Samar

If you fancy yourself an explorer, you’ll go giddy at the thought of Samar’s numerous cave systems. Among its most famous are the Sohoton Caves, a two-hour trip from the town of Basey. This 840-hectare park features limestone walls, a natural rock bridge, underground rivers, lush forests and caves with stunning and expansive interiors. There’s also Langun-Gobingub Cave in Calbiga, one of the largest karst caves in Southeast Asia.

Swimming spots also abound. Your biggest problem will be picking where to go first. Lo-ok Beach in Calbayog City boast icy blue waters facing the Samar Sea and natural rock formations that present a more rugged beach-going experience.

Don’t forget to pick up a ticog mat for your seaside picnics; ticog is made with a local weed that, when woven, makes for smooth and supple mats, tote bags, and even home and office decors.

Take an exciting river ride in a dug-out boat without outriggers at the Ulot Watershed Ecotourism Loop in Paranas. Be thrilled as expert boatmen manoeuvre the torpedo boat between rocks up and downstream the Ulot River. And dare to plunge into the waters by leaping from a huge boulder.

Those in the mood for something with more kick should check out Samar’s waterfalls. The Bangon-Bugtong Falls cascade elegantly into a large circular pool, while the fun Mawacat Slide lets you zoom down a mossy passageway into the waters below. The Lulugayan Falls and Rapids feature a strong and thundering current that feeds into the Calbiga River and makes for enjoyable white water rafting.

And while you’re here, make sure not to bypass the quiet town of Marabut and Daram. Marabut rewards its visitors with islets fit for snorkelling and diving, as well as gargantuan rock islands that artfully jut out from the sea. Have a close encounter with colourful fishes and rare giant clams while snorkelling at Agutay Island in Daram.