The Philippines is very much an island nation as it consists of more than 7,000 separate land masses. Most of the major destinations here feature at least one ferry port, and travelling by ferry is both a cheap and interesting way to explore the country.
The country boasts a number if major ferryboat companies, which come fully equipped with large ships that are capable of transporting more than 4,000 passengers at a time to their destination of choice. These boasts are also fully stocked with a range of amenities, and those who are taking long journeys around the country will be able to make use of private cabins that contain large comfortable beds, while those who are counting the pennies can opt for shared rooms with bunks.
There are plenty advantages to exploring the Philippines by ferry rather than plane. Not only are ferries considerably more eco-friendly than gas guzzling planes, they are also a lot cheaper. Those with a strong sense of adventure will also appreciate the romantic idealism of setting sail to a picturesque tropical island in a ferry.
Most people start their journey in the city of Manila, as it boasts a large modern international airport that connects the Philippines with the rest of the world. Most ferries tend to depart from the large port at Manila Bay, which connects the capital with other cities, towns and islands all over the Philippines. This lively port features facilities such as plenty of seating as well as plenty of places to grab a cheap bite to eat while you wait for your ferry to depart.
There are, of course, ferry ports on all of the islands on the Philippines, and most ferry companies offer departure times at regular intervals throughout the day. Although times vary depending on the time of year and the destination, the earliest ferry tends to depart at around 06:00, while the last ferry of the day will usually be somewhere between 18:00 and 20:00.
A large number of travel agencies in tourist areas of the Philippines offer to sell ferry tickets. However, the cost for these tends to be greatly inflated, and it is best to purchase tickets directly from the ferry company when possible. In some cases when they know that the traveller is leaving and unlikely to stick around to make a complaint, dishonest agents may also sell fake tickets to unsuspecting tourists.
While travel by ferry is generally safe, it is best to take a few precautions, especially if travelling alone. Keep a close eye on all belongings, particularly if travelling by ferry overnight, and keep all your valuables on your person if possible. Some of the smaller ferry companies tend to overcrowd boats to try and maximize their profits. Try to travel with larger companies if possible.
It is a good idea to check the weather reports before deciding to travel by ferry, especially during the monsoon season. Many companies refuse to travel during this time of year altogether, as the going can be extremely rough.