The 10 Best Ecotourism Experiences in The Philippines

Boracay Island, Western Visayas, Philippines
Boracay Island, Western Visayas, Philippines | © R.M. Nunes / Shutterstock
Photo of Ronica Valdeavilla
Writer31 August 2018

Each island group in the Philippines is blessed with bountiful nature, with several attractions encouraging travellers to connect with the environment peacefully and responsibly. Here, ecotourism activities range from coming face-to-face with fascinating wildlife to exploring colourful seascapes. Welcome to the true beauty of the Philippines.

With over 7,000 islands to explore in the Philippines, it is a dream destination for all kinds of beach bums, outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers.To preserve its natural splendour, ecotourism attractions give tourists a taste of the country’s natural environments while keeping them protected.

Masungi Georeserve

Hiking Trail
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Hanging Bridge at Masungi Georeserve | © Richard Ernest Yap / Shutterstock
Hidden between lush rainforests and limestone formations in Baras, Rizal, lies the Masungi Georeserve. This 1,600-hectare conservation area protects a number of flora and fauna endemic to the Philippines (including the jade vine). Since opening in December 2015, this park has been luring both outdoor enthusiasts and newbie travellers to experience nature through its famous Discovery Trail. The unique trail lets visitors hike through karst landscape, go through natural rails and forests, and commune with nature. If you’d like to visit this sanctuary, make sure to wear lightweight attire and closed shoes suitable for hiking!

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

Natural Feature, Park
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Four divers swimming with a turtle, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Philippines
Divers swimming with a turtle, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Philippines | © RooM the Agency / Alamy Stock Photo
With its stunning underwater landscape made up of vibrant corals and marine life, it is little wonder the Tubbataha Reefs of the Philippines has been recognized as one of the world’s top diving destinations. The reefs feature 600 species of fish, 360 species of coral, 11 species of sharks, 13 species of dolphins and whales, birds, plus Hawksbill and Green sea turtles. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 due to its “pristine coral reef’ alongside “extensive lagoons and two coral islands”. Because of its isolated location, tourists have to endure a journey that takes approximately 10-12 hours (only accessible from mid-March to mid-June). Nonetheless, being in touch with this frankly magnificent diversity of marine life is worth the travel.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Park, Natural Feature
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Puerto Princesa Underground River | © Paweesit / Flickr
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park has become one of the most famous tourist destinations in Palawan since its recognition as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2012. From the city center, it’s about an 80-kilometer drive north to the town of Sabang. Whether you take a boat or hike to the entrance of the Underground River, a tour of the eight-kilometer waterway (which is one of the world’s longest navigable river caves) is done aboard a small paddle boat. This tour takes visitors into the cave of impressive, glittering stalactite and stalagmite formations. More than these remarkable rocks, the area represents a complex ecosystem, being home to a number of animals such as crab-eating monkeys and monitor lizards.

Malapascua Island

Natural Feature
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Malapascua Island, Cebu, Philippines
Malapascua Island, Cebu, Philippines | © unterwegs / Shutterstock

While its name means ‘Bad Christmas’, the tiny island of Malapascua will bring no humbugs to your holiday cheer. Unspoiled white-sand beaches, beautiful coral gardens, and a beaming marine life sanctuary have earned Malapascua the title of one of the best diving spots in the Philippines. Take the chance to spot thresher sharks, enjoy unlimited scenic views and immerse yourself in a laid-back, relaxing atmosphere. Be sure to order a San Miguel while you watch the sunset.

Cuatro Islas Protected Landscape & Seascape

Natural Feature
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Digyo Island
Digyo Island, one of Cuatro Islas | © Warrendering / Wikimedia Commons

Nestled in the western part of Leyte, you’ll find a group of islands bordered by white-sand shores and colourful coral gardens – the Cuatro Islas. The group of islands, which literally means ‘Four Islands,’ showcases a rich and diverse underwater paradise in the province of Leyte. These are the islands of Apid, Digyo, Himokilan and Mahaba, which all have a specialty of their own. Through proper maintenance of its ecosystem, Cuatro Islas is on its way to becoming a top recreational diving destination, giving tourists the chance to interact with their diverse marine sanctuary.

Biri-Larosa Protected Landscape/Seascape

Natural Feature
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Biri rock
Biri rock | © don rodriguez / Shutterstock

Located in Northern Samar, Biri-Larosa Protected Landscape/Seascape is a breathtaking beauty famous for its natural rock formations and scenic views. There are seven gigantic rock formations within the area: Magasang, Magsapad, Macadlaw, Puhunan, Bel-at, Caranas, and Pinanahawan. These are said to be the result of underwater tectonic plate movements and the crashing of waves millions of years ago. Adventure junkies will love the natural saltwater pools and coming face-to-face with diverse wildlife and marine species.

Mount Apo Natural Park

Natural Feature, Park
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Mount Apo Summit
Mount Apo Summit | © Ulysses Nemeno / Shutterstock

Mount Apo Natural Park is one of the country’s most highly-prioritized protected areas and important heritage sites. This is because it primarily serves as a sanctuary for countless wildlife species, including endangered animals such as the Philippine Eagle, Philippine Deer and over native 600 species. It is also home to two mountains, namely Mount Talomo and Mount Apo — the country’s highest peak. This majestic forest is a rich pool of natural resources set to benefit future generations of Filipinos.

Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary

Natural Feature
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Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park | © Long Henson / Wikimedia Commons

The Philippines has only six UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of them can be found on the island of Mindanao. Boasting land and sea ecosystems at various elevations, Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary is a wonderful example of the adaptability of nature. It’s estimated to have 1,400 different species of plants and animals, including the Philippine Tarsier and the world’s smallest dragonfly — the Scarlet Dwarf (Nannophya pygmaea). Within the sanctuary, you’ll also find the natural wonders of Tinagong Dagat (Hidden Sea) and Twin Falls — both features that never fail to enthrall mountain climbers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Siargao Island

Natural Feature
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Surfers in Siargao
Surfers in Siargao | © joyfull / Shutterstock
Head down south and discover why Siargao Island has become one of the world’s top surfing destinations. This teardrop-shaped island is surrounded with fine white-sand shores, stunning coral reefs and barrelling waves that will test even the most seasoned surfer’s skills. However, the island is not just centred around surfing. You can also go island hopping, jump from the rocks of Magpupungko Rock Pool, explore Tayangban Cave or dine at a variety of world-class restaurants. If you’re lucky, you can catch a beautiful sunset view at the island’s most famous surf break – Cloud 9.

New Israel Eco Park

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Situated at the foot of Mount Apo, Barangay New Israel’s Eco Park is among the south’s travel destinations on the rise. Apart from serving as an entry point to the peak of Mount Apo, the once humble village has become home to the longest zip lines in Asia – about 2.3 kilometers long! Divided into two parts, the thrilling ride lets you pass through pass the within the New Israel community and back. Be observant of your surroundings too, as Philippine long-tailed Macaque monkeys freely roam around the area at certain times of day. Just try not to smuggle the cute little scamps under your jacket on the way out.

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