4 Best Firefly-Watching Tours in the Philippines

4 Best Firefly-Watching Tours in the Philippines

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Fireflies around a riverside

The Philippines is known for its beautiful islands and gorgeous white sand beaches, but it is also home to more natural wonders and experiences. One of the awe-inspiring experiences you shouldn’t miss here is Philippine firefly watching. The best part is, there are several places in the Philippines where you can go on a firefly-watching tour, including Bohol, Sorsogon, and Palawan.  

Fireflies love to reside on mangrove trees along rivers, and the best way to see them is via a firefly river tour. Since these tours are scheduled at night, including them in your itinerary is easy, as most popular tours are scheduled during the day.

Fireflies in a treeThe rivers where you can enjoy this tour are usually far from bright city lights, and the darkness allows you to see the light of the fireflies clearer and brighter. This also gives you a breathtaking view of the stars and the night sky above. The rivers are also home to bioluminescent plankton that light up the water as boats pass by, making it a magical and unforgettable experience overall.

In this article, we’ve listed where to find fireflies in the Philippines and the tours you can book so you can enjoy this experience yourself.

When is firefly watching season in the Philippines?

Boat along Sorsogon's mangrove forestWhile you can see fireflies in the Philippines all year round, your best chance of seeing more of them is when the mangrove trees are in bloom, which attracts more fireflies. This usually happens from December to January. It’s also easier to see them during the new moon since the night sky is darker. Avoid going during the rainy season, as tours may get canceled due to bad weather.

Are firefly sightings in the Philippines guaranteed? 

Group of firefliesIt is highly likely that you will see fireflies when you visit these destinations, but as with most tours involving animals in their natural habitat, seeing them is never 100% guaranteed. There are also a lot of factors that can affect the number of fireflies you will encounter on your visit, including humidity and weather. 

Bohol Firefly Watching

Bohol's Chocolate HillsIn Bohol, you can find many natural wonders like the Chocolate Hills, tarsiers, beaches, and the Balicasag Marine Sanctuary, but it is also home to Pteroptyx macdermotti, one of the rarest fireflies in the world. You have the chance to see them when you add either an Abatan River firefly watching tour or a Loay firefly watching tour to your Bohol itinerary.

Abatan River, BoholMost Bohol firefly watching tours start with a palina ritual. This is a native ritual performed with a clay pot and white smoke that is said to protect people from evil spirits. You will then board the boat and make your way down the river. 

Your guide will tell you about the rare species of endemic fireflies as you make your way to your first mangrove tree. The boat will stop near the tree so you can take a closer look at the fireflies. If you want to take photos of this phenomenon, make sure to turn off your flash, as using it can harm these creatures.

Afterward, you’ll make your way to and stop near more trees so you can see more of these fascinating insects. Check out the water as well, as bioluminescent plankton make the river water glow.

Firefly trailYou may also book kayak firefly tours, which will allow you to have a more intimate experience.  If you want to experience more things to do in Bohol, you may join Chocolate Hills tours, Loboc River cruise tours, Balicasag Island dolphin-watching tours, and Bohol island hopping tours.

Iwahig Puerto Princesa Palawan Firefly Watching

Mangrove Forest in Puerto PrincesaPuerto Princesa’s most famous attraction may be the Puerto Princesa Underground River, but those who want to enjoy a night activity can try Iwahig firefly watching tour. This activity is managed by the local community. 

Before firefly watching in Puerto Princesa, you need to wear your life vests first, as you will cruise along the Iwahig River aboard a small paddle boat. The river is lined with mangrove trees, where you will find fireflies flying and flickering about.

Marvel at the scene as your boat gets closer to a mangrove tree full of fireflies. It is believed that the fireflies found along the Iwahig River belong to the Pteroptyx sp. family, which can be primarily found in mangroves.

Puerto Princesa Underground RiverIwahig River is also home to bioluminescent plankton. See them light up the waters of Iwahig River as your boatman paddles across the water.

Apart from firefly watching in Palawan, you can also try other things to do in Puerto Princesa by joining Puerto Princesa tours like Honda Bay and Puerto Princesa Underground River tours.

Coron Palawan Firefly Watching

Kayangan Lake in CoronCoron is home to the pristine Kayangan Lake, beautiful Mount Tapyas, and world-class wreck dive sites, and after visiting all these attractions, you can enjoy a relaxed night experience when you join a Coron firefly watching tour.

Expect a quiet experience as this walking tour only allows a limited number of tourists at a time. You will be joined by an expert guide as you make your way on foot through the mangrove forest in Kingfisher Park. During the tour, your guide will tell you about the fireflies that can be found in Coron.

Boats in a mangrove forestBefore you reach the mangroves, pay attention to the water in the river, as it is also home to bioluminescent plankton. Dip your hand into the water and see the plankton light it up and create ripples of light on the surface.

When you reach the mangroves full of fireflies, make sure to not disturb them by bringing light pollution. This means no flash photography and keeping your mobile phone’s screen off as much as possible.

You may also add other Coron tours to your Palawan itinerary, including Coron island hopping tours and trips to Coron Town.

Donsol Sorsogon Firefly Watching

Mangrove forest in SorsogonDonsol in Sorsogon is one of the most famous spots in the Philippines for whale shark watching, but it is also one of the places with fireflies in the Philippines, and while here, you can try Donsol firefly watching.

From the get-go, you’ll enjoy a unique experience as a tricycle will bring you to the jump-off point for the tour. After you wear your life vest and board the boat, your guide will paddle it upstream from the mouth of the Donsol River. Apart from the mangroves that the fireflies call home, the river banks are also lined with coconut trees.

Mt. Bulusan in SorsogonAs you make your way through the river, you’ll pass by mangrove trees being lit up by thousands of fireflies. Like in the Abatan River, the rare Pteroptyx Macdermotti has been found mangroves along the Donsol River.

Similar to other firefly tours, flash photography is not allowed, so make sure to turn it off when taking pictures of flickering fireflies. Don’t forget to check out the river itself and see ripples of light as the bioluminescent plankton glow when the water is disturbed.

Donsol can be found in the Bicol region, and apart from Sorsogon firefly watching, you can also enjoy other Bicol tourist spots, including the picturesque Mayon Volcano and Caramoan’s powdery white sand beaches.

See the majestic fireflies of the Philippines!

Firefly on a plantIn the Philippines, you have several options when it comes to firefly watching, and these four destinations can just be your starting point. You never know what you may encounter on your trip to some of the best places to visit in the Philippines!

During your visit to any or all of these destinations, make sure also to explore the other natural attractions that add to the many reasons why you should visit the Philippines

To make your visit hassle-free and convenient, read our Philippine travel guide and book our Philippine tour packages.

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