Anita Rao-Kashi lists out fun activities to indulge for the adrenaline junkies.
A number such as 7,641 is a staggering one. Especially if it pertains to the number of islands. But that’s the number of islands that comprise the Philippines. And with that number, it is truly amazing the kind of activities that are possible. Stunning beaches are a given but there are endless possibilities for adrenaline junkies. So the best way to get the most of it is to go island-hopping.
Coron in North Palawan region of the Philippines is a cluster of islands with stunning beaches and beautiful ocean vistas. The best thing to do here is to head out in a sputtering boat to one of the remote islands with fringing reefs and where the colour of the sea is mesmerising. Dock in a secluded corner where the waters are still, don snorkelling gear and step off the boat for an incredible experience. The underwater scene is unbelievable with a wide arrangement of different kinds of colourful corals. And amidst these swim a plethora of fish – individual and in large schools – in a gamut of colours.
Trek to Kayagan lake and see the underwater rock formations
On the northern part Coron island is a set 250 steep steps that reach a summit and then descend on the other side. It leads to a basin within which lies a spectacular lake. It was protected by tall limestone promontories and lovely green trees all around; a wooden boardwalk runs for at least half of the lake’s perimeter. But the thing to do here is snorkelling. It might seem unusual to snorkel in a lake but not only is the water crystal clear, the lake bed has fabulous underwater scenery. There are rocky formations, cliffs, craggy valleys and incredible topography, and it is an unbelievable experience.
See crystal cove
Just a short boat ride from Boracay is Crystal Cove Island, spread over two two hectares. Rocky and filled with vegetation, it has craggy promontories with the sea lashing against it, making for a compelling picture. However, the chief attractions of Crystal Cove are the presence of two caves on either side of the island’s coast which are swept by water. One of them even has a pebbly beach but the water is so vigorous that it is difficult to tread water.
It’s a surreal experience to float above water and a bit disorienting even. But it is also an incredible experience, especially off the Boracay. Harnessed to a fast boat and strapped in quite snugly, a thick rope tied to a semi parachute quickly reels you out and within seconds you are gently floating in the air with the blue sea till the eye can see and Boracay’s coastline in the distance. It’s surprisingly quiet and the perspective is incredible.
A few minutes’ boat ride from the Boracay coast take one to a vast pontoon that gently bobs on the water. It is from here that you can try various adventure activities such as banaba boat rides, water scooters and fly fish rides. But more unique and compelling is helmet diving, in which you done a 40-kilo metallic helmet with a clear window and air supply and sink to the ocean floor, to feed fish and play with them.
Sailing at sunset
Though sailing at sunset might seem like a staid activity, in the Pilippines it assumes surreal proportions and is an event. There are hundreds of people who sail the seas to watch this. The sky is clear and the turquoise waters turn a stunning orange-gold on which the strange looking bancas (indigenous Filipino boats that are shaped like water insects) are silhouetted quite dramatically. Against this background the sun becomes an unbelievably large plate of crimson and sinks gradually, creating a series of picture postcard moments.
Go on a night cruise on Abatan to see fireflies
Bohol has so many activities for the visitor that there is seldom a quiet moment. However, cruising the Abatan river at night is both an activity and quiet time. Flanked by mangroves and thick trees, the river is dark and mysterious at night. A silent boat cruise on the river is the perfect thing to see one of nature’s spectacular creations – fireflies. Under a sky lit my millions of stars, the trees pulsated with swarms of fireflies and resembled Christmas trees.
Sunrise cruise to sail with the dolphins
While sunset cruises are a spectacle no matter where you are in the Philippines, and sunrises are spectacles worth waking up for, in Bohol, there was another reason to wake up early. An hour’s boat ride takes you far into the sea and possibly into the midst of large groups of dolphins, mainly bottlenose and spinners. The dolphins are playful and will swim around your boat, criss crossing in front and swimming under to emerge on the other side. They love attention and will put on a show and are even known to chase boats.
Visit the tarsier sanctuary
On Bohol is also the mysterious and rather bizarre looking tarsier, among the world’s smallest primates. The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary near Corella town is a 100-acre conservation park that tends to this highly endangered animal. The animals are hidden amidst the foliage, clinging to tender stems. They are nocturnal but some are awake during the day. They are also incredibly tiny with disproportionately large eyes and their ability to turn their head more than 180 degrees makes them rather strange but also adorable.
Do bike-ziplining suspended 10 metres above ground
For adrenaline junkies, the place to be is amidst the chocolate hills in Bohol. A geological wonder, there are mounds and supposedly number more than 1200. They owe their name to the fact that they turn a deep brown during the dry season and resemble chocolate lumps. But these are also idea for a variety of adventure activities including the thrilling bike-ziplining which allows you to cycle on a metallic wire suspended tens of feet from the ground.