The Philippines archipelago, located in the western Pacific Ocean, is home to about 7,640 beautiful islands, a prime location for amazing vacations. Finding the best islands in the Philippines is no easy task. Every island promises different sceneries, both above and underwater. Some islands are characterized by mountains, others by pristine beaches, and you'll even find islands flanked by limestone cliffs. Whether you want to visit a volcanic island, walk for miles on the most beautiful white sand beaches or experience the local culture in the Philippines islands, we'll help you find your own version of paradise. Here are the best Philippine islands to add to your list.
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Best Islands To Visit In The Philippines
The Philippine islands have long been recognized as the world's centre of marine biodiversity. Together with Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Malay region, the Philippines islands forms the coral triangle. From the name itself, this country is abundant with around 500 species of corals that are home to over 2,500 species of fish and other marine life. This makes the Philippines an excellent destination for snorkelling and diving.
It's quite hard to decide where to go in the Philippines, but we've narrowed it down to the must-see islands, especially if you are a first-time visitor. Each of the Philippines islands below have something unique to offer to suit your travelling needs. If you love soft adventure and like a bit more adventure, we recommend island hopping to see a bit of everything. But don't forget to book your accommodation in advance!
If you haven't heard of Palawan island by now, then it's about time you find out. Hailed as the top 3 most beautiful islands in Asia by Condé Nast Traveller, this quiet island in the south of Luzon island is one of the country's most precious jewels. The tropical island of Palawan is also known as the Philippines' “Last Ecological Frontier” and one of the most famous islands in the Philippines for biodiversity.
Puerto Princesa, the province's capital, and El Nido, and Coron used to be the go-to towns when visiting the island. However, more and more breathtaking nooks have been discovered and now Port Barton and Roxas are rising in fame. These towns have different personalities and highlights to boast of, but they do have something in common: pristine blue waters, thriving corals, and towering limestone cliffs.
The main airport is found in Puerto Princesa where several airlines operate flights. This town is home to one of the longest underground rivers in the world, also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its strange formations of millennium-old stalactites and stalagmites. From Puerto Princesa, you can take a 6-hour land trip to El Nido. However, if you want to avoid enduring long travel, Air Swift operates a direct flight from Manila to El Nido town. Here you will find Bacuit Bay, made up of countless islands and islets to consume your days with the best island-hopping experiences.
For something a bit off the beaten path, you can fly into Coron island and even do a Coron island hopping. This rugged town barely has any beaches as it is built against steep cliffs perfect for cliff jumping. It's known as the more adventurous side of Palawan for its lagoons and lakes hidden behind cliffs and hills. Divers also consider Coron as a favourite for its rich marine life, amazing World War II shipwrecks and Barracuda Lake.
The most recently discovered town is Port Barton. It's a four-hour land trip from Puerto Princesa, or via directly flight on Philippine Airlines' newest route from Clark to San Vicente, the neighbouring town. Its undeveloped charm promises serene surroundings, untouched nature, and many snorkelling.
Boracay has been known the world over as the Philippines' most happening party island. With an area of just over 10 square kilometres, this tiny island used to welcome thousands and thousands of tourists all year round. It's hard to resist its white sandy beaches, bright blue waters, and very trendy bars that line the shores and throw the best parties.
However, the island's popularity came at a price - years of over-tourism resulted in overcrowding, commercialization, and unmanageable waste. In April 2018, this beautiful island was closed for an intensive 6-month rehabilitation program, and the effort was well worth it.
The "New Boracay" has restored the island's beauty, especially with stricter rules and what you can and cannot do. While it's no longer the party island that the world knows, Boracay has become a serene paradise for those who simply wish to detach and unwind. It's the perfect blend of pristine beautiful beaches and modern facilities as the most popular and hippest bars, restaurants, and hotels remain on the island. All establishments have also been brought up to par with strict environmental standards. Those who didn't were closed down.
The vibe on the island is what it's supposed to be - chill and relaxed but still somehow luxurious and trendy, making it the ideal place for beach lovers. There's nothing like digging your feet into powdery white sand while watching the famous Boracay sunset throw the sky into different hues of oranges, pinks, and purples.
From Manila, the fastest route is to fly to Caticlan. From Caticlan, take a tricycle to the jetty 5 minutes away, and take a 15-minute boat ride to Boracay island. A cheaper alternative is to fly to Kalibo, which also connects to Malaysia and Korea. However, you'll still have to take a 2 to 3-hour van ride to Caticlan.
The Philippines' newest star, Siargao used to be known only to surfers as a secret spot for awesome waves. It's located in the northeastern tip of Mindanao. It sure is one of the best islands in the Philippines, and here's why. This tiny, beautiful island in the Mindanao region shot to fame after a local movie filmed the beauty of the island that turned out not to be just restricted to surfing.
Siargao is home to over 15 separate surf breaks, ideal for world class surfing hence its fame in the surfing community. The most legendary break is called Cloud 9, conquered by international pros like Kelly Slater and Anthony Kedis. However, the rest of the world has finally caught on, feeding the adventurous with enough discoveries that make travellers stay for weeks, sometimes even months at a time.
The natural landscape of Siargao is very varied. There are enough white sand beaches to go around, but there are also rock formations, waterfalls, tide pools and lagoons to fill an itinerary. Island hopping is a popular activity, visiting undeveloped nearby islands for a day of snorkelling, fishing, and lunch picnics.
It sounds very much like any other island destination, but the tropical charm of Siargao paired with its strange natural formations and famed blue waters earned it its recognition as the best island in Asia. Restaurants and resorts have also stayed in pace with the rising fame of the island, becoming destinations in themselves just as much as the beaches.
Romblon Island is an underrated tropical paradise. Romblon Island belongs to Romblon Province in Luzon. Together with Tablas and Sibuyan Islands, and smaller surrounding islets, Romblon province is a great alternative to the more crowded Boracay just a 30-minute to one-hour boat ride away.
The most popular destination on Romblon Island is Bonbon Beach, one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in the country. Aside from the cream-coloured powdery sand and the crystal-clear blue water, the main draw of Bonbon Beach is the sandbar that connects it to a small islet called Bang-og Island. There are many other beaches to discover on the island, such as Dolphin Beach and Tiamban Beach. There are also many lagoons to swim in, waterfalls to trek to, and cliffs to jump off from.
As the central hub of the province, Romblon Island also enjoys some modernity at the town centre. There are several bars and restaurants serving local delicacies, and the hotels and beachfront guest houses are decent. You won't find cars or taxis to bring you around, however. The best way to explore the island is via moped or motorbike, which will be pretty easy to find.
In short, Romblon Island is a great mix of Boracay and Siargao without the big crowds, rowdy bars, and commercial establishments. It's also quite possible to explore nearby Tablas and Sibuyan Islands that offer stunning beaches and adventures on their own.
One reason why Romblon Island is not one of the popular islands because it's slightly less convenient to get there, not being the most easily accessible islands. You can fly into Tablas Airport from Manila, which is operated by Cebu Pacific four times a week. From Tablas Island, you need to catch a ferry to Romblon Island. A cheaper alternative is to take a ferry from Batangas Port, a two-hour drive from Manila, all the way to Tablas then to Romblon Island. However, this ferry ride will take at least 18 hours.
Siquijor has always been a mystical island wrapped in folklore and magic. It's believed to be home to local witchcraft hidden in the forested centre of the island. Of course, these age-old legends only add to the allure of Siquijor. Whether you believe in this mystique or not, one can never deny the natural beauty of its perfect white sand beaches, centuries-old trees, and marine sanctuaries. It's one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines for nature lovers.
There is only one road on the island, which goes around the perimeter of its approximately 345 square kilometre area. It's quite possible, in fact, to make a complete round of the island within two hours. Most visitors only take a day trip to the island from nearby Dumaguete City, but it's well worth the time to immerse yourself in the many adventures of the island.
There are many falls to visit, and treks won't take an hour to get there. Cambughay Falls is the most popular for the elegant and gentle cascade of water into a clear lagoon. Obviously, the beaches are a big draw here as well. Rarely crowded and always beautiful, Siquijor beaches are flanked with palm trees and forests. You can also hire a tricycle at the port to do a tour of historical sites, parks, and top landmarks around Siquijor. At night, the skies will be illuminated by fireflies, earning the island its nickname “Islas del Fuego” or “Fire Island”.
For the brave, the adventurous, or the extremely curious, the search for a healer is a big thrill. You won't see advertisements for healing. You'll have to talk to locals, make friends, and trust that they will bring you to a real healer. Visitors do anything from asking for love potions, placing curses, or simply cleansing their auras. It goes without saying to be vigilant and careful about this, as the healers usually reside in the forest. While there never has been any untoward incident in Siquijor, it's best not to be lulled into a false sense of security on the island.
From Manila, you'll have to fly to Dumaguete City, then take a tricycle from the airport to the city port. At the city port, you'll take a ferry ride to Siquijor Island.
Located in the Visayan Sea, just 7km off the northernmost area of Cebu Island, Malapascua is a small remote island and a tropical paradise. If it's scuba diving that you're after, then this is your destination.
You'll find beautiful beaches, crystal clear water, coconut trees and underwater, there are coral gardens and coral walls. It's one of the most stunning locations to visit in the Philippines. Not only you can spend your time bird watching, but of all the islands, this is definitely the most impressive for its tropical beaches and diving spots.
Bohol and Virgin Island
With secret waterfalls, gorgeous beaches, and the famous Chocolate Hills, Bohol is one of the top islands in the Philippines. Even more impressive, you'll be able to kayak through mangrove forest reserves, as the island has one of the highest biodiverse mangrove ecosystem in the world. The chocolate hills are a popular attraction that got its name thanks to the rich vegetation that turns into a chocolate brown during the dry months. There are over 1000 of such hills on Bohol.
From Bohol, you'll want to make your way to the stunning Virgin island. To get there, you'll have to go to Alona Beach on Panglao Island and book your tour there. You'll be surrounded by natural beauty and it most certainly is one of the best islands to visit, full of natural wonders.
What is the beautiful island in the Philippines?
All islands in the Philippines are stunning, but Palawan is consistently voted as one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines and in the whole world. It's home to nature reserves. Limestone cliffs, stunning beaches, and you can easily dive here to see marine gardens, sea turtles and coral reefs.
What is the most visited island in the Philippines?
Luzon island is the largest northernmost island which includes the capital, Manila. Naturally, most visitors arrive here first and then continue on their journey. The second most popular is a group of island called Visayas including the major islands Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Samar, and Masbate).
How many beautiful islands are there in the Philippines?
There are over 7600 islands in the Philippines archipelago, two of which are considered as the best islands in the world. You'll be spoiled for choice as each island has its own secret, whether it's a secret lagoon, the best scuba diving spot or a great place to swim with whale sharks.
Which is the best island to live in the Philippines?
Many digital nomads say that Bohol is one of the best islands to live in the Philippines. You can rent accommodation long term and enjoy the lush green island, the stunning beaches and laid-back way of life. Alternatively, Camiguin, and Palawan islands are right up there at the top of the list.
What are the 3 main islands in the Philippines?
The country can be divided into three main areas: Luzon (the largest island), the Visayas and Mindanao. They are the three main Philippines islands groups and the ones you'll most likely visit first and take a tour from.
Travelling to the Philippines means travelling to a tropical paradise. There are many islands to choose from, all beautiful and memorable in their own way. But if you're coming to the country for the first time, these five islands guarantee that you see the best that this country has to offer. Who knows, you might just find yourself coming back again and again and discover the perfect island for your kind of adventure!