Island hopping in the Philippines

Updated: Jan 16, 2018

Pangloa, Bohol, Malapascua. If you've never heard these names before, get your snorkel mask and your camera and book that flight to The Philippines! Beautiful diving spots and turqoise waters is not all the 7.000 islands have to offer though, traveling with kids to the Philippines will take you on a cultural journey and probably not without a couple of insights and bruises that will make them remember the trip! Don't be put off though - here is Chris's story on the Phillippines!

Inspiration by Christopher Juul Nyegaard - Written by Mathilde Moyell Juul


"Where ever I lay my hat, that's my home". I guess for someone who is Danish, born and bread in Singapore, who has travelled on 17 planes and visited 10 countries at the age of 18 months, I should be the expert. But for me, Philippines and Philippinos will always have a special place in my heart. Not because my brother is called Philip, and not because they have a lot of GREAT dried mango there, but simply because my nanny and best friend, Emily, is from there. Because of her, Philippines seemed familiar even before going - or at least the faces. However, I nearly didn't make it...

Before revealing why, just one thing. You are asking a baby for travel advice, which means you will of course get it from...a baby's - correction - toddler's, perspective. We're generally quite a happy and content sort, but also quite honest. You'll therefore get both the Highlights and the Bummers in my story below.


Bummer#1 - Expired passport

Not a great start. I realised why, when observing the many lines and very wide eyes in my parent's faces the day before departure. I didn't really get it at first, but when my mum checked in online on the morning of Christmas eve, it became obvious by the sound of her screech! She had realised that my passport was 2 days under being '6 months from expiry', not good, even although I think we can agree, that unless I've had lessons from Boss Baby (agree, similar look) I'm hardly going to harm anyone or be a threat to security on a plane.

However, having a passport under 6 months from expiring is vital in some countries, Philippines being one of them. So, a couple of calls, a very beneficial Christmas service at the Danish Church (Danish ambassador incidentally there) and a visit to the closed embassy (with extremely nice ambassador there, not incidentally) 3 hours before I flight on Christmas Day, my passport was extended.


SEE INSTAGRAM and click STORIES HIGHLIGHTS to see more from this journey.


HIGHLIGHT#1 - RenewAL + bassinet

As you can hear, this holiday almost didn't happen. But thanks to Dorthe Ambassador, it did. And thank God for that, because my mum had booked very good front seats with a bassinet, that I think with a bit of play-doh skills, her and dad managed to squeeze my little legs and arms into, as I got tired.

Almost a first class start to a holiday...but one that quite quickly got slightly downgraded...


Bummer#2 - missing the boat

Having good seats doesn't speed up the plane. And the plane was late, 45 min. exactly, minutes that would affect the rest of our trip that day quite a deal. We ran (well some), first in line for luggage, first in line for taxi and 5:45pm, we were relieved to see our boat at port 4. But, we're in the Philippines, and just because you have an online ticket, even on paper, its's necessary go to Port 1 to check in, have your luggage scanned and .get a shuttle back to the boat. A port where all taxis were completely stuck and half the Philippines were getting boats to see their relatives for Christmas. The 5 of us ran out of the taxi, into the street with all our gear, pushed our way through the massive crowds, but at Cat Ferries we were greeted with: "your ferry has just left".

Check out video with tasters from the trip!


Christmas Day, no ferries until 10pm and not a restaurant or babyfood in sight. Only a mechanical Santa and a his rain deers who reminded us of what day it was and that mummy's crackers and smoothie pouches would be our Christmas Day dinner. This was also when Philip and Sienna realised we didn't have the right adapters for the plugs used in Philippines and the two battery drained ipads were struggling, - this meant, that so were my brother and sister. But we managed. Played with Santa, a couple of other kids, went for a zillion walks around the now half-empty ferry terminal and waited...

HIGHLIGHT#2 - Missing the boat

...and what for you might ask? Well, there was a night ferry. At 10pm that did take 3 times as long as the 6pm one that we missed. But, it had....BUNK BEDS! Philip, Sienna and myself so excited, we were going to sleep on this ferry! And not alone of course, probably the only ones with blonde hair, but like us, other kids got out their toys and daddy's followed the sports on the TV. I finally slept at midnight I think, and then, at 3am the boat suddenly stopped. People kept sleeping, but we were actually at port, at Panglao, and thankfully, our hotel had sent a man to pick up us, in the dark and middle of the night.

SEE INSTAGRAM and click STORIES HIGHLIGHTS to see more from this journey.


No bed for me, no made-up beds for Philip and Sienna, but at 4am, all was taken care off and we could stretch our legs, enjoy the quiet sound of waves and relax after a long day.

..And you know what? It had been fun, an adventure, running through crowds, hanging out with Santa, sleeping on a bunkbeds on a ferry... we wouldn't have changed it for anything. I think my mum and dad were relieved when we woke up to this view though.

Admittedly, we were also pretty excited when we saw the beach, let alone the breakfast!


Bummer#3- daddy lost at sea

We love d the Amorita Resort in Panglao, and I'll tell you more about this in a minute.

But first, another shocker at sea for us - or for my dad more like. Whale Sharks is apparently the big thing, my mum and dad both really wanted to see them and swim with them, and with a 2 hours boatride from Panglao, apparently you can. My dad got off early and off he went. As you probably saw in the video, he did actually see them, in fact, so close that the tale of the whale shark hit the underwater camera! So that was of course a "highlight", not a "bummer". The bummer happened after, when the motor on the diving boat broke down, and it wouldn't go anywhere, for 3 hours! They were in new territory in Philippines and not allowed to leave the boat and get another to sail the group home. So many negotiations later, some that entailed the possibility of staying the night there! - they were finally allowed back. We all got a bit worried, as of course you can get very cold in a wetsuit out on the sea for so many hours!

Highlight#3- panglao,pool&chocolate

But, thankfully he came back for dinner and we could tell him about all the fun we'd had playing at the swings, the beach and the two pools. I loooved being in the pools, they were very toddler friendly and the staff gave us mango popsicles every day!

We'd mostly stay at the pool by the restaurant and in the afternoon hung out by the other one on the cliff, where you can drinks, watch the sunset and go down to the beach.

Amorita is on the hill, so you walk down about a 15 steps to Alona beach. Great water, lovely sand and Sienna said - also lots of star fish and Nemo's if you snorkle from the beach, 10 metres out!

So now you're probably excitedly waiting for the chocolate part...

Well, sorry to tease, but it's not real chocolate - it's Chocolate Hills! And we saw these, by doing a short day-trip around Bohol with a driver from the hotel. If you get the bridge over from Panglao to Bohol and drive for an hour, you will get to see this:

Not so chocolate? Well, they should have been all brown in the dry season, but they looked pretty green to me! Something else on our journey was slightly more chocolate in colour though, very cute, but not edible either: The Tarsier Monkey! Seriously, you have never in your life seen a monkey this small - supposedly it's the smallest in the world! And they have very big eyes, when they're open that is, because most of the time, they sleep like koala bears in the trees.

On our trip around Bohol and Panglao, we also drove through rice paddies and a crazy manmade forest with TAAAL trees!

The great finale was lunch at this organic farm place, called Bohol Bee Farm - my mum was clicking away with her camera, as she runs a website called www.orgayana.com (a guide to green lifestyle), so she was in heaven with all the food being organic and all these 'sustainable' initiatives at the farm. I didn't eat flowers like she did, but I loved playing with their cat!

SEE INSTAGRAM and click STORIES HIGHLIGHTS to see more from this journey.


My highlight on this trip were the kids in Christmas clothes, singing at the site of the Chocolate Hills - I loved looking at them, just as I did so many other places we've been here, where they play music.. They love music in the Philippines, especially around Christmas, and I do too! (See video to see this)


Bummer#4- Late & crazy ride

We loved our 5 nights in Panglao, but were ready for new adventures, and yet again what a ride! This time we made our boat, with aircon so effective, I nearly got pneumonia there, but at our return to the infamous, now less crowded Cebu port, we were in for another wait. Our driver had driven all the way from Malapascua to Cebu town that morning and was an hour late to pick us up. Oblivious to the long ride ahead we grabbed some lunch, which turned out to bee a good idea for us (and driver) - even though the location this time wasn't exactly my mum's favourite. I loved it, burger, fries, and can you believe it, they gave me a crown!

5 hours under way - more in the wrong side of the road than the right. Drivers in Philippines like taking over at any opportunity and baby chairs are not really the thing. Of course I loved walking around in the minibus, sleeping on laps with no seatbelt and getting front views whenever I screamed loud enough, but my mum and dad looked a bit tired and worried at times.

SEE INSTAGRAM and click STORIES HIGHLIGHTS to see more from this journey.

And this didn't get better when we finally arrived to the dock in the dark at 6pm. Walking into a very small fishing boat that took us to a slightly bigger fishing boat, we ventured into the night and the very big waves to get across to Malapascua island.


A trip that took twice as long as normal and got my dad feeling a bit more stiff than normal, when I rested my head on his shoulder under a raincover. I fell a sleep, a long day on the road and again, a relief to my parents when we arrived at our next destination.


Highlight#5 - pizza, pasta & pancakes

The fun thing about arriving in the dark, is that you don't know how you live and where, until you wake up. The last thing I remembered was waves at sea - the next thing I knew, I was on a mattress on the floor with all my family in the room. And when my mum drew the curtains, her reaction was: "WAUW".