As the temperature rises and the days get longer, one thing is on everyone’s minds: summer. And when summer hits, there’s no escaping its lure - whether you’re stuck in an office on the weekdays or spend your days perpetually on the go, the promise of white, sandy beaches and clear blue waters can be just too hard to resist. So grab the entire family, book those tickets, and start planning your best summer ever.
Here are five family friendly destinations for the perfect summer getaway.
1. Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Photo by joelaldor / WikiCommons
A World Heritage site and one of the few Hispanic towns still left in the country, Vigan is a must-see, especially for city-dwellers who’ve never known the beauty of European architecture. Cobblestone streets line Calle Crisologo and colonial European architecture fuses with Philippine history.
What to do: Stroll down Calle Crisology and marvel at the Spanish ancestral houses that line the road. Check out Syquia Mansion, the ancestral home of President Elpidio Quirino’s wife on Calle Quirino, then take a cruise on Mestizo River.
Where to eat: Get your Vigan longganisa fix at Tongson’s, beside the famous Cafe Leona. Then indulge your sweet tooth at Leila’s Cafe. Want something a bit more traditional? Try the sinanglaw, a soup dish similar to Vietnamese pho, made with beef innards, garlic, onions, and ginger.
Family-friendly factor: At Vigan, both kids and adults alike can soak in the culture and get a crash-course on Philippine history. Tour Vigan on a kalesa for a 3-hour ride around town, then drop by the Baluarte Zoo to see the butterfly sanctuary. For families with babies and toddlers, opt to check in at Gordion Hotel which offers baby sitting services for extra helping hands.
Photo by Hermes Singson / inflight.ph
Off the coast of Mauban in Quezon Province, you’ll find Cagbalete. Rustic bahay kubos, rock pools, and serene beaches will greet you once you’ve arrived at the still relatively obscure getaway.
What to do: Lounge on the powdery sanded beach and enjoy the clear blue waters. Check out the rock pools on Bonsai Island in front of Villa Cleofas resort. Your child will definitely love the vast sand during low tide too.
Where to eat: As is the case in most provinces with secluded beaches, Cagbalete isn’t exactly teeming with dining options, but what it lacks in variety it makes up for in thrift! At Doña Choleng, one of the resorts at Cagbalete, a day’s worth of meals costs an easy P800 - that’s five meals per day for less than a thousand pesos. You won’t get the same deal in Boracay, that’s for sure. But for the DIY crowd, most resorts are equipped with outdoor grill areas, so if you’re looking to do some grilling with the whole fam, you’re free to do so.
Family-friendly factor: If you’re not the ‘roughing it’ type, don’t worry. Most resorts at Cagbalete have facilities for the whole family. At Pansacola Beach Resort, you can choose their Premium Hut which can accommodate up to six people and comes equipped with air-conditioning and a large bathroom.
3. Lake Sebu
Photo by Paolo Tiong / MindanaoTours.com
A natural lake in South Cotobato and one of the country’s most important watersheds. This expansive lake lends water to its surrounding provinces of Sultan Kudarat and South Cotobato. It’s a much-needed departure from your run-of-the-mill beach resort and a welcome one for the rundown urban-dweller.
What to do: Hop on a cruise of Lake Sebu and enjoy the scenery. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to witness the beautiful lotus flowers blooming on the lake. To get a view of five out of the seven waterfalls that surround Lake Sebu, try the zip-line. For a worthy immersion for your child, sponsor a T’boli pupil from the School of Indigenous Knowledge And Traditions (SIKAT) starting at only $50 and have your kid meet and play with the students.
Where to eat: Welcome to Tilapia Country. At Punta Isla Lake Resort, you’ll get to try tilapia in ways you’ve never before. Ever had chicharon tilapia? We thought so. Another crowd favorite is the Sinanglay na Tilapia: tilapia wrapped in pechay leaves and stuffed with ginger, onion, garlic, and tomatoes, then stewed in delicious coconut milk.
Family-friendly factor: Lake Sebu’s Seven Falls Zipline runs 180 meters above ground and is divided into two lines, the first runs for 740 meters, and the other for 420 meters. It’s ranked one of the tallest and most thrilling ziplines in Asia. It’s a safe and fun way for big kids to enjoy what Lake Sebu has to offer in one afternoon. You can also book a private room or T’boli house geared for families in Punta Isla Lake Resort and enjoy their Lake tour, meet and greet the natives, and watch cultural shows.
Photo by bingbing / WikiCommons
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and check out Batanes, the smallest province in the Philippines, and the northernmost one too. Affectionately called the Philippines’ Marlboro Country, it’s here you’ll get a taste of the wide sprawling scenery you might see in a Lord of the Rings movie.
What to do: Visit traditional Ivatan homes. Rent a bike and tour Batanes on two wheels. It’ll make sight-seeing easier, or if you’re up to it, get on a motorbike for habal-habal, and get acquainted with the place the way the locals do. Kids will also enjoy trekking Naidi and Marlborough Hills, swimming or fishing in Nakabuang beach, and picnicking at the Nakabuang Arch.
Where to eat: Check out Shanadel’s Inn and Cafe for the traditional Ivatan feast consists of pako salad, coconut crabs, smoked kamote, turmeric rice, Ivatan adobo, and puso ng saging soup, but remember to book a table in advance and order ahead.
Family-friendly factor: For the full Batanes experience, stay at the charmingly quaint Fundacion Pacita. They have cottages and villas built to accommodate families and couples alike.
5. La Union
Photo by traveltothephilippines.info
Known internationally as one of the best surf spots in the world, La Union is a backpacker’s haven. But just because surfers flock to this San Fernando beach stretch, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have anything else to offer. Just a few minutes away, you’ll find a botanical garden, an ancient Chinese temple, a towering hundred-year-old tree, and an eco-trail perfect for a family day-hike.
What to do: Summer isn’t exactly the best time for surfing as the waves aren’t as strong as they are during rainy season, which makes it the best time to learn. But surfing isn’t the only thing you can do at La Union. No waves also means it’s prime time for stand-up paddle-boarding.
Where to eat: Check out the buzz-worthy El Union for a cup of coffee that’s worth the 5-hour trip alone. They also serve up a mean grilled cheese (with bacon maple jam) and an equally delicious and satisfying skillet choco-chip cookie for the kiddos.
Family-friendly factor: If you’re staying at Thunderbird Resort in Poro Point, you can rent a kayak for the day, go biking, enjoy the kiddie pool, or play beach volleyball. The Greek-inspired resort has no shortage of fun activities the whole family can enjoy.