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Take your family to the Philippines

by Martha Hales

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With beautiful scenery, loads to do and helpful people that generally adore kids, the Philippines should definitely be on your family’s wish list. Picture island hopping adventures where every beach is more beautiful than the last; fascinating creatures to spot on land and under the waves; plenty of family-friendly accommodation options and adventures by the bucket load. That's the Philippines in a nutshell. All that remains is to explore the key factors that help you to choose which of the 7,000 or so islands are perfect for your family’s next trip - here’s a few ideas to get you started.

Bohol

This is one of the best family destinations as there is a broad range of things to do with children of all ages whilst immersed in tropical nature brimful of lush vegetation and photogenic waterfalls. Beaches are one of the major attractions, but most children will happily put down their bucket and spade when you tell them it's time to visit the Tarsier Sanctuary, home to a small but growing population of the world’s smallest primate, which is critically endangered.

Philippines holidays: seeing tarsiers

Snoozy by day and active at night, these pint-sized creatures are reminiscent of Star Wars’ ewoks with their giant eyes, cute ears and long fingers. Don't miss a trip to the Chocolate Hills where a landscape consisting of over 1,000 distinct lumps is said to be formed by the tears of a giant. 

Philippines holidays: The Chocolate Hills

Manila on the island of Luzon

Yes - Manila is a huge and hectic city which at first glance may not seem like a great place to visit with children in tow, but there are some interesting cultural sights and places to visit, especially worthwhile with slightly older children. Firstly, there is the historic walled district of Intramuros with its Spanish influence and fortress.

Philippines Holiday: Intramuros Walled District

This is the original town built by the Spanish, and its old stone streets make for a great bike tour. Then there are all the great Manila museums to explore, notably the Ayala and the National Museum. Take advantage of good day trips from Manila such as Taal Volcano and its crater lake, known as the lake within an island within a lake within an island (get your head around that); and Pagsanjan gorge for boat trips to the waterfalls.

Family Phillippines: Taal Volcano Crater Lake

The best islands for observing marine life

Much of the Philippines is known for great diving and snorkelling opportunities, but there are some places in particular where the submarine wildlife is simply fantastic. You could opt for dolphin spotting - which may also show you whales if you are lucky - in the waters around Balicasag Island near Bohol.

Philippines holidays: Clown fish

There are also some perfect beaches near Balicasag Island that are great for snorkelling and safe swimming with the children. For families who love to dive or snorkel, consider taking a trip to Apo Island, near Siquijor, which is ranked among the very best locations for diving worldwide. With luck, you will see marine turtles, but even if they prove elusive, the underwater world of coral and fish is captivating.

Philippines holidays: swimming with turtles

Palawan

Some of the world’s most beautiful beaches grace the islands of the Philippines, and the best are arguably found on the paradise island of Palawan. If your idea of a great family holiday is spending time in and around various staggeringly beautiful coves while your offspring paddle about in the warm clear water and dig in the sugary white sand, you’ve found your holiday heaven.

Philippines Holiday: Palawan BeachIt is an island quite new to tourism and there are still plenty of undiscovered spots to explore if you are feeling adventurous, but bear in mind this is a backpacker destination and luxury lodgings are still fairly thin on the ground. If you need a break from all that tropical beauty on the beaches, there is an incredible underground river to explore, and mangroves to visit by boat where you can see all sorts of wildlife both on land and in the water.

Philippines Holiday: Puerto Princessa Underground River

Olango by bike

This fascinating island is more or less flat, making it a wonderful place to explore by bike. There are various shoreline ecosystems to discover as you pedal your way alongside coral reefs, mangroves, beds of seagrass and sand flats.

Philippines Holiday: Olango Beach

It's a car free island - perfect for young cyclists - and there are endless opportunities to cool off with a swim at the numerous beaches and bays you will see along the route. It's a brilliant destination for anyone who enjoys looking out for interesting birds, so make sure your budding ornithologists pack their binoculars because the bird sanctuary here is home to almost 100 species of birds, half of which are migratory.

Philippines Holiday: Migratory Birds In Olango

Make it happen

Family adventures are easy to come by in the stunning islands of the Philippines. Send a few details to our trusted local experts and they will design a bespoke itinerary shaped by your requirements, which you are free to tweak to your heart's desire. If you would like to speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.

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