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near and far. 

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near and far. 

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The Philippines: 10 Day Island Hopping Adventure


Exploring Twin Lagoon in Coron Island, Philippines.

Journey To The Philippines

White knuckled, I released my grip and took a deep breath as the flight attendant cooly announced that we had reached our final cruising altitude. Relaxing into my seat, I loosened my seat belt, and turned my attention to the inflight entertainment. The flight attendant came on over the speakers to let us know that it would be smooth sailing until our final destination, something still didn’t feel quite right. Like a sudden patch of turbulence, it hit me – I had no idea what I was doing. I had no plan for when I landed in the Philippines – no itinerary, no accommodations, no transportation. Nothing.

Having missed our connecting flight out of South Korea, it was just past 3am when we finally arrived in Cebu. The airport was quiet as Quin and I disembarked the plane. After peeling off layers of clothing to combat the heat that assaulted my senses as soon as I hit the tarmac, I turned my attention back to more pressing matters. Two flights and eighteen hours later, we still had no idea what we were doing.

Absent a plan, we plopped down in chairs outside the baggage claim, comforted by the next best thing, wifi. Comparing Instagram collections, Pinterest Boards, and random screen shots we pieced together a loose itinerary for the next 10 days of island hopping in the Philippines. The good news… we finally had a plan. The bad news, it entailed spending the rest of the night in the airport.

Cruising the waters around El Nido, Philippines. Pinagbuyutan Island dead ahead.

Cruising the waters around El Nido, Philippines. Pinagbuyutan Island dead ahead.

Island Hopping In the Philippines : Logistics

Our 10 day island hopping itinerary for the Philippines was created in the middle of the night, in an airport, after 19 hours of traveling. That being said, I wouldn’t have changed a thing! Of course, more time would have been ideal – it always is. But life happens, and you have to do the best you can with the cards you’re dealt. And that’s exactly what we did!

By the time the sun rose we were boarding a flight to Coron. The decision to fly to Coron to start out our island hopping adventure put us right where we wanted to be, and likely saved us days of overland travel time. We spent three days on Coron exploring the surrounding islands, lagoons, and beaches. From Coron we took the “Fast Ferry”* to El Nido (about a 3 1/2 trip). After two days in El Nido, we took the fast ferry back to Coron, and then hopped on our return flight to Cebu. We rented a car in Cebu City,** and headed south to the town of Moalboal, our home base for the rest of the trip.

This map shoes the location of the major destinations we visited (shown in detail below), on our 10 day Island Hopping adventure in the Philippines.

This map shoes the location of the major destinations we visited (shown in detail below), on our 10 day Island Hopping adventure in the Philippines.

* There’s no such thing as fast travel in the Philippines. We quickly learned not to trust the time estimates on google maps, and to anticipate delays everywhere. This was particularly true for road travel.

** While renting a car afforded us flexibility and probably saved quite a bit of time, I would NOT recommend it unless you have experience driving in Asia. Driving in the Philippines was stressful at best and dangerous at worst. We survived unscathed, but at the end of the day I’m not sure the pros outweighed the cons.

One of the many beautiful beaches you will experience on a boat tour around Coron.

One of the many beautiful beaches you will experience on a boat tour around Coron.

Where to Go With 10 Days In The Philippines


What can I say, these twins definitely aren’t identical, but they’re both blessed with good genes! Twin Lagoons are a major tourist destination, and for good reason. Surrounded by towering cliffs, and filled with crystal clear water, the lagoons are a must see. You won’t be alone. Large tour groups come and go all day, but if you stick around for long enough you can find a little piece of paradise for yourself.

Twin Lagoon, Coron, Philippines.

Twin Lagoon, Coron, Philippines.

Twin Lagoon, Coron, Philippines.


Banol Beach was everything I’d imagined the Philippines would be. Bright, turquoise waters lapping over an idylic silicon white sandy beach below towering cliffs. And if that weren’t picturesque enough, the cliffs are scattered with old fisherman’s huts, which have the effect of transporting you to a different – simpler – place and time. It’s a popular stop on many of the tours that leave from Coron, so try to go early to beat the crowds.

Banol Beach, Coron Island, Philippines

Banol Beach, Coron Island, Philippines


In the town of El Nido you will be bombarded by tour companies all offering the same handful of tours to different beaches and islands. To be precise, there are generally four options – imaginatively named Option A, B, C, and D. Because Quin and I knew where we wanted to go, and that we would need our boat to be flexible to insure that we got the photos we wanted, we skipped the organized tour circus, and went directly to the source. Down at the harbor we were able to find a captain who was willing to take us where we wanted to go, when we wanted to go, for approximately the same amount that we would have paid for a group tour.

Once out on the water, we were able to simply point out islands that interested us. That being said, if you are looking to meet other like minded travelers, the tours can be a great option!

Areal view of El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.

Areal view of El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.

Pinagbuyutan Island, El Nido, Philippines.

Pinagbuyutan Island, El Nido, Philippines.

Small Lagoon, El Nido, Palawan.

Small Lagoon, El Nido, Palawan.


Kawasan Canyoneering is super touristy, very crowded, and a ton of fun! We all want to get off the beaten path, especially when we travel half way around the world hoping to find something somewhat undiscovered. Kawasan is no longer an hidden gem, but it’s a gem nontheless. For 2-3 hours we were able to float, climb, and explore the deep canyon walls flowing with Gatorade blue water – as long as we had life jackets on! And as if that wasn’t good enough, the tours all end at Kawasan waterfall. Despite the the bamboo rafts and crowds just out of frame, the falls are beautiful!

Kawasan Waterfall was the last stop on our canyoneering adventure.

Kawasan Waterfall was the last stop on our canyoneering adventure.

Kawasan Canyoneering Adventure.

Floating down the Kawasan Canyon.

Kawasan Canyoneering, Cebu, Philippines.


Hidden in the middle of the jungle, Binalayan Waterfall is a cliff divers dream. A guide is required for the short walk to the waterfall. When I visited there were many individuals ready and willing to fill that role at the trailhead. It’s a beautiful waterfall, with three distinct cascading streams and ledges of varying heights for the those willing to take the plunge.

Diving off one of the lower rocks at Binalayan Waterfall, Cebu, Philippines

Diving off one of the lower rocks at Binalayan Waterfall, Cebu, Philippines


Of all the waterfalls we visited, Inambakan might have been my favorite. Lesser known than many of the other popular waterfalls on Cebu, we had the entire place to ourself! It was also one of the only places that didn’t require a guide – although a couple of caretakers watched over us. Inambukan features bright, aqua-colored water and a familiar bamboo raft set up similar to others encountered on our trip. Enjoying its beauty without a rotating parade of tour groups made the experience extra special.

Inambakan Waterfall, Cebu, Philippines

Inambakan Waterfall, Cebu, Philippines

Photos created in collaboration with Quin Schrock.

The Philippines is one of the prettier places I’ve ever traveled to. Between the beaches, the water, and the kind people there’s just nowhere else on earth quite like it. I have no doubt that you could spend a very long time exploring all of the Islands that the Phillipines have to offer. But if you only have 10 days, than I hope that this 10 day island hopping adventure will give you a taste of some of the best that the Philippines has to offer!

Happy traveling! And thanks so much for your support.

– jess

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  1. Yana says:

    Amazing post. Can’t wait to head over there in a few days!

    • Jess Dales says:

      So glad you liked it Yana! I hope you have a wonderful trip. The Philippines are one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been!

  2. This is so similar to what we did in the Philippines just a few weeks ago!! We opted to do a 5 day island hopping cruise with Tao from El Nido to Coron and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants the tropical island paradise without the crowds. Most of the time we had entire islands to ourselves!

    • Jess Dales says:

      No way! I’ve heard wonderful things about the Toa trips. One of my friends actually did one a few years back, and seeing their video put the Philippines back on my bucket list. Next time I think I’ll definitely try to do the 5 day island hopping cruise. Glad to hear that you had such an awesome experience!

  3. Tony says:

    I love this blog. It made me feel like I was there. I have so much to learn about traveling to these amazing locations. Thanks for giving me the confidence to dream 🙂

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by Tony! I’m glad that you found it inspirational. That’s always my goal. I love the idea of making travel more approachable for everyone. I know it can be a little overwhelming at times!

  4. Annabeth says:

    Wow !!! Dying to go now and see the Gatorade blue water . Thanks for sharing all your secrets !

  5. Francois Wentzel says:

    What an awesome read! Feels like I was there myself! One is always concerned about safety there (don’t wanna be the next terorist kidnap victim!) and great to see you can explore the beautiful spots and stay safe!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you Francois! I never felt at all unsafe while I was there – not to say there aren’t issues to be concerned about. It may have helped that we were vary much on the tourist trail for this trip. Perhaps there are other islands or areas that feel a little more dodgy. But for brief experience it seemed very tourist friendly. 🙂

  6. Tierney says:

    Do you have recommendations for places to stay?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hey Tierney! Unfortunately I don’t really have recommendations for accommodations. It just wasn’t one of our priorities this time around – given the last minute nature of the trip. We ended up just using wifi to look places up that had hot water and wifi, and it always turned out okay. But nothing worth recommending. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

  7. Mal says:

    Did you feel pretty safe traveling around there?

    • Jess Dales says:

      We did feel safe. I know there have been issues in the past, but I would not have guessed it from our experience. That being said, we were very much on the tourist trail, and only visited a few islands.

  8. Evan says:

    There’s no video Jess ?

    • Jess Dales says:

      haha I know – sorry! But there is a photo of the same spot. So you kind find out where it is if you want. 🙂

  9. Pat says:

    Absolutely spectacular!!! On my list for 2018!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thanks Pat! Really glad you liked it. And I hope you are able to make the trip out there this year! It’s such a cool country to explore.

  10. Enrico Luzi says:

    hahahahaa i just commented on Renee’s repost that this came in absolutely great timing 😀 I’m in the airport in Bangkok, going to Cebu, got 17 days there and no plans :p

    I’m afraid of doing only these touristy places and missing out the 20 years from now beautiful spots that everyone will say hadn’t been discovered yet in 2018… But obviously I don’t know where they are yet, maybe to the least famous eastern islands ? Any clues on where to look for them?

    Congrats, great post !

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hey Enrico! Unfortunately I really wasn’t there long enough to get off the beaten path. We wanted to head east, but simply ran out of time. I think that would be a good place to start! Either way I’m sure you will have a wonderful time. Save travels!

    • Grace says:

      Hit Surigao. Look it up. Technically part of Mindanao but an island off. Safe.

      Lots of beauty to see, least touristy and surfing capital if you like to surf but also non surfing beaches.

  11. Robert Acurin says:

    This is my home country and glad you like it a lot. You’ve only visited 1% of what this country has to offer in terms of beaches and waterfalls. I would be very glad to walk you around if you decided to return. 🙂 🙂

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you so much for the offer Robert! That’s very kind of you. I’m not sure when I’ll be coming back, but I certainly home I get to return someday. It’s one of my favorite places now!

  12. L says:

    You’ve been to parts of my country that I’ve never been to. Lol. Now I really want to go see Coron & hopefully go diving.

    • Jess Dales says:

      I hope you get to! It’s really quite lovely. I wasn’t able to go diving this time around, but I really hope I can come back and do some scuba diving – it sounds amazing!

  13. April says:

    Your blog of the Philippines is just perfect beyond measure! Not to mention all those spectacular photos and views! I’m happy that despite all the happenings in my beloved hometown, you still enjoyed yourselves there and find it amazing! There’s more to discover in this country! Hope you visit again.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi April! I really had the best time there and would love to return someday. I feel like I only scratched the surface. It was almost imposable to take a bad photo in such a beautiful place!

  14. Nea says:

    Wow! I love your blog. The places you visit are such an inspiration. Amazing photos!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you so much Nea! I really appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to check it out. 🙂

  15. Christian says:

    I love the way you tell a story with each of your posts. Please don’t ever stop writing xx

    • Jess Dales says:

      Aww thank you Christian! I only wish that I could write stories as captivating as you do. I’ve really enjoyed catching up on your blogs lately. They seriously transport me to the location!

  16. Idol says:

    I ever come to the cebu in 2014 hopefully i can visit to cebu for second time. And visit to the places.

    • Jess Dales says:

      I hope you are able to visit Cebu as well! There are so many beautiful places to explore there. I was only on Cebu for a few days, and I’m sure there are even more beautiful places on the island than I had time to see.

  17. Jessica says:

    I’’m from Guatemala and I’m dying to make this trip. Love your blog! Thanks for sharing, you’ve cleared my mind, now It’s easier for me to visualize an itinerary.

    • Jess Dales says:

      That’s awesome to hear Jessica! I’m so glad that you found it helpful, and I hope that when you make your trip to the Philippines you have a wonderful time. It’s a beautiful country!

  18. Vic & Belle says:

    Wow!!! You just moved The Phillipeans up to the next place on our "target" list!! I had Bali, Indonesia there! Thabk you for sharing!

    • Jess Dales says:

      I have no doubt you will love it! I haven’t been to Bali, Indonesia yet, so I can’t compare the two, but I don’t think you can go wrong. Such a beautiful area of the world!

  19. Vic & Belle says:


  20. Judith Uy says:

    Thank you Jess for promoting Philippine’s Tourism. I myself haven’t been to any of the places you visited hehehehe Lucky you . Have Fun travelling

    • Jess Dales says:

      My pleasure! It is such a beautiful country with wonderful people. I only hope I can go back someday soon!

  21. kiko says:

    SImply amazingly wonderful! Nice post Jess! There are more for you to explore the archipelago. Two thumbs up.!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Thank you! I would love to return someday! I feel like I only saw a small portion of what the Philippines have to offer. So many islands. So little time! 😉

  22. Xyrys says:

    hi Jess, im happy to see what places we have in the Philippines, unfortunately i never goes around when im was still there, way back living now in US (im a Nurse)i was ignoring more back home, now since i was into Intagram i saw your pictures with a very good and nice places that other people might not go, possible like a dream only. Somehow, i was notice that your blog was so inspirational, the way i read i realized that not too late to start, money comes in go as we will notice later its too late already it you start travel when you are on retiment age. While young, lets see the world with love and pasion.❤️

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Xyrys! You come from a very beautiful place, and I hope you have the opportunity to visit some day on vacation. However it sounds like you have built a very nice life as a nurse here in the US, and I’m glad you found a profession where you are able to help so many people! Best of luck!

  23. Savannah says:

    Hi Jess. What a beautiful travel experience! I’m keen to go a visit the islands in December. I just wanted to know what hotels/bungalows/resorts/treehouses did you stay at? (Some shown in your pictures)
    Thank you 🙂

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Savannah! We actually didn’t stay anywhere of note in the Philippines, so unfortunately I don’t have anything to recommend. Because we were rarely at our hotels we didn’t spend much time researching cool places to actually stay. The shelters you see in some of my photos are actually just fisherman huts. You will see them all over the little islands there. Have a wonderful trip! It’s truly a beautiful Country. 🙂

  24. Melissa Lobo says:

    Thank you for this amazing blog!! My fiance and I want to do the Philippines and I’m a little stuck on where to start. You gave me much more clarity, these pictures are to die for! Did you take a drone for these pics?


    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Melissa! That’s so awesome to hear. I’m glad you found it helpful! The two photos that I’m not in are drone shots. And then there is a photo of Quin and I walking in the water, and that is also a drone shot. The rest were all taken with a Sony a7rII. Have the best trip!

  25. silvia says:

    https://www.facebook.com/StoriessinPicture/videos/1787720578204449/ This is you right?
    I’ve seen that video like in march, blows my mind. I didn’t knew this place exist. Now I’m planning to go to Philippines in a near future.
    Question, where is exactly the 4th photo from Kawasan, cebu?
    Beautiful photos, those blew my mind too!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Silvia, that photo was taken on a canyoneering tour down the Badian River. Have a great trip!

  26. JB says:

    One of the comments mentioned was it safe. I live here in the Philippines now for 3 months in Cebu City. Most of the locals say that foreigners like me should not go to the
    island of Mindinao. That it is not safe for foreigners there. Other places close to where
    you were that are awesome on Cebu Island is Oslob where you can swim with the whale sharks, Moalboal where you swim with sardines and sea turtles, and Bohol Island, just off the coast of Cebu Island, where the smallest monkeys in the world are located. All the islands have beautiful beaches. The most popular, Boracay, was closed this year because of
    the sewage going into the ocean. So don’t plan to go there until it gets cleaned up. The government shut down Boracay beaches for this reason. There are many awesome places in the Philippines. Don’t not go to tourist spots because of the people. There’s a reason it’s a tourist spot. Like Coron and El Nido, they are listed as some of the most beautiful spots in the world. I, personally, wouldn’t want to miss that. Great article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey JB, thanks so much for the information! I always love getting advice from someone who knows the area a lot better than me. I’ve actually gotten quite a few questions about safety there, and while I felt safe in the places we visited it’s really nice to get another perspective on the issue. Thanks so much for all the input!

  27. Ana says:

    Hey, first of all amazing post I have one question, may be stupid To move from island to island you must use airplane, but how safe are those flights? I saw only domestic companies offering those flights..

    • Hi Ana. I’m glad you like the post! To be completely honest, I have no idea how safe the flight are relative to flights in other countries. That might be something you could google if you are concerned. Also, if you’re not comfortable flying, I’m sure there are ways to take ground transportation and boats between the island – it would just be a much slower way of going about it. Best of luck!

  28. Anthony Metaco says:

    The last time I was in the Philippines was 1986 to pay respects after my grandfather died. This was a very dangerous time to be there and it has always remained in my head (as sad as that sounds) as such. Seeing your blog posts showcasing a beautiful country has made me realize I have missed out on visiting the country that connects me to my ancestry….all due to fears instilled in me as a child. I’ve been saying to myself for years that I need to visit one-day, but always talk myself out of it. Your blog posts are inspiring and serve as an impetus to definitely visit again…no more f’n excuses!! Thank you for sharing your experiences!!

    • Hi Anthony. I’m so glad that this blog has inspired you to reconsider the Philippines. Like any were you might choose to travel, it’s always important to do your research, be aware of your surroundings, and error on the side of caution. We stuck primarily to very established tourist destinations, and never felt unsafe – but I’m sure there are islands or regions that you would want to avoid. It’s a beautiful country though (people and environment), and I hope you are able to make it back!

  29. Abbie Pacheco says:

    Hi! I’m Filipino based in Manila. I am very inspired by your blog. For me to also aim to experience the beauty of motherland. Thanks! Im glad you enjoyed our country.

    • That’s so awesome Abbie! I hope that you are able to travel around your home and experience some of these beautiful areas soon. You live in such a beautiful and diverse country. 🙂

  30. Oh, totally fall in love with your photos! They look inspiring and vibrant. I intend to use my 5-day off to travel in the Philippines, but now I don’t know to choose between Palawan and Coron. Which one is more beautiful and convenient to reach? Thanks in advance!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi there! That’s a really hard one because they are really quite similar in a lot of ways. I probably preferred Coron, but I was also there for a longer period of time, and I got sick in Palawan. . . so I’m a little bias. I also think that Coron is easier to get to. But if you enjoy staying at luxury hotels, I think there are probably more options on Palawan. Have a wonderful time! You really can’t go wrong. 🙂

  31. jess says:

    hi there!

    absolutely love your photos! its like you have the places all to yourself! how did you avoid the crowds and experiences these places with no excessive tourism?
    Im going to the philippines in late February to early march and dont want to get swarmed by hundreds of people at these locations. what did you do/recommend?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Jess! It can be hard to avoid crowds but arriving at places as early as possible is a good starting point. Also, avoiding group tours and traveling independently allows you to spend as much time as you want at a place. In the Philippines we generally had to wait for tour groups to clear out before we could take photographs. By hiring our own boat and guides we could wait around for other tours to clear out.

  32. Jennie M says:

    Hi there! Just wondering for the boat tour that you did, was this a day trip or for more than 1 day? Also, could you recommend where to go as I only have 5/6 days!
    Thank you! Jennie

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Jennie,

      All of the boat tours we took were just for the day. If I only had 5/6 days I would probably fly to Coron and spend time there, and then maybe go on a tour on Cebu before flying out.

  33. Marina says:

    Hey Jess,

    Do you remember what tour company you went for the "Kawasan Canyoneering"?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Marina! I actually don’t remember. But to be honest they all kind of seemed the same. We wanted to make sure to not be in a big group, so I would just make sure the tour size is small before you sign up with any company.


  35. Megan says:

    Hey Jess,

    Love your photos! Would love to know if would recommend using a underwater casing for your DSLR for taking the photos?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hey Megan! We didn’t have any underwater housing for our cameras while we were there. So I don’t think that it is necessary. But I do think it would be nice to have. I’m sure we could have gotten a few different perspectives if we’d had housing.

  36. Marielle says:

    Hi Jess,

    Great post! What vaccines, if any, ahead of your trip? I’ve read a lot of conflicting advice.


    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Marielle! Thanks for the question. I did not get any special vaccines for my trip to the Philippines, but I was up to date on all the standard vaccines like MMR and Tetanus. That being said, I would highly suggest contacting a local travel health service in your area, they will have the most up to date information on vaccines for any area you are considering traveling to. Best of luck!

  37. nora says:

    hi Jess,

    where do you recommend staying in Cebu ?

    Thanks, Nora

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Nora! Thanks for stopping by. I’m afraid that I don’t remember the name of the place that we stayed. To be completely honest, it wasn’t really a focus of the trip, because we knew that we wouldn’t be spending much time at the hotel. We just showed up, and walked into one of the first places we saw. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

  38. Aria says:

    Amazing photos!!! May i know what lens are you using for the waterfall pictures? 🙂

  39. arianna says:

    I just love your photos! You are really convincing me to plan a trip to philippines 😉 I was just wondering, how did you or your companion manage to keep your camera safe among all that water? Especially when doing activities like canyoneering where you have to stay in the water for most of the time…

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Arianna! That’s a great questions. For the most part we were just vary careful around the water – so nothing out of the ordinary. But for the canyoneering, and other particularly wet activities, we had a dry bag backpack for all the camera gear. 🙂

      • Miguel Torres says:

        Hey Jess, amazing photos!!! I’ll be going to the Philippines very soon and I’m afraid to get my camera gear wet. What waterproof backpack were you using? And were you able to jump in with it when doing the canyoneering without having a problem?

        • Jess Dales says:

          Hi Miguel. We were actually just using a dry bag backpack from Amazon. You don’t have to really get submerged while doing the canyoneering, so Quin was just very carful with the bag, and we didn’t bring all of the gear. Just the bare essentials. Best of luck!

  40. Robbie says:

    Hi Jess,

    Great amazing photos. Did you use a drone in some of your photos? Do you know if there is any restrictions in the areas you visited in the Philippines? Last, if your were to pick two places from the ones you visited, which two would they be?


    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Robbie! Thanks for stopping by the blog. I believe that two of the photos above were taken with a drone. The one of us walking on the beach, and the arial island view. At the time of the trip there were not any drone regulations where we were, but of course rules around drones are always changing, so I would definitely look into it before any trip there. I guess I would say Coron and El Nido if I could only pick two places – but it really depends on what you like to do.

  41. Misha paruthi says:

    Hi jess ..i am amazed to see such a beautiful pics … can u help me how do i contact a good agent who can help me to book this amazing holiday … i want to visit all this places …

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Misha, we actually did this trip independently, so I wouldn’t know who to refer you to. Most of these destinations are very popular travel location, and they are not hard to visit. Best of luck!

  42. Anjali Khanna says:

    Hi Jess! This is beautiful!! I’m thinking of heading to the Philippines in a few weeks but I’ve been a little concerned about the terrorism warnings/recent bombings there– did you find that everything was pretty safe when traveling around some of the bigger islands like Cebu? How can we be sure we stay out of harms way?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Anjali. I felt quite safe while I was traveling through the Philippines. But obviously I can’t promise you that nothing bad will happen while you are there, or anywhere else for that matter. All you can do is exercise common sense, and pay attention to your surroundings. It’s a beautiful country though, and I hope if you do choose to go, you have fun!

  43. almog tsadok says:

    Amazing photos! Thank you for sharing

  44. Sandra says:

    Hi Jess,

    Love your photos! I’m planning to visit the Phillipines and currently working places to visit. You mentioned hiring your own guide and boat… Where did you find your guide?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Sandra! We literally just found someone down by the boats every day. It was very very informal. However, if you would prefer something a little more organized, I just had a couple friends visit, and they hired "Big Dream Boatman Coron," and really enjoyed it. So that might be worth looking into! (@bdbm_coron).

      • Lauren says:

        Hi Jess,

        Amazing post and amazing instagram pictures. I actually saw most of them show up in other instagram accounts multiple times, before my boyfriend pointed out your and Quin’s accounts. You guys have gone seriously viral!
        My boyfriend and I are actually debating about Big Dream Boatman Coron. He thinks it is way too expensive for the Philippines, and it’s difficult to disagree. It looks like an amazing experience though and a good way to get to the most beautiful places before the big tours do. But it’s like $470 for 3 days. I’m guessing that finding a private captain for 3 consecutive days and paying for accommodation will come nowhere near that price?
        I also heard that I shouldn’t plan the tours in advance because it is cheaper once we’re there, but I do get stressed when things aren’t organised and I’m afraid we won’t be able to find a private boat there 😀 Are my fears unfounded?

        • Hi Lauren! I do think that you could probably find a private boat and cheap accommodations that would be less than $470 for three days. That being said, I’ve heard really great things about Big Dream Boatman Coron, and if I went back to Coron, I think that’s what I would do. I’m a little like you, and although we never had trouble finding a captain to take us out, every day it was a source of stress and uncertainty. I personally hate haggling with people over prices, so I would much rather pay a little more to just have that taken care of. Quin, on the other hand, enjoys that aspect of travel – so it really just depends on what you’re comfortable with. Either way, you’re going to have a great time!

  45. Najat says:

    Hi Jess,

    Your trip seems amazing, could you please elaborate more on where you stayed each time? and I understood you rented a car in Cebu but could you tell how you got from one place to another inside coron itself and el nido?


    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Najat,

      I honesty don’t remember where we stayed. We didn’t spend any time at our hotels apart from sleeping so they really weren’t a priority for us, and they weren’t anything special.

      Coron and El Nido are both quite small so we just walked everywhere. You don’t need any form of transportation there. And if you do want to go somewhere a little further away it’s easy to get a taxi. Have so much fun!!

  46. Alexandria says:

    Hi Jess!
    I’m going to the Philippines in April for 9 days! We fly from NY to Cebu …would you recommend us going straight to coron from the airport the next day as well? And then explore Cebu on the way back? My husband and i would love to go swimming with the whale sharks but I’ve read mixed reviews on where the best spot to do that is. In the short 9 full days that we have i would love to hit as many must see spots as possible, but don’t know the best way to get around/to them. Would you recommend renting a motor scooter? Thank you so much for being you! Keep doing what you’re doing, you’re inspiring!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Alexandria! Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. We flew into Cebu, and then flew directly to Coron from there. After a few days on Coron we took the "fast ferry" to El Nido for a couple days, and then back to Coron where we flew back to Cebu. We rented a car to explore Cebu, but I wouldn’t recommend that. I would either get a scooter, or even pay for a driver. I hope you have a wonderful trip! The Philippines is still one of my favorite destinations. 🙂

  47. Julie Delorme says:

    Bonjour Jess,
    Ton blog est a tomber. J’aime le ton et les photos sont simplement epoustouflantes ? Sont elles retravaillées ? via photoshop ? ou est ce ton appareil qui fait des photos d’une qualité incroyable ? Nous partons à Noel aux Philippines en famille et je ne prévoyais pas de halte à El Nido a cause du tourisme trop présent mais tes photos font réfléchir. Je te remercie encore pour ton blog qui est génial. Je prends plaisir a te suivre.
    Bonne continuation sur les routes du monde

  48. Jo says:


    I was wondering what are your camera recommendations for El Nido pictures?

  49. Alessandro Ragusa says:

    Hello Jess, great pics and nice detailed blog. Me and my gf will go to Philippines on 10th April, i read that should be good about the weather, finger crossed. I was wondering to book our first tour in Cebu, Pescador Island and Kawasan Canyoneering about 200$ 14hours tour (2 person) do you think it would be way cheaper looking for some tour in there instead? thanks for share such great pics, and useful tips.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Alessandro. I’m so glad you liked the blog! I do think that it would be much less expensive to book a tour once you are there – that’s what we did. That being said it might be less stressful to have everything taken care of ahead of time so you don’t have to do any negotiating there. So I guess it just depends on how you want to spend your time! Either way I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic trip. 🙂

  50. shivang says:

    I like your pictures. keep posting more !!

  51. Sara says:

    Hey Jess….amazing pics and blog! You mentioned getting a captain to take u around to places you wanted to visit in El Nido….just wanted to know how much i would pay for something like that?

    Thank you!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Sara! Unfortunately I can’t remember the exact amount anymore. But I do remember that it wasn’t that much more than it was going to be for the two of us to pay for spots on a group tour. It was definitely worth it for us to have flexibility in the schedule for photographs. Have fun!

  52. dimple says:

    Fabulous pictures and blog!! When did you visit – which month?

  53. T says:

    How were you able to beat the crowds at all of these places and have them to yourselves? Or are people photoshopped out of the pictures (not judging) ?

    • Hi T! I wouldn’t say we beat the crowds so much as we had the luxury of waiting around at each spot to shoot in between the crowds. Hiring a private boat each day was key. It allowed us to spend as much time as we needed to get the shot that we wanted without a bunch of people. No spot removing necessary! 😉

  54. Kate Smith says:

    Hi! I am planning on doing a 12 day trip to the Philippines just wondering how long you stayed in each place and what order you would visit places in? Have you got a step by step guide at all?

    • Hi Kate. We flew from Cebu to Coron and spent about 4 days there. We then took a ferry to El Nido and spent two days there. After El Nido, we took the ferry back to Coron, flew back to Cebu, and finished up our trip there with 4 days. But honestly, you have to base it on what you are planning on doing in each location. Getting around Cebu took a lot longer than getting around El Nido and Coron because everything there was by boat. Have fun!

  55. Yo says:

    Hi Jess
    Amazing pictures like always in your blog.
    We are planning a trip to the Philippines in February but our time is limited. We must pick between Coron and Cebu. Which one would you recommend?

    • Thank you Yo! I personally would pick Coron over Cebu. But I am more of a warm tropical water/beach person (Coron), than a waterfall/jungle person (Cebu). Sooo it really depends on what you get more excited about. 🙂

  56. Omid says:

    Wonderful and So So Stunning!

  57. Rita Kunz says:

    Hi Jess
    We are visiting Coron in November
    And I’m Interested in taking the fast fairy to El Nido you mentioned in your blog , how many hours did it take you to get to Elnido through the ferry ? When it dropped you off did you need rebar a car to get to your hotel or you stayed somewhere close by where the ferry dropped you off ?
    Thank you

    • Hi Rita! The ferry was about 3 1/2 hours longs. It dropped us off right in El Nido, so we just walked to our hotel. There were lots of taxi’s waiting at the ferry though, so I’m sure you could get a ride to your hotel if you had a lot of luggage or if your hotel was farther away from the harbor.

  58. Yo says:

    Jess thank you very much for your comments on Coron and Cebu. Do you maybe have recommendations for accommodation in both places?

    Thank you so much

    • Hi Yo. I actually don’t have any recommendations for accommodations. Quin and I knew that we wouldn’t be spending much time at our hotels, so accommodations just weren’t a priority for us. We literally booked each place while we were there based on price and wifi availability. We never stayed anywhere that I would necessarily recommend. Sorry!

  59. Guru says:

    Nice blog. Really interested to read it. Philippines is one of the best tourist place in the Asia

  60. Inna says:

    Hi Jess, amazing blog. Qq – do you remember how much you paid for a private boat in El Nido? Thinking of organizing the same. We are 3 people.

    • Hi Inna. I’m afraid I don’t remember exactly. It was different every day depending on how much we felt like negotiating. But I do remember that it really wasn’t that much more than it would have been to join one of the tours.

  61. 韭菜 says:

    really nice photo,as an chinese,i like you haa,so beautiful(you and picture),

  62. Bailee says:

    Hi Jess – love your blogs! I am curious if you can recall which islands you hopped around when you visited El Nido with the private tour? Thanks so much! -Bailee

    • Hi Bailee! I don’t think that I ever really knew the name of the islands. We literally just hired a boat, and then they would take us to the popular spots. Or if we saw something that looked interesting, we would just ask them to take us there. Sorry, I can’t be more specific!

  63. Liza says:

    Hi! Amazing pics!I saw that you´d been to Palau? Would you recommend it? any tips? We are going to the Philippines in May 2020, if you would have had more time in the Philippines any locations you wished you´d gone to? Happy Holidays!/ Best regards Liza

  64. Paulina says:

    Hi Jess!! Thank you for this blog! It was very helpful when planning our trip to the Philippines! When you went Canyoneering to Kawasan falls, did you book a guide ahead of time or did you arrive and find a guide there? Thank you so much!!


  65. Mimi says:

    Dear Jess,

    I was wondering whether you took your camera during canyoneering.

    Thank you!

  66. Hailey Sardi says:

    Hey gal! Such a great blog. Do you know around how much you spent Total for the time you were in the Philippines?

    • Hi Haily! Thanks so much for the question. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep track of our expenses on this particular trip. I do recall that in general, once we got to the Philippines, everything was fairly inexpensive. If I had to guess I would say that we spent around $40US a day on average. Sorry, I don’t have more info about budgeting for this trip!

  67. Swapnil Jadhav says:

    Hi Jess,
    The unexplored Philippines was always there in my bucket list. Your blog has moved it to the top priority. Thank you for sharing such a great blog and amazing pictures!

  68. maurice freeman says:

    Twenty years ago I visited Palawan. We were filming a catamaran race called La Mer de Chien.
    I have described Palawan to those who haven’t been there as lagoons/fiords of crystal blue water running through sky high cliffs. These cliffs looked like solder had been dripped from the sky forming the sharp pinnacles. It was also a place where King Kong had a summer home.

  69. Thank you for the posts. The pictures are really good.

  70. Ellie V says:

    Wow! You DROVE in the Philippines! I used to live and drive there but have been away for 20 years. I don’t have the guts to drive there anymore so kudos to you. The Philippine islands are indeed beautiful, made even more so with your artistic and imaginative photography. Thank you for sharing!

    • Lol I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s the one thing we did, that I warn everyone against. They didn’t even have car rentals at the airport. . . we probably should have taken that as a sign!

  71. went to Twin Lagoon before pandemic and I can say that it is such an amazing trip. thankyou for posting this! missing Palawan already!

  72. Paula says:

    Breathe- takingly beautiful

  73. STEVE BUSH says:


  74. Rick Wayne says:

    Anymore content about Philippines travel? I really enjoyed your Cebu article. I’m 60 and single healthy. And going for a month in November. Thanks. Rick

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Unfortunately no. I haven’t been back to the Philippines since this trip. I hope you have a wonderful time though!

  75. Katherine says:

    How much was your overall budget? Good, boats and accommodation-not including the car as I’m not sure I would do that.

    The trip looked amazing!

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Hi Katherine, this trip was five years ago now, so I’m hesitant to give any number because I don’t think they would be relevant anymore. Also, we didn’t stay in nice/good accommodations. That wasn’t a priority for this trip, so we stayed in the least expensive spots we could find with wifi and warm water. I hope you have a wonderful trip! It’s still one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been.

  76. Seema says:

    Beautiful pictures!! You have captured the essence of Philippines so perfectly. Everyone would dream of visiting it after reading this post

  77. Swee Ming Chin says:

    Hi. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Mind to share your iteninary? Planning with a budget for 2 pax.

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Hi! You can find our itinerary in the “logistics” section of this blog post. Given that our trip was over 5 years ago now, I don’t think our budget would be very helpful. I’m sure a lot of prices have changed since we were there. Gave a great trip!

  78. Jen says:

    Thanks for sharing Jess, we are just about to retire and travel and it’s given me an insight of new places to explore.

    • Jessica Dales says:

      That’s awesome! And congratulations. I hope you have a lot of fun and some exciting adventures in your retirement!

  79. Kaiser says:

    Next time you find yourself in the Philippines, make sure to include Siargao in your travel itinerary. This teardrop-shaped island is a tropical paradise, renowned for its pristine beaches, incredible surf spots, and vibrant local culture. T

  80. Erika Audebert says:

    Magnifique article. Nous prévoyons d’y aller cet hiver ! Votre article va nous être un point de départ pour l’organisation de notre road trip ! Quel budget environ pour vos 10 jours ? Vous logiez où ? Est que pour 10 jours vous changiez de lieu chaque nuit ?
    Merci pour votre retour.
    PS : magnifiques photos !!


  81. Diya says:

    This is such a helpful guide! thank you so much!! What did you use to take your pictures during water based activities?

    • Jess Wandering says:

      So glad you found it helpful! We used our normal camera (kept in a dry bag when we weren’t using it). We also had a gopro with us, to capture videos and use during really wet experiences.

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Hi, I’m Jess, an outdoor enthusiast based in Seattle. I grew up exploring the Pacific Northwest, and early on was infected with the travel bug. I tried to suppress my wanderlust in pursuit of a traditional career path, but after a short stint as a lawyer, I left the confines of my office to get back in touch with my roots. Now, I wander the world taking photos, making memories, and sharing my love for travel with others!

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