10 wild Philippine adventure holidays for 2016

Fancy a dip in the crater of an active volcano? Or a swim alongside thresher sharks in Cebu? Look no further. Lei Chavez picks 10 unbeatable trips for the adventurous

1 Caving and spelunking in Callao Caves 
Penablanca, Cagayan

Callao Caves in Penablanca, Cagayan. By Daniel Soriano

Head to the town of Peñablanca and climb 200 steps leading to massive limestone formations and the seven-chambered Callao caves. You can also reach the caves by boat along Mororan River, which passes through lush rainforest and steep cliffs. Other caves for exploration include the San Carlos cave and Jackpot cave.
Harry Balais of 7,107 Island Tours offers a three-day package that explores Callao and other nearby caves in Peñablanca. Packages, which include accommodation, transportation from Manila, meals, and entrance fee vary in rates depending on the number of participants. Tel+63917 627 4945, [email protected]. For more info on Callao caves, call the Cagayan Provincial Tourism office. www.cagayan.gov.ph.

2 Kayaking in Tuguegarao
Tuguegarao, Cagayan

A wild two-day trip sees you kayaking the rapids of Pinacanauan River on the first day and rafting the Chico River on the second. Find mountainous canyons, gorges, rock formations, and waterfalls, and if your timing is right, hundreds of bats flying out of their cave to feed. Opt for the rough trip and camp out along the banks the river.
Anton Carag owns and operates Adventures and Expeditions Philippines, and offers a two-day/one-night adventure package tour that includes caving, kayaking, rafting and circadian flight of bats, accommodation and meals for P8,000 (about US$186) per person for a minimum of eight and maximum of 12 people per group. +63917 532 7480, [email protected], [email protected].  For more info on Tuguegarao’s kayaking, call the Cagayan Provincial Tourism office. www.cagayan.gov.ph.

3 Zoobic Safari in Subic 
Subic, Zambales 

The ultimate trip for wild animal lovers. Get close to 400 roaming Siberian tigers while onboard a securely-barricaded jeepney, feed hungry crocodiles, groom porcupines and ride camels. Watch animal parades and cap your trip with a visit to an Aeta Village.
A day trip at Zoobic Safari with transfers costs P9,500 for van (exclusive of toll fees) plus P1,550 per person for entrance ticket and lunch. +632 895 7142 (look for Peachy Antenero), www.zoobic.com.ph.

4 Swim in a the Pinatubo Crater Lake 
Mt. Pinatubo, Zambales

A day itinerary includes crossing endless plains of volcanic sand in a 4x4 drive from Capas, Tarlac, trekking cliffs of lahar and volcanic formation for two hours, and swimming or renting kayaks at the crater, which is filled with mildly sulfuric water. Finish the day with a soothing volcanic sand shower at the Pinatubo Spa Town. Looking for a different route? Try the Delta 5 trail that starts off in Porac, Pampanga.
Pinoy Mountaineer Tours provides backpacker-friendly rates in trekking Mt. Pinatubo. Email mountaineer Gideon Lasco to inquire. [email protected], www.pinoymountaineer.com. The Pinatubo Spa Town also arranges treks to Mt. Pinatubo at P5,500 per person for two people. Rate includes ride on 4x4 vehicle, local guide, fees, food and bottled water, and a certificate of conquest after the trek. A massage you can get after a long tiring day costs P500. +63928 341 0402.

5 All-out adventure in Negros 
Negros Oriental 

Try a five-day fling: snorkel and dive at Apo Island on day one, relax by watching whales and dolphins along Tañon Strait on day two, trek mountain trails to reach the 100-feet Casaroro Falls on day three, ride ATVs along Valencia’s rugged terrain on day four, and cap the trip by camping out in the forest on day five.
Contact the Negros Oriental Provincial Tourism Office. +6335 2251825, www.negrostourism.com. Contact Tejero Highland Resort for  ATV requirements and adventures. +6335 400 3977, www.tejerohighlandresort.com.

6 Swim with whalesharks in Donsol 
Donsol, Sorsogon 

Reserve the months between December to May for a gigantic underwater wildlife encounter. Swim alongside 18-meter butandings (whale sharks) in Donsol, Sorsogon and head to Masbate to scuba dive with giant manta rays in the famous Manta Bowl in Ticao Pass.
Donsol EcoTour offers butanding interaction packages that include boat guide registration fee, snacks and bottled water for P2,000 per head for a group of five. www.donsolecotour.com. In Masbate, Ticiao Island Resort arranges dives with manta rays in Ticao Pass. Tel +63906 324 3116, www.ticao-island-resort.com.

7 Fly like Spiderman on a zip wire ride
Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Conquer your fear of heights in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, by going on a zipline ride. There are three in the area. Glide across rice fields from the limestone formations of Ugong Rock in Tagabenit, or fly above the flora and fauna of the Irawan watershed.
Ugong Rock caving and spelunking tour costs P650 per person at Trio Queen Travel and Tours. www.trioqueentours.com. Contact the Rancho Zipline for adventure packages. [email protected], www.facebook.com/palawanrancho.zipline.

8 Swim with Malapascua's thresher sharks 
Malapascua Island, Cebu 

Underwater thrill-seekers can dive with six-meter thresher sharks in Monad Shoal, a sunken island near Malapascua Island off the northern coast of Cebu, famed for their scythe-like tails, the threshers show themselves throughout the year between sunrise and 9am.
Thresher Shark Divers offers dives with costs that starts from HK$280 (about P1,680 or US$37) per person for one dive. Rate includes tank, weight, boat and dive master. [email protected], www.thresherdivers.com.

9 Kiteboard with the best Boracay Island, Aklan
Boracay Island, Aklan 

Kiteboarding in Boracay, Aklan. By Olga Shevchenko

The must-try extreme sport: Kiteboarding in picturesque Boracay, where the best kite surfers come together to indulge in their passion. From July to November, the waves at White Beach are ideal for kiteboarding, helped by the southwest monsoon. Beginning November, the kiteboarding playground moves to Boracay's Bulabog beach.
GreenYard has branches in Bulabog Beach and White Beach. It offers kiteboarding courses ranging from the most basic for about 1.5 hours and costs P2,900 to the more competitive three-day course at level two for P19,000. Get 10% discount on the rates if you book online at www.kiteboardingboracay.com.

10 Surf in Mati 
Davao Oriental 

Ride the swells of eastern Davao. The best time to surf are before sunrise, from November to April.
Contact Amihan Surf and Skim for surfing and skimboarding lessons. Tel +63927 680 6180, www.amihansadahican.com.

Originally published in InFlight Traveller August to September 2011. Updated January 2016