The Philippines provides some the greatest cruising grounds on earth. Endless pristine white sandy beaches, unique and isolated anchorages, cruiser friendly boutique resorts, heartwarming friendly villages, all make a cruisers paradise for sure. Ah but it is the hidden gems that really create a spectacular cruising experience. Cruisers can hire a motorbike and venture to some little-known pleasures from most anchorages.
The surprised come from under the ground, being built on a series of volcanic thermal events the Philippines is home to a wide selection of natural hot springs, all easily accessed from our boats. Our first and in the top list is the Maquinit Hot Springs. This public bathing site is accessible from Coron town via tricycle or by dinghy from near by Coron Island anchorages. There are three pools, one moderate temperature and two warmer ones. The pools are uniquely fed by hot, crystal-clear hot water bubbling out of the ground. Covid restrictions were still in place so limited to 100 (we never saw more than 15) guests at a time, tickets must be purchased at the vender in Coron town, we hope this will be dropped soon. No boating trip to the Coron area is complete without a visit here.
The thermal heat source provide another exotic experience diving at Baracuda lake on Coron Island. A short hike to the landing and the divers jump into 28 degree clear lake water, once descending to 10 meters one reaches the thermal layer and the temperature bolts up to 40 degrees C, diving in a hot tub!
Next Hot Springs adventure is a well-hidden local secret, a small spring hidden in the mangroves near the famous Coron wreck diving, Sangat Hot Springs. Permission is needed for use, once acquired it is a splendid place for a surface interval between dives.
Back at our mooring in Busuanga Bay, we hire a motorbike from Marina del Sol and head north along the coast for our next find, Paraiso de San Rafael Hot Springs. We take the dirt road off the main route, cross two easy rivers and find a lovely and little used Graden of Eden. The pool is a good temperature for a long soak. Shade is provided by a canopy of magically mixed tree branches. There is also a nice swimming temperature pool, picnic areas and a small store. In three trips there we have always been the only ones there, all to ourselves!
After three long days of passage making, we dropped the hook right in front of Siraan Hot Springs and Health Resort off of Bayo Point on Panay Island, a short hop in the dinghy ashore for a nice well deserved soak. The resort has various pools, all with ocean view. Few places one can have a clear view of their yacht at anchor while soaking in a warm pool, it is a cruisers fantasy come true.
The next leg took us to Tambobo Bay, a well known anchorage, again we commandeered motorbikes and headed back to another beloved bit of heaven. Basley Hot Springs is on public land, accessed by descending 261 steps, into a mystical canyon surrounded by jungle. The pools are fed by a combination of boiling hot water bubbling out of the ground, tempered by a cool stream, so one can adjust the temperature to fit.
The four cement pools were destroyed by a recent typhoon. A massive flood induced a land slide plunging Volkswagen sized boulders right into the pools, tragic and not likely repaired very soon. Ah but the locals persevered and redirected the now exposed thermal stream into the cooler creek to make two wonderful hot soaking pools. I worked with the locals to make the damn forming the two pools with varying water temps. The upper pool a bit cooler attracted a local family, the lower one being quite hot was just right for me, my reward for my damn building. After an afternoon of pure bliss, I trudged up the 261 steps a renewed soul.
The next chance for a good hot soak came while moored at Porter’s Marina near Cebu. A nice coastal drive north and an epic all terrain road up the mountain found us in the blissful jungle setting of Esoy Hot Springs. After pushing our poor rental car up the mountain, through the mud and over the rocks, we arrived at the parking lot of Esoy Hot Springs. This unexpected resort is built on the side of a jungle cliff. As we descended the steep, narrow steps looking through jungle vines to the river far below, we saw monkeys swinging from the vines.
Ther are a series of pools carved out of the side of the cliff, the upper one being the hottest. Access to the river follows the steps all the way down.
Priam and I enjoyed the hot soak, I perched directly under the source for the most heat. Soon we were blessed with the real treat, a large troop of monkeys appeared dashing about the trees and vines directly overhead!
The owner was pleased to recognize us on our second visit in a week, gave us a bit of a discount and broke out some bananas for the monkeys, creating quite a show.
The last stop on our “Hot Springs Cruise of 2022” was a familiar place we have visited many times, San Benin Mateo Hot Springs Resort. When we visit Gubat, my bride’s hometown, I anchor off of Bagato Island. This well island is well protected from the NE winds that whip through Sorsogon Bay. We now have friends in the neighboring town, the mayor has visited Furthur. This is close enough to Donna’s village and the hot springs, a favorite of our family. This year the whole gang celebrated Papa and Priam’s birthdays there. This popular destination is often a bit crowded but big enough to absorb the crowds. Families like ours fill jeepneys packed with celebrators and will rent one of the covered Kubos to spend the day. There are two places where the water is hot enough for me, which is too hot for most and plenty of cooler water pools.
That wrapped up our Hot Springs adventures. Many cruisers, once tired of endless white beaches, marvelous small resorts, epic diving, and constant socializing cruisers love, can get off the boats and find another layer of hidden treasures in the Philippines. That is why we call it paradise!