The best beaches and islands in the Philippines

Bantayan Philippines

Some ideas for dream destinations in the Philippines

In November 2013, the Philippines was hit and devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, whose 315 km/h winds and high waves caused considerable damage and the deaths of several hundred people. Since then, the country has thanked the world for its solidarity following the passage of this powerful natural phenomenon.

The typhoon may still be fresh in people’s minds, but the generosity and enthusiasm of the Filipino people is a great incentive to come and discover one of the Philippines’ greatest assets: its 7,100 islands, lined with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters boasting some of the most diverse aquatic life in the world.

Most of these islands are relatively unexplored, but if you finally decide to take a trip to the Philippines, here are the paradise spots you shouldn’t miss:

1. El Nido, Palawan

If Palawan is indeed « the last frontier » of the Philippines, as it has been nicknamed, the small coastal town of El Nido is the gateway to wild adventure. A veritable paradise on earth, El Nido is the starting point for bangka trips to the Bacuit archipelago, made up of completely incredible islands. The scenery looks like something out of a retouched photograph. Off the coast of El Nido are majestic limestone karst formations, lagoons, marble cliffs, prehistoric caves and waterfalls.

El Nido

What to do in El Nido El Nido is an ideal and popular destination for divers. The clear waters are great for snorkeling too, and contain over 50 species of coral, and attract whales, whale sharks, sea cows, manta rays, dolphins and endangered turtles. Many dive clubs offer their services on site, and prices are still very low!

2. Boracay, Aklan

White Beach is the place most often associated with Boracay, the Philippines’ most popular vacation destination. Its four-kilometer length welcomes sunbathers and adventurers alike. At night, the beach comes alive with candles in the sand and cozy restaurants and bars that stay open until dawn. Away from White Beach, you’ll find quieter resorts with a less noisy side, but still offering secluded beaches, coves, caves and cliffs.

Boracay Philippines

Flickr – Chewy Chua

What to do in Boracay? Beyond its « beach paradise » aspect, where you can simply sunbathe and swim, Boracay is known for its extreme sports. In the early months of the year, the town attracts hundreds of kite-surfers and windsurfers to compete in the International Funboard Cup. Big waves and strong winds make Boracay an ideal destination for water sports enthusiasts.

3. Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley

This isolated island is a secret of nature, and only the bravest and most persevering take the trouble to visit it. Magnificent white sand beaches surrounded by volcanic rock on one side embrace blue-green waters on the other. Snorkeling and diving allow you to explore the coral gardens and rich marine reserve. Palaui Island is a pure beauty, but quite difficult to access. Go with a trusted guide and arm yourself with patience. Good weather is also good for trekking and hiking. To reach the most popular strip of sand, you’ll have to walk through mangroves, muddy ground and thorny grasses.

Palaui Island Philippines

A lighthouse on the island – Flickr – Ojie Paloma

What to do on Palaui Island With no resorts or hotels, Palaui has only one real option: camping under the stars. You can also be tempted to sleep in a homestay.

4. Panglao, Bohol

Once a peaceful island, Panglao is now the goal of many travelers seeking splendid beaches. It’s a haven for those who appreciate the diversity of aquatic attractions. You can watch dolphins and whales, dive with barracudas, trevallies and sea snakes and see colorful coral formations.


Flickr – mayrpamintuan

What else is there to do in Bohol? On top of that, the island of Bohol is home to the Chocolate Hills, an unusual hilly landscape comprising over 1,200 hills. They are so named for their brown color during the dry season. Consider a trip to theisland of Balicasag.

5. Bantayan, Cebu

Bantayan has remained relatively untouched by modern life, except for a handful of foreigners who have made it their home, drawn by the island’s white sand, turquoise waters and red-and-gold sunsets. The beers are fresh and cheap, the locals are friendly and it’s easy to forget the problems of the outside world.

Bantayan Philippines

Flickr – Eric Brian Ouano

If you’re looking for peace and quiet, don’t plan your stay during Holy Week before Easter. The island is invaded by Filipino tourists during this period, with rooms and services booked months in advance.

What to do in Bantayan? Relax and unwind. There’s not much action here… no 5-star hotels or shopping malls.

6. Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Named after the local sea turtle, Caramoan is as spectacular as it is isolated. Stretches of white sand appear between huge rocks. Diving, island hopping and lounging are the main activities here. There are also caves, waterfalls, freshwater pools, underground rivers and lagoons. Incidentally, the 2008 season of the TV show Koh-Lanta took place on Caramoan Island.

Caramoan Philippines

Flickr – IRRI Photos

What to do in Caramoan You can trek to the top of Mt. Caglago for a view of the island and its islets. At the top, there’s a statue of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.

7. Samal, Davao

A booming tourist destination, the island of Samal is trying to promote its 118 kilometers of white sand beaches. You’re already familiar with the island’s assets: crystal-clear waters, lush greenery, rock formations, mangroves and coconut palms. Numerous resorts offer a range of choices for visitors, from luxury resorts to backpacker options.

What to do in Samal? There’s a curiosity to be seen here: at high tide, Shanipan Shoal, a small island, disappears underwater to reveal only a wooden hut. A magnificent sight. Here again, you can go scuba diving or simply take your mask and snorkel to observe the seabed at Coral Garden Marine Park.

Also read on the Philippines guide :

8. Siargao Islands, Surigao del Norte

Despite its status as an ideal surfing destination, there are very few tourists. There are spots for all surfing levels: beginners, intermediate and even pros (3-meter waves). If surfing isn’t your thing, the pristine beaches with gentle waves are perfect for sunbathing and swimming.

Île de Siargao Philippines

Flickr – Miguel Navaza

What to do on the Siargao Islands The best days for surfing are between mid-August and mid-December, when the swell is more constant. Beginners should go around April or May, when the waves are calmer.

9. Grande Santa Cruz Island, Zamboanga

On the Big Island of Santa Cruz, powdered red coral from the sea mixes with white sand to produce a pink beach. The colors here are really well combined with this pink, the blue-green of the water and the vegetation… You can only go to this beach for a day, so make the most of your time here. At lunchtime, you can eat locally-cooked fish. Watch out for the sudden drop in water depth just a few metres from the beach.

Grande Santa Cruz Island, Zamboanga

Source –

What to do on Isla Grande Santa Cruz? The beach is a short boat ride from Zamboanga City. You need to take precautions to get there. You need a permit from the Department of Tourism in Zamboanga City to go to the island. You will be escorted by armed men (military). This is a preventive measure against possible threats (there are none, however, as the city is relatively calm).

Pagudpud/Bangui, Ilocos Norte

Along the northern tip of the island of Luzon lies the seaside resort of Pagudpud. It’s a quiet, sleepy, rural commune. Perhaps because it takes time and effort to get to Pagudpud, the wide, inviting beaches are generally empty, ideal for those who like to mix solitude, sun, sand and surf. Surprisingly enough, there is a row of wind turbines towards the town of Bangui.

Pagudpud Philippines

Flickr – Diana Kathrina Leomo

What to do in Pagudpud Pagudpud is often exposed to winds blowing from both the China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, making the waves ideal for surfers, especially from July to October. Windsurfers and kitesurfers are beginning to realize this and are increasingly coming here.

Getting around and travelling in the Philippines

There are several local airlines offering flights between the islands of the Philippines. Generally speaking, as the routes are not very long, the price of tickets is not very high. It all depends on whether you plan ahead or not… Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, SEAIR and AirAsia are the preferred airlines for intra-Philippine travel. Find the best prices on the airline websites or on Skyscanner.

You can also choose to travel by ferry, whose network is highly developed on the archipelago. Oceanjet and SuperCat offer the key destinations.

Have you visited any of these islands and beaches in the Philippines? Give us your opinion by commenting below!