It’s probably a weird way to market a country as your next vacation spot, but if there is something that the Philippines is truly exceptional for, is its marine environment. Most of its underwater richness is limited to divers only, as duh… you need to be deep underwater to see and enjoy. But all of the animals you can meet described in this post (but one), requires no diving skills to do so. Keep on reading and find out what are the 6 aquatic encounters that will make you want to visit the Philippines.
And now for the unpleasant news. Most of these places are very difficult to get to on your own. They aren’t on the main road and take a certain level of expertise in travelling to get to. Yes, you read right, travelling rather than touring. If you want something unique in life you must work hard to get it, there aren’t any cookie-cutter solutions… maybe except this one. Some travel agencies offer packages to unique destinations in the Philippines. Give it a try next time you plan your trip.
1. Apo Island Turtles
Well, it’s not a new species of turtles that got discovered in Apo Island, but there is something really unique about them. This small island that’s located just 7km from the Negros is home to more than 60 turtles, who aren’t shy, to say the least. Every afternoon, a couple of hours before sunset, the turtles come to feed on the vegetation just in front of the main beach. You can sit and chill on Liberty’s Lodge’s dive shop’s porch, as many do at this time, and observe the water closely.
What looks like coconuts mysteriously sinking and popping out of the water are actually the turtles’ heads when they come up to the surface to breath. And that’s not the end of it, as this is the best time to clutch to your snorkel and mask and jump into the water. These guys are so used to people and don’t fear them a bit. You can swim just a meter or two next to them and they will keep on minding their own.
2. Malapascua’s thresher sharks
If you’re into diving you probably heard of this place before. Malapascua is the only place in the world where you can see thresher sharks almost for certain. This species of sharks are also known as fox sharks, or long-tailed sharks, for their distinguishable long tail. Malapascua is home to the smallest species of the family that grows up to 3.5 meters.
These guys live in the deep, but due to a unique phenomenon, they come up to a depth of 40-30 meters every morning, frequenting cleaning stations. It really sucks that you must obtain at least an advanced certification to do this dive, but it’s really unique and probably enough of a reason to get certified on your holiday.
3. Sea cows of Busuanga
The local name of these cute Moomin-like creatures is “Dugong”. There are two dugong reservations on the northern side of Busuanga Island. There are some trips that leave out from town but it’s best to stay closer, as the trips leave early in the morning. You can choose between snorkelling and diving with the dugong, but the average depth is just 6 meters.
So even if you don’t dive there is another reason for you to visit Coron/Busuanga, a predominantly diver’s destination. But don’t be fooled as there are many other great
activities for you to do there. It’s a shame that it’s often overlooked because of it’s now in the spotlights neighbour El Nido.
4. Whale sharks in Donsol
Don’t get confused with Oslob! It’s one of the most popular attractions in Cebu Island and maybe the whole Philippines, but there are so many reasons why you shouldn’t do it. But what are your chances to ever swim with these gentle giants?
There is a place that between January to May you can meet them in the open waters almost for certain. This place is Donsol, and with strict regulations that allow only 6 snorkelers to one shark, you’re sure to swim with the whale sharks in their natural habitat, with very few people around. Everyone who did it swears it’s a very powerful experience.
5. Dolphin watching in Bohol
If you want a little more than the usual island hopping tour in Bohol, and you happen to be there between March and June, you better start your tour really early (like 5.30am kind of early). On this season you can get really lucky and encounter Bryde’s and Sperm Whales. On very rare occasions blue whales have been spotted in the Bohol Sea.
However 7 types of dolphins are residents of the waters nearby Pamilacan Island and can be found all year round. After the main event (the dolphin watching) you go on with your normal island hopping tour and visit Virgin Island and Balicasag Island. It’s funny how many people miss out on this insane attraction when they visit Bohol.
6. Stingless jellyfish of Tojoman
In a magical place in the Philippines called Tojoman Lagoon, very rarely frequented by the usual tourist, something very special happens around July and August. The water of Bucas Grande’s numerous lagoons fills up with so many stingless jellyfish and Tojomon the most bountiful. There are two species, Spotted Jelly and Moon Jelly. Both sting so mildly that it’s not felt at all.
There aren’t many other places in the world where you can do that. There are only several places where they are found in such concentrations, so don’t miss out on this opportunity when in the Philippines. So what are you waiting for, book your ticket now and enjoy this country’s natural wonders!