My husband and I travelled to the Philippines in April and we just wanted to share our views and observations.
Firstly a massive thank you to all the people who provided advice in the initial stages of planning.
We flew into Kalibo and stayed at the ati atihan hostel overnight, which was perfect for a stopover. We departed early in the morning and the trike took us to the departure point for Jbud tours. We had to wait five minutes for the van to fill and were in our way. The trip took maybe 1.5hrs. It cost 100php from kalibo to caticlan jetty.
We paid 200php in fees at the jetty and caught the ferry. There were several security guards around to help direct us to the right windows to purchase our tickets. We made sure we purchased all three tix (banka, environmental fee, terminal fee). Bangkas depart all the time, no need to worry about schedules.
We stayed at frendz resort, which I think was 100-150php. We loved our stay at frendz and thought it was a great place to base ourselves for our stay.
Most days we spent on the beach, the water was incredible, the most brilliant blue hues. There was a little bit of algae, but nothing to stop you from enjoying your holiday. We hired a bangka and travelled around the island. We did visit puka beach and do some snorkelling. We felt incredibly safe and relaxed on this trip.
We met some of the most friendliest people in the Philippines. Everybody was willing to help.
The food was delicious.
You cannot have enough coconut and mango shakes, I have had massive withdrawals
The beach really is stunning
It is one of the cleanest countries we have visited. Several times we would see clean-up crews removing all the debris.
Spa treatments are ridiculously cheap, we were having 1-2 hr treatments daily for $3-6au
Awesome atmosphere at night from fire dancers to djs, always something to watch
We have travelled quite a few SE Asian countries and we would return to the Philippines in a heartbeat. For us, it really was the people. Sure they try and sell you stuff, but when you say no, they leave you alone, unlike some of our experiences in Thailand.
We would recommend the Philippines as a great family destination or a romantic getaway for couples. Living in Australia, I would encourage people to overlook Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia etc and head here! We cannot wait to return.