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PHILIPPINES PLAYGROUND

From volcanoes to underwater menageries, the Philippines offers a plethora of settings just begging to be explored, and with each offering unforgettable activities for all ages, you can’t go wrong.


WORDS Sally Barker

A SEAWARD ADVENTURE

Journey off the beaten track and explore the remote islands of Northern Palawan aboard a private boat. Your little adventurers will be absolutely thrilled at the prospect of exploring the islands with onboard kayaks and snorkels, and the many bays offer chances to swim in crystal-clear waters with incredibly diverse, extraordinary marine life. For the parents, relax in a hammock or siesta on deck as a chef prepares all your meals and snacks. With a completely personalised itinerary and your own expedition leader, the bespoke private adventures offered by Tao Philippines are a fantastic way to see a different side to the country without having to worry about a thing. www.taophilippines.com

ENCOUNTERS WITH HISTORY

The Philippines has an amazing history and to showcase this, The Peninsula Academy has tours suitable for families with children six and over. The ‘Spirit of Corregidor’ offers a helicopter tour to Corregidor Island and includes lunch at one of Asia’s best restaurants, Antonio’s in Tagatay, while ‘If These Walls Could Speak’ takes guests on a guided tour of the 16th-century walled city of Intramuros. The Peninsula Manila also offers hotel-based activities teaching traditional Filipino culture for children aged seven and up – young masterchefs will jump at the chance to attend a Lutong Pinoy sweet cooking class, and budding artists will love a Pasalubong craft class. www.peninsula.com/academy

 

UNDERWATER WORLDS

The Philippines are rich in underwater experiences; there are all manner of watery creatures for little ones to get to know. Perhaps one of the most interesting are the dugongs. Thought to be the inspiration for mermaid myths, kids of all ages will love the opportunity to swim with these placid 'sea cows'. The Dugong Dive Center boasts an 80 per cent chance of dugong sighting on each day tour. PADI accredited, the centre can supply pint-sized tanks and equipment for snorkelling and scuba should kids eight and over want to get up close to these fabled creatures. With the option to privately charter one of their crewed dive boats, you can make this an enchanting experience for the whole family. www.dugongdivecenter.com

TAKE TO THE AIR

It's impossible to squeeze all 7107 islands of the Philippines archipelago into one holiday; however, you can maximise the amount you see by including a flying tour. Imagine the look of awe and fascination on your kids' faces as you fly in a private plane over the renowned Chocolate Hills in Bohol, or as you hover over the cities and beaches of this incredibly varied landscape in a VIP tour by helicopter. It would be a truly unequalled experience that’s sure to leave their eyes shining long after you return home. Travelling to popular areas including Cebu, Manila, Bohol and Boracay, as well as many other smaller island paradises throughout the Philippines, Air Island Tours offers personalised and professional service aboard all their flying tours and charters. www.airislandtours.com

Family-friendly adventures in the Philippines

Journey along an underground river
Snaking along the northern coast of the island of Palawan, this cave-roofed waterway will amaze kids of all ages. Accessed from the town of Puerto Princesa, this subterranean stream is the world’s longest navigable underground river and its rock formations are home to a large flurry of atmospheric bats.

Meet a whale shark
The quiet village of Donsol, located in Sorsogon province, is home to a community of sleepy fishermen plying their trade in pristine waters brimming with the largest fish known in existence. These gentle giants cruise the waters from November through to June and boat tours take tourists out to meet them.

Drink in the chocolate hills
Who could resist the pull of a place with such a tantalising title? Consisting of over a thousand small hills, this renowned area lies on the island of Bohol. The grass-covered mounds turn brown in the dry season, lending the area its name.

See the stairway to heaven
Perhaps one of the most iconic images of the Philippines apart from its beaches are the beautiful stepped Banaue Rice Terraces which were shaped by hand about 2000 years ago and are still farmed to this day. The kids will love seeing this stairway to the heavens, as the locals sometimes call it.

Swim in crystal waters
TripAdvisor recently released its Travellers’ Choice Awards for Best Beaches in the World and unsurprisingly the Philippines were there. White Beach on Boracay Island took home the medal, known for its snow-white sand and crystal sea. In fact, the whole island is worth a visit and the kids will love the chilled vibe.

Click here to view our selection of stand-out Philippine resorts for families



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