Land of beauty: The Seven Natural Wonders of the Philippines

With more than 7,000 islands, it should come as no surprise that the Philippines boasts some remarkable landscapes and simply stunning natural features. From towering volcanoes to pristine coral reefs, the country really does have it all. Trying to whittle down so many phenomenal sights to just seven was quite a task, but here we present our Seven Natural Wonders of the Philippines:

The Chocolate Hills, Bohol

Seven natural wonders

The Chocolate Hills form a slightly surreal landscape of pleasingly conical ‘haycock’ mounds.

While no one has ever been able to agree exactly how many there are, estimates range from 1,200-1,800.

The limestone domes generally range from about 100 to 200 feet in height, with the largest almost reaching 400 feet.

During the dry season, the grass-covered hills dry up and turn chocolate brown — creating a landscape of “chocolate kisses”.

The hills, which are proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage list, are featured on the provincial flag and have been declared the country’s third National Geographic Monument.

Underground River, Palawan

Seven natural wonders

A national park since 1992, this subterranean wonder has to be seen to be believed.

The St Paul’s Underground River Cave is more than 15 miles long and contains a five-mile stretch of the Cabayugan River, more than half of which is navigable by boat.

Highlights include the Italian’s Chamber, one of the largest cave rooms in the world.

The underground river was confirmed as one of the New7Wonders of Nature in 2012.

Hinatuan Enchanted River, Surigao del Sur

Seven natural wonders

Snaking through the province of Surigao del Sur on the island of Mindanao, this river is a sight to behold with its vivid sapphire and jade hues.

Local folklore has it that during the night, fairies, pixies and mermaids gather to play and sing around the waters — and who can blame them?

Mount Mayon, Legazpi

Seven natural wonders

Often dubbed the Mount Fuji of the Philippines, this active volcano towers over the province of Albay.

Renowned as the “perfect cone” because of its symmetric conical shape, the volcano and its surrounding landscape was declared a national park in 1938, the first in the nation.

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

Seven natural wonders

Covering about 350 square miles, this protected marine ecosystem is found about 100 miles southeast of City.

In 1993, UNESCO declared the reefs as a World Heritage Site as a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species.

In 1999, Ramsar listed Tubbataha as one of the Wetlands of International Importance and in 2008, it was nominated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Lake Taal, Tagaytay

Seven natural wonders

Where else in the world can you see an island within a lake on an island within a lake on an island, on an archipelago, in the ocean….

As we report here, it’s a great place to escape the heat of Manila.

Sunset in Manila Bay

Seven natural wonders

While Manila can no longer claim to be the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, the sunsets that bruise the sky over the bay every day continue to be utterly remarkable.

It would be lovely to share an old piece of folklore or myth to explain the beauty of the display, but the fact is the vivid colours are down to the city’s atmospheric pollution.

Oh well. But at least when you next see a jeepney blowing out thick, black smoke on the streets of Makati, or wherever, you can, at least, take solace that you’re witnessing a small contribution towards one of the Natural Wonders of the Philippines!