In case you need even more inspiration to take that freediving class.
Most of us are content with swimming in pools or strapping on a life vest and goggles, but these celebs have taken these to an extent where they can enjoy the open sea without the need for scuba tanks. If the magical underwater world of the Philippines isn’t enough to entice you to freedive, maybe these local stars will:
The former actress is a full-on child of the sea; so much so that she’s developed her own line of swimwear (@sirenaswimwearph) and now runs a resort in Baler (@LSirene_). As someone who loves the sea, it’s no surprise that she also freedives.
He’s a triathlete, a father of two, and has one of the most enviable jobs in existence: hosting a travel show. He’s quite comfortable with open water (it’s a requirement if you’re exploring the Philippines), and has added freediving to his skillset after learning the basics for an episode of Biyahe ni Drew.
She’s a radio DJ for local radio station YesFM 101.1, and an events host. She’s also someone who’s fond of the ocean, which is apparent on her IG feed.
Rachel Anne Daquis
She’s a professional volleyball player, model, and businesswoman who’s best known for her time with the FEU Lady Tamaraws. She recently took up freediving with the help of @nofinsfreediverph, a group of avid freedivers who “aim to encourage anyone who’s willing to learn freediving, at the same time, help save the ocean.”
The basics Introductory freediving classes are available with groups such as Freedive PH (freedive.ph) holding classes at Scuba Studio in San Juan (pool) or Batangas (open water).
If skydiving is on your bucket list, get started by reading this one-on-one talk with skydiving safety and training advisor Brad Vancina.
I started with a tandem skydive. As soon as my feet touched the ground I knew I
was going to be a skydiver. That summer, I got my USPA
(United States Parachute Association) license. I spent two years at the DZ I
started at then was hired for a weekend camera position at Skydive Chicago.
Skydiving is a very physical sport. I take care of myself and have always maintained a good level of fitness. I ride my mountain bike a lot; I run on my treadmill a couple of days a week, and try and eat right. The gear we wear is heavy–24 kilos—plus the weight of our tandem passengers. We also deal with the heat, so drinking heaps of water and core strength are key to longevity in our trade.
If you’re getting into skydiving, don’t
take chances. We belong to an
organization called the United States Parachute Association where I am a safety
and training advisor. We work and operate under a certain perimeter of rules. If
you follow the rules and take the time and money to get certified at a USPA DZ,
you will be a good and safe skydiver. If you can’t do that, don’t skydive.
To date, I have made over 22,400
jumps. I must have had around 4,500
jumps when I got my Tandem rating. It took me over 17,000 jumps to get my AFFI
(freefall instructor) rating.
My dad inspired me to skydive. He wasn’t a skydiver but his love for aviation
and flying became my inspiration. I was the kid in the family that marched to
my own drum. Flying is nice but skydiving is just next level.
My most memorable jumps was when I
was teaching and jumping with my children, and doing tandem jumps with my mom
We are a family run and operated
skydive center that is current in the industry. Our methods are world recognized and our equipment is
the best that money can buy. Here, you are training and jumping with
professional and USPA-rated tandem and AFF instructors. As far as I know, we
are the only professional skydiving center in the Philippines.
We only use the best skydiving
gear. All of our tandem
equipment are Micro Sigma, made by UPT (USA). We use 330-square-feet Icarus Tandem Canopies from New
Zealand, Performance Designs Reserves
(USA) and Vigil and CypressAAD’s (Automatic Activation Devices).
If you can’t afford what’s safe and modern both for gear and training, then you
should probably take up a different sport.
My wife, Louise (an Ilongga and a surgical ICU nurse from Chicago), and I were already operating our own skydive center south of Chicago when we came to the Philippines. We saw there was nothing of the sort here and started to do the research into how we could make it work. After an email to Capt. Alvin Boyd Loreno, a commercial pilot and flight instructor from Mactan, I found a guy that was interested and understood the need to follow rules if there was going to be professional skydiving in the Philippines.
We all took a chance together and formed Skydive Greater Cebu. Boyd knew the ins and outs of airspace rules here with CAAP and plays an important role in government relations and our aircraft maintenance and safety. We started in Bantayan Island, Cebu in 2013 and it continues to be our flagship operation. That’s where we get our biggest numbers as well as all our USPA AFF certifications and licensing.
Because of how hard it was to travel here in the Philippines, we
realized it would be good to open a location South of Cebu. Siquijor was a
My wife and I always had our eye on Palawan but it wasn’t until this year
that we decided to do a trial run. We have been open in xx, Palawan but
we are shutting down and reopening in November. I feel it will be our best
location in two years.
Any USPA Skydive Center that
follows the course to a T and has highly experienced instructors is good if you
want to learn skydiving. If
their instructor has less than 1,000 jumps, he/she has no business teaching
someone how to skydive.
Skydiving is a progressive sport. It’s best to go to a progressive DZ
to get a license and make your tandem skydive. Make sure their training methods
are current and the equipment they use are made within the past six years.
Pick a DZ with instructors that have time to jump with you. Some
instructors like to rush to the next student because that’s how they make their
money. Pre and post-jump briefings are very important, and you can’t do those
while running to the next student.
Skydiving is a pretty competitive
industry so the costs are pretty fixed. Most tandem jumps with video are around USD400. AFF levels
are usually around USD200 – 250 per level. Once licensed most DZ’s offer slots
to altitude for USD25 – 45. If you see a real cheap skydiving center, you
should be very concerned and ask a lot of questions.
Being a scuba diver, my wife and family often find ourselves in
Malapascua Island, diving with our good friends at DiveLink Cebu. I am excited to open our skydiving center in xx,
Palawan in <target date> because the diving and surfing there is awesome
and not as crowded.
There are many good restaurants in
Bantayan Island, Cebu. You can’t
go wrong with most of the sugba-sugba
(grilled seafood) places and I can never give a good lechon station a pass. A trip to Cebu is never complete without a
bowl of spicy ramen from Hamakaze.
I grew up in the farmlands of Illinois. My dad always supported my love for motocross bikes and BMX vert riding. As I grew up, I raced XC and downhill mountain bikes, all while twisting throttles on motocross bikes.
I still ride mountain bikes a couple of days a week. I found a great
group of Filipinos here on Bantayan Island. We ride Enduro Motocross and trail rides from Bogo to Cebu. My greatest
passion of all is surfing. It’s the only thing that still scares me.
I like beaches. Where the beach is doesn’t really matter as long
as there are nice wave coming in. I’m not too good at just relaxing. One of the
best times of my life were the years I spent living in Australia. It was the
perfect mix of jumping all day and running to the beach with my board every
We are quite happy here in the Philippines. There are a few things that drive me crazy with the way things get done, but for the most part you can’t beat the heart and warmth of the Filipino.ho is Brad Vancina?
Who is Brad Vancina? Brad is the man behind the only USPA-affiliated skydiving centers in the Philippines: Skydive Greater, which now has two branches—it’s original location in Bantayan Island, Cebu; and Siquijor. Visit Skydivecebu.com
Riding a motorbike is one of life’s greatest joys (or, at least, it should be), and here’s where you should do it.
Since it’s not as wet in the South as it is here in the North, and since motorbiking is life, giving you an adulterated freedom to see and experience sights at your own pace, cheating city and inner town traffic, here are five destinations you can fly to and enjoy the sights of, after renting a motorbike. Bloggers Kara Santos and Louie Pacardo curate.
The island province of Siquijor is a scenic island worth exploring on a day motorbike tour. Often associated with stories of witchcraft and mysticism, Siquijor offers enchanting beaches, beautiful waterfalls, and other architectural gems. The most interesting spots are scattered around the island—a bit difficult to access by public transportation but best if via a motorbike.
Glan, Sarangani Province
The road going to the beach town of Glan is already a destination. The coastal road along the edges of Sarangani Bay offers scenic views of the mangrove-rich and white sand beach strips. Glan is best known for its white sand beaches and heritage sites. Biker-friendly resorts include Kamari Resort and Hotel which offers a spacious and guarded parking area.
Glan is about one hour’s ride away from General Santos City in Mindanao
Alamada, North Cotabato
Alamada is among the lesser known riding destinations in Mindanao with unique landscapes and roadside views. The 120-meter wide Asik-asik Falls is the top destination going to this silent town in North Cotabato. Another emerging must-stopover is Daday Falls, a tall drop settled in a Jurassic period-like landscape sandwiched by steep gorges in Barangay Dado.
Alamada is about three and a half hours’ ride away from Davao City
Lebak, Sultan Kudarat
This coastal town facing the Celebes Sea in southwest Mindanao is best known among riders because of its twisting roads. You’ll do about a hundred motorcycle bankings going in and out of this sleepy town in Maguindanao Province. Lebak is best known for its tasty crabs and seafoods and its many waterfalls like Tres Andanas Falls.
Precaution: Mindanao is generally peaceful. However, just like when traveling in any part of the country or even the world, it is still best to check the present security situation in particular areas with previous peace and order issues.
For beach-lovers and surfers, the island of Siargao is one of the best places where to ride. Aside from the main surfing area of Gen. Luna, the island conceals beautiful uncrowded spots like Malinao, Magpupungko Tidal Pools, and Pacifico, that you can easily ride to. There’s a variety of motorbikes for rent, including ones outfitted with surf racks—well, for packing your surfboard—and gorgeous bespoke bikes handcrafted by 3B Customs, a bike builder from Surigao City.
Know where to ride the winds, straight from award-winning kitesurfer Dano See.
Most people will point towards Boracay as the kitesurfing capital of the country. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the only place where you can ride the winds. Here’s a list of kitesurfing spots in the Philippines from former kitesurfing champ Dano See.
1. Kingfisher Resort, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
For Australian kite designer and professional kitesurfer Dano See, Ilocos Norte is not only a site for history and beautiful beaches but also a playground for kitesurfers looking for the ideal wind condition. Kingfisher Resort in Pagudpud is where kitesurfing enthusiasts will find the “strongest winds, biggest waves, and most radical reef passes for the longest duration of the year,” says Dano. But what makes Kingfisher a special location is the bigger venturi effect caused by the local mountain range which adds in 10 to 15 knots to any forecast. The venturi effect is when the wind becomes stronger as it passes between mountains or hills.Book kitesurfing tours at Kingfisher.ph
Bangui Beach, Bangui, Ilocos Norte
Another spot worth checking out in Ilocos Norte is Bangui Beach, which, according to Dano offers a “great beach break location with side-shore winds for the experienced wave riders or a super flat water lagoon surrounded by windmills.” He considers it the most picturesque location in the Philippines because of the wind farms and its waist-deep lagoon. Book kitesurfing tours at Kingfisher.ph
Paoay Lake, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
Another requisite in the must-kitesurf list of kiters as it has a freshwater lake that’s ideal for flat water kiteboarding—kiteboarding that entails gliding over a calm, slow-flowing body of water. “The winds can be strong too, but typically, it’s more your average 9-meter-plus weather, which is the wind range for small kites. The season is much more limited as it is out of the Taiwan Strait, but the heat of the Laoag area draws in afternoon sea breezes.”Book kitesurfing tours at Kingfisher.ph
The laid-back southwestern charm of
Mindoro coupled with unspoiled pocket beaches, coves, waterfalls, caves, as
well as steady and strong winds make it an alluring kitesurfing destination.
The town of Bulalacao, which Dano describes as the “outback region of the
Philippines,” is wonderful because of its rugged trails and forested paths. It is also notable for its howling winds due to
the venture effect created by the huge mountain range of the neighboring
Aside from Bulalacao, other spots in
Mindoro that are good for kitesurfing include Libagao and Nagubat, Aslom and
Cuyo Bay, Cuyo, Palawan
Further away, Cuyo Bay in Palawan is perfect for flat water kiteboarding—thanks to its sandy bottom and some outside reef passes that offer small wave riding fun. “Although Cuyo is an island off Palawan, it has been listed under Mindoro because the wind is from the same venturi effect of the Tablas Straight. Winds are strong and blowing from Amihan (northeast wind) starting October up to May. Recommended kite sizes are from 5m and up,” Dano says. #DashHolidays is your all-in, hassle-free provider of travel packages that include roundtrip airfare, roundtrip airport transfers, tours, and room nights. +63917 840 6853, +63917 627 6179 [email protected] GF Solar Century Tower, 100 Tordesillas corner HV Dela Costa Streets, Salcedo Village, Makati City Open from Mondays to Saturdays from 9am to 5pm
Kite Club Palawan, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
A 20-minute drive from the Puerto Princesa International Airport, in Brgy. San Jose lies Kite Club Palawan, a resort with a beachfront that is a good spot for kiteboarding. It’s the only safe launching spot along the southern end of Honda Bay. “The venturi effect here is the leftover air flow from Mindoro’s Tablas Strait, which reacts with the local mountain ranges and land temperatures.”
“It’s best to kitesurf here during the Amihan season, especially from December to February, and use kites with size from 9 meters and up.”
Lakawon Island, Negros Occidental
In Negros Occidental lies Lakawon Island, which, according to Dano, cradles over 100 hectares of reef that offer a “perfect flat water lagoon location and right-hand point break seen on the outside reef during high winds and typhoons.”
“The winds here are a mix of venturi and sea breeze all year round. Amihan winds from November to March are relatively light, but the Habagat (southwest monsoon) winds are quite special. The southwest air flow funnels through the Guimaras Strait bumping up the usually light offseason winds. Use kites that are sized 9 meters and up if it’s the Habagat.” Lakawon island is a 20-minute boat ride from the Cadiz Viejo Port and 50km north from Bacolod Airport
Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental
Zamboanguita in Negros Oriental is a chill kiteboarding spot with good flat water conditions and consistent winds from September to May. “Here, the wind is mainly from the Amihan wind flow with a large volcano in the backdrop accelerating the air flow around the bottom corner of the island,” says Dano.Zamboanguita is an hour-drive away from Dumaguete City, the capital of Negros, which is known for its lively food scene and makes for a good basecamp
9. Siargao Island
If you think that surfing is all there is in the country’s surfing capital, take a look at its waves again. Because then you’ll know that they likewise attract the different kind of surfers— kitesurfers, that is. Cloud 9 is said to be the mecca for advanced kitesurfers because of its huge waves and averagely light winds. But Dano has a piece of advice: Stay well clear of the Boardwalk area; otherwise, you’re likely to get your kite all tangled up.
The huge lagoon near Viento del Mar in General Luna, also offers a good flat water kiting—thanks, in part, to its sandy and grassy bottom. “Although the winds are generally light there is the odd monsoonal blow. Best to kitesurf Cloud 9 from December to February and use kites from 12 meters and up. There are, however, those few days a year when you need a much smaller kite.
10. Boracay Island, Aklan
Boracay is the mecca of kiteboarding and windsurfing in the Philippines, in fact, it’s is where it all started and kicked off. The wind here are lighter as they come from the Tablas Straight and they’re consistent from November to March, and allows for using kites from 9m and up. Alternately, White Beach, world-famous for its four-kilometer-long creamy white-sand beach, is, according to Danao, a “great for kitesurfing from June to September.”
Who is Dano See? Dano is a former kitesurfing champion who is now into kite designing and manufacturing. He’s been supplying kitesurfing schools from all over the globe and helping kitesurfing schools in the Philippines by providing affordable kitesurfing equipment.
Explore sunken ships—the ugly beautiful allure of Coron, Palawan.
Coron, Palawan, the wreck diving capital of the Philippines, is known for its 13 World War II Japanese shipwrecks all lying within depth enough for them to be explorable by underwater addicts—the divers— from the Teru Kaze at a minimum depth of 4m, to the Irako with a maximum depth of 42m.
offer great views from the outside and excellent routes on the inside for
experienced divers and those with the right certification levels. Most of
Coron’s dive operators in town, including our own Reggae Dive Center, typically
offers three daily dives.
If you only have
a few days in town, try this itinerary.
Start your diving holiday with some shallower check out dive in Barracuda Lake, known for its thermoclines and temperatures reaching 39 degrees Celcius—a perfect warm-up for a stunning dive on the Morazan Maru, which offers great diving both for experienced and entry-level divers.
Morazan Maru was originally built in
1905 in England but was sunk in September 1944 along with the other wrecks. She
has since turned into a home of an abundance of species like lionfish and giant
trevallies—and sometimes even turtles.
Cap off your day
with a shallow dive at Teru Kaze
located a stone’s throw away from the Morazan Maru, for some reef and wreck
diving. This wreck is good for snorkeling as the shallowest part is only 4m
below the surface. On most days, Teru Kaze will offer good views from below as
well as from above the surface.
You’ll be back
in Coron later in the afternoon with ample time to climb Mount Tapyas for a
view of beautiful sunsets and of Coron Island. Enjoy a refreshing fruit shake
or a cold beer at the newly opened Tapas Lounge before you continue further
down the hill and out into town.
End your day by
stopping at Coron’s many bars and restaurants. You can have the bistek and menudo at Lolo Nonoy’s or
vegan pesto pasta and veggie sticks at Le
Voyage. For something off-track, walk off the main street and venture into
Coron’s side streets with its eateries and restaurants catering to all tastes.
Experienced and certified divers can upgrade their depth limits with dives to the Akitsushima.
location between 23 and 35 meters under the sea makes it not suitable for entry
level divers but it remains to be one of the most popular dives in the area as
it’s the only wreck left with its guns mostly intact. The guns are dislodged
from the gun turrets and are currently standing upright on the seabed next to
the wreck, with three barrels raised toward to surface.
some time on the surface, have your second dive at the Okikawa Maru, an oil tanker that holds the distinction as Coron’s
longest and widest shipwreck at 160 meters in length and a 20-meter span across
the beam. Her shallower part lies above the depth limit for entry level divers.
This wreck is
located in a passage that from time to time creates strong currents. Due to the
relatively shallow depth and the current, the Okikawa Maru teems with marine
life—groupers, snappers, crocodile fish, triggerfish, and more. Those with keen
eyes will find this wreck good for macro diving.
Cap your day’s
dive series at Lusong Gunboat, one
of the last unidentified wrecks in Coron. The Gunboat took direct hits and had
its wreckage spread over a wide area, though the hull is generally intact. As
with the Teru Kaze, this gunboat was also sunk in very shallow water—so shallow
in fact that this wreck pokes out of the water at low tide.
Gunboat is perfect for all levels of divers—from those getting into scuba
diving, experienced divers who want to chill a bit after some great dives, and macro
End your day
with a dip at Maquinit Hot Springs with its natural saltwater springs, or a
full Italian meal at Altrove.
This day will be your last diving day in Coron since divers are advised not to fly within 18 hours of going underwater. Finish off in style at the Irako, Coron’s deepest and darkest shipwreck.
Irako was a
refrigerator ship in the Japanese Navy. She has tight compartments and storage
rooms, and her starting depth of 30 meters means only the most experienced of
divers dare to take her on. Currents can change in a heartbeat and visibility
ranges from a few meters on a bad day to magnificent ideal months. Her upright
position with masts still poised makes it easy to see why she has become part
of many divers coming to Coron’s bucket lists.
dive is on the cards for your last dive day: the Kogyo Maru, an auxiliary construction supply ship, which went down
with her load. One can still see the toppled construction machines in her cargo
holds, with belt tracks and hundreds upon hundreds of bags of cement. Like the
Morazan Maru, this wreck is widely covered in corals and marine life, from
schools of seabreams to circling big-eye trevallies, to huge numbers of scads
Make a final
dive in one of Coron’s reefs or one of the shallower wrecks to make this trip
one for the books.
Head back town
for some tasty ramen and a cold beverage at Buzz. You can also visit Tita Esh for a more low-key vibe and some
filling pansit canton or a
heart-warming bowl of mami.
It’s island hopping day! Make sure not to leave Coron without taking a trip to Coron Island. Rent a private boat with a tour guide or book a tour through an operator.
offers a lot of white sand beaches and clear waters, with lunch that’s served
in one of the small huts they have set up for the same purpose on the beaches.
Do not miss out on Kayangan Lake or Twin Lagoon; go snorkeling in Siete Pecados or Twin Peaks.
Rent a kayak or
a standup paddleboard in town if you’re feeling edgy before leaving and explore
the island as you paddle along. This is a great opportunity to experience the beauty of the island in a very eco-friendly way.
Relax and enjoy
the evening with a good view and a cold gin and tonic from either the View Deck
or Suites 4:13 before heading out for dinner and summoning a good night sleep.
Who is Lisbeth Jensen? Lisbeth is an instructor at Reggae Dive Center in Coron for over four years now. She is passionate about the environment and has used her work to participate in conservation efforts in Busuanga.
The Basics Get there. Skyjet Airlines flies from Manila to Coron three times daily. Flyskyjetair.com
Dive tours. Reggae Dive Center offers fun dives to Coron’s many shipwrecks as well as PADI dive courses. Mobile: +63928 835 5657, +63906 316 1454 Reggaedivecenter.com
Head to Freediving Coron if you want to enjoy these same dive spots without the need for heavy scuba gear. Mobile: + 63915 172 6809 Freediving-coron.com
Words: Lisbeth Jensen; Photos: Catalin Craciun & Daniel Soriano Featured photo by Catalin Craciun