Ecotourism in the Philippines
Throughout the last century, the Philippines has struggled as a developing nation. High levels of poverty, low levels of education and care and widespread corruption contributed to the erosion of Philippine society. To rebuild the economy and improve the welfare of the local people, ecotourism became a nationwide effort. A master plan for ecotourism was developed in 1991 with the cooperation of the Philippine government, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Tourism Organization. Proposals for funding, demonstrations of ecotourism models, and local seminars and discussions were held to promote the idea. In 1999, a formal executive order was issued that put a formal organizational structure in place to promote and develop ecotourism in the Philippines.
While there are dozens of ecotourist sites in the Philippines, two areas in particular are known for their collections of sites. Visitors can experience the most popular ecotourist sites in the Philippines in these two areas, which include diverse biosystems, extensive outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery.
Palawan is the largest province in the Philippines, and the entire area was designated as a fish and wildlife sanctuary. It also contains the most protected areas in the Philippines, as it boasts three bird sanctuaries, 12 national parks, six mangrove forest reserves and 24 watershed forest reserves. Parts of the area have also been designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Ecotourist Sites located in Palawan:
Coron Bay Area: Popular with divers because of the extensive reefs and 12 World War II Japanese shipwrecks for exploring, this site also boasts seven lakes and cliffs. Snorkelers and divers with all levels of experience frequent the area for the boat charters, lessons and overnight dives.
El Nido Marine Reserve Park: The pristine island archipelago is vast and includes dense areas of lush forests, steep cliffs, diverse ecosystems and wildlife, extensive beaches, coral reefs and hidden lagoon.
Calauit Island Wildlife Sanctuary and Game Preserve: This island is filled with local game and endangered species. An arrangement between the Philippine government and African countries created the wildlife sanctuary, which also hosts exotic African animals.
Malampaya Seascape: This protected area in the city of Taytay is a large fishing area, watershed and the large habitat of different types of dolphins.
Tabon Caves: 200 shallow caves make up this cave network where ancient remains were once found. It is a popular destination with spelunkers and archaeology enthusiasts.
St. Paul National Park: This park contains the famous Puerto Princesa underground river, which is a popular ecotourism attraction. Tour boats guide visitors through the underground river's caverns, darkness and impressive cave formations. The park is also a hiking and boating destination.
Tubbataha Reef: A famous dive location, the reef is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. Divers flock to see the array of marine life.
Boracay is a small but popular island area known for its 12 diverse beaches, crystal caves, steep cliffs, coves and mountain top observation deck.
Popular ecotourist sites in Boracay:
Mount Luho: This is the highest point in Boracay and is traveled by hiking or mountain biking. The reward is a panoramic view of the area.
Willy's Rock: This is a castle-like volcanic rock formation with a stairway leading to a chapel at the top.
White Beach: One of the most famous white sand beaches in the Philippines, this is the most popular attraction on the island and has swimming, diving, parasailing, snorkeling and boating.
Bulabog Beach: This is Boracay's popular windsurfing and kite-boarding area.
KAR-TIR Seashell Museum: This museum contains shells, costumes, cultural art and various artifacts from all over the Philippines.
Ilig-Iligan Beach: This area has many coves and is known for its concentration of fruit bats, which can be seen while touring the surrounding caves and jungle.
Cagban Beach: Treasure chests are said to be buried along the beach and in local caves.
Boracay Butterfly Garden and Farm: Tropical gardens with displays of the life cycle of the butterfly are the attractions here.
Balinghai Beach: This small, quiet beach is surrounded by rock walls. Rental colleges line the inside and tops of the cliffs, and a coral garden is nearby.
Puka Shell Beach: This large beach with its mild surf is surrounded by fringing reefs. It is known for its abundance of small Puka shells. Motorized banca boats provide tours of the area.