A common question we get asked is why did we choose to settle in the Philippines? It’s a good question considering we have both travelled for over 15 years and lived in many different countries including Nicaragua, Thailand, Australia, Mexico and Cyprus to mention a few. So why did we choose the Philippines? Honestly, for a few simple reasons.
Firstly it’s due to the people. The locals in the Philippines are genuinely a very happy go lucky sort. Always smiling, never complaining and very welcoming; they are proud of their country and it shows in the way that they are not yet jaded by tourists. Instead they are simply perplexed that so many foreigners visit and at how many end up staying a lot longer than intended. One of the first things a local will ask is where are you from, and you can pretty much guarantee that they will tell you they have a relation living there – wherever there may be!!
Secondly it’s the diving. Obviously we like the diving or we would not have chosen to open our dive resort. But why is it better than all the other places we have dived. I would say purely due to the diversity. There is a little bit of everything on offer. You can find wreck diving, stunning walls, healthy coral reefs, sharks, rays, whale sharks, turtles, schooling fish, world class muck diving and even the infamous thresher sharks. Whether you are a beginner or a professional diver you will be able to find a site that mesmerizes you!
Finally the weather! On a whole the weather is pretty fantastic. With so many islands producing their own micro climates there is no general weather pattern. It can be pouring with monsoon-esque rain in Cebu City and be gloriously sunny a few hours south in Dumaguete. I guess the only downside to living here are the occasional typhoons that pass through. But then look at everywhere else in the world – flooding in UK, massive snow storms in Canada, tornados in the USA and a whole heap of extreme heat related issues in Australia.
So why and when should you come to the Philippines?
Let’s start with the why. Aside from the three reasons above one of the best things about the Philippines from a tourist’s perspective are the prices. If you are travelling in from Europe, America/Canada or Australia for your 2 – 4 week diving holiday then once the flight is paid for in comparison to a similar holiday closer to home the daily living costs are dramatically lower. This means you can eat and drink as much as you like and not be concerned about breaking the bank.
Generally accommodation is pretty reasonable. There are of course high end resorts and hotels offering outrageous rates for those willing to pay, you get these types of places the world over and they always seem to be doing a brisk business. The middle of the range resorts tend to mostly offer exceptional value for money and there are a few resorts like us – Liquid – that are catering specifically to the newer ‘champagne backpacker’. For those traveling on a very tight budget it is always possible to find a cheap home-stay or hostel equivalent.
Diving is not as cheap as some of the more touristy countries in Asia such as Thailand, but then you are not on a ‘cattle boat’ diving with around 50 other people. As a newly discovered and now thriving diving destination the rates are still very reasonable especially when you consider how much a similar muck diving holiday in say Malaysia would cost.
Finally the seasons, diving and travelling is possible year round in the Philippines. For some reason most tourists tend to travel to the Philippines during the months October – May, leaving the summer months of June – September relatively quiet. With each region having its own micro climate it is worth mailing a local resort directly and asking them about the weather at the time of year you are planning to travel.
Dumaguete for instance has 3 distinct seasons. October – January is officially winter, yup that’s right we are still essentially in the northern hemisphere. This time of year the weather can vary quite dramatically. We can have glorious sunny days with calm seas and clear skies. Then the next day the winds can pick up and the seas can be a little choppy. Luckily with so many different diving options there is always a dive site available.
Spring comes from February – May, this time of year the weather is generally fantastic; with lovely sunny days, calm seas and air temperatures in the mid to high 20’s. The diving at this time of year is also amazing; spring brings plenty of marine life, thriving coral reefs and an abundance of reef fish.
Summer is June – September. This is possibly my favorite time of the year. The weather hot, hot, hot! The skies are clear and blue, the sun is bright and the evenings bring dramatic thunderstorms over the mountains to help clear the air. The diving is once again fantastic with a lot of marine life, turtles and flourishing corals, and lovely warm water. As this is also officially low season there are not so many tourists which means you get the beaches, the dive sights and the local attractions all to yourself!!
So why did we move to the Philippines? Because we love it here!