“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Almost everyone of us for once in our life would want to be a tourist and at the same time a traveler-exploring island after islands, roaming around valleys, hills, and seascape; meeting people from far away places, taking selfies of oneself behind famous landmark. Spending quality time with friends and families while basking the summer heat along the sandy beach of Coron, Panglao, Siquijor or Apo Island. But how?
There are several ways to do it. Among the favorite choice is the guided tour packages. I think every tourists are well accustomed with these kind of set-up, all you have to do is choose the package you preferred and settle the necessary payment, then voila! you’re good to go. One thing I don’t like about package tour (no offense to my lady friend, just my personal opinion) is the fact that you will pay the cost for the actual tour plus their service fees, commission, sales tax etc. ouch! Not only that, it limits your freedom to go anywhere you want- after all you’re just a tourist and not the explorer you should have been.
Then there’s this what they called the self-guided “Do It Yourself” (DIY) tour, a tried and tested way mostly done by young, and independent generation of adventure seekers. Basically doing your own planning and researching before going on a trip cut the need for the costly tour middleman! If you plan your own itinerary yourself you get the freedom to choose your own adventure- whether on a bumpy ride of a Jeepney, or at the comfort of an inter-modal buses; why not on a roller coaster like ride of a ferry boat? Pretty sure you’ll discover every town and cities in this country even when you’re on a tight budget. But exactly how?
One way I know is through Island hopping. Here are five questions frequently ask about Island hopping.
1. What is Island Hopping?
It is simply going to island after islands on a slow boat. If your fast paced, jet-setter type of person, I am not really sure you will loved the idea simply because ferry travel in a Philippine setting is unlike American or European type of cruising. Traveling on a ferry boat can be a little disappointing and chaotic sometimes, especially to first timer. But for those who tried it once you would surely feel the need to try it again and again simply because it’s a lot cheaper and it is the most convenient mode of transporting people and cargoes to far flung island destination; plus the fact that it is said to be more fun and exciting than the usual and boring air travel.
Island hopping is all about going to as many islands as you can without over-spending (making you broke upon returning home is a non-sense). Compared to packaged tour wherein you fly to your destination, and then visit famous landmark during daylight, and then stay in a cozy hotel at night-for a couple of days- and that’s what it is. I say No, island hopping is far more better than that, believe me.
2. Why Island Hopping?
It is an old and tested, fun and exciting way of reaching your dream destination. I mean it’s like going back to about a hundred or less years ago wherein air travel is virtually unheard of, and the only means of reaching another island is by way of sailing. My Spanish-Moorish ancestors have done it centuries ago where they too went on island hopping coming from their homeland Spain. Looking, searching, and finally discovered an island here where its beauty and mystery were then explored. I’m pretty sure you have it too.
Island hopping adventures are tailor-made for young generations of thrill-seekers whom are in a look out of something new and something different. Young professionals now adays have these type of drive because they’re typically more creative, inventive, idealistic, pro-active and successful. Island hopping will surely improved once concentration, broadened its own perspective, and will test its own limits as you will leave from your comfort zone.
3. What can I achieved doing Island Hopping?
Honestly, it depends on each individual. I remember I was wandering from Manila down to Bicol on a bumpy, back-aching bus ride; then went on island hopping to Samar and Ormoc in Leyte Province for two non-stop days. Feeling not satisfied after, despite lack of sleep and rest, I embarked on a slow ferry boat to Cebu and Negros Island (Dumaguete to be exact); and a few days thereafter I went back to Manila again via Bacolod all the way to Iloilo City on a slow boat, t’was my first Island hopping trip way back 2008. What did I achieved on that trip? a lot, I got answer to my prayers… short of a miracle.
And it was followed on year after year since then, island hopping trip all over Visayas and Mindanao. On last January of this year alone I took a week-long trip from Dumaguete City (my hometown), took a six hour bus ride to City of “smiles” Bacolod then hopped to Iloilo, then took a ferry-boat crossing the choppy and stormy weather of Sulu Sea heading to the remote island of Cuyo. Several hours after we went sailing again heading to Port of Puerto Princesa, and all the way to the capital City of Manila (after a few hours strolling around the beautiful City of Puerto Princesa) by way of Coron Island, and then back again here in Dumaguete through the Queen City of Cebu, all of which by means of a slow boat.
Another successful island hopping trip were just concluded again just few days ago- this time covering the island of Panay, Mindoro, Batangas, Manila, Romblon (my first time here), Masbate, Leyte, Cebu and Negros via bus and Ro-Ro boat. The trip took me about a week to complete with minimal cost and without any difficulties of whatsoever, an amazing experience indeed.
What did I got out of these grueling, back-breaking and butt-burning trip? It made me realized the need for more adventure, contemplating the chances to do the ultimate island hopping to the island of Cagayancillo or Tawi-tawi for change.
It’s tricky to find the right reason on activities such as I mentioned. Maybe you should ask yourself first, is it worth? I’m sure you will find a convincing reason for yourself.
4. How to stage a successful Island Hopping?
Accomplishment for your week to month-long island hopping trip will be measured upon your return to the comfort of your own home. That’s the way it is, no one for sure can foretell the hurdle you will encounter during your journey to discovery- remember you’ll opt the Do it Yourself vacation trip, it means you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime. It’s not a guided tour wherein you pay someone to take you safely and without any inconveniences- and let you take a snapshot of landmark… for the sake of you being there. Instead you’re going on an island hopping on your own or with your friends because you knew well enough how to be an explorer and not as a tourist.
Looking for a successful island hopping adventure trip would depend on a good planning of course.You should consider as many things you can imagine, you need to do a lot of research. And sometimes it will involve your family and friends for an advice; consultation to people with experienced doing such kind of activities so as to make your trip easy and safely. Always remember that each plan of action may work or not work along the way, most of the time your travel plan may fail (that is why God created tour guides) but it’s normal. What I did when my plan didn’t work? Well I got some back-up plan instead.
Here are few things to consider while you’re in a planning stage. Do you prefer luggage or backpack? Island hopping is all about mobility, you will be in constant motion doing a lot of walking , transferring from one mode of transportation into another. Luggage will surely keep you uncomfortable throughout the journey.
Do you prefer staying at cozy hotel or at the comfort of a bus or ferry terminal’s benches and floors? Island hopping is not about being a tourist who goes for a sight-seeing and shopping spree, it’s all about being a traveler who knows how to be simple and adapted to ones environment, and most of all, he/she had a slightest discipline on spending. Island hopping is for people who are in search for the elusive “something new and something different ” for their life.
5. When is the best time to do Island Hopping?
You may do it anytime of the year whenever and wherever, there are no rule as to when will be the best time. But a good island hopping traveler must knew when will be the best time to travel, they usually knows the perfect weather, the less crowded and cheap fares around. He or she knows how to get in and out of the island with ease, and as much as possible prevent him/her from being stranded for a long time.
A good traveler knows to how plan well and expect that a plan may not perfect after all. The ideal island hoppers are usually those that are mobile, flexible, tough, free wheeling, determined and got a good timing. And of course just like a tourist, one must have enough money reserve inside the pocket just to make sure.
Where is the best destination to start on island hopping adventure?
We’ll see about that in the coming months. Have a pleasant day everyone!