The Philippines is one of the least explored countries in Southeast Asia. While tourism has picked up over the last few years, it is still mostly a backpacker’s destination. That said, one recent trend has been the increase of couples, especially honeymooners, who come to the country in search of romantic, unspoiled beaches.
While standard honeymoon vacation packages offer a visit to the country’s main tourist spots, Palawan and Boracay, there are so much more you can see if you dare go off the grid for a short while. This is especially true now, with Boracay island being closed for at least 6 months for rehabilitation.
Boracay’s closure shows exactly why responsible tourism is so important, to preserve nature and keep the place clean and safe. Over-development is a huge risk in 3rd world countries which are rapidly becoming tourist magnets, and it’s clear this is already starting to happen in the Philippines. Luckily, there are so many other beautiful islands to which the mainstream tourists didn’t come to yet. This might be your last chance to enjoy those places before they are lost forever in the hands of modernization and commercialization.
Palawan’s hidden secrets
No one in his right mind would tell you to not visit Palawan, one of the most beautiful islands in the world. There is, however, ways to make your trip more special and help you avoid the crowds. The 2 most popular locations in Palawan are El Nido and Coron, both offering some of the most spectacular small islands and hidden lagoons you will ever see. The problem is there are literally hordes of tourists taking the island-hopping tours each day, so you never get to really enjoy those places to yourself.
One solution, if you can afford it, would be to hire a private speedboat. You can leave at your own time, and since the boat is faster than the sailboats used for regular tours you can easily reach all the nice places before the organized tours gets there. This option is more relevant for families and larger groups, since you can split the cost of the speedboat between all of you. Couples might find renting a boat each day to be too costly though.
The alternative to that would be to go to the islands and beaches which are still off the tourist radar instead. In El Nido, a perfect solution would be to stay at the Qi Palawan resort and take their tours when you feel like it. This romantic boutique resort is owned by foreigners and standards are very high, it’s a perfect place for couples who want a romantic and private setting for their vacation. The resort is located about an hour’s drive from El Nido town and facing the other side of the bay, so it’s ideal for going on alternative tours.
For Coron, the same trick applies. The northern part of the island is much less developed but the beaches and scenery there is just as breathtaking. Near the area called San Jose there is a small pier called decalachao, from which you can go diving with sea cows, one of the most unique diving experiences the Philippines has to offer. Alternatively, you can also stay at the eastern side of the island, where more traditional island hopping tours are offered.
Siargao island – the next Boracay
If you ask any Filipino where the next big tourist spot will be, the answer is always Siargao. And it seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy and the island is now fully booked for months in advance due to Boracay’s imminent closure. This has caught Siargao’s hotel industry by surprise, as this place is still relatively undeveloped and is now full of tourists looking for a place to sleep at.
What used to be one of the best hidden secrets and an ultimate backpacker destination is now quickly turning into a crowded tourist mecca. Now might be your last chance of going there and enjoying some peace and quiet before this happens. If you do go there, make sure you check for availability and book your stay in advance. luckily, there are plenty of places offering homestays, dormitory and Airbnb style accommodation, so finding room on a budget is still relatively quite easy.
The main area in Siargao is called General Luna, and it stretches out all the way into Cloud Nine beach. That beach also has quite a few hotels right next to it, since it is considered one of the best surfing spots in the world and is the original reason why Siargao picked up traction among tourists.
The best way to enjoy Siargao is by renting a motorbike and going on adventures yourself. The organized tours are cheap and quite fun, but you can easily get to all the cool places even without them. When you explore by yourself you get a chance to be on your own itinerary and stop anytime you see something interesting. And believe us, there is plenty to see in Siargao – hidden white sand beaches, thick jungles and stunning landscape all around.
If you feel brave, take the boat trip to Bucas Grande. It’s a grueling 3 hours sail in each direction, but once you get there you’ll understand it was worth the trouble. Sohoton cove is considered one of the most beautiful and unique lagoons in the country, rivaled only by the majestic scenes of Palawan. Right next to the lagoon there’s also the jellyfish sanctuary, where you can swim with stunning stingless jellyfish. Overall the area makes for a great location for a full day tour, filled with fun and unique attractions.
Malapascua – more than just diving
For people who really want to go off the beaten path, there aren’t many better places to visit than Malapascua – a small island right off the northern shores of Cebu island. The fact it takes 5-6 hours to get to the island (van/bus then a ferry) is actually a plus, as it keeps it remote enough that you can enjoy the ultimate island getaway adventure.
Malapascua is mostly famous for its amazing dive sites and a very well-developed diving scene in general. It’s one of the few places in the world where you are almost 100% guaranteed to see thresher sharks in the wild every day. What few people realize though, is that the island also has quite a few really nice boutique resorts. Developed by the island’s fledgling European community, these resorts offer a fantastic solution for couples who want to stay at a nice, small resort but still enjoy excellent amenities.
Overall, Malapascua is one of the best places to go to if you want that unspoiled island vacation, but also care about a comfortable stay. Thanks to the fact this island is so close to Cebu, it can easily be combined with other, equally beautiful locations nearby. Moalboal is a very popular diving town in its own right, and also home to the famous Kawasan Falls. Bohol is a popular tourist island nearby, closely resembling the beach party mentality of Boracay. Lastly, if you truly want to go off the grid, then take a trip to the exotic Camotes islands, a stunning location where even electricity and running water are considered luxury.
Don’t be afraid of exploring on your own
While the advice above is certainly enough to help you create an exciting trip, a big part of the fun is exploring the unknown by yourself. A big part of a vacation in the Philippines is its free spirited and adventurous nature. To fully enjoy what this country has to offer, you have to let go and learn how to go with the flow.
Luckily, the locals are extremely friendly and helpful and they all speak English. Start talking to people around you and soon you will be able to find a ton of exciting new things to do everywhere you go. Make friends with other travelers and book tours together – you’ll get to learn from their insights and it will also help you cut back on the costs.
The Philippines, with the exception of Mindanao island and some parts of Manila, is a very safe place. Don’t be too afraid to mingle or explore just because you feel you might get hurt. The worst you might encounter is petty crimes such as pickpocketing or small tourist scams, especially since couples are rarely targeted. These can be easily avoided by staying alert and using basic common sense. There’s no reason you won’t be able to discover everything this country has to offer and have the perfect holiday with your loved one.
How to Spend Some Quality End-of-the-Year Downtime on your Holidays
While it may be tempting to fill your schedule with funtivities on your upcoming holiday, there’s nothing wrong with spending time with yourself and enjoying some downtime. It provides a great opportunity to do those things that you wouldn’t’t ordinarily get the chance to do.
To help you unwind and get ready for the year ahead, here are five tips on how to spend your downtime on an end-of-the-year holiday.
Many people take stock of the past 12 months at end of the year. When New Year is around the corner, you have a great chance to reflect on 2017 and consider what you’ve learned and what you would like to improve upon. List the five accomplishments that you feel the happiest about and note any behavioural patterns that resulted in your success. It would also be wise to list five failures; and note behavioural patterns in those cases, too, to contribute to a better 2018. Buy a goal-setting journal and make some new goals or re-evaluate your old ones.
Your vacation downtime is also a great time to find those who will helped you succeed in 2018. Whether you are seeking new friends, a romantic relationship, mentors, employees, or business partners, this is the ideal time to do it. Keep your eyes and ears open. You may find some of these people on your holiday or you could find them by researching online.
The beginning of the year provides a great chance to start afresh. Whether in business or in your personal life, you have the opportunity to reposition yourself. Carry out an in-depth assessment of both your personal life and business activities, such as your finances and any marketing materials you may have. Make sure that your social media profiles represent you and your brand in a positive and truthful manner and that all of the information is up to date. Further, check to see that the image you are projecting aligns with your goals and values and that the message you are giving is compelling and clear.
There’s no shortage of entertainment available in your downtime, thanks to the internet. You can catch up on anything you’ve been meaning to watch via online streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Studios. Whether you prefer movies or to binge-watch some of the more recent shows, such as Stranger Things, there are literally thousands of choices available. For those who love nothing more than getting lost in a good book, the likes of Kindle and iBooks make reading an easy choice, with a seemingly endless range of titles available. It used to be that you would pack one or two books in your suitcase- now you have access to thousands.
Find New Ways to Unwind
Sometimes, we feel an urge for more active entertainment than books or series. While it may be a bit much to pack your video games console, there are online versions of classic video games, such as Command & Conquer and NBA Live. There is also no shortage of games available at online casinos. Sites such as Oddschecker provide a brief summary of some of the more popular bookmakers offering games, whether it is online slots or classic card games. Thanks to free bet and no deposit offers, you can try some no-commitment-necessary action at various online providers, to find new hangouts for your gaming in the new year.
Get back in touch
A vacation offers a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with those whom you haven’t managed to speak to in a while. Offer them an e-card or holiday wish to let them know that you’re thinking about them. You could even play the role of organiser for a reunion. Create an event on Facebook and get everyone on board. You don’t have to go crazy with a huge party; you can limit it to those whom you wish to spend some quality time with. Even if they can’t accommodate you into their busy schedule, they’ll be happy that you kept them in mind.
Of course, nothing says downtime like good old-fashioned rest and relaxation. The first quarter of the year can be the most hectic and so you will want to recharge and regenerate. That way, you will feel positive, strong, and raring to go, to achieve your goals for 2018. Whether it’s sipping a pina colada by the pool or relaxing with a good book while tanning yourself on the beach, there should always be opportunities to relax on your holiday.
We hope that these tips will help to make your 2018 a spectacularly successful year.
Plan Your Easter Break Away From the Crowds
During the Easter break, many families flock to the seaside and towns with moderate climate to catch a few rays of sunshine. Booking a hotel might be challenging if you choose a popular destination, but the good news is that you can choose a remote location close to the beach and arrange your perfect, relaxing Easter break away from the crowd of tourists. Below you will find a few tips on how to get started.
1. AirBnB And Cottages
To avoid families and crowds, you might want to stay at a country inn, AirBnB accommodation, or rent a cottage. You will get more privacy, and don’t have to queue at the reception every morning or eat your breakfast with hundreds of people. You might get a private pool and garden, and stay close to the best hiking trails. Make the most out of your host’s local knowledge and ask them for a list of less known attractions to visit in the area.
2. Take Your RV With You
To stay flexible and escape the crowd whenever you want, you might want to arrange a caravanning trip. You will save money on accommodation, and get closer to the nature. Make sure that you check out the best hidden camping sites in the country, and plan your route, so you can do your shopping en route, instead of trying to find a superstore that is open in the city on Easter Monday. Also be sure to get a Caravan insurance repairs and service in Melbourne to avoid unpleasant surprises during the trip.
3. Visit the Blue Mountains
If you love walking, you can find a hidden trail of the Blue Mountains and enjoy the sunshine and mild temperatures. You can book a log cabin if you take your SUV or 4×4 with you, and stay on top of the world. Whenever you feel like, you can also visit Sydney for a day trip or to do some shopping.
4. Camping on Fraser Island
The largest sand island in the world offers great camping sites, and you can enjoy a quiet beach holiday close to the nature. You need to make sure that you take or hire a 4×4 vehicle, as you can only get around the island using this type of transport. Fraser Island is about six hours from Brisbane, and you will need to take a barge to get to it. A perfect remote location for couples who need privacy and peace.
5. Eco Tourism at Daintree Rainforest
This World Heritage site allows you access to the endangered Great Barrier Reef. There are limited Eco lodges available nearby, so you have to book early. While this location is popular in Australia, there are some underrated accommodation options for you to choose from.
If you would like to rejuvenate this Easter and avoid the crowds, you might want to find a location that is less known to the general public. From forest huts to remote cottages close to the beach, there are several quality inns and Eco lodges to choose from when you want to spend a few quiet days alone.
Our Experience of Starting a Travel Blog
Every now and then we provide tips for new Travel Bloggers. Today we focus on our own experience of Starting a Travel Blog, to see if it’s right for you.
We don’t often write about our experience of starting a travel blog as we know that most of our readers are not travel bloggers. However, every now and then we feel the need to dive into the Art of Travel Blogging to discuss a few things we have learnt, and provide tips for new travel bloggers.
If you aren’t interested in reading more then never fear, our regular adventure related travel articles and photos will be back soon. In the meantime here is a pretty picture and you should check out our top 5 most popular travel articles:
- 50 lessons learnt from travelling the world
- Why we quit our jobs
- Why every couple should travel before marriage
- 2012 Travel Adventures in Photos
- Photo Essay from around Costa Brava
Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
Our Experience of Starting a Travel Blog
I wanted to take the time to write about our experience of starting a travel blog because we just answered a really interesting survey from a research graduate student exploring the lives of travel bloggers. Specifically she is looking at why we create and maintain travel blogs, and how this relates to our leisure and work lives.
If you are a travel blogger, then hopefully it provides a little insight into how you can avoid letting the travel blog take over your life, and more importantly, your travels. Because if you want to make travel blogging your full time job, you will be in for a big surprise.
It all started of with the generic questions such as, explaining what our travel blog is about and why we started it. It was at this point that I began to realise how far we have come. Not to mention how our expectations and desires had evolved as well.
It also raised a few questions of my own.
We started this travel blog to keep a record of our own travels around the world. As well as keeping family and friends updated on what we were doing.
After about 4 months we realised that other people were actually reading about our adventures.
This led us to research how we could turn this travel blog into a better travel resource for the general public. We realised that we wanted to maintain our travel blog to show travellers, especially couples travelling together, that you could quite easily step outside your comfort zone, in comfort.
By using our on the ground knowledge we could provide trusted and expert travel tips to our travel community, which was growing exponentially. And it wasn’t long before we were getting emails and social media mentions asking for specific travel tips.
As the travel blog continued to evolve it took over our lives. I started working full time on it which gave me the freedom to work independently anywhere in the world. This also gave us more opportunities and freedom to follow our travel and adventure passions.
For the next 6 months we dived into the travel blogging world with everything we had.
The next question I answered in the research made me pause:
“Do you consider writing and maintaining your travel blog part of your leisure, your work, neither or both? Why?”
It has been amazing to watch our site evolve over the last 18 months from a hobby into my full time work. But had we gone too far?
Travel blogging had became a full time job.
Her next two questions really made me stop.
How much time and energy do you invest in writing and maintaining your travel blog?
How much time and energy do you invest in other activities (besides writing and maintaining the travel blog) that support your travel blogging? What are these other activities?
Those were the real eye-opening questions.
I realised that more time was now spent dealing with advertisers, tourism boards, travel companies and DMO’s than actually writing or editing photos. Not to mention all the hours spent on our various social media channels engaging with our very active audience on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram to name a few.
And the icing on the cake?
How important are your travel blogs as part of your leisure and/or work?
How important is it to you to maintain and continue writing your travel blog? If you had to stop travel blogging how would this impact your life?
Before I realised it, I had already responded that our travel blog had basically become a part of every aspect of my life. Everywhere we go, everything we eat, everything we do, could be a potential story.
It was mind bottling.
Our travel blog had taken over our lives.
It was so obvious to us because I just went through a stage, very recently, where I nearly threw it all away. I absolutely loathed writing because it had become a chore. Our relationship was suffering and travel wasn’t even enjoyable.
It took a full month of not writing or working on the travel blog before I started to feel comfortable again. During that time I took stock of what I wanted in the future.
I realised that the reason I wanted to continue is because I want a couple of things:
- I want to work remotely and have my own job independence;
- An outlet to publish my photos and writing; and
- To continue to inspire others to travel.
The last point was actually a surprise to me. But I realised it after I was asked:
What outcomes or results do you feel you receive from your travel blog (personal, social, professional and or financial)? How important are these outcomes to you? If you no longer received these results / outcomes would you continue travel blogging?
I have great pride in the work that I produce. I love seeing a photo or story that I have shared be “liked” or shared by others on social media. It is addicting. Every time you get a “viral” post it is like a high and you are always searching for the next interaction.
And every time we have an email come in from our travel community asking for specific advice, or thanking us, it is a real buzz knowing that we are making a difference to how someone travels.
While not every post or every picture makes a difference, I know that a lot of people have enjoyed reading our articles. Our most popular posts are visited on a daily basis by people searching for travel tips or information about certain places and experiences. People trust our advice. Even if we are just providing a person with 10 minutes of travel porn everyday to dream about, then I think we make a difference.
I realised that is what I want most from our travel blog. I want to continue to help those people that thank us.
Now I have managed to find a work/life/travel balance and I am back to loving writing. It was close and I was lucky to realise that I needed a break before I totally burnt myself out.
Whangamata in New Zealand is where I spent a month collecting my thoughts.
And that is the ultimate point I want to make. Too many people start a travel blog for the wrong reasons. They think that it is going to be easy and they will be rolling in the money on a beach somewhere.
While the travel industry is one of the richest industries in the world, it is probably the hardest one to make any money in. And if you find that you are chasing after that fame and fortune, then starting a travel blogging probably isn’t for you.
But what do I know. There is definitely no right or wrong way to starting a travel blog. We get proven wrong everyday in this industry.
The only thing that is consistent, is that there are no rules, and you have to do it your way.
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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