Travel Guide: 9 Must-Visit Islands in the Philippines

Visit any of these islands and experience a little piece of heaven on earth.

Updated on June 09, 2017 11:06 am

Catherine Zhang

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Planning a trip soon? Check out the Philippines, and explore any of these breathtakingly beautiful islands (out of the country's 7,641 islands). Let this list help you plan your getaway and satiate your inner wanderlust. There's always something for the young ones and young once.

1. Palawan (El Nido and Coron)

There is a reason why Palawan was voted the best island in the world for two consecutive years at Travel & Leisure magazine's awards. A day in the enchanting, dreamy El Nido is not enough to explore its virgin islands, beaches, enchanting lagoons, and marble cliffs. Day tour packages start at $33 per person—you can already enjoy island-hopping, kayaking, snorkeling, and cliff diving at this price!

Snorkeling at Miniloc Bay. Source

Kayaking in the Small and Big Lagoon in El Nido. Source

Going farther up north and a seven-hour ferry ride from El Nido is the municipality of Coron, Palawan. Prepare to be amazed by this majestic island as it boasts of white sand beaches, limestone formations, and excellent diving spots. Deep sea divers will truly love the island’s shallow soft coral reef gardens to advanced shipwreck diving sites found mostly in Coron Bay.

A magnificent view of Coron. Source

Scuba diving in one of Coron's shipwreck sites. Source

2. Boracay, Aklan

Known for its powdery white sand and breathtaking sunsets, Boracay is probably the most popular tourist destination in the Philippines. When in Boracay, you will never run out of fun activities: helmet diving, parasailing, paddle boarding, cliff diving, island hopping, and many more.

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If you are looking for a thrilling, adrenaline-filled activity, form a group and try flyfishing. Source

Cliff diving at Ariel's Point. Source

See the island from up above for just $55 for two people when you parasail. Source

If you are looking for rave parties during the nighttime, you can try coming to Boracay during peak seasons (April-May and December). But if you want a more relaxed stay and less crowded beaches, off-peak seasons are from August to October.

3. Batanes

They say that going to Batanes is like entering a different world. The jewel of the north, Batanes welcomes you with lush green sceneries as you step off the plane. If you are in for a quiet getaway, this island suits you best. It's also a haven for travel and landscape photographers.

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Visit a typical Ivatan cobblestone house. Source

Explore the island through biking. Source

4. Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte

Known as the surfing capital of the Philippines, Siargao’s cream-coloured sand is mixed with small pebbles, dead corals, and rocks. If you are a professional surfer, visit Siargao when the waves are big and challenging, which is between mid-August and mid-December. For beginners, visit the island sometime in April or May when the waves are more peaceful.

Guyam Island just off the coast of Siargao Island. Source

Siargao is the surfing capital of the Philippines. Source

5. Cebu (Malapascua and Moalboal)

Dubbed the Queen City of the South, Cebu is home to some of the most famous tourist and dive spots in the country. Malapascua Island in Cebu is the sanctuary of diverse marine life including Thresher sharks. Tourists and divers flock the Monad Shoal just to witness these rare species of shark.

Another notable dive site is Moalboal in Cebu. One of the island’s unique attraction is the huge number of sardines that can often be found swimming in its waters.

Malapascua in Cebu. Source

Dive with the Thresher sharks in Monad Shoal, Malapascua. Source

Moalboal sardine run. Source

6. Caramoan, Camarines Sur

A secluded and scenic island in Luzon, Caramoan is a haven for island hoppers, beach bums, as well as scuba divers. You can see a mix of caves, waterfalls, freshwater pools, underground streams, and lagoons aside from the many beaches that the island offers. Also, in 2012, the island has been the location of the US reality show, Survivor (Survivor: Philippines and Survivor: Caramoan), for two consecutive seasons.

Tugawe Cove Resort in Caramoan. Source

7. Kalanggaman Island, Leyte

Kalanggaman Island is an unspoiled paradise in Leyte in the Visayas. Gaining attention for its pristine waters and powdery white sand, Kalanggaman Island is popular for its long sandbars stretching on both sides of the island. Don’t limit yourself by just swimming. Go and have fun with your friends and family members with various island activities!

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8. Islas de Gigantes, Iloilo

If you want to go the extra mile, travelling to the remote islands of Islas de Gigantes (Islands of Giants) in Iloilo might be the best destination for you. The islands are best known for their bountiful supply of fresh seafood, abundance of white sand beaches, and jagged rock formations. Spend half of your day exploring the islands for just $40 (for 10 persons) or go spelunking in different caves. Complete the Gigantes tour by climbing up the rocky formations and see the top view of the row of limestone cliffs called the “Boulevard."

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9. Donsol, Sorsogon

If you are not afraid of big sea creatures, book a trip to Donsol, Sorsogon and swim with the whale sharks (locally called butanding). Though diving is not allowed in Donsol, you may also try other fun activities such as night firefly tour, shrimp-catching, biking and trekking.

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Whether you are looking for a relaxing place to hide or a thrilling adventure to ride, the Philippines is one of the countries you might want to check out. Tick off some items on your bucket list starting with this travel guide. So what are you waiting for?


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Cover photo collage: Photo sources under each photo

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