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The Philippines is a beautiful country, with a lot of gorgeous places to visit. In this article you can find some of the best destinations in the Philippines, which will hopefully help you decide which islands you will visit during your trip to this impressive country. Because, trust me, it’s actually quite a hard task to decide where to go in the Philippines.
Did you know that the Philippines is entirely made of Islands? In fact, in the Philippines you can find more than 7.500 islands, while only 2,000 are inhabited. Of the 7.500 islands, 5.000 don’t even have a name yet (making up 5.000 names sounds hard!). So with so many possibilities, making up your mind which island you will visit is a difficult task.
Luckily it’s quite easy to arrange your travels around in the Philippines, in part because English, along with Filipino, is the country’s official language. This makes it quite easy for tourists to interact with (most) Filipinos and arrange their journey through this country. Especially if you’re thinking of going to one of the popular places in the Philippines, there are plenty of ways to get there. But if you’re looking for secluded, off-the-beaten destinations in the Philippines, it does take a bit more time and effort to get around.
In this article you’ll not only find the popular places in the Philippines, but also a lot of amazing, secluded and unspoilt islands where you’ll really get some relaxation.
Read on for 20 amazing destinations in the Philippines, with the help of various travel bloggers!
20 Amazing destinations in the Philippines
1. El Nido
When planning a trip to the Philippines, El Nido should definitely be on your itinerary. This small town is based on the north of Palawan, a group of islands in the South-West of the Philippines and the launch point for some of the best island hopping in the world. The star attraction is the Big Lagoon, a stunning place to swim, snorkel and explore by kayak. Other island-hopping highlights include Secret Lagoon and Helicopter Island.
However, our top recommend for El Nido would be to hire a kayak and explore independently. Beaches such as Lapus Lapus and Ipil Beach 2 are overlooked by the tour boats leaving blissful white sand beaches completely empty. These beaches are backed by huge limestone cliffs and would attract hundreds of visitors if you could access them by road.
If kayaking isn’t your thing you can hire a motorbike and visit Nacpan and Duli Beaches, which are around a 40-minute ride from town.
In the evening, we recommend heading to Las Cabanas for sunset drinks whilst swinging in a hammock. Island paradise.
Written by Cat of Walk My World.
If you love diving or always wanted to try diving, Malapascua is the divers’ paradise for you. There are some amazing spots to explore, such as the famous Japanese shipwreck form World War Two and other spots with lots of colourful fishes and other marine life. Although Malapascua is a quite touristy island (don’t go here if you just want to relax and chill), it’s a beautiful island with incredibly white sand beaches and clear blue waters.
If diving is a bit too much for you, there are enough shallow parts to snorkel. Next to diving and snorkelling, you can also explore various beaches or go island hopping. The most popular island nearby is definitely Kalanggaman Island.
Planning on going to Malapascua? Check out where to eat in Malapascua with 6 great restaurants.
3. Kalanggaman Island
If you’re deciding on visiting Malapascua, there’s a big chance that you’ll also visit the beautiful island of Kalanggaman, Leyte. Here you’ll be amazed with the clear blue waters and the white powdered sand. It’s actually just a tiny island, with two large sandbars stretching at the end of the island. There aren’t any modern facilities here; no restaurants, shops or hotels.
Most tourists visit Kalanggaman during a day trip of island hopping, but it’s also possible to spend the night here. As mentioned above, there aren’t any hotels, so if you want to stay for the night, the only way is by camping. It’s definitely recommended, just imagine all the stars you can see at night and you’ll have that incredible piece of paradise for yourself.
The small town of Moalboal is one of the most amazing spots to visit in the Philippines. It’s the perfect destination for nature lovers thanks to the sardine run at Panagsama beach and the town’s proximity to the stunning Kawasan Falls.
Moalboal has become famous for its vast sardine run, with millions and millions of sardines gathering just a few metres from the shore. One of the best things to do in the area is go snorkelling or diving with the sardines to witness this truly incredible spectacle. The sheer number of them is an amazing sight that you won’t forget in a hurry!
If that’s not enough, then Moalboal is also close to one of the best-known waterfalls in the Philippines. Kawasan falls is an easy day trip from the town by bus, scooter or tricycle. There are three levels of Kawasan falls, each with stunning blue pools at the base of the falls. It makes it a beautiful place to go swimming surrounded by the wonderful nature of the jungle.
If you’re looking for a destination with amazing nature in the Philippines then look no further than Moalboal!
Written by Sam and Natalia of Something of Freedom.
Most travellers that visited Siquijor have it as one of their favourite destinations in the Philippines. It’s probably because Siquijor is such a laid-back place. There’s a great vibe on the island and it’s the perfect spot to seriously destress for a few days.
Be sure to rent a motorbike and explore the island of Siquijor. Next to visiting the beautiful beaches, it’s also possible to visit multiple great waterfalls, such as the popular Cambugahay waterfalls near Lazi.
Although more and more tourists are discovering Siquijor, it’s definitely possible to avoid popular spots and enjoy some serenity.
Bicol, located in the southern part of Luzon, is known to be the rugged adventure region of Philippines. One really iconic thing about Bicol that everyone recalls is its beautifully symmetrical volcano called Mayon Volcano, which can be seen very clearly from anywhere in Bicol on a nice clear day. Other than the fact that it looks really nice from afar, one really fun activity to outdoor experience here as an adventure seeker is to go ATV Riding towards the Volcano. Mounting one of these incredible beast-like quad bikes and dashing through the streams, hills and rugged rocky paths is great fun for adrenaline junkies and fun-lovers.
Beyond quad-biking, Bicol had a great deal of other really enjoyable activities like boating or hiking around Bulusan Lake. You can enjoy a lot of the lush forestry in this region and many travellers and locals even call this place the ‘Switzerland of the Orient’. Don’t forget to also try the famous Bicol Express, a famous Filipino dish made of rice and rich savoury curry that originates from this part of Philippines. To explore this beautiful part of the country, the nearest airport to arrive at is Legazpi Airport.
Written by Lydia of Lydia Escapes.
Off the beaten track, unspoilt, and above all, the Philippines’ last frontier. The Caramoan Islands are a secluded and largely unexplored area in the Bicol region. If you’re looking for pristine beaches, powdery-white sands, marine life and stunning rock formations, then this far-flung jewel on the edge of the Camarines Sur is your ideal tropical destination.
Not for the faint-hearted, the journey to the Caramoan islands certainly is laborious compared to travel around the rest of the Philippines. However, the inaccessibility ensures the islands sandy beaches and turquoise waters remain a secret Filipino paradise.
The best way to spend your day is to island hop from one serene spot to the next. You’ll be blown away by the beauty. Not to mention the fact that apart from a few local fishing families, the islands are deserted. It’s certainly no wonder Caramoan’s remoteness attracted the makers of the popular reality TV show Survivor, and why the producers keep coming back to film further series.
Written by Roshni Patel of The Wanderlust Within.
8. Seco Island, Antique
Most foreign visitors head to the well-known islands when they visit the Philippines. It’s why Boracay, Palawan, and Cebu are full of tourists. The province of Antique, however, is a bit off the beaten path. It has several islands that are well worth visiting, including Seco Island that’s pretty close to Boracay.
I would definitely recommend Seco; it’s like a huge sandbar that’s elbow-shaped, hence the name (seco means elbow in the local language). It’s uninhabited, and since it takes around 2 hours to get there, there’s not a lot of tourists who go there.
The views are spectacular, the water is clear with rich marine life, and the sand is fine and white. Seco Island is more than just for swimming and beach combing, though. Kite surfers also love it because the winds can be strong. Most kite surfers visit the island from Boracay.
If you just want someplace isolated full of white sand and blue green waters, Seco Island is your best bet in the Philippines. Bring a picnic basket; there’s a hut there where you can take shelter from the heat.
Written by Aleah Taboclaon of Solitary Wanderer.
Sagada is a hilltop village set away from any chaos. It will be a refuge when you’re in need of a break from the salt in your hair, the bustle of Manila, or the hectic windy roads while on a bus (which will likely be the way you get here).
Sagada is a chilled out town where you can do nothing but breathe the fresh mountain air and sip on fruit shakes. But should you want to explore, of course, there’s adventure nearby. You can go caving at the Sumaguing Cave Connection where you’ll need a guide to take you through, wading through cold cave rivers will be inevitable and monkey-skills on the rocks will be needed!
A wander through Echo Valley to see the hanging coffins, sunrise viewpoints, waterfalls, and fantastic rice terrace views are all here as well. There’s a lot to keep you busy with no pressure to move along because the town does have a vibe that will get you stuck here, in the best way possible. Do yourself a favour and grab breakfast at the Yoghurt House as you sit on their balcony reading a book with some coffee to start your day.
Written by Nina Ragusa of Where in the World is Nina.
Coron was my last destination in the Philippines and also the best! What makes it so special? The island offers everything and there are amazing things to do, such as great treks, boat tours, restaurants for all food lovers and a diverse culture.
The actual boat tour we did was the best thing we did on the island. We spent the day visiting paradise beaches, snorkelling heaven spots and exploring amazing coves. Also, another epic activity we did was the hike up to Mount Tapyas. This is one of the most popular treks on Coron and you can see the statue at the top from all over the island.
Written by Louis Smith of The Northern Boy.
Batanes is a group of islands at the northern tip of the Philippines. The waters of Batanes is known to be treacherous, thanks to the convergence of the West Philippine Sea with the vast Pacific Ocean and the strong winds blowing along its coast. The only way to get to Batanes from the main islands of the Philippines is by air. However, flights to Batanes are relatively more expensive than the rest of Philippine domestic flights.
Despite its elusiveness, Batanes remains to be a top wish-list destination even for Filipinos. What makes it worth the visit then? Googling for images of Batanes will yield captivating landscapes accentuated with lighthouses, verdant rolling hills, traditional stone houses you won’t find anywhere else in the Philippines and blue sea mightily rimmed with rough waves.
The allure of Batanes lies not only on its exquisite natural beauty. Batanes being isolated, even nearer to Taiwan than the rest of the Philippines, has helped preserve the culture and centuries-old lifestyle that is Batanes. Their food, architecture, boat design, fishing methods and headdress, among others are perfectly adapted to the environmental conditions in Batanes. Learn more about what makes Batanes unique in this article.
You won’t find Jollibee (the most popular fastfood chain scattered all over the Philippines), McDonald’s, Starbucks and shopping malls in Batanes. Even cellphone signal is intermittent here. Nevertheless, its rural vibes, raw beauty and the charm of its people will surely be enough reasons for not minding being stranded in Batanes.
Written by Jing Calonge of Finding Jing.
Biliran is an island province in the Philippines. It’s beautiful yet under-rated, and currently it’s overshadowed by its neighboring provinces such as Leyte. However, once you visit here, you’ll want to come back again for another trip!
Biliran has a lot of natural attractions. It has about 30 waterfalls, so one of the things you can do here is to allot one whole day to visit several of them. You can rent a motorcycle to do this or hire a guide to go with you. Along the way to the falls, you’ll get to see beautiful rice fields and mountain views. My favourite among the accessible falls are Ulan-Ulan Falls and Tinago Falls.
If you’re a beach lover, you can stay in one of the resorts in Biliran. You can also island hop to nearby islands including Sambawan Island, which is a picture-perfect summer destination where you can swim, snorkel & dive, relax or do other activities such as astrophotography at night.
We’d been to several places in the Philippines and we can definitely say that Biliran is a definite must-visit.
Written by Katherine Cortes of Tara Lets Anywhere.
13. Sambawan Island
Tucked away in the north of the Leyte province is Sambauan Island, an absolute must see if you’re looking for a secluded island paradise all to yourself. In typical Philippines travel fashion you have to jump between a series of islands to get here, but it’s definitely worth the little bit of extra effort. Starting in the Leyte capital of Tacloban it’s a two hour journey to Naval on Biliran Island. It’s a simple drive along a beautiful highway dotted with lush coconut palms as far as the eye can see. From Naval you need to make yours way up to Kayawan, where you’ll organize a boat to taker you our to Sambauan. The boat trip is about half hour, passing nearby Maripipi, an impressive island in it’s own right.
Once you land on Sambauan you can spend your time relaxing in the gorgeous water or exploring the rest of the island. There are some hikes that take you to nice viewpoints, where you can see Maripipi Island and almost get a bird’s eye view of tiny Sambauan. The hike isn’t too strenuous, but if it’s hot a dip in the ocean afterwards will be a welcome respite from the heat. The water is calm and bright turquoise on a sunny day. There are a few low key options for food on the island, as well as some simple cottages if you want to spend the night.
Written by Jules Hatfield of Don’t Forget to Move.
Sibuyan is not one of the most popular islands with foreigners travelling to the Philippines, which is understandable given that it can be rather difficult and time-consuming to access. It was however the destination that captured our hearts during the two months that we spent travelling around the country.
Sibuyan lacks the tourism infrastructure which makes nearby Boracay so popular, and beach bars and restaurants are nowhere to be found. The island is wild and rocky with a very local feel and a remarkable absence of tourists. Although Sibuyan itself lacks white sand beaches characteristic of south east Asia, they’re not far off! The tiny Cresta de Gallo, which is just two hours’ boat ride away, is blessed with clean shimmering sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters which makes it the perfect destination for a day trip from Sibuyan.
Sibuyan boasts a thick jungle set around its tall mountain at the centre of the island, home to many waterfalls hidden amongst the dense foliage. A local guide is needed to explore the area, due to the high risk of getting lost in the jungle, but swimming in the cold water of the beautiful waterfalls during our trek, was one of our most memorable experiences in the Philippines!
Written by Michelle of Cheeky Passports.
Boracay is once again one of the most amazing places in the Philippines. Over the last years, tourism numbers as well as pollution on the island were continuously rising until the government decided to close the island for tourism for 6 months. In late 2018, Boracay was reopened. Now, the number of tourists that may visit the island are limited, as well as the extensive fireworks and parties.
But the beautiful nature of the island and its surrounding reefs is now feeling better than ever. Reef sharks, colourful coral fish and tuna fish are awaiting the divers that dive off to explore the underwater world around Boracay. And even if you are not a fan of diving, there are plenty of other fun activities. Get to know the live of locals and join a fishing tour or learn some Filipino cooking skills. Of course, you can also just relax and get a massage at one of the whitest beaches in the world.
Written by Michael Meraner of 197 Travel Stamps.
16. Apo Island
Located in Negros and accessible mostly via Dumaguete, Apo Island is a small volcanic Island. Public transportation from south bus terminal in Dumaguete is running daily to Malatapay (the port for getting to Apo Island). You only have to be patient because bus never leaves on time, so get there early.
Apo means ‘grandchild’ and the island is mostly known by dive spot and snorkelling. Swimming with turtles is very popular. The island is a marine reserve protected by National Integrated Protected Area Act (NIPA). There are some rules to follow, as this is a community-organised marine sanctuary. You will have to pay an entrance fee, and a guide is required for a maximum of 5 people. This place really worth a visit, especially if you’re marine life lover. The biodiversity is amazing and this island is a good example how to keep balance between tourism and conservation. Tourism revenue benefits local families as; they do their best to preserve the marine sanctuary.
The Island has a ranger station and a lighthouse. Only two local accommodations are there, they are also diving centers. Next time you will go to the Philippines, definitely put Apo island in you list.
Written by Sandrina Ferreira of The Wise Travellers.
17. Sipalay City
Another fairly undiscovered destination in the Philippines is Sipalay City on Negros Island. Just like Apo Island, it’s mostly accessible via Dumaguate. It’s a very laid-back place, that feels and looks more as a small town than a big city. It exists out of just a few streets and you won’t find many modern shops and restaurants here. Definitely don’t expect big supermarkets or malls.
If you decide to visit Sipalay, I would highly recommend to stay on Sugar Beach. It’s a great place to stay if you’re on a budget, with lots of affordable resorts. Even though it’s one of the more popular beaches, you will barely find any tourists here and have a whole beach to yourself.
18. Port Barton
Port Barton is a sleepy little beach town on the island in Palawan that isn’t always the easiest to get to, but it’s definitely worth it. Most people breeze right on by in favor of El Nido, but Port Barton is the perfect relaxing getaway. With no real busy main street, the beach is where you’ll find most of the accommodation and food. You can most likely find a place to stay once you arrive. There are a few dusty streets passing through, but the pristine beach and warm water is the real draw.
Spend a few days relaxing in the sand, hike to a nearby waterfall, go snorkeling, or do one of the few island hopping tours available. Port Barton almost feels a little more rustic than other Palawan hot spots with limited power and very few tourists. If you are ready for a break from constant tours or hustle and bustle, then consider Port Barton.
Written by Megan Johnson of Red Around the World.
19. Pandan Island
Pandan Island lies a couple of kilometers off the coast of Sablayan in the Province of Occidental Mindoro. The off-beat location, together with the limited accommodation available keeps the island safe from excessive tourism, even if Pandan is a tropical paradise with a great variety of flora and fauna and two beautiful, long, secluded beaches.
It feels as if you’re staying on your private island. The only accommodation on the island is called Pandan Island Resort and provides hut-like rooms and delicious fusion-style buffet dinners. The resort was founded on the deserted island by a French adventurer and his Philipino wife in the ’70s. Now their family is running the business involving the help of 40 people.
Pandan Island will be a dream destination for everybody needing to unplug and to relax deeply. The island’s waters are inhabited by sea turtles and many species of tropical fishes. It’s the perfect location to start diving, and you can take classes on the island’s Mariposa diving center. A few times a week, the dive center arranges day-trips to Apo Reef which is the world’s second largest connecting coral reef, an Eden for divers.
If you don’t want to spend the night on the island, take a bangka from Sablayan’s backwaters and make it your day trip: there is a picknick area, a bar, and a restaurant.
Written by Annalisa Franceschini of Travel Connect Experience.
Marinduque is one of my favorite provinces in the Philippines. Having been there several times, I’ve explored it extensively and visited most (if not all) of it’s amazing tourist spots and attractions.
A popular holy week destination in the Philippines, it is home to the annual Moriones Festival. This week-long festival and is one of the major tourist drawers of Marinduque province.
But, Marinduque is not just a holy week destination. It’s a year-round destination offering a wide array of tourist spots, attractions, and exciting things to do that every traveler will surely enjoy. As an island province, it is dotted with nice and uncrowded beaches, as well as tiny islands surrounded with pristine clear blues waters ideal for swimming and camping.
For the adventure junkies, climbing its highest peak, Mt. Malindig is every mountaineer’s dream destination. More to that, Marinduque also has several caves ideal for spelunking. My most favorite is climbing “Mataas na Bundok” where you could find the Luzon Datum of 1911 marker. Also known as Station Balanacan, the Luzon Datum is the primary geodetic reference, or datum origin of all surveys in the Philippines – making Marinduque the “heart” or “the center of the Philippines.
To get to Marinduque from the capital city of Manila, you may take a bus to Lucena City then take a ferry to Marinduque with a total travel time of around 7-8 hours. Alternatively, you may take a one-hour flight from NAIA Manila Airport to Marinduque via Cebu Pacific Air. Flights are every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. This is the fastest and most convenient way to get to Marinduque.
Written by Mervin of Pinoy Adventurista.
Hopefully this article with some of the best destinations in the Philippines will make it easier for you to decide where to go. Or perhaps it has even made it harder and you’ve even added more to your bucket list for the Philippines. Whatever islands in the Philippines you end up going, I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time!
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