Tag Archives: Philippines

Travelogue: Port Barton

For my last stop in the Philippines, I stopped by Port Barton, a beach and scuba diving town similar to El Nido, but much less developed, much less touristy.  To use a well-worn cliche, it’s like El Nido from a decade or two ago.  And I stayed here for a couple of days, just relaxing, enjoying the sunsets, and doing not much of anything at all.  It’s that kind of place.
Port Barton - panorama sunset

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Travelogue: El Nido

El Nido is named after the swifts that live on the nearby cliffs, whose nests used to be harvested to make soups.  Nowadays, however, it’s known as more of a tourist destination, with great scuba diving, beaches, and seascapes.  And after suffering through the lack of electricity at Sabang, El Nido is a welcome change, having electricity from 2PM to 6AM – though many places also have backup generators.
El Nido - town view 2

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Travelogue: Puerto Princesa

After finishing my exploration of Cebu island, I hopped on a flight and headed over to Palawan, an island on the western edge of the Philippines known for its beauty and lack of infrastructure.  And while there wasn’t terribly much to do here in Puerto Princesa, I enjoyed the ambiance and 24-hour electricity before venturing out to other towns with more natural beauty but less electrical access.
Puerto Princesa - directions sign

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Travelogue: Moalboal

After having my fill of diving with the whale sharks at Oslob, I took a bus around the southern tip of Cebu island, to Moalboal, on the Western coast of Cebu island.  Before coming to the Philippines, I had never even heard of Moalboal.  While visiting Tops in Cebu City, I started talking with a random local Filipino while waiting to get dinner, and he mentioned that Moalboal has the best sunsets of Cebu, even better than those of Tops.
Moalboal - sunset beach 6

Doing some research, I found that Moalboal also has some great scuba diving, and so decided to pay it a visit for a day or two.  But upon arriving and discovering the tranquility, the Fiesta, the scuba diving, I ended up staying here for an entire week, longer than anywhere else in the Philippines.
Moalboal - sea view 2

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Travel Stories: Whale Sharks at Oslob

After getting tired of the incessantly annoying touts of Panglao beach ruining the beauty of Bohol, I decided to hop on a boat and head back to Cebu, to see the whale sharks of Oslob.   Also, I had been traveling with two new friends I had met in Bohol, but after a couple days together, I felt the wind call out to me.  And so, I hopped on a boat from Panglao Beach, and headed back to Cebu, to the town of Oslob, to see the whale sharks.

Usually, to get from Panglao to Oslob, you would have to head back to Tagbilaran, take a boat to Cebu City, and then take a bus down to Oslob.  That would take quite a long time.  I found that instead, there are also boats that go out to see the whale sharks at oslob before returning to Panglao, so I just negotiated a one-way trip.  It required waking up for the 7AM boat, but the morning sight was worth it.
Oslob - sunrise boat

Of course, this being southeast Asia, we just sit on the boat for an hour and a half, waiting for…. something, before we set off.  Eh.  Most of us end up sleeping on the boat.
Oslob - sleeping on boat

After a couple hours, we finally reach Oslob!  Before coming, I had heard a lot of great things about Oslob, about how it’s guaranteed to see whale sharks here every day, that these are whale sharks out in the wild.  Which is true.  What they don’t tell you, is that they’re here every day because they’re fed every morning.  Not exactly wild, but close enough!
Oslob - swimming with whale sharks 1 Oslob - swimming with whale sharks 2

So the way it works here is, after paying for a ticket, you can board a small boat to go out and watch the whale sharks – or, to swim with them!  Most people just choose to float on the surface looking down (which is quite nice in itself), but since I had some freediving training, I was able to dive down to the bottom (not so deep, maybe 10 meters?), and look up at the whale sharks.

It’s a sight that I’m never going to forget.  The whale shark, a dark silhouette on the light blue waters.  Remora (sucker fish) swimming in formation along the belly of the whale shark, like helicopters hovering an aircraft carrier.  Sunbeams shining down through the crystal clear waters, perfectly framing the whale shark and its entourage.

When you watch National Geographic documentaries, you see these amazing scenes and wonder, is this real?  You go travel yourself, and see scenes that are almost good enough to be on National Geographic.  But occasionally, when your timing is just right, when the stars are aligned in your favor, you’ll find a scene that surpasses everything else.  And that was my experience here, freediving with the whale sharks at Oslob.

I didn’t bring my phone camera with me into the waters, so I don’t have any photos, but the following is courtesy of oslobwhalesharks.com:
Oslob whale sharks

Travelogue: Bohol Tour

While staying at Coco farms hostel in Bohol, I wanted to rent a motorbike and tour the island, but then I found that the hostel itself was offering a Bohol tour, to see the chocolate hills, the tarsiers, and other sights around the island.  And while I usually hate going on tours, the hostel folks seemed like great people, and so I rounded up some folks, signed up for the tour, and we were off to explore Bohol!
Bohol - panorama chocolate hills 1

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Travelogue: Bohol

From Cebu, I decided to visit Bohol, see the Chocolate Hills, and go scuba diving in the amazing reefs off of Panglao Island.  So, I took the boat from Cebu to Bohol at Tagbilaran, then stayed on Panglao Island to the southwestern corner if Bohol, using that as a base to explore the rest of the island.
Bohol - sunset 1

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Travelogue: Cebu

For my first stop in the Philippines, I spent some time in Cebu (city), a city on Cebu (island), an island in the middle of the Philippines.  Most people fly into Manila, the capital of the Philippines, but I’ve heard nothing but bad things about Manila airport, so I figured I’d start out in Cebu, the second largest city (and having the second largest airport terminal) in the Philippines, and make my way towards Manila.
Cebu - view from hostel 1 Cebu - view from hostel 2

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