Spend 20 days island hopping in the Philippines, hitting some of the country's major highlights. You'll begin in Manila, the country's busy capital. Then, you'll swim with whale sharks, and snorkel in Donsol. Next, you'll fly to beautiful Cebu, where you'll swim in pristine waterfalls, see the famous chocolate hills, and look for marine turtles. Finally, you'll arrive in Palawan, the country's largest province. Adventures include visiting shipwrecks, exploring an underground river, and hiking to hidden lakes.

Highlights

  • Interact with whale sharks in a natural and responsible way
  • Do a night cruise down Firefly River as the surrounding forest glows
  • Help conservation efforts and see wild tarsiers at a sanctuary in Bohol
  • Take a boat deep into the largest subterranean river in the world
  • Snorkel or dive around WWII ship wrecks and coral reefs

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival at Manila Manila
Day 2 Anilao Snorkeling Day Tour Manila
Day 3 Ticao Island Donsol
Day 4 Whale Sharks & Fireflies Donsol
Day 5 Flight to Cebu City Cebu City
Day 6 Canyoneering in Kawasan Falls Cebu City
Day 7 Travel to Bohol Panglao Island
Day 8 Exploring Bohol Island Panglao Island
Day 9 Snorkeling in Balicasag Panglao Island
Day 10 Flight to Puerto Princesa Puerto Princesa
Day 11 Island Hopping in Honda Bay Puerto Princesa
Day 12 Puerto Princesa Underground River Puerto Princesa
Day 13 Drive to El Nido El Nido
Days 14-15 Island Hopping in El Nido El Nido
Day 16 Travel to Coron Coron
Day 17 Coron Shipwrecks & Corals Coron
Day 18 Coron Lagoons & Lakes Coron
Day 19 Back to Manila Manila
Day 20 Departure from Manila  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival at Manila

Manila Cathedral
Manila Cathedral

Welcome to the Philippines! You will arrive at Manila, the capital of this multi-island nation. At the airport, you'll meet up with your group and take the airport shuttle to your hotel. 

You'll have the rest of the day off to explore the city at your own leisure. We recommend walking around Old Manila to see its Spanish colonial architecture, and visiting Rizal Park.

Day 2: Anilao Snorkeling Day Tour

Underwater scenery at Anilao
Underwater scenery at Anilao

Begin the morning with a 3-hour drive to Anilao, where you'll enjoy rich marine life.

You'll visit two coral reefs on this exciting snorkeling tour, spending about an hour and a half at each site. Your trip leader will be in the water with you, helping you identify species. The Philippines is known for its amazing snorkeling and diving opportunities, as its reefs and numerous islands are teeming with biodiversity.

In the afternoon, you'll start the journey back to Manila. The evening will be spent at your own leisure. If you want to go on a foodie adventure, head to Intramuros Food Market or Sabroso Street Food Market.

Day 3: Ticao Island

Enjoy the beaches of Ticao
Enjoy the beaches of Ticao

Take a very early morning flight to Legazpi. If you get window seat, make sure to be on the lookout for beautiful views, including the Mayon Volcano

Once you land, you'll do a 1.5-hour drive to Donsol, and then hop on a boat to Ticao Island.

Spend the whole day snorkeling coral reefs, enjoying white sandy beaches, and admiring limestone rock formations. Highlights include swimming in beautiful lagoons with crystalline waters and seeing the magnificent Catandayagan Falls, which flow directly into the sea.

In the late afternoon, you'll head back to Donsol and spend the night at your beachside accommodation.

Day 4: Whale Sharks & Fireflies

A whale shark
A whale shark

Donsol is considered the "Whale Shark Capital of the World" and provides the perfect opportunity to see these docile animals up close.

Before beginning, you'll be briefed on the proper way to interact with the sharks, so both your safety and theirs is ensured. Then, you'll hop on a boat and start your search.

A spotter will scan the water and signal the boat when a shark appears. The boat approaches to about 50ft (15m) of the animal, and then the group can get into the water. You can get within 6ft (2m) of the shark, but you need to be careful not to touch it or get in its way. If you don't disturb it, it will continue feeding and swimming at the surface without paying any attention to you. If it gets spooked, however, it will dive and disappear. Your guide will be there at all times guiding you through this exciting experience. 

After a tiring but unforgettable morning, you can spend a relaxing afternoon on the beach.

In early evening, you'll drive to the outskirts of Donsol and get on a small boat to float down Firefly River. This excursion is truly magical, as it allows you to see the surrounding forest light up in the glow of thousands of fireflies.

Day 5: Flight to Cebu City

View of Cebu City
View of Cebu City

After breakfast, you'll drive back to Legazpi to catch a flight bound for Cebu. A vehicle will be waiting at the airport in Cebu City to bring you to your accommodation.

As the capital of Cebu province, Cebu City is the gateway to numerous islands in the Philippines. The oldest city in the entire country, Cebu maintains some of its 16th-century Spanish colonial architecture and has several interesting landmarks. Visit Basilica Minore del Santo Niño or Fort San Pedro.

Day 6: Canyoneering in Kawasan Falls

Kawasan Falls
Kawasan Falls

The tour today starts early in the morning. A private vehicle will pick you up for a 3-hour drive to Moalboal, where you'll have a canyoneering adventure. 

Spend the day hiking, swimming, and enjoying the beautiful scenery. One of the highlights of this tour will be the beautiful Kawasan Falls. With impossibly-blue water and refreshing temperatures, these falls are Moalboal's greatest attraction. They are also perfect for fighting off the tropical heat. 

Have late lunch in the city center before driving back to Cebu City. 

Day 7: Travel to Bohol

Beautiful Panglao Island beach
Beautiful Panglao Island beach

This morning, you'll head to the Cebu City pier and take a ferry to Tagbilaran in Bohol. 

From here, a vehicle will pick you up and take you to your accommodation in Panglao Island. Spend the rest of the day swimming and relaxing at the beach.

Don't miss the sunset!

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Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 8: Exploring Bohol Island

Chocolate Hills in Bohol
Chocolate Hills in Bohol

Today, you'll spend the day exploring Bohol Island. You will visit some of its most well-known attractions, including the Chocolate Hills, the Tarsier Sanctuary, Loboc River, and Baclayon Church.

Despite their mouth-watering name, the Chocolate Hills are not actually made of chocolate. Rather, these gorgeous geological formations are called so because they turn brown during the dry season. No matter when you are visiting, the sight of the rolling hills, rising up one after the other is truly something to behold! 

At the Tarsier Sanctuary, you'll get to see these adorable animals and directly support their conservation. The sanctuary is a popular ethical animal encounter in Bohol. 

In the afternoon, you'll enjoy lunch on a raft restaurant as you float down Loboc River.

Day 9: Snorkeling in Balicasag

Green turtle in Balicasag Island
Green turtle in Balicasag Island

Today, you'll visit Balicasag Island, one of the best snorkeling and diving spots in the country. As you explore the underwater world that surrounds the island, keep an eye open for green turtles, which abound around the corals.

Afterward, you'll hop over to neighboring Virgin Island, famous for its beautiful sandbar. You can buy pearls or enjoy a fresh meal at one of the floating seafood restaurants that surround the sandbar. 

Return to Panglao Island in the evening.

Day 10: Flight to Puerto Princesa

Sabang Beach in Puerto Princesa
Sabang Beach in Puerto Princesa

In the morning, you'll board a boat back to Cebu and catch a flight to Puerto Princesa.

After checking in at your accommodation, you have the rest of the day off to explore at your leisure. Located in Palawan Island, this city is known for its underground river and limestone caves. For a first day, you can relax at a beach, do some water sports, or taste local fare at the markets.

Day 11: Island Hopping in Honda Bay

Starfish Island
Starfish Island

Have an incredible day island hopping around Honda Bay

You'll be visiting three islands on your tour: Cowrie Island, which has a white sand beach perfect for sunbathing; Luli Island, a beautiful sandbar that disappears during high tide; and Starfish Island, which claims to have the biggest population of starfish in Palawan. 

At each island, you'll be able to enjoy numerous activities, like water sports, snorkeling, and swimming. Of course, it's also possible to simply relax and take in the ocean views.

Day 12: Puerto Princesa Underground River

Cave entrance at Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
Cave entrance at Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Today's adventure takes you to the largest underground river in the entire world! You'll be paddling through the giant limestone caves and intricate system of the Puerto Princesa Underground River National Park. Marvel as you pass through tunnels and ride on turquoise water. Your guide will provide interesting information about the ecosystems at the park and the species that you encounter.

In the afternoon, you'll continue the tour outside the caves and through the mangroves. Common in coastal areas, mangroves are incredibly important to islands, as they reduce flooding, create a buffer against sea-born storms, and collect large amounts of CO2.  

Return to Puerto Princesa in the late afternoon.

Day 13: Drive to El Nido

Boats in El Nido
Boats in El Nido

Leave Puerto Princesa behind as you travel by land to El Nido.

One of the most photogenic parts of the entire country, El Nido draws in visitors from all over the world, who come for its transparent waters and imposing cliffs.

Today, you'll be hiking one of these tall rock mountains to get a spectacular view of Bacuit Bay and its islands.

In the afternoon, you'll transfer to your accommodation and enjoy a free evening.

Days 14-15: Island Hopping in El Nido

Bacuit Bay
Bacuit Bay

Spend the next two days hopping around various islands in Bacuit Bay.

You'll be traveling on an outrigger boat through the islands, and enjoying the opportunity to snorkel, swim, hike, and relax on the sand. Each island has its own charm, and you'll have the time of your life exploring hidden lagoons and beaches. 

The famously clear waters around the bay are so crystalline, that it is possible to see the shadow of your boat at the bottom of the water. Enjoy gorgeous views and catch the sunset on both days.

Day 16: Travel to Coron

Coron Island
Coron Island

Catch an early morning flight to Coron. A vehicle will be waiting to take you to your accommodation. 

After checking in, you will have the rest of the day to explore Coron Town on your own.

Coron's draws visitors in with its spectacular dive sites, which include WWII wrecks. For today, however, you can spend time simply walking around this small fishing village. You'll have the opportunity to try local food, relax on the beach, and enjoy a slower pace of life.

Day 17: Coron Shipwrecks & Corals

Lusong Gunboat Wreck
Lusong Gunboat Wreck

Today, you'll do a private snorkel tour at the Lusong Gunboat Wreck, the East Tangat Wreck, and the Coral Gardens.

The first two are WWII wrecks that have become popular for snorkeling and free diving. Now inhabited by corals and other marine life, they are close enough to the surface for even inexperienced swimmers to see. 

The Coral Gardens boast a sharp drop that creates a sort of underwater reef wall. The corals here are plentiful and teeming with fish.

After snorkeling, you will visit Pass Island and rest on its beautiful beach. 

Day 18: Coron Lagoons & Lakes

Coron lagoons
Coron lagoons

Enjoy a private boat tour around Coron's beaches, lagoons, and reefs.

You'll snorkel Skeleton Wreck, the frame of a small ship that sank very near shore. Then, you'll head to Twin Lagoons, two large pools enclosed by sheer rock walls whose waters are connected to each other and the sea.

The day continues with two short hikes that will let you access Barracuda Lake and Kayangan Lake, considered two of the most picturesque lakes in the Philippines.

Finally, you'll visit Siete Pecados Marine Park for your final snorkeling adventure before heading back to Coron Town.

Day 19: Back to Manila

Entrance to Fort Santiago
Entrance to Fort Santiago

Take a morning flight back to Manila. 

Enjoy your last full day in the Philippines, exploring its capital city at your own pace. Visit Fort Santiago to see its impressive citadel, or learn about the history and arts of the country at the National Museum of the Philippines

We also highly recommend visiting Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the entire world. In the evening, stroll around scenic Manila Bay.

Day 20: Departure from Manila

Manila skyline
Manila skyline

Today, you'll leave the Philippines behind, but carry home with you memories of some of the most incredible destinations in the country. 

A representative will take you to the airport and help you with check-in procedures. 

Safe travels!

Map

Map of Island Hopping in the Philippines: Manila, Donsol, Cebu & Palawan - 20 Days
Map of Island Hopping in the Philippines: Manila, Donsol, Cebu & Palawan - 20 Days