Cool kayak hotspots

The best way to see the Philippines is to pick up a paddle. Chip Childers picks his 10 favorite kayaking destinations

By Cielo Flores

The Philippines, with its, 7,107 islands, presents lots of opportunities for kayaking, from slow paddling in the crystal clear lagoons of El Nido with its cathedral-like limestone cliffs, to more challenging kayaking down rapids and waterfalls in Cagayan de Oro. Here are 10 of Childers’ favorites.

Calamian Islands, Palawan
Sangat Island

Sangat Island screengrab from @blood_red_sky on Instagram

“Kayaking in Sangat Island located in the Northern part of Calamian Islands in Palawan is just amazing. The contrast of roughness and smoothness of the water is beautiful. I consider Sangat as ‘King Kong’ island because of its tall, green trees, and dark mountain. It’s a jungle island. Photos taken from the air show it’s covered in very thick green trees.”

Background. Sangat Island is one of the limestone islands that make up the Calamian Group. It is nestled in the extreme Northern part of Coron Bay, measuring about 700 square hectares, covering white sand beaches, thick jungle forestation, and a 455m mountain peak. Neighboring islands Busuanga and Apo have lots of beaches and lagoons for diving and sea kayaking.

Where to stay. Sangat Island Dive Resort has hillside and beachfront cottages, a three- floor villa with two rooms and a private beach. Rates from P6,950 (about US$150). 

Where to rent a kayak. Sangat Island Dive Resort offers kayak rental for P150 single seater, and P200 for double seater, per hour. For inquiries and reservations call +63916 400 8801, visit Sangat Island Dive Resort.

How to get there. There are daily direct flights from Manila to Busuanga. Cebu Pacific Air offers a round trip fare at about P4,354. Visit Cebu Pacific Air.

El Nido, Palawan
Bacuit Bay

Drink in the scenery while kayaking in El Nido, Bacuit Bay

“El Nido is rich in marine life. Kayaking in the lagoons of El Nido is best during low tide.”

Background. El Nido, located in Bacuit Bay has about 45 islands that paddlers can cut across its waters for days and not completely explore its vast expanse. One of the known Islands is Miniloc, a 45-minute pump boat away from the main town of El Nido, the jump off point for most of the island hopping in the area. It is home to two lagoons. Paddlers must not miss paddling in Big Lagoon. It is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, a great place for slow paddling and enjoying the spectacular scenery.

Where to stay. Miniloc Island Resort and Lagen Island Resort offer guests a luxurious stay. Kayak facilities are included in the room rate which start at about P30,500 a night for two. Dive gear are available at the resorts’ marine sports center. For inquiries and reservations call +63 902 5951, visit Miniloc Island Resort and Lagen Island Resort.

How to get there. AirSwift has round trip flights from Manila to El Nido for about P7,022. 

Siargao Island, Surigao
Guyam Island

Guyam Island screen grab from @stephgrabriel on Instagram

“One of the best islands to kayak in Siargao is Guyam Island. Its waters are generally easy to navigate, but during the rainy season, however, a support boat may be needed because the waters can turn rough.”

Background. What makes Siargao Island best for kayaking are its islands, lagoons and mangroves. Guyam Island is an islet covered with tall coconut trees and can be reached by 30-minute easy paddling from General Luna, Siargao. Best months to paddle around the island are from April to June.

Where to stay. Patrick’s on the Beach Resort has cottages with rates from P1,700 for two. Kayak rental rates are P850 for half a day and P1500 for a whole day. Patrick’s on the Beach Resort, tel +63918 481 6483.

How to get there. Cebu Pacific Air offers round trip flights from Manila to Siargao at about P8,528. 

Bonacon & Pandanon Islands


“The best features of Bohol are sandbars and mangroves."

Background Bohol, located east of Cebu is home to the famous Chocolate Hills. You can kayak your way around Bohol. Banacon Island, one of the largest reforested mangrove areas in Bohol, can be reached by paddling during high tide. Pandanon Island, an islet that grows in size during low tide, can be reached by kayak from Mactan Island in Cebu. River kayaking in Abutan River or sea kayaking can be enjoyed there.

Where to stay Henann Resort has 12 villas (7 are operational as of press time), a restaurant, swimming pool and offers kayak rentals. For inquiries and reservations call +632 230 3000. For kayaks for sale and rentals call +63917 322 0247, or visit Bugsai Kayaks. Kayak rental is about P250 per hour.  

How to get there. AirAsia Zest offers roundtrip flights from Manila to Tagbilaran at about P4,460. 

Samal Island
Screengrab from the Facebook page of Maxima Aqua Fun Resort


“Sea kayaking is best enjoyed in Davao, offering easy and calm paddling. You can also do river kayaking and rafting in Davao River.”

Background. Samal Island, ideal for both pro and leisure kayakers, is roughly 2km away from Davao City. It is rich in marine reefs, has tranquil waters, and has a handful of resorts that offer kayak rentals.

Where to stay. Maxima Aqua Fun Resort has airconditioned rooms for P3,850 per night, good for four people. For inquiries and reservations, call +6382 286 8883, visit Maxima Aqua Fun Resort.

How to get there. AirAsia Zest has round trip flights from Manila to Davao for about P3,279. From Davao City you can take a motorboat from Sasa wharf to Samal Island for P15. Try river rafting in Davao.

Camarines Sur, Bicol


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A photo posted by ???? ???????? ?do??zagada? (@dapperdonn) on


“Caramoan is the new horizon in sea kayaking where paddlers can island hop by sea kayak. The waters are a mix of rough and smooth. This destination is for both leisure and advance kayakers.”

Background. Caramoan (northeast of Camarines Sur in Bicol) has caves, limestone formations, and white sand beaches with clear waters. Best time to kayak is from November to June.

Where to stay. Gota Village Resort has over 131 cabanas from P2,500 per night for two. Kayak facilities  are available to rent for about P375 per hour. Tugawe Cove Resort has 26 cabanas with a rate of P12,773 per night for four. They also have kayak facilities that guests can use for free at the resort's beach. Tugawe Cove Resort, tel +63917 501 6711. Gota Village Resort, tel +63920 967 2942.

How to get there. Cebu Pacific Air has round trip flights from Manila to Naga for about P6,448. To get to Camarines Sur take a van in front of SM City Naga for P100 per person. From Sabang port take a boat to Guijalo, Caramoan for P120 per person.

Eastern Visayas

Paddling to Sohoton Cave By Mike Alcid


“For someone who’s comfortable with camping, Samar is star kayaking destination.”

Background Samar is located in the Eastern Visayas Region. It is connected to the island and province of Leyte by San Juanico Bridge.

For kayaking in Samar, try the Sohoton Natural Bridge Park, where one can paddle in the long river, while taking in views of the mangrove forests and limestone walls. Marabut in Basey is another kayaking spot to explore. Don’t miss Tooth Island for both slow and fast paddling.

Where to stay. Caluwayan Palm Island Resort in Marabut is an eco resort that offers kayak rentals for P200 per hour. It has an infinity pool, a bistro bar, and room rates from P3,200 per night good for two. For inquiries and reservations call +63906 462 6260.

How to get there. Cebu Pacific Air has round trip flights from Manila to Tacloban for about P3,155. To get to Samar, there are vans for hire at Tacloban airport for about P120.

Misamis Oriental
Cagayan de Oro


“Cagayan de Oro, (CDO) are the first, commercially, to do river rafting. Kayaking is a natural extension of rafting so people interested in kayaking can also ask rafting operators. Whitewater kayaking involves paddling down rapids and waterfalls, while sea kayaking involves paddling in open waters. Whitewater kayaking can be done in Cagayan River while whitewater can generally be enjoyed in Davao.”

Background. CDO is the provincial capital of Misamis Oriental located in Northern Mindanao. Kayaking and rafting in Cagayan River, with its thrilling ride through rapids and beautiful scenery are an attraction in the area. Compared to whitewater rafting, whitewater kayaking is more thrilling and challenging because you’re on your own.

Where to stay GC Suites Hotel located in Hayes St. Cagayan de Oro has rooms from P1,288 per night for two. Kayak Domain offers kayak guided tours of CDO River and Misamis Oriental from P1,250 good for three and kayak rental with guide for P1,500 per person good for a maximum of 3-4 hours.

How to get there. Cebu Pacific Air has round trip flights from Manila to Cagayan de Oro for about P3,211. If you like kayaking, why not try river rafting in Davao.



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A photo posted by Corregidor Philippines (@corregidorph) on

“The best way to explore historic Corregidor is by kayaking. Several islands in Corregidor are visually interesting such as Carabao Island, El Fraile or the Drum.”

Background. Corregidor, located at the entrance of Manila Bay, is famous for its World War II ruins.

For a nearby kayak trail, try Corregidor Island, approximately two and a half hours by land from Manila to Cavite. This trail is best for leisure to advance kayaking and the route allows you to rediscover historic places during World War II. You can do this for two days, begin from the resort areas in Cavite. Nearby islets are parts of the Corregidor Island. It will take you three hours to reach Corregidor Island. You can also join regular kayak tours in the island of Corregidor for P500 per hour, good for two. Three hours of easy paddling from Corregidor will take you to Bataan coast. For inquiries call +632 834 6857, visit Sun Cruises. Find out more about Corregidor tours. 

Where to stay. Sitting in the middle of the island of Corregidor is Corregidor Inn, a three star inn with 31 standard rooms and a restaurant called LA Playa. Corregidor Inn, tel +63917 527 6350.

How to get there. Take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) from Manila to Cavite or hop on a ferry for P1,400 per person inclusive of roundtrip transfers and shrine and entrance fees. For inquiries call +63831 8140, visit Sun Cruises.

Hundred Islands

Hundred Islands in Alamitos screengrab from @krizzyjareno on Instagram

“I put Hundred Islands on the list because a lot of people go there. And its easy to get to from Manila.”

Background. Hundred Islands is located in Alaminos City, Pangasinan scattered along Lingayeng Golf. Anyone can kayak in Hundreds Island, it offers limitless attraction from numerous white sand beaches to caves.

Where to stay. Maxine by The Sea in Alaminos has seven rooms with rates from P2,950 per night for four  and boat rentals for getting to Hundred Islands Natural Park at P1,400 for a whole day of service. Kayaks good for two people cost P1,000. Maxine by the Sea, tel +63921 642 8551.

How to get there. Take a six- to seven- hour drive from Manila or hop on a Manila-Alaminos City bound Five Star Bus, Dagupan Bus or Victory Liner for P400 per person.

-Cover photo screengrabbed from Maxima Aqua Fun Resort Facebook.

Originally published in Inflight Traveller April to May 2013. Updated March 2016