My first trip to the Philippines in April and May of 2016 inspired me to start my first travel blog, MyPhilippinesTrip.com, which eventually evolved into Outdeezy.com.
The places I visited and the people I met on that trip in 2016 were so special that I feel it’s worth sharing my itinerary in case anyone else considers spending time in the Philippines.
At the time, the 2016 presidential campaign was nearing a vote and it was clear Duterte was going to win. The parts of the country that I visited were in drought. The road to El Nido from Puerto Princesa was paved the entire way although not far to the north of El Nido the pavement was still being extended. I used Uber in both Manila and Cebu; one of my drivers in Cebu said that it had just become available and there weren’t many passengers using the service yet.
Next time I visit the country I’m sure it will be different in many ways, but at the same time some things never change.
ARRIVAL — Manila through Ninoy Aquino International Airport
Like most international travelers, an arrival in the Philippines starts with Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. I stayed in Manila for two nights, visiting the colonial walled city of Intramuros on my full day in the city. I then took a quick two-day trip north to the Subic Bay area, finding an AirBnB listing in a fishing village called Morongo where I was the only westerner in town. A local befriended me there and offered to drive me around the Bataan Peninsula the next day.
TO PALAWAN — Manila to Basuanga and Coron to El Nido
I flew from Manila to Basuanga in order to catch my Tao Expedition boat departure from Coron. The four-day, five-night boat trip ended in El Nido where I remained for four more days.
TO CEBU — El Nido to Cebu to Malapascua
Instead of taking an excruciatingly long bus ride from El Nido to Puerto Princesa to catch a flight, I spent an extra $50 or so to catch a direct flight from El Nido to Cebu. I stayed the night in Cebu and caught a morning bus to the northern tip of Cebu Island and caught a short boat across a channel to Malapascua. From Cebu to Malapascua took eight hours total thanks to the many local stops on the bus route. The boat crossings do not have a regular schedule but I lucked out with the timing and didn’t have to wait long at the dock.
TO SIARGAO — Cebu RT to Siargao
Once back in Cebu city, I needed to spend another night there since it was impossible to get back from Malapascua in time to catch the daily flight to Siargao. It’s a short flight to the “Surfing Island of the Philippines,” followed by a 45-minute van ride through beautiful lush country side to General Luna. This is the launching pad for all surfing excursions in Siargao and home to the famous break Cloud 9. For any surfer, Siargao is a must for your Philippines itinerary.
RETURN HOME — Siargao to Cebu to Manila to LA
Because there’s only one flight from Siargao each day and it’s in the afternoon, I had to spend yet another night in Cebu. I couldn’t make it from Siargao to Manila in time to catch my international flight so I was either going to have to spend an extra night in Manila or an extra night in Cebu. I chose Cebu. The next day I had an early afternoon flight scheduled that would get me to Manila with hours to spare. That extra time turned out to be important as the Cebu-Manila flight was delayed and I ended up almost missing my flight in Manila. Always give a little more room for error when traveling.
All in all, I was in the Philippines for a total of 28 days plus two full days of international travel.