Must-Visit Island Destinations in the Philippines
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The Philippines is composed of more than 7,107 islands, not to mention the additional 534 islands that were reportedly mapped in early 2016. Out of this number, 2,000 are inhabited by people. It is also interesting to note that places and cultures in each island destination are unique in their own way, but collectively, they form the Philippines as one whole.
Yet among the thousands of gems scattered across the Pearl of the Orient Seas, 25 have shown exceptional beauty.
If you plan to explore the Philippines, or if you’re a local traveler and have no idea which island to go to on your next summer vacation, consider these 25 beautiful island destinations:
1. Palaui Island in Cagayan
Fall in love with one of the northernmost islands in the province of Cagayan.
It directly overlooks the sea, and you will want to stay with its grasslands and fresh, seaside air. Cape Engaño and the concrete lighthouse are located at the northern point of the island, for if you want to see a glimpse of nature at its finest with a view of the horizon and the seas.
2. Boracay Island in Aklan
Boracay has long been internationally famous. Known for its everlasting tropical white sand beaches, Boracay is a summer paradise that has been featured in numerous travel magazines and blogs like Travel + Leisure and Lonely Planet. This place is always a fun one, and even non-beach fans would love to stay in classy hotels here.
3. Siargao in Surigao del Norte
White, sandy beaches, reefs and a relatively cool climate, the teardrop-shaped island of Siargao is the home to the Cloud 9, hollow tubes of waves, similar to the barrel waves, that surfers claim they find only in Siargao. In fact, this is called the Surfing Capital of the Philippines. Come to the beaches, stay for the waves—and maybe learn how to surf.
See also: The Ultimate Siargao Budget Travel Guide
4. Malapascua Island in Cebu
The island of Malapascua is beautiful above the sea, but if you dive in its waters, you will see that it is even more beautiful, with coral reefs and coral walls galore. There are many dive spots, and there is the famous Bounty Beach to consider, but Monad Shoal has been remarkably crowned as the best one.
See Also: Malapascua Island: Backpacker Weekend
5. Seco Island in Antique
This island is named this way because its shape roughly resembles an elbow. The island is an entire beach that is more than 40 kilometers offshore of Tibiao, Antique. It is so secluded and the waters are so blue, it will feel as if you’re floating in a dream. Make sure to bring lots of sunscreens here, because the beach is bare.
6. Busuanga Island in Palawan
The second-largest island in the province is Busuanga, directly after mainland Palawan. The former is a part of the Calamian Island Group. Tourists commonly use Busuanga as a jump-off point for exploring the other islands in the group, but it’s diving spots, where sunken Japanese battle vessels can be found, is another reason why tourists are so drawn to this place.
See Also: Coron Travel Guide for First Timers
7. Panglao Island in Bohol
If you are a certified beach bum but you dislike the crowds, try Panglao Island in Bohol. The crystal clear waters of Alona Beach is ideal for scuba diving, snorkeling, and even dolphin watching, but it is lesser-known and more secluded compared to El Nido beaches, Boracay, and others.
8. Apo Island in Negros Oriental
The surrounding water of Apo Island is a protected marine reserve. From afar, the island is a sight to behold, with the rock formations and peaceful, deep blue waters. It is 30 kilometers from the mainland and has been an active site for research by marine scientists.
See Also: A Quick Getaway to Apo Island
9. Moalboal in Cebu
Not an actual island but part of a larger one, Moalboal is often considered as a coastal resort in mainland Cebu. A part of the municipality is protruding into the ocean, making beaches like Panagsama Beach have spectacular, unobstructed views of the horizon.
10. Bantayan Island in Cebu
Another fantastic municipality to visit in Cebu is Bantayan Island. Originally a peaceful and small fishing village, the island municipality quickly became a famous getaway with its pristine beaches and peaceful surroundings. The beach has cream sands, and exploring the other parts of the island is just magical.
Also Read: Travel Guide: Bantayan Island in Cebu
11. Sabtang Island in Batanes
The northernmost province, Batanes, has been known in the entire world for its unexploited nature. It is a tourist destination not because of a beach or a resort or a mall built there.
Sabtang Island, one of the three inhabited islands in the province, is known for Ivatan stone houses and the lighthouse. There are no commercial establishments here, and even electrical current is a rarity, so this is the closest you could get to nature.
Camiguin is the second smallest province in terms of both size and population, coming in next to Batanes. Mount Hibok-Hibok, a protected area, and a declared ASEAN Heritage Park can be found here.
13. Cresta de Gallo in Romblon
If you fancy a vacation that is akin to having a private island, then you should definitely try going to Cresta de Gallo. This island has a long, white, sandbar and has a marvelous view of the ocean on both sides.
14. Cobrador Island in Romblon
Still in Romblon province is Cobrador Island. While the island has a beach to boast, most of the tourists who go here take a break from the sun to explore the Ilaya Caves, which are home to undisturbed wooden coffins, rock formations, and many chambers.
15. Carabao Island in Romblon
Also known as San Jose or Hambil Island, Carabao is the southernmost province in Romblon. It is situated very close to the more famous Boracay, so the beauty of this one is often overlooked. Carabao boasts hills, rainforests, and peaceful sandy beaches so you will not run out of things to do here.
16. Tikling Island in Sorsogon
Tikling Island is undeniably one of the most underrated island destinations in the Philippines. One part of the beach is covered by trees and vegetation, and the sand has a pinkish color caused by powdered red corals.
Also Read: Tikling Island in Matnog Sorsogon
Another island province that makes it to our list is Guimaras. It is an agricultural province with a laid-back atmosphere. It is considered the “Mango Capital of the Philippines”, and its mangoes are of international quality. If you don’t want to come for the beaches, visit this place in time for the Guimaras Manggahan Festival.
Also See: Travel Guide to Guimaras Island
18. Calaguas Islands in Camarines Norte
Fine white sands, a 3-kilometer beach that stretches gracefully into the water, and a peaceful environment are some of the things that the Calaguas group of islands possess. Enjoy the secluded Mabahang Buhangin Beach or go hiking to one of the small hills.
19. Great Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga City
Together with the Little Santa Cruz Island in the region, the Great Santa Cruz Island is a protected area. The coastline is scattered with red organ pipe corals, and the marine life in the waters is bustling.
20. Nacpan and Calitang Beaches in El Nido, Palawan
Also called “the Twin Beaches”, Nacpan and Calitang are conjoined beaches located on mainland Palawan. These are located at a convenient 17-kilometer distance from the main town of El Nido, giving it a balance of accessibility and seclusion. The coconut trees, the connecting sandbar, and the blue shallow waters make this beach so picturesque.
21. Caramoan Peninsula in Camarines Sur
Home to the Caramoan National park, this peninsula is a hilly peninsula and is one of the more unique islands on this list. The rock beach, the limestone formations, sandy beaches, and the smaller subterranean river are some of the things you can see here.
22. Jomalig Island in Quezon Province
Although it is close to Manila, very few people know and go to Jomalig Island. The trip to this place is quite an ordeal, but once you get there, you will want to stay there forever. The waters are so peaceful and shallow, and a few trees can serve as shade.
23. Samal Island in Davao del Norte
Officially called the Island Garden City of Samal, this beautiful pearl has dozens of beaches, like Canibad Beach and Kaputian Beach. Other sites include the Monfort Bat Sanctuary. Even just walking around to explore the culture is worthwhile.
24. Hundred Islands in Pangasinan
Hundred Islands National Park in Pangasinan is actually composed of, well, hundred islands, but only three are developed for tourism. These are Governor Island, Quezon Island, and Children’s Island. Despite this, many local boatmen offer island hopping tours that can last up to an hour.
25. Gigantes Islands in Iloilo
There are two Gigantes Islands: the Norte (North) and the Sur (South). Gigante translates to “giant”. There is a local legend that narrates how the natives discovered giant human bones, thus giving it the name. There are definitely no giants on the island today, but the lighthouse, the masonry walls ruins, and the green environment will surely draw you here.
Also See: 6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Iloilo
Kalanggaman Island in Leyte
With its crystal clear waters and a beautiful sandbar, Kalanggaman Island is undoubtedly one of the best islands in the Philippines. If you are dreaming of a perfect beach getaway in a postcard-perfect virgin island, Kalanggaman is definitely the place to go.