Eastern Philippines Trip: 20 Days
TRAVELING ON CLOUD 9
This trip provides all the best that the eastern part of the Philippines has to offer: a paradise island you can enjoy to yourselves, one of Southeast Asia’s best surf breaks and a step back into history hiking through the wondrous ancient emerald rice terraces of Banaue.
There is a chance to do a little bit of everything on this 20-day adventure as there is ample time to unpack your bags and live on the beach when you spend a week in Siargao at the world-famous Cloud 9 surf break.
But there are also portions of the trip where days are filled with activity and crazy travel days as you get a taste of what traveling through the tropical island and mountain oasis of the Philippines is like!
Why do we have a special itinerary just for March? That's when the waters around Donsol turn into WHALE SHARK SOUP! We only go to Donsol in March because the odds of getting up close with these majestic beauties is very, very good.
Just finished up a Philippines trip with FnEZ, and they were great as usual. My trip leaders were amazing and went above and beyond to make everyone’s trip great. The accommodations that Free & Easy picks are great, and they always choose to take you to the best locations. The best thing about travelling with them is that it’s a built-in group of friends who usually have similar mindsets, a love for travel and a bit of partying. Ten out of ten recommend.
- Barb, October 2018
Day 1-2 (Manila)
Group flights arrive late in the evening, and upon arrival at the guesthouse you will meet your group over drinks.
The following day we will do a group tour of the astonishing San Agustin Church (incl). In the evening, we will take a private* A/C bus to Banaue. *all bus & jeepney transfers will be private on this trip. Only ferry rides are public.
Day 2-3 (Batad)
Arrive off the night bus in Banaue and take a jeepney to the rice terraces. Hike to the historic rice terraces of Batad, often dubbed 'the 8th Wonder of the World'.
Stay overnight in a small village with one of the best views imaginable. The next day, hike out and take a jeepney back to Banaue and board the night bus back to Manila.
Day 4-6 (Catanduanes)
Arrive from the night bus at the airport and take a flight to Catanduanes Island. From the airport take a jeepney to our paradise beach bungalows.
Spend the next few days relaxing on the beach, surfing, exploring, and interacting with the incredibly friendly locals.
Day 7-10 (Donsol*)
Take a jeepney to the ferry terminal. Take ferry to Tabaco City and take minibus to Donsol. Here you will have a chance to swim with whale sharks, the gentle giants of the sea.
On the last day, take a minibus to the airport and fly to Cebu. Take a minibus to the ferry terminal and board the night ferry bound for Surigao. *We only go to Donsol in March.
Day 11-17 (Siargao)
Change to the ferry bound for Siargao. This laid back island combines gorgeous scenery and wicked beaches with a world-class surf scene. Just around the corner from our ocean view hotel lies famous surf-breaks like "Cloud 9" and "QuickSilver".
On the last day, our jeepney transfer will take us to the airport and then we fly to Cebu.
Day 18-20 (Cebu)
From the airport, our minibus will take you to the hotel. Cebu is known as 'The Jewel of the South in the Philippines'. Explore this city and enjoy local street-foods, shopping, and nightlife. On the last day, the group will take taxis to fly out of Cebu International Airport.
Please note: The above itinerary is subject to change. A confirmed Free & Easy trip itinerary with exact routing will be provided at least 30 days prior to trip departure.
IMPORTANT: If you are doing a combo trip and booking your own flights, please contact us to confirm the start and end point of your trip.
- Accommodation for the duration of your Free & Easy experience
- All group travel between destinations
- If you are doing multiple trips, all travel & accommodations between combo trips is included in the price listed
- Return international flights and airport transfers*** (No surprise extra flight surcharges)
***Land Package prices do not include your international flight, airport taxes or transfers
- Knowledgeable and fun Free & Easy leaders
- 17 years of trip leading experience
- No commissions or gratuities required or accepted... ever!
- Preparations guidebook
- Trip Experience guidebook
Activities: Philippines (Cloud 9)
- 3 beach destinations & 2 surf destinations (Siargo and Catanduanes) Tons of surf breaks!
- Intramurous - Saint Augustin Church tour (incl. guide)
- Two day trek through the Batad Rice Terraces (Waterfall hike, guides incl.)
- Transportation to Waterfall and Viewpoint hike in Cantanduanes
- Boat trip to see Whalesharks in Donsol (March trip only)
- Boat trip to Naked Island (Incl. overnight stay at Sohoton, caving, kayaking, swim with jellyfish*)
- Chocolate Hills exploration day trip
- Tarsier Sanctuary experience
- Butterfly Sanctuary experience
Meals: Philippines (Cloud 9)
- One Filipino style group dinner
- Lunch at a national park after trek through the Batad Rice Terraces
- All meals included on boat trip to Naked Island/Sohoton Island (1 breakfast, 2 lunch, 1 dinner)
Optional Activities: Philippines (Cloud 9)
- Surfing lessons
- Surf world class breaks
- Wake Boarding
- Paddle Boarding
- Dolphin Snorkel trip
- All meals and drinks (except those mentioned above)
- Activities outside of the ones listed above (optional activities are not included)
- Any Visa or Visa fees
Surf a Wave
Nothing compares to the feeling you get the first time you paddle into a wave, stand up as it breaks and ride the face of it – this is the incomparable feeling of surfing. When you get it right, you'll know, because you'll be more excited than the first time you had sex and probably more addicted to it, too!
Surfing is arguably the most challenging sport in the world and requires you to learn much more than physical coordination. In order to surf a wave, you'll need patience, discipline, a lack of fear and an insatiable urge to have fun. It's no coincidence that 7 of the countries that we run trips to (Indonesia, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, & Peru) have wicked surf scenes because there's nothing quite like it. *** PLEASE NOTE surfing is dependent on the right conditions and not always possible
Swimming with Whale Sharks
***ONLY AVAILABLE ON OUR MARCH TRIP DATE!*** There’s nothing like swimming next to the largest fish in the animal kingdom to feel how small we truly are. While the word ‘shark’ might conjure up images of Jaws and blood-soaked waters, Whale Sharks are actually filter feeder sharks and the majority of their diet is made up of plankton -- so a clumsy looking human swimming around won't be very appetizing.
But swimming with this beast isn't as easy as jumping into the ocean. Although you don't require scuba gear as whale sharks commonly swim around the surface, they can be elusive and many divers/snorkelers never get the chance to see one up close. Whale Sharks can be found in many places around the world but arguably the best place in the world to swim with them is the Philippines.
Donsol possesses one of the largest schools of whale sharks in the world and it's no coincidence that we time our March Philippines adventure to coincide with the best time to see these beautiful creatures up close. It's an experience our group leaders never get sick of and our group members never cease to be amazed by.
So snap on your facemask, pull on those flippers and dive into the big blue for an awe-inspiring adventure with these gentle giants. (Boat & guide included, snorkel/diving gear not included).
Take a Jeepney Ride
Jeepneys are a traditional mode of transportation in the Philippines. They came to be after the American presence in the Philippines during WWII.
After the Japanese were defeated by the Americans, many Jeeps were sold or left behind. The Filipinos, with their ever sunny dispositions, turned the vehicles into brightly coloured, flashy, and economic modes of public transportation for the people of the Philippines.
We are very lucky to have the chance to take them for a few rides ourselves! Many Jeepneys offer the ability to sit on the roof, which makes for epic views when driving through some beautiful and scenic locations!
We take multiple Jeepney rides on the Cloud 9 trip, but our favourite is in Catanduanes where we take them for a scenic drive along the coast, ending at an amazing viewpoint and waterfall. Find a seat and hang on!
Snorkelling is a great alternative for those looking to save a little money on diving costs or those who can’t dive for medical reasons. Floating along the surface of the water at any one of our incredible destinations around the world will give you a peek into a magical underwater world.
More confident snorkelers can even dive down to get a closer look at the fauna and flora found in our oceans. From glittering fish, to colourful anemone, and super cool sharks (don’t worry, the non-carnivorous ones), snorkelling is a wonderful experience for the non-diver. So snap on a mask and grab your flippers (and DON’T inhale while diving) and you’ll be all set for a little adventure under the sea.
Catch a Fish and Eat It, Too
We get so many people who come on our trips that say they don't like seafood and won't eat it - usually, they're not from a coastal town. So when we serve up a fresh barracuda or tuna or some other tasty fish that the fisherman caught that morning and we convince them to give it a try, the first thing they say (with a satisfied smile) is that this doesn't taste like the seafood they've tried.
There's just no getting around it, fish is meant to be eaten fresh! And the only thing tastier than a fresh fish is one that you caught, too! Catching the fish that you eat used to be a part of life and still is in many parts of the world, however, more and more people are buying from the commercial fishing industry which is unsustainable and is destroying the ocean's eco-system.
We offer the option to go fishing on nearly all of our trips with friendly, local fisherman that show you their tricks - it's an experience that not only teaches you the importance of fishing but is also a hell of a good time: on a boat, with friends, with beer, in the sun, drifting down a tropical coastline… 'nuff said!
Go Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Practice Yoga on the Beach
Practicing yoga on the beach in warm, tropical weather provides you with the perfect environment to learn how to find a calm within yourself and feel your mind truly relax.
Listening to the sounds of the jungle and the crashing of the waves onshore only adds to the bliss of this experience. You can experience practicing yoga in a beautiful and isolated setting under the expert guidance of yoga instructors on several of our our trips.
So take an hour or so out of your day to stretch, breathe and enjoy one of the best yoga sessions of your life in paradise!
Bathe Under a Waterfall
When leaving home and hitting the road with your backpack, one thought you may have in mind is that you're not going to have another good shower for awhile. In most parts of the world water pressure is lower, there is often no hot water and you just can't seem to scrub off that distinct backpacker odour.
However, there is one place where hundreds of gallons of refreshing fresh water can pour all over you in a surreal bathing experience and that spot is found at the bottom of a waterfall. When hiking around jungles, one of our favourite things to search out is a good tropical waterfall where you can swim, relax, and get right under it and let the huge torrent of water pour all over you and wash you clean!
But the best part is often the simple sight of the waterfall itself because for whatever reason there are few things in the world we find more captivating to watch than water dropping from great heights. Maybe it's because nothing falls with the grace of water, but either way, it's an amazing feeling to come upon a gorgeous waterfall in the jungle and head straight into its downpour for the best shower of your life!
Have a Tropical Island All to Yourself
This experience is one we all dream about, but think is only possible for the rich and famous, however, we are able to do this on our Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand trips!
And it's true that having an entire island to yourself seems a bit lavish, but it's a luxurious and relaxing experience that also leads to a whole lot of fun! It's like when you were younger and you first got to experience what having a house to yourself was like, but this time there’s no neighbours or even cops.
We like to head to the island with our groups for a night or sometimes several stocked with frisbees, food, snorkel gear, coolers of beer, guitars, bottles of rum, fishing gear and our hammocks - everything we could possibly need. And then we just literally do whatever we want!
Hike the Rice Terraces of Banaue
There's no denying that the Banaue rice terraces in the Philippines are one of the most amazing sights on the planet. Etched out of the hillside over 2000 years ago, the seemingly endless number of terraces stretch through valleys and around hills and are all connected by thousands of stone staircases that the local farmers hike up and down each day.
On our experience of the rice terraces, we ride out of town on the top of local Jeepnies until we reach the first breathtaking view and begin to walk. As you make your way across the terraces, you feel like you're stepping back in time as the rice is still farmed the same way it has been for thousands of years.
The lifestyle of the farmers reflects the peacefulness of the setting as after our first day of trekking, we spend a night in a secluded guesthouse with a view so captivating that you'll spend your entire morning just admiring the place you've found yourself in. The second day of hiking requires a climb and the hundreds of steps may feel more like a fitness test than part of a vacation but upon reaching the top, you'll be completely invigorated by an amazing waterfall that'll cap off an incredible experience that showcases some of the great beauty that the Philippines has to offer.
Our Trash Hero beach cleanups are a great way to do good, feel good, and get some beach all at the same time. With thousands of tons of trash swirling around the oceans, the unfortunate reality is that some of it washes up onto the beautiful beaches we fall in love with around the world. So we thought ‘Let’s do something about this!’
Our partnership with Trash Hero began in Koh Lipe, Thailand, where they regularly organized beach cleanup days. Today, Trash Hero has gone viral and can be found operating in Thailand and Indonesia, and is spreading into dozens of more countries at a rapid pace. On our end, beach cleanup day quickly became one of the most fun and rewarding days on our Thailand trip. So we decided to spread the love, and have instituted a beach cleanup day into our regular itineraries across the world.
Through our sponsorship and partnership with Trash Hero, our travelers and others like them have since collected tens of thousands of kilograms of trash from the beaches we travel to… and really, there’s nothing more epic than saving the world! ** We will always strive to make a beach cleanup happen, but sometimes we may not be able to make it happen **
Go Scuba Diving
Life under the water is silent and peaceful, everything is flowing and moving in a way that we land creatures are unaccustomed to. Despite all of our high tech equipment, we are extremely out of our element in the water and it is a humbling experience to watch and observe what life is like under the sea.
Fish come in all shapes, sizes, and colours and move together in a harmonious unison through beautiful coral and twisted sunlight. On our trips, scuba diving is a huge activity as we travel to countries that offer some of the best diving in the world. The Caribbean in Central America possesses the second largest reef in the world, the warm waters of the South Pacific in Southeast Asia are home to the largest diversity of sea-life in the world and the seas of the Mediterranean are full of rich history and beauty.
There is a whole universe under the ocean and experiencing what it's like to be in it is a must at least once in your life!