Head for the Philippines for a trip unlike any other

What could pass as a backdrop from a movie set turns out, surprisingly, not to be fake: Bleached white sand, crystal-clear waters and palm trees that seem to disappear in the ether. 

This idyllic scene is not a typical island getaway, however. There are no hot showers and no Wifi. In fact, hard labour may even be the order of the day. Yet it is all part of the overall experience offered by Tao, an organisation and community in the Philippines. Aimed at spirited adventurers, it is not for the faint of heart or those looking to take selfies on a picture-perfect beach. 

Instead, Tao offers travellers a raw, unedited trip to the most remote islands in Palawan, Philippines. Visitors can sign up for one or more of five experiences that take them into the heart of the Tao community. The Boat Expedition offers five options, sailing around the island of Northern Palawan on a 72-foot bangka, a native sailboat, named the Tao PARAW while Camp NgeyNgey! offers Robinson Crusoe-type island lodgings in the secluded setting of Busuanga Island. Tuko Lodge at Tao Farm is a sustainable and simplistic getaway on a beach farm in El Nido or, for those looking to experience both the land and sea, the Tao Combo Experience starts at Camp NgeyNgey! for a two-night stay and ends with a three-day, two-night expedition to the islands of Culion, Linapacan and the north of El Nido. 

The most recent offering by Tao is a mountain trek in the Bauko Valley yet the desire to explore these Filipino islands is not the reason Tao expeditions are a must-do. Instead, it’s the story behind the organisation. Created by two friends, Tao is a green micro-economy that allows guests an exceptional time while being socially conscious and contributing to the sustainability of the Filipino communities that reside on the islands. 

Through the Tao initiative, organisations such as the Tao Women’s Association and the Tao Academy have been developed – the former provides opportunities to local women to earn an income from the project while the latter trains and empowers young islanders to be proud of their way of life and proffers learning centres to help the youngsters move easily to a government school curriculum. In addition, Tao supports and encourages projects like natural farming and self-sufficiency using new technologies and techniques as well as research into bamboo varieties and construction in order to undertake growing of bamboo then harvesting it for the construction of buildings.

The local villagers still follow the traditions that have shaped their societies for centuries, and this includes living without internet access, using basic ablution facilities and introducing visitors to the untouched splendour of their islands. Translated to ‘human’, the concept behind Tao is to involve as many people as possible, encouraging and empowering the locals to provide travellers with insight into their world. And for travellers willing to embark on the Tao experiences, the name rings true as they leave having experienced humanity at its brightest.

Embark on a journey with Tao here