While there are many beautiful islands around the world, few compare to the majestic Philippines. Home to over 7000 islands stretching from the South China Sea to the tip of Borneo, you could spend a lifetime trying to explore them all and still not succeed. Though it’s worth a shot if you have the means. But if you’re stumped about where to start, then we’ve got this little list to kick your wanderlust into high gear.
Guimaras Island, Western Visayas
In the Western Visayas region of the Philippines, in between Panay and Bacolod is Guimaras Island – a haven for tourists and locals with so many hidden gems to uncover. From exploring the Buho Ramirez Cave to waterfall excursions and trips to Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, the beauty of this island is endless.
Fun fact: The Guimaras Island is renowned for producing the sweetest mangoes in the Philippines, making them among the juiciest and sweetest in the world.
El Nido, Palawan
A municipality of white sandy beaches, tranquil blues and coral reefs, El Nido is one of the more popular islands amongst tourists with good reason. It is absolutely stunning and pictures just don’t do it justice!
There’s a good range of accommodations to host your stay, from the affordable to the lavish. Close to many dive sites, a 20-minute boat ride will take you to Dilumacad Island better known as the ‘Helicopter Island’ due to the shape of its limestone hills. Experienced divers can explore an underwater cavern here.
Fun fact: One of the most memorable things to do in El Nido is to hike up to Taraw Peaks, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
An island that is no stranger to tourists from far and wide is Boracay, situated in central Philippines, in the province of Aklan, this small island is known for its high-end resorts and beautiful beaches.
The strong winds here make it a hub for a variety of water sports. You can even explore old shipwrecks and coral reefs home to the local marine life.
If you’re looking to splurge and relax at a high-end resort, Station 1 is where you’ll want to be – Discovery Shores Boracay comes highly recommended. Station 2 is where you’ll discover all the casual restaurants and vibrant nightlife, while Station 3 is the quieter side to this beautiful island.
Fun fact: The island of Boracay is only 7km long!
Calaguas Island, Camarines Norte
Once an offbeat destination, the Calaguas Islands is now the go-to choice for island adventurers looking to surf, dive, and camp on the beaches of this island. Mahabang Buhangin is one of its more popular beaches with a long stretch of white sands and crystal clear waters.
Made up of a group of islands, there is plenty to explore. Getting here is a long journey if you travel by land and sea from Manila, 15 hours almost, but if you’re an adventurer at heart, this might just be the island for you.
Fun fact: September to June is usually the best time to visit Calaguas Island.
Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte
An island in the shape of a teardrop located off the northeastern coast of Mindanao, Siargao is known as the country’s surfing capital. This palm-covered island attracts visitors from all over the world to catch its waves, explore the rock pools and cave pools, and dive into emerald blue lagoons.
Catch some waves, go rock climbing, or take an hour boat trip to the Sohoton Cove National Park. This place is truly paradise on Earth.
Fun fact: Siargao Island was named Best Island in Asia by Condé Nast Traveler in 2019.
Malapascua Island, Cebu
North of Cebu, this small island is known for scuba diving and spotting Thresher Sharks. Snorkel the reefs of Langub Beach or take part in their sunset beach clean up hosted by Neverland Hostel. Try cliff jumping at Lapus Lapus Cliff or enjoy the nightlife at one of the many bars on the island.
Fun fact: This small island is only 1.5km long!
This island looks like it came straight out of a storybook – a lighthouse set on a green-hill terrain, age-old stone houses, and history so wonderfully preserved. The Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint is the highest viewpoint on the island and features a curved carpet of lush green grass overlooking the hills and sea and it is picture perfect!
Visit Savidug Village and get to know the Ivatan people, known for their kind and hardworking nature as well as their spectacular headdress, the vakul. A trip to this island requires braving some pretty gnarly waves and winds, but it is worth it for an experience like no other.
Fun fact: The classic Ivatan houses in Batanes are made of limestone to protect against harsh weather conditions. The most famous one, House of Dakay, has been there since 1887.