Around the second week of our trip to the Philippines, we were desperate for some exercise and adventure. As an active family, it was hard for us to lie around on the beach all day and do nothing (I know, poor us!)
I shared my need for exercise to a family friend who excitedly exclaimed, “The Sea of Clouds! You should go to the Sea of Clouds!” Everyone else agreed. They said as long as we were willing to wake up early, it would be an incredible experience.
Danao is about two hours away from our house in Loon and about three hours from Bohol’s capital, Tagbilaran. We were advised to arrive around sunrise and definitely before 7 am when the clouds typically burn off. We opted to rent a private van with a driver and left our house around 4 am.
The two-hour drive consisted of windy roads through mountainous towns. As first light began to illuminate the road, fog and drizzle became apparent. Our driver sounded a bit disappointed for us when he said, “you should have checked the weather, there might not be clouds because of this rain.” I later learned that social media, specifically Facebook, has pages dedicated to weather reports for visitors to the Sea of Clouds.
When we arrived in Danao, there were already groups of people preparing for their hike up. As we paid the 25 Piso entrance fee, we were warned by the employee behind the counter of possible dangers we might face. He warned us of the high climb and said: “if you have heart problems or are afraid of heights, you shouldn’t go.”
This was the first week of November, supposedly an ideal time to visit. The morning drizzle made the trail a bit slippery and worn down. I wore Chacos while Clayton wore hiking shoes and we both found ourselves sliding on mud a few times. Within the first couple of minutes, we had reached the first hill. Although we weren’t at the very top, the view was stunning and the sun peaking through the clouds created a beautiful sunrise.
I reached into our small backpack and looked over the water we had brought. One large Hydroflask and 3 bottles of water. Before our hike, I thought this water was more than enough, but as I dripped in sweat after the first hill, I realized we should have brought more. I reached for my Hydroflask and took a big gulp of cold water. Holy hell, this was the hottest hike of my life.
The heat was a reminder of why we had spent most of our days just lying around. The humidity was killer. By this point, we looked up to the end of the hike and realized we needed to get this done quickly before we became dehydrated. The next 10-15 minutes consisted of following a tight trail up and down rolling hills until we reached the end. I couldn’t tell you how long the entire trail is, but it took us about 20 mins total with short water breaks.
At the top, it was beautiful. The view of the tiny homes and slight cloud cover was incredible, but we couldn’t take our eyes off the other side where lush green rice terraces filled the landscape. As most of the visitors posed in front of the clouds, we took most of our photos in front of the terraces. I thought that was a bit funny. I’m used to being on mountain tops and seeing clouds, but the locals are used to seeing rice terraces. I’d say for the sake of taking photos, it worked out for us.
When looking at the mountains above the rice terraces, I noticed a group of people at the top surrounded by tents. I later learned this is the neighboring town of Dagohoy which tends to be less crowded than Danao. Dagohoy is also a spot for camping so hikers can enjoy the view at first light. I felt a little jealous of the group standing on the mountain in Dagohoy, but I’m also not sure if I would be able to camp in the heat of the Philippines.
My overall impression was it was a great experience and it felt good to get the heart pumping even for a short hike. It’s a beautiful place to appreciate nature and provide an outlet for all hiking abilities, but it does take a bit of effort. My mom, my aunt, and my two cousins didn’t make it to the top. They complained it was too hot and too steep to complete and spent most of the time sitting on the benches built on the side of the trail. It’s an easy hike, but you still have to be prepared.
My advice is to wear breathable clothes you don’t mind sweating in, wear comfortable shoes with tread to keep from slipping and to bring a lot of water! By the time we had returned to the parking area, we had finished all of our water and we desperately needed more.
Despite the heat, it was nice to see another side of the Philippines. The beaches are amazing, but the mountains are special out there too. If you have any questions, let me know!