Spend a week­end away in the pic­turesque Philip­pines

Spend two days swim­ming with sharks (friendly ones, of course), chill­ing on the beach and ex­plor­ing the lo­cal cui­sine at Cebu, a very mag­i­cal is­land

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When you have 7,106 other is­lands to com­pete with, you re­ally have to stand out from the crowd. This is where Cebu, the most prom­i­nent of the Philip­pines’ Visayas re­gion, shines. The lush green is­land with the moun­tain­ous cen­tral spine of­fers some of the most ex­cit­ing tourist at­trac­tions in the coun­try, yet the hordes of over­seas trav­ellers seem not to have caught on yet. Swim with whale sharks, throw your­self (safely, ob­vi­ously) from 50-foot cliffs, or sim­ply re­lax on a beach along­side the lo­cals, as you eat co­conut pies and gorge on the world’s best man­goes. Get there be­fore the masses do.

To-do lisT: Swim with whale SharkS

They’re not the ra­zor-teethed, car­niv­o­rous kind, but get­ting up close and per­sonal with these whale sharks, the big­gest fish species in the world, is so in­spir­ing you’ll need to re­mem­ber to ac­tu­ally breathe through your snorkel. Os­lob, in south Cebu, is the place to see these ex­tra­or­di­nary spot­ted car­pet sharks, as they swarm to a spot not far off the beach each morn­ing to be fed by lo­cal fish­er­men. Tourists can pay just 1,000 pe­sos (Dhs73) to jump in with them and watch their huge spot­ted bod­ies glide through the wa­ter. Cebu Trip Tours of­fers an awe­some day tour, in­clud­ing a side trip to the spec­tac­u­lar Su­milon Sand­bar, for Dhs482, in­clud­ing break­fast and lunch.


Go canyon­inG

Philip­pines is one of the best places to give canyon­ing a go, more specif­i­cally Ba­dian Canyon­ing in south Cebu. Book a tour and an ex­pert guide will have you scram­bling over rocks, jump­ing into turquoiseg­reen wa­ter, and be­ing shot over the side of a makeshift rock-slide, be­fore you end up at the pris­tine Kawasan Falls. The jumps will get grad­u­ally higher though, and be­fore you know it you’re scream­ing “Geron­imo!” over a 50-foot fall, try­ing to prove to the back-flip­ping lo­cals that you can do it as good as they can.

Cebu Tours of­fers an ex­cel­lent canyon­ing day tour, in­clud­ing a trip to Pescador Is­land for a spot of snorkelling, sea tur­tle and dol­phin sight­ings, a dip amongst the sar­dine run and a de­li­cious lo­cal lunch for about Dhs635.


Fea­tures writer Ash­leigh takes to canyon­ing like a duck to wa­ter

Swim with whale sharks

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