2019 Best Destinations to go Island-Hopping in the Philippines

(Manila, Philippines) – Home to some of the World’s best beaches, pristine sand, thriving marine life, and friendly locals – Philippines is a favorite for many international tourists looking for the sun, sea, and surf. Of course, locals love Philippine beaches too as they’re lucky enough to visit some of these beauties as often as they wish. Here are some of the Philippines’ top island hopping destinations.

Islas de Gigantes by Rex Gamboa via Las Islas Travel and Tours
island hopping in Islas de Gigantes by Rex Gamboa via Las Islas Travel and Tours

Islas de Gigantes

The Gigantes Islands consist of about ten islands; the two largest are Gigantes Norte (North Gigantes) and Gigantes Sur (South Gigantes). An emerging beach destination in the Visayas, Islas de Gigantes has been in the bucket list of most local travelers even in the early 2000s. Thanks to more accommodation options and better roads leading to Carles, Iloilo, visiting this beach destination is now easier.


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How to get there:

  • From Iloilo, ride a bus bound to Carles via Ceres Bus Terminal, located in Tagbak.
  • Now if you’re in Boracay, and wanted to do some extended vacation in Carles, there are plenty of vans bound to Roxas City.
  • Another option is that before you reach the Roxas Airport, you may alight at Lawaan Ceres Transport Terminal and then take the bus going to Estancia and then alight at Balasan where you can now ride a tricycle to Carles.
  • Boats can be chartered from Bancal Port in Carles. Public ferries leave daily from Bancal Port to either Gigantes Norte or Gigantes Sur.
  • Private boats can also be chartered to reach the islands. It takes approximately an hour from Bancal to Isla de Gigantes.

Also Read: Islas De Gigantes Travel Guide

Boracay

Aerial View of Crimson Resort and Spa Boracay
Aerial View of Crimson Resort and Spa Boracay

Boracay’s temporary closure might change your island hopping plans, but rest assured that the famous beach will soon be back better than ever. Island hopping can range anywhere from Php600 to Php2000 per person, depending on the size of the group. You’ll visit aptly named islands like the Crystal Cove, the Piknikan Island, the Puka Beach, and the Crocodile Island which got its name because of its crocodile shape.

How to Get There:

  • You can reach Boracay via land and sea (RORO) travel from Manila which should take around 12 hours.
  • Fortunately, there are several airlines offering trips from Manila to Caticlan (Boracay) for reasonable rates.

Also Read: Boracay Travel Guide

Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

Nagtabon Beach
Nagtabon Beach – one of the best beaches in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

Puerto Princesa is home to the Underground River – one of the 7 Wonders of Nature recognized all over the globe. Without venturing far from the city, however, you can enjoy island hopping at Honda Bay. There’s Cowrie Island and the Luli or Lulubog Lilitaw Island, aptly named because it tends to disappear during high tide. There’s also Starfish Island and you can ask the boatmen to take you to the reef where you can snorkel.

How to Get There:

  • Direct flights from Manila to Puerto Princesa is available through all major airlines.
  • Honda Bay itself is less than 30 minutes away from the main city.

Also Read: 5 Things to Do for First Time Puerto Princesa City Visitors

Coron, Palawan

Aerial Shot of Club Paradise in Coron Palawan
Aerial Shot of Club Paradise in Coron Palawan

There are several islands to visit in Coron such as Calachuchi Island, the Banul Beach, and the Atwayan Beach. Island hopping activities include a trip to the Twin Lagoons, checking out the Japanese Shipwreck, and picnicking out in the open sea.

How to Get There:

  • Coron is part of Palawan but is best reached if you fly directly from Manila instead of stopping in the capital of the Province.
  • Flights are available but not on a daily basis. However, you can also choose to take a ferry to Coron Island, usually through 2Go.
  • You can also take a ferry ride from El Nido which may take 6-9 hours.

Also Read: The Ultimate List of Beautiful Beaches in Coron, Palawan

El Nido, Palawan

Weekend in El Nido Palawan
Weekend in El Nido Palawan

Matinloc Island, Vigan Island, Cadlao Island, and Seven Commandos Beach are only some of the places you can visit with an Island Hopping tour of El Nido. Typical attractions during the tour include seeing the Big Lagoon, the Small Lagoon, the Hidden Beach, and the Matinloc Shrine. Several packages are available and each package takes you to a different set of islands.

How to Get There:

  • You can reach El Nido via Puerto Princesa. Multiple trips are done every day via bus or van. Trips usually take 4-5 hours.
  • Airswift also offers a direct flight from Manila to El Nido Palawan.

Also Read: El Nido Palawan Travel Guide

Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos, Pangasinan

Travel Guide Hundred Islands in Alaminos Pangasinan
Travel Guide Hundred Islands in Alaminos Pangasinan

Comprised of around 123 islands believed to be million years of age, the Hundred Islands is a declared National Park. Unfortunately – you don’t get to visit all the islands but the ones you do are going to look and feel like paradise. Some islands to see include the Governor’s Island, Quezon Island, Children’s Island, and Marcos Island. Most of them have been kept clean and pristine to preserve the thriving marine life.

How to Get There:

Located in Alaminos, Pangasinan – the Hundred Islands can be reached from Manila via a bus or private vehicle. There are several trips done per day with prices ranging from Php300 to Php500. The trip to Alaminos takes around 5 hours.

Also Read: Hundred Islands National Park Travel Guide

Siargao

Nay Palad Hideaway Siargao
Nay Palad Hideaway Siargao

Siargao is mostly popular today as a surfing destination, but it also offers excellent island hopping activities. There are 3 main islands to visit – the Guyam Island, the Daku Island, and the Naked Island. Each one has its own charm and for as low as Php1,300 per person – you can visit all 3 in a day.

How to Get There:

This teardrop-shaped island is best reached through a direct flight from Cebu, Clark or Manila. You can also fly to Surigao and just take the ferry to Siargao.

Also Read: Siargao Island Travel Guide

Bohol

Beach Front of Bohol Beach Club in Panglao Island
Beach Front of Bohol Beach Club in Panglao Island

The Bohol Islands are every bit as popular as the chocolate hills. There’s the Balicasag Island, Gak-ang Island, and the Isola De Francesco – all of which offer pristine white beaches under a sunny sky. An island tour of Bohol is never complete without some much-needed dolphin watching and snorkeling through the clear seawater. Some islands are wonderfully bereft of modern structures while others have their mini museums where you can explore before eating delicious Filipino meals.

How to Get There:

  • You can fly to Bohol directly from Manila or from Cebu. You can also choose to take a ferry but this will take around 25 hours.

Also Read: Ultimate Travel Guide to Bohol

Caramoan Peninsula

Caramoan Island photo via Caramoan.ph
Caramoan Island photo via Caramoan.ph

Several islands are available for your exploration starting with the Busdak Island which boasts of fine-grain sand that’s a mixture of black and white. There’s also the Matukad Island which requires you to do a bit of steep climbing – but the view is all worth it. You have Lahos Island, the Minalahos Island, the Honongan Cove, the Cotivas Island and more. Several Caramoan tour packages give you the option of seeing different islands for each day of your stay or you can opt to rent your own boat and choose the Islands you want to visit.

How to Get There:

Getting to Caramoan usually means two trips. You take a flight from Manila to Naga and from Naga, you can catch a bus to Caramoan. While the cost of the airfare may vary, the bus ride is usually around Php250 to Php300.

Also Read: Caramoan Budget Travel Guide

Cebu

Sumilon Island in Cebu Best Islands in the World
Sumilon Island in Cebu Best Islands in the World

Most Cebu Islands are well developed so you can expect civilization to happily welcome you each time you dock the boat. Some of the islands to visit in Mactan, Cebu are Nalusuan Island, Pescador Island, and the Olango Island. If you feel like communing with marine life, you can also check out Oslob where you can actually swim with the whales and visit the beautiful sandbar in Sumilon Island.

How to Get There:

Cebu is just one plane ride away from Manila, the country’s capital. If you’re originating overseas, you can also get a direct flight to Cebu although not many planes land on Cebu’s International Airport.

Also Read: Cebu Island Travel Guide

Camiguin

White Island in Camiguin photo by Stephen Currington
White Island in Camiguin photo by Stephen Currington

Your Camiguin island hopping tour usually takes around 6 hours to complete and covers 6 stops – the White Island, the Mantigue Island, the Old Spanish Houses, the San Nicholas Church, the Mambajao Town, and the Pasalubong Shop. Tours usually cost around Php1,500 to Php3,500 per head – depending on the size of your group.

How to Get There:

  • Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific offers flights from Manila to the island of Camiguin.
  • You can also get a plane ride from Manila to Cagayan De Oro and from there, you have to take the bus to Balingoan for 2 hours and then the ferry to Camiguin which should take another 2 hours. Aside from the airfare, the trip shouldn’t cost more than Php500.

Also Read: Camiguin Island Travel Guide

Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro

The Best Beaches of Bulalacao
The Best Beaches of Bulalacao

Bulalacao, formerly known as San Pedro, is a 3rd class municipality in the province of Oriental Mindoro. With 11 islands and islets, Island hopping is definitely the most popular activity in Bulalacao. Also read our Bulalacao Travel Guide blog.

How to get there:

  • The fastest way is to fly to San Jose in Occidental Mindoro (45min), From Mindoro Airport (San Jose Airport), you can ride a van to Bulalacao, about 1 hour travel time.
  • If you prefer it by land, you can drive via Calapan (roughly 3-4 hours drive).

Also see: Exploring the Beautiful Beaches of Bulalacao in Oriental Mindoro

Choose your next summer destination now and make the most of your Philippine vacation!

Do you have any other favorite Island Hopping Destination in the Philippines? Share it by posting a comment below:

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Comments

comments

17 COMMENTS

    • It’s hard to visit all of these islands if you are visiting the Philippines with a limited time. Let me know when you plan to visit, maybe i can give suggestions and tips? Ciao!

  1. Well, I hope I can trust you 🙂 I have heard many beautiful things about island hopping in Philippines, but never knew how good certain islands are. I think you have provided a good selection to start with.

  2. Ugh the Philippines have been on my list for FOREVER! One day I will go, and I will save this list for then. By the way I love love love your table of contents! I love a good organized blog post. <3

  3. Do you suggest I use skyscanner.com to use the “multi city” plane ticket option? or would it be more budget friendly to buy the tickets while in manila? ive never island hopped so I am very new to all this! my boyfriend and I would love to visit Cebu, Borocay, and Palawan… we are also open to other suggestions if there are other islands that are even better than what I have listed.

    • you can use skyscanner to search for flights or you may book directly to the airlines’ website. Yes! Cebu, Boracay and Palawan are good choices but you may also want to add Bohol if you have more time to spend.

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