Monday, July 20, 2009

Rainy Season Adventures

The rainy season is NOT a reason for you not to travel. This season is actually the cheapest time to explore, with a lot of resorts and hotels dropping their rates to fill in their vacancies. Though airline sales are already over for this season, you can still get great deals from PAL via their Econolight Fares (can only be transacted online) or from Zest Air (though I'm weary about their safety protocols). Cebu Pacific will have relatively higher fares, as their system increases prices as the seats fill up when the departure date is nearer. You can still get cheap fares even with one week or less to go before your spontaneous vacation.

But before that, where can you go in the Philippines at this time? Here are some of my top monsoon destinations.

1. Davao

The southern city actually gets relatively less rainfall, and typhoons rarely pass through this region. The waves may be rougher though than during Summer, so island hopping around Samal will be shortened and confined during the morning.


White water rafting is also the main activity here during the rainy season, when the rapids are stronger and more challenging. Or, go up the mountains and experience Mount Apo in all its glory. Stay at Camp Sabros in nearby Digos City, or have a day trip to Eden Nature Park. Zip down a line over huge canopies, spin yourself in zorbs, or go on a hiking trail in several nature adventure parks that have mushroomed in Davao. And at the end of the day, treat yourself to a seafood feast in Afat or grilled chicken in Banoks.

(photo credit: Jo Pilar, view of Apo from Camp Sabros)


2. General Santos and Sarangani

October is when the Tuna Festival is celebrated, so head further South of Davao to experience the merriment of fish. Then, explore the province of Sarangani - where a great white sand beach awaits, Gumasa Beach. There are also several other beaches in secluded coves around.


3. Cagayan De Oro

Though you can already go down the river in Davao, the Cagayan de Oro river offers a very different atmosphere. White water rafting here is more relaxing, and once you glide on calmer waters, you will be enveloped by the spectacular and peaceful scenery of both Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro on opposite sides of the river. I like rafting here more, because it's more secluded and cleaner as well (Davao's river is brown because of mud and other sediments).



4. Surfing La Union, Daet, Baler and Siargao

Well, the eastern coast is generally rougher, so if you wanna get a good surf, traverse the coasts of Zambales, La Union and Ilocos. But this is also the best time to travel to Siargao, surfing capital, or even finally taking that trip to Daet, or taking the road less travelled to Baler. Calicoan in Samar is also a burgeoning surfing spot.



5. Palawan

Puerto Princesa also receives less rainfall compared to rainy Luzon and Visayas. Puerto Princesa is a treat to all travelers, as a lot of options are offered here, from backpackers to luxury seekers. Explore Honda Bay, or see what they hype of the Underground River is all about (really just a hype for me). Eat your way in the Vietnamese Refugee Village outside the city, or devour all you can in Puerto's several food spots.

6. Bicol Region and Batanes

Now this is risky, but when the conditions are right, meaning, no storm is approaching, the Bicol Peninsula and the Batanes Islands way up north have their best sunny weather at this time. Island hopping in Caramoan and Calaguas is perfect at this time (well, until August) when the Pacific Ocean is calmer.



In the end, it's all about trying to find a spot where you can shelter yourself from bad weather. Now is the time to avoid Cebu, Boracay, Galera and much of Luzon. Head down South for a more assured weather condition. Hurry, you've got two months left!

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