It’s a humbling feeling to be right smack in the face of a waterfall, descending down its surface with just a rope supporting you. Admiring a waterfall from afar is one thing. But canyoning or canyoneering, the extreme sport of going down natural rock formations and canyons offers a heightened experience.
I admit, I didn’t know what to expect before my trip to Biliran. This island province in Eastern Visayas wasn’t even on my radar of places to visit. Formerly a sub-province of Leyte, Biliran is one of the country’s newest provinces, having only become independent in 1992. Biliran is also apparently the fourth smallest province in the Philippines, after Batanes, Camiguin and Siquijor, and it has the same laid-back vibe. It’s compact enough to explore by motorcycle and you get coastal roads with amazing views.
Biilran’s smaller islands have beautiful beaches and sandbars. Inland, there are natural attractions like waterfalls and mountains to hike. Locals are friendly and accommodations are generally affordable for backpackers. After canyoneering, island-hopping and motorcycling around Biliran for 3 days, I left really fulfilled with the raw beauty and general uncommercialized feel of the province. If you’re interested in visiting Biliran, here are some basics to help you plan your trip
Biliran is an island province in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines. Formerly a sub-province of Leyte, it’s one of the country’s newest provinces, having only become independent in 1992. After our action-packed canyoneering at Sampao River ending at Ulan-Ulan Falls and island-hopping to Sambawan Island the previous days with tour operator Trexplore and some friends from Cebu, I was on my own. So, I decided to rent a motorcycle to check out what the rest of the island had to offer.
Just like exploring a new dungeon in a video game, there’s something so fulfilling about spelunking or exploring caves in real life.
You have to navigate through small tunnels and chambers, find the best route so that you don’t hurt yourself, come face to face with creatures like bats and snakes and overcome all the obstacles in the dark to find the cave exit. It’s not as glamorous as Lara Croft makes it look, but it’s one of the most fun and exhilarating adventures you can do. Particularly if you’re in Samar, the Caving Capital of the Philippines.
Exploring Central Cave in Samar made me feel like an action star. There’s just something so innately bad-ass about descending 18 meters or 60 feet down a hole in the ground into a cavern below with ropes anchored on tree trunks. One moment you’re on solid ground, the next you’re just hanging there lowering yourself inch by inch to the rocky surface below. You look up and a ray of light shines from the ground above.
Home to a network of amazing caves hidden beneath the region’s lush jungles, including the biggest cave system in the country, Samar is a rugged island where adventure seekers can experience something out of the ordinary. Though most of Samar Island remains off-the-radar for local tourists, many international spelunkers have been drawn here since it’s been dubbed the “Caving Capital of the Philippines.”
There’s something I really like about lakes. Though they’re not as popular as beaches and waterfalls, lakes often have this quiet understated charm about them. The Philippines is home to many natural lakes which are closely related to volcanic and tectonic activity as well as artificial lakes or reservoirs that have resulted from the damming of rivers for hydroelectric activity. Aside from their recreational and aesthetic qualities, many lakes are important habitats for marine life and food sources. Other lakes play a part in water-supply, hydro-electric power or flood control. As the saying goes, “still waters run deep.”
Though some lakes are not really suitable for swimming, these serene bodies of water are ideal for for low-impact activities like fishing, boating, rafting, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Here are just a few of the scenic lakes and reservoirs in the Philippines that I’ve personally visited (arranged by distance/accessibility from Manila).
Antique is a province of the Philippines located in the region of Western Visayas. Just a couple of hours away from the gateway to Boracay, the country’s most famous beach party destination, Antique offers a different kind of getaway.
For the longest time, the Antique Rice Terraces remained undiscovered. Locals were aware of its existence, but never really gave it a second thought. For them, it was just a field in their backyard that they tilled to get rice for their everyday needs.
Osmeña Peak is the highest point in the island of Cebu, a province in the Philippines. Standing 1,013 meters above sea level, this stunning site offers a dramatic view of jagged cliffs with a view of the sea in the distance. Locals often liken the view to Bohol’s Chocolate Hills. But instead of rolling curved mounds, the hills here have sharp protruding peaks. Set amidst the limestone cliffs, the hills resemble a field of gigantic green Hershey’s Kisses. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen during previous hikes.