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
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.
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