A luxury southern sojourn in the Philippines

When we say the Philippines, what do you think; island paradise? Try one of the 7,107 islands of paradise and you’ll begin to be on track. White sands, beaches to yourself and luscious greenery adorning every mountain, it’s certainly the postcard-perfect destination. But what if we were to tell you there is a whole lot more to this majestic part of the world?  Admittedly, we’d be happy with all of the above alone, but that’s why the Philippines is so great. One day you could be diving amongst the parrot fish and the other you could be catching oysters straight from verdant rivers. Eleven days of this southern journey will open your eyes to a paradise with a huge personality.

Start with a treat

Touchdown in the Philippines’ Queen City of the South, Cebu, and you’ll be welcomed by bright lights and unique charm. Beautiful as it is, we know after that long haul flight you’re seeking a little bit of R&R before you adventure begins, so checking in at the Abaca Boutique Resort is just perfect. Enjoy this glorious oceanfront resort as you treat yourself to an organic papaya wrap on the garden terrace or an ice cold beverage on the beach cabanas. There is no better place to kick-start your getaway than a stay at the Abaca Boutique Resort.

Without a doubt, you’ll wake up feeling fresh, rejuvenated and ready to explore the wonders of Cebu City, a town that is studded with historical gems. You’ll take a scenic drive through the Beverly Hills of Cebu where you will without a doubt want to stop off at the remarkable Chinese Taoist Temple for a couple of photos. If you’re eager to immerse yourself in all of the city’s landmarks, be sure to take a look at the magnificent Lapu-Lapu Monument and ancient Basilica Del Santo Niño. Like all city discoveries, you’ll make time to explore the diverse markets and local gastronomy too. We urge you to try the traditional Cebu Lechon (roasted pig to be exact) if you want a taste of true Filipino flavors. Hog roast, step aside.

Island Treasures

After another serene night spent in your forest-nestled villa, it’s time to find the adventurer in you and head to the enchanting island of Bohol. Before you’ve even anchored up at this, you’ll be blown away by the diverse environment on the horizon. White beach bays and tropical forest shade verdant rivers and crystal springs, whilst the island’s famous Chocolate Hills tower above it all. Situated in the heart of all this beauty is your next place to stay, the Amorita Resort. Perched below the limestone cliff on Panglao Island your private villa with infinity pool will be the perfect place to enjoy sundown each night.

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For a sprinkle of Boholano culture, upon arrival, you’ll be whisked away to Tagbilaran City to enjoy an afternoon visiting the enchanting St. Joseph Cathedral in-between tasting local Boholano delicacies; don’t fill up too much, as you’re in for a culinary treat that evening. Take a seat at Bohol Bee Farm and marvel at the vast range of fresh and organic ingredients that are picked straight from the garden, and served up on your plate. It’s all about the sweet potato wedges on a bed of fragrant wildflower salad; it’s an explosion of Filipino flavors.

Wonders of the world

Be sure to wake up early the next day, as you have a world of adventure amongst the Bohol landscapes to come. This is the day you come face to face with one of the Wonders of the World. Cruise through the intertwined coconut plantations and luscious nipa palms before you ascend up the famed Chocolate Hills for infinite views of these iconic mounds. As the afternoon approaches, you’ll step onto an authentic raft to enjoy a traditional lunch on the beautiful topaz green Loboc River. Now that’s certainly dinner with a view.

Fisherfolk Community

Enjoy a leisurely morning on your poolside daybed lapping up the Boholano rays before you immerse yourself in the quaint Cambuhat Village. Think boat trips with fisherfolk, elegant river reflections, and fresh delectable oysters straight from the waters and you’ll start to imagine the charm this community has to offer.

The endless rivers, springs and beaches on this island create a perfect adventure playground for water sports and activities. So over the few days, you’re here, take advantage of the world-renowned snorkelling and diving spots, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for the island’s smallest resident. No larger than a fist, the Tarsier clings to the trees with its adorable eyes; you’ll be desperate to catch glimpse of this little fella.

Wildlife Wonders

After four days on this island Paradise, it’s time to pack your bags. Although you may be sad to leave the beautiful Bohol, we promise you that your final destination is equally enjoyable. Enjoy a leisurely two-hour ferry ride to the peaceful and cosmopolitan city of Dumaguete. Known as ‘The City of Gentle People’ this historical town is bursting at the brim with ancient architecture and endless wildlife to be spotted.

Take in the local surroundings as you stroll through the Freedom Park and wander around the inspiring anthropology museum. Next, pop down to the south part of Dumaguete where you can enjoy a tour on a classic horse-drawn Kalesa along the scenic Rizal Boulevard (a Black Tomato favorite). Whilst absorbing this fabulous cultural hotspot, you’ll make your home at the Atmosphere Resort and Spa for another luxury night’s sleep.

Nature lovers amongst you, rise and shine for a cruise along the deep blue Tañon Strait. This crystal blue channel between Negros and Cebu Island is home to the highest concentration of Cetaceans, so don’t forget to pack your camera and binoculars, you’ll have a whale of a time (sorry we couldn’t resist). And for those of you that want to stay on dry land or fancy themselves to have a bit of a sweet tooth, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Central Azucarera de Bais.  Established by the Tabacalera of Spain, this is the largest producer of raw sugar in the province.

Over your final few days, you’ll have the luxury to explore this wonderful city at your own leisure. However, here at Black Tomato, we just can’t resist telling you about our favorite ‘Must Do’s’. Filipino foodie? Head over to Malatapay to discover the weekly mountain market, and if you’re looking for another marine fix before you leave, a boat trip to Apo Island will quench your underwater thirst. Wade from the white sands into the temperate waters and be astounded by the range of exotic coral and colorful sea life.

Images courtesy of Alex Robinson, Daniel Royo, George Tapan.

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