting and kayaking territory. Head to the Mindanao city of Cagayan de Oro and you can find class IV rapids and multi day rafting adventures.
A few hours away is the volcanic landscape of Camiguin. You can even make the journey here by boat. Be prepared for other worldly scenery and demanding paddling.
Scuba divers head to the town of Coron, a couple of hours north of El Nido to explore the WWII wrecks that dot the bay. But as well as exploring below the water, you can also discover the coastline in a sea kayak. There are many sheltered islands to explore that are ideal for camping.
You can spend up to a week paddling around the islands and snorkelling to see the amazing underwater world. At night you stop at deserted beaches to camp for the night and sleep under the stars. You can catch fish in the pristine waters and tailor your adventure to your ability level.
Of course sea kayaking is possible all over the Philippines and is a great way to explore the coastline.
SUP (Paddle Boarding)
As with kayaking there are great spots for SUP dotted all around the Philippines. But the southern Visayan island of Bohol is perhaps the best of them. Follow the Loboc river as it winds its way through the tropical forest and take in the buzzing birdlife.
There are also stunning waterfalls where you can practice some SUP yoga in one of the most beautiful spots you could imagine. You can also take to the sea for some surf-SUP. Or use it as a way to get out on the water on the rare occasions conditions are not right to surf, kite or windsurf.
With an ample road network, good range of terrain and stunning scenery, the Philippines are a great place for a bike tour. You can hop between islands, covering the miles each day before spending the night in a choice of accommodation options.
Take in the white sands of Alona Beach on the southern tip of Panglao island. Also enjoy the majestic scenery of Siquijor Island, known for its mystic healers.
While mountain biking is not a big thing in the Philippines there are plenty of off-road trails to ride and explore. The interior of the main islands are mountainous and offer great terrain.
There are a few man-made MTB trails such as Timberland on San Mateo. But most of the riding is natural single track.
Overlanding and island hopping
Want to get to know the Philippines? Keen to try as many of the best Filipino action sports as possible? Then you are in luck as it makes a great travel destination.
You can overland and island hop or even sail your way across the archipelago. Either joining the backpacker route or blaze your own trail across the country and around it’s islands.
The food is tasty, culture unique and the variety of landscapes are stunning. With friendly people and mostly safe – always check the FCO site – it is a great alternative to the more popular backpacker destinations in south east Asia.
We hope you found this guide to Philippines adventure holidays useful and interesting. If you want to try some of the best Filipino action sports then check out our Philippines discounts as you could save a fortune!