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Earlier this year, when traveling was still easily possible, I was on holiday in the Philippines with my girlfriend. We flew into Manila and moved straight on to the island of Palawan which is said to be one of the most beautiful islands and it definitely lived up to our expectations. Swimming with a sea turtle.
Roman Huber • E-M1 MarkII • M.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 • PT-EP01 • PT-EP14
PORT BARTON Our first stop was to a desert island where we stayed offshore near Port Barton. Mainly to relax but also for some snorkeling during the day. Unfortunately, neither of us dive but almost every day we simply took a private boat and went to one of the many snorkeling spots and reefs within the bay at Port Barton. If your budget is tight you can of course take a regular boat that offers snorkeling trips shared with other people. However, Port Barton is still cheaper compared to the more famous destinations El Nido and Coron. So it’s definitely worth checking out hiring a private boat in order to go at times that suit you and avoid the regular tours.
Our home for five days. A little Island close to Port Barton with only two lodgings. The perfect place to come down and relax.
Olympus was so kind to let me test their underwater housing and dome. As I am mainly outdoors in the mountains, taking pictures underneath the sea was completely new to me. However, it was super easy and so much fun to operate the camera while snorkeling and I managed some photos I never could have made without the housing. All underwater photos have been captured with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II with the underwater housing PT-EP14 and the M.Zuiko 7-14mm F 2.8. A simple set-up for underwater photography, I also didn’t use a flash, my aim was to capture the vastness of the sea and I simply wanted to play around with a tool I hadn’t used before.
Roman Huber • E-M1MarkII • M.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 • PT-EP01 • PT-EP14
Some impressions of our snorkeling trips at Port Barton.I also loved to play around with the dome being half above and half underneath the waterline in order to create those “split”-photos.
Arrived at El Nido. After Port Barton we moved on to El Nido. Probably the most hyped place in the Philippines at the moment and definitely with reason. The town itself might not stand out but certainly all the islands, bays and coral reef at the Bacuit archipelago next to it are outstanding. Tours are quite a bit more expensive here than at Port Barton. I can highly recommend the tour operator “El Kraken”, although they might be a little more expensive compared to regular tour operators. However, they start later in order to avoid the crowds, have a huge deck for chilling and sunbathing on board, come with SUP and kayaks, offer great food, were super friendly and go to places less visited making it all a lot more enjoyable.
Here are some impressions from our trips at El Nido. On our last day at El Nido we had a beach day at Nacpan Beach.
Roman Huber • E-M1 MarkII • M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO • 1/200s • F4.5 • ISO100
CORON View from the local mountain Tapyas in Coron looking inlandWe then took a ferry to Coron which was our last stop in Palawan. Coron Island offers numerous sweet water lakes with crystal clear water. Apparently perfect for diving as we saw many divers there.
But to be fair the coral reefs around Coron are incredibly impressive. Probably the most colorful and beautiful ones I have ever seen. Again, the town itself doesn’t stand out but the surroundings certainly do. Here are some impressions from Coron.
Roman Huber • E-M1 MarkII • M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO • 1/125s • F5.0 • ISO200
CEBU View from Casino Peak over Cebu.We then flew on to Cebu. After having spent the last 12 days mainly in the sea, we wanted to explore the countryside a little more. However, especially in the Southwestern part of Cebu with some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Philippines we again found ourselves in the water quite a lot. Besides chasing waterfalls we did some little hikes and explored the island by scooter never knowing what the next winding road through the mountains might bring us. Here are some impressions from Cebu.
Roman Huber • E-M1MarkII • M.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8
Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, we couldn’t move on with our itinerary and had to figure out how to get home. After some cancelled flights and days of uncertainty, we were lucky to get a flight back home organized by the Austrian government. Nevertheless, we don’t want to miss any of the experiences we had planned for our travel and we’ll surely go back to the Philippines with its beautiful landscape and welcoming people when traveling far away is possible again. But for now stay safe out there and maybe just explore closer to home. Probably the last sunset before things changed.
We’ll certainly be back one day
Author and photographer: Roman Huber