Philippines & Singapore: Nature
Our exploration of Southeast Asia’s spectacular environment continues with the Philippines and Singapore. From volcanoes and gardens to stunning beaches and birds, there is so much to discover in these two nations. Across Singapore’s 63 islands and the Philippines’ 7,641, natural wonders of sea and land await travelers.
As a wide-spread archipelago, it’s no surprise that beautiful explorations into nature often involve water in the Philippines. Take Great Santa Cruz Island, comprised of pink beaches and eco-tourism opportunities. Then there’s Coron Island, a standout in the Calamianes Archipelago boasting clear waters and fantastic scuba diving. While not on a coast, Tinuy-an Falls is another must-see aquatic destination. Outside of the water, Mount Mayon, the most active volcano in the Philippines, is an incredible sight to witness.
Great Santa Cruz Island
No rose-colored glasses needed here! The only thing better than relaxing on a beach is relaxing on a pink beach. Great Santa Cruz, is a small island in Zamboanga City off the southern coast of the Philippines. It has a coastline of pink sand that blushes deeper as the sun radiates onto it. The color comes from the red organ-pipe coral, which has been broken up by the waves and integrated into the sand. The island accepts about 200 visitors a day to bask in an unspoiled serenity. Travelers will experience an eco-tourism experience with low-impact cultural activities.
Known for its perfect cone shape and status as the most active volcano in the Philippines, Mount Mayon has quite a presence—and that’s not even accounting for the fact that it’s over 8,000 feet tall. Found in Albay’s flat plains, an ATV ride around it provides a stunning view of the area. As Mount Mayon is an active volcano, it’s best to confirm with authorities about safety before approaching it. Its eruptions have been tracked since 1616, with the latest occurring in 2018.
In the far west of the Philippines is Coron, an island in the Calamianes Archipelago. The archipelago extends to more than 100 hundred islands over 680-square-miles in the sea. Coron is the third-largest island at 266-square-miles, including 11 inland lakes, mangrove forests, and limestone formations. Visitors often stay in Coron town, found on Busuanga Island, where there is plenty of accommodation and take a day trip via a 30-minute boat ride. The clear waters of Kayangan Lake are a strong draw to Coron Island, as well as the Japanese shipwrecks, which can be seen by scuba divers
Dubbed the Filipino Niagara Falls, Tinuy-an Falls is a spectacular show of nature at over 300 feet wide and 180 feet tall. Unlike the North American site, these falls are far from an overbuilt tourist attraction. Aside from a few tables and a viewing bridge, the area remains relatively untouched. In the morning sun, visitors can spot rainbows forming at the base of the falls.
After exploring the waters and volcanoes of the Philippines, make your way to Singapore for a look at magnificent gardens.
While Singapore is an incredible city-state, its gardens and wildlife should not be underestimated. Both the Jurong Lake Gardens and Singapore Botanical Gardens feature expansive displays of flora, with the latter being the world’s only tropical garden designated as a UNESCO Heritage Site. At the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, take in the diverse wildlife that populates this island nation.
Jurong Lake Gardens
Singapore has so much more to offer than the cityscape it’s known for. Explore the nature of the area at Jurong Lake Gardens along walking paths, open spaces, and a variety of striking shrubbery. With over 220 acres of land, it encompasses Lakeside Garden, Chinese and Japanese Gardens, and Garden Promenade. Stroll over to the Forest Garden playground, a space inside the main park with nine play-stations inspired by animals living in a freshwater swamp, such as crabs, frogs, and butterflies.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
There’s something so calming about bird watching, especially with beauties like this Ashy Tailorbird spotted at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. First opened in 1993, the area has served as a reserve since 2002. This 500-acre nature reserve plays an integral role in the ecological balance of the region’s wildlife. It’s internationally recognized as a site of importance for migratory birds, regularly serves as a resting place as they migrate across the world to warmer areas
Singapore Botanic Gardens
As the first UNESCO Heritage Site in the country, the Singapore Botanic Gardens are very important. Throughout the world, it’s the only tropical garden on the list. Open since 1859, the Gardens were designed in the English Landscape Movement’s style. They played an integral part in developing the agricultural movement of the area through the cultivation and experimentation of plants. Today the Gardens are a fantastic spot to take a stroll, enjoy a good book, or explore the over 120,000 magnificent plant species throughout. There’s even a VIP Orchid Garden in the Botanic Gardens with orchids named after celebrities like the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, and Kate Middleton; Jackie Chan; Bae Yong Joon; and Shah Rukh Khan.
As you take in each bit of nature throughout the Philippines and Singapore, you are sure to feel enriched by the views and educated by the vast history of these beautiful lands.