- What is Ecotourism?
- Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour (Palawan)
- Iloilo City Carbon Offset Tour
- Masungi Georeserve Hike (Rizal)
- Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Diving (Sulu Sea, Palawan)
- Danjugan Island Sanctuary Sustainability Camp (Negros Occidental)
- Bohol firefly watching tour
- Las Piñas Parañaque Wetland Park Eco Tour (Metro Manila)
- Forest and Folklore Subic Bay Freeport Eco Tour
- Mount Apo Hike (Davao)
- Batanes Island
- Mount Hamiguitan Hike (Davao)
- Batad Rice Terraces (Ifugao)
Photos by Masungi Georeserve (left) and Danjugan Island (right)
Beyond the pristine beaches that the Philippines is known for, the tropical country is also home to a wide array of ecosystems that thrive in forests and mountains spread across over 7,000 islands. Examples of this are Philippine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Puerto Princesa Underground River and Tubbataha Reef diving spot, which have been recognized as breathtaking Philippine eco tours destinations teeming with colorful flora and fauna.
To preserve the beauty of the Philippines' ecosystems, it's crucial to adopt sustainable travel practices when exploring the country. Along with this, travelers can protect the country's natural wonders and the local communities that care for them by supporting ecotourism in the Philippines.
What is Ecotourism?
Ecotourism is a form of traveling that focuses on visiting well-preserved natural areas to further understand and support the environment and the local communities that care for and benefit from it. To gain a deeper appreciation of the country’s natural beauty, you can check out these top ecotourism sites in the Philippines:
Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour (Palawan)
The Puerto Princesa Underground River is one of the top ecotourism destinations in the Philippines and across the globe, as it is home to a wide variety of birds, fish, bats, and more. This natural haven is nestled amongst trees in a forest in Puerto Princesa, one of the best destinations in Palawan. In recognition of the area’s thriving mountain-to-sea ecosystem, it has also been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been added to the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
During a Puerto Princesa Underground River tour, you'll sail across the river that runs through one of the world's most impressive cave systems. Inside, you'll see fascinating limestone formations and colonies of bats. In the forest that borders the river are groups of birds, mammals, and reptiles that continue to thrive. Among them are 15 endemic bird species, such as the Palawan hornbill.
Touring the river is one of the top things to do in Puerto Princesa as a family since travelers of all ages are welcome to join. However, only a limited number of tourists are allowed to visit the river daily, so make sure to book your tour ahead. Outside the tour, you'll also have to arrange your flights to the Philippines, and choose where to stay among the best Puerto Princesa hotels, as most Puerto Princesa Underground River tours do not include these.
Iloilo City Carbon Offset Tour
This Iloilo City Carbon Offset Tour takes you to all the best tourist spots in Iloilo, such as the heritage street called Calle Real, while ensuring that your trip's carbon emissions are counterbalanced. Iloilo City is a coastal city famed for its rich heritage and beautiful surroundings, so carbon offset tours like this are a great way to explore the area.
Carbon offsetting is one of the main approaches to reducing carbon emissions globally. The process involves investing in carbon-reducing projects here and abroad to counterbalance the emissions you produce during your tour.
For this trip, the tour operator Las Islas Travel and Tours has teamed up with Sustainable Travel International to invest in carbon-reducing initiatives to offset the emissions produced by taking a private vehicle from attraction to attraction in Iloilo. Following your adventure, you'll be given a carbon offset certificate to verify that a portion of your payment was used to invest in sustainability projects.
Masungi Georeserve Hike (Rizal)
Photo by Masungi Georeserve
The Masungi Georeserve is a geopark in Rizal, a province known for hiking spots near Manila due to the several mountains you can find here. It is also one of the top eco parks in the Philippines since it comprises limestone peaks and lush rainforests that are home to around 400 species of animals. Among the most notable animals here is a subspecies of micro snail called Hypselostoma latispira masungiensis, which has only been found in the georeserve.
During a visit, you can either trek one of two trails or go on a garden picnic. For the treks, travelers can choose between the Discovery Trail and the Legacy Trail. A Discovery Trail trek lasts around 3-4 hours and will take you across the conservation area and its karst terrain. On the other hand, the Legacy Trail will take about 5-6 hours and includes tree planting in the geopark's restoration areas.
Only those 13 and older can experience the Discovery Trail, while those 10 and up can join the Legacy Trail. Meanwhile, the Garden Picnic is suitable for travelers of all ages that simply want to immerse in nature. Each experience includes a meal, but you will have to plan your transportation to and from the geopark.
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Diving (Sulu Sea, Palawan)
The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park sits in the center of the Sulu Sea and is about 50 km southeast of Palawan, one of the best places to visit in the Philippines due to its thriving marine life and picturesque karst cliffs. The natural park spans over 97,000 hectares that have become a home for around 360 species of coral and about 700 kinds of fish.
Thanks to its awe-inspiring marine biodiversity, it is also one of the top diving spots in the Philippines and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Philippines, making it a perfect place to learn about underwater ecosystems. Since this is a diving destination, it is best suited for certified scuba divers who are 10 years old and up.
Danjugan Island Sanctuary Sustainability Camp (Negros Occidental)
Photo by Danjugan Island
This protected wildlife and marine sanctuary houses 7 kinds of ecosystems that have become havens for species of fish, birds, corals, butterflies, bats, and even nesting sea turtles. Danjugan Island sits off the coast of Negros Occidental, a province known for being home to Bacolod City and its delicious food like chicken inasal. To better understand the sanctuary and its mission, travelers can go on day trips or spend some nights here.
All overnight stays on the island already include guided tours. These tours also include gear for snorkeling, skin diving, kayaking, trekking, and birdwatching. On top of their regular guided tours, the organization (The Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Inc.) that manages the island also hosts annual youth and adult camps that last for 5 days and 3 days, respectively.
Photo by Danjugan Island
Both camps feature various educational activities that will allow all campers to learn more about wildlife and the importance of conservation. However, both camps do not include flights to Bacolod or Negros Occidental, so make sure to plan ahead and pre-book your Bacolod tours and where to stay in Bacolod if you’re spending more time in the city.
Bohol firefly watching tour
Home to a handful of mangrove forests, Bohol is a great place to learn about the magic of these wetland forests and what animals thrive alongside them. One of the most iconic animals that depend on mangroves is fireflies. The best way to see these eye-catching creatures up close is by going on a firefly-watching tour, which will take you on a leisurely night cruise along pristine rivers framed by mangroves.
Among the most notable rivers in Bohol is the Abatan River, which stretches for 20km and opens to an estuary that grows as many as 32 mangrove species. Most firefly-watching tours start around 6 PM and last for 2 hours. Proceeds are also used to protect the mangroves, sustain other ecotourism projects in the area, and even fund local scholars.
- Book a tour to see fireflies in the Philippines
This is one of the best things to do in Bohol for families since the fireflies lighting up is a sight to behold, whatever your age. Aside from a firefly-watching experience, other Bohol tours will also take you to the world-famous Chocolate Hills and on a Loboc River cruise.
Las Piñas Parañaque Wetland Park Eco Tour (Metro Manila)
Photo by Las Piñas Parañaque Wetland Park
Located along the coasts of two cities in Metro Manila, the Las Piñas–Parañaque Wetland Park is a refreshing change of scenery for most city dwellers and is among the best nature trips near Manila. The park comprises two islands that feature mangroves, ponds, lagoons, mixed beach forests, and more. Thanks largely in part to it being a protected site, the park has become a seasonal home for many migratory bird species as well.
About 41 kinds of migratory birds from places like Japan and Siberia have been spotted in the park during migration season (August to April). While the area is famous for the various birds that stay here, the park is also home to the Philippine duck, an endemic species. During immigration season, many bird watchers and photographers also flock to the park to get a glimpse of these feathered friends.
To go on a free tour of the area, you must email email@example.com and fill out a permission request. It's best to limit your groups to groups of 7 as those comprising 8 or more people are considered large groups and will take more time to process.
Forest and Folklore Subic Bay Freeport Eco Tour
Photo by MAD Travel
This hike is an experience organized by a local social enterprise called Make A Difference (MAD) Travel alongside the local Aeta tribes in Subic Bay in Zambales, a province known for having some of the best beaches near Manila. The tour takes place in the forests around Subic Bay, which are among the last 3% of rainforests in the country.
During this 45-60 minute hike, travelers will be guided through the forest and visit natural pools and mini waterfalls. You will also get to drop by small farms. Depending on the month you visit, you can also try drinking water from vines, eating insects, and trying fresh Rattan hearts to further immerse in the beauty of the rainforest and the culture of the Aeta tribe.
Mount Apo Hike (Davao)
Towering 2,956 meters above sea level, Mt. Apo is the highest mountain in the country and is made up of different landscapes. This natural wonder and one of the must-visit mountains for hiking in the Philippines stands to the west of Davao City, which is best known as the home of the critically endangered Philippine Eagle. As you hike to the peak, you'll pass by mossy swamps, craggy rocks, and lush forests that house wild deer and even rubber plantations.
At the peak of this popular ecotourism site, you'll find a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountain ranges and one of the top lakes in the Philippines, Lake Venado. While there are a handful of trails you can take, they are still considered best suited for experienced hikers as they mainly consist of rocky terrain. The best time to climb to the summit is during the dry season in the Philippines, which usually starts in December and ends in May.
Batanes was officially recognized as an ecotourism zone in 2016 due to its natural landscape, which has allowed different species of plants, trees, and animals to thrive. This island province is also well-known for its charming, centuries-old stone houses, quiet stretches of white sandy beaches, rugged mountains, and never-ending lush green hills.
When visiting the province, take the time to include Morong Beach in the places to visit, as this unspoiled beach boasts stunning white sand and a unique rock formation called the Nakabuang Arch. Another popular Batanes tourist spot are the picturesque Vayang Rolling Hills, which gives you panoramic views of Batanes' main islands: Batan, Sabtang, and Itbayat, which you can explore when you book Batanes tour packages.
Mount Hamiguitan Hike (Davao)
The Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary is a lush mountain ridge that sits in the province of Davao Oriental. Located along the southeastern portion of Mindanao, this province has abundant coconut trees and is the country's top producer of coconuts and dried coconut meat. Aside from its rich forests, it is also well known for the Aliwagwag Falls, one of the most scenic waterfalls in the Philippines, and features over 130 cascades and multiple rock pools filled with turquoise waters.
When trekking across this wildlife sanctuary, remember to allot three days, as this is the duration recommended by the rangers managing the area. After reaching the summit on the morning of the third day, you will begin returning to the jump-off point.
To protect the area, only 30 trekkers are allowed in every trekking duration of three days on campsites excluding the guides and porters. Make sure to contact the sanctuary’s ecotourism office via +63 938 761 2886 or their Facebook page if you’re planning a trip here.
Batad Rice Terraces (Ifugao)
The Batad Rice Terraces are one of the most popular sites in the municipality of Banaue. This destination is home to scenic landscapes and a rich heritage grounded in the locals' relationship with their environment. The Batad Rice Terraces are the most well-known of the five clusters in the province that were all recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in honor of the native tribes' work to maintain and care for their surroundings.
Batad's Rice Terraces are estimated to have been around for as long as 2,000 years already and are still used to grow rice and other crops. Despite its age, the rice terraces continue to be one of the best places to visit in the Philippines.
During a tour of this majestic landscape, you'll get to walk between the rice terraces and get a closer look at how these were made and gain a deeper understanding of their importance amongst the tribes of the Philippines' highlands destinations.
Visit the Best Ecotourism Spots in the Philippines
Photo by Masungi Georeserve
With more than 7,000 islands making up the tropical archipelago, you can find many natural wonders when you tour the Philippines. By supporting ecotourism activities in the Philippines, you get to immerse yourself in the lush surroundings while boosting efforts to protect these natural spaces. From the white sand beaches in Palawan to the lush landscapes of the Banaue, there are many places to explore and practice sustainable tourism in the Philippines. You can also try swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines, but make sure to book tours that practice sustainability.
For a hassle-free trip to these ecotourism destinations, you can book all-inclusive Philippines vacation packages that already include flights to Manila, Cebu, and more. You can also experience more of the country’s outdoors by snorkeling, canyoneering, camping, and even learning to dive!
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