7 Most Beautiful Islands in the Philippines

Discover the most beautiful islands of the Philippines and find out why they get recognition for being the best in the world. Find out what island you should explore first from over 7000 islands to choose from in this guide.

As an archipelago, the Philippines is rich in natural resources. With over 7000 islands and islets, it is natural that island-hopping is one of the best things you can do here. 

The country has three main geographical island regions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Many popular island destinations can be found in the Visayas, like Cebu, Bohol, and Boracay, but there are some in Luzon as well, including Palawan. Meanwhile, Mindanao's emerging top island destination is Siargao

If you’re visiting the country soon, check out this guide to the best islands in the Philippines and learn why they're a must-visit. 

6 - Bohol
5 - Siargao 
4 - Boracay
3 - Cebu

7. Hundred Islands National Park, Pangasinan

Hundred Islands National Park, Pangasinan

Around a half-day drive from the capital city of Manila is the gateway to one of the best island-hopping experiences in the country, the Hundred Islands National Park. 

An island-hopping trip around the Hundred Islands National Park will give you access to a protected area and the Philippines’ first national park comprising 124 islands and islets off Alaminos, Pangasinan.

Some recommended islands here include Marcos Island where you can jump 20-30 feet into a cave, Martha and Ramos Island, Hernandez Island, and Turtle Island, among others. 

You can avail of an island-hopping experience that includes lunch since there are no restaurants on the islands. Just make sure to leave no trace behind and bring back all your trash with you.

Aside from island hopping, there are many other things you can do in Hundred Islands. You can go snorkeling, helmet diving, kayaking, cliff jumping in Marcos Island, ziplining, rappelling, and parasailing. There are other fun water sports, too, like banana boat riding and jet skiing.

While you're in Pangasinan, spend an additional day or two to explore more of the province. Some activities in Pangasinan include the pilgrimage excursion where you can visit old churches and going on a food trip to taste the flavors of the province.

6. Bohol

7 Most Beautiful Islands in the Philippines

Bohol is another destination where you can enjoy island hopping in the Philippines. The tour often includes dolphin watching (if you’re lucky, you’ll see more than one), and stops at Balicasag Island and Virgin Island. 

The Balicasag Island experience is an excellent opportunity to snorkel or dive because of the island's vibrant underwater ecosystem. You’ll see a variety of corals that come in different shapes, colors, and sizes. 

Virgin Island is a long sandbar where you can relax, unwind, and wade in the shallow waters. There will be vendors there selling fresh sea urchin; have some for less than a dollar!

Most travelers do a one-day countryside tour of Bohol aside from island-hopping. Tours already include transportation and entrance fees and would cover historical sites and churches like the Blood Compact Site, Baclayon Church, Tarsier Sanctuary, Bilar Man-made Forest, and Chocolate Hills, among others.

One of the highlights of the countryside trips in Bohol is the Loboc River lunch buffet cruise tour. You can also do the Loboc River Ecotourism experience where you can do paddleboarding and ride mountain bikes.

For the more adventurous travelers,  visit the Danao Adventure Park. There, you can go caving, ziplining, rappelling, kayaking, root climbing, and best of all, do a canyon swing which is similar to bungee jumping.

5. Siargao 

7 Most Beautiful Islands in the Philippines

Siargao shot to fame when international surfers discovered its barrel-shaped waves, considered one of the best in the world, in General Luna. They dubbed the place Cloud 9, and it has since become the place for surfers to test their mettle, improve their skill, or compete against some of the best in the sport. 

However, surfing in Siargao isn’t the only activity you can do during your stay. Experiencing island-hopping in Siargao is also a must where you will be taken to Naked Island, Daku Island, and Guyam Island.

Naked Island, Siargao

Naked Island got its name because there are no structures or vegetation on it. It’s just a patch of fine white sand in the middle of the sea. You can spend an hour or so here beach bumming or wading in the clear waters.

Daku Island is the biggest of the three (“daku” is their local word for “big”) and also has huts for rent. The long stretch of powdery, white sand and the swaying trees make for an idyllic backdrop for those who want a relaxing trip. Bring some snacks and have a picnic, but always leave no trace behind. 

Guyam is a small island that is picturesque with its emerald-colored waters, a few trees, and powdery sand. The waters are shallow, making it easy to wade or swim around.

There are plenty of other activities and attractions in Siargao aside from surfing and island-hopping. You can rent a van, tricycle, or drive your own motorcycle to visit the palm-tree-lined roads of Siargao, the Magpupungko Rock Pools, Sugba Lagoon, Sohoton Cove, or plunge into the Maasin River with the tire swing.

4. Boracay

7 Most Beautiful Islands in the Philippines

Boracay is often cited as one of the best islands in the Philippines. Just like many destinations in the Visayas region, island hopping in Boracay is one of the most popular activity. 

After a relaxing day on the fine white sandy beaches of Station 1, get on a boat and explore nearby attractions such as Magic Island, Ariel’s Point, Puka Beach, and Crocodile Island among others. You can join tours in Boracay for the full experience. 

When booking activities, it's highly recommended to get a private one as you can customize your trip to exclude or include certain destinations. This is ideal for small or large groups who want to stay longer in some spots.

Boracay Island

After a day’s worth of hopping between islands, Boracay has plenty of other attractions and activities to offer in terms of land adventures, dining, and entertainment. There are a number of restaurants, bars, and shops that cater to various budgets.

One must-try is the Boracay Pubcrawl experience where you hop around different bars in just one night. Before leaving, don’t forget to watch the iconic sunset on the island, which is one of the best sunsets in the country.

3. Cebu

Malapascua Island, Cebu

One of the most popular Philippine destinations when it comes to islands is definitely Cebu. It is blessed with islands with white sand beaches, diving spots with colorful underwater ecosystems, and land attractions that are easily accessible.

In northern Cebu, you can go island-hopping in Camotes Island, Bantayan Island, or Malapascua. When you go to the south, you can stay in Moalboal for the sardine run and then go to Pescador Island.

Another option from Cebu City is to do an island-hopping trip from Mactan. This is best for those visiting the Queen City of the South but are pressed for time. Common stops include a trip to Nalusuan Island and Hilutungan Island, Olango Island, and Pandanon Island. 

Trips often begin at Hilutungan Island, since it is the nearest from the mainland and is a protected area. Hilutungan is Cebu's oldest marine sanctuary. It is excellent for snorkeling and diving because of the rich diversity of its marine life. Keep on the lookout for schools of giant trevally and a lot of batfish!

Blessed with hectares of mangroves and mudflats, Olango Island is great for bird watching. It is one of the stops for migratory birds coming from Siberia and China, including some endangered species. Commonly seen here are egrets, herons, terns, kingfishers, fly-eaters, and totlers, among others.

Birds can reach more than 40,000 during peak season, which is between November and May. Be sure to drop by at sunrise or sunset for the best chances of seeing them, as they come out to feed during these hours. 

Moalboal, Cebu

There are so many things you can do in Cebu aside from island hopping packages, snorkeling, and diving. You can go on a food crawl in Carcar and find out why Anthony Bourdain loved their lechon so much. You can visit historic places; after all, Cebu was where Ferdinand Magellan first set foot over 300 years ago.

For adventure lovers, Cebu doesn't lack things to do as well. There's the canyoneering experience in Badian, diving with millions of sardines in Moalboal, and hiking Osmeña Peak in Dalaguete.

2. El Nido, Palawan

7 Most Beautiful Islands in the Philippines

El Nido has turned from a small, idyllic village to a bustling tourist destination. This is where you can arrange island hopping excursions to explore some of the best islands, beaches, and lagoons in Palawan and the Philippines.

El Nido Island Hopping Tour A includes going to the Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Seven Commandos Beach, and Shimizu Island. These stops provide you with a bit of everything El Nido has to offer, like towering limestone formations, lagoons with crystal clear waters, and of course, powdery white sand. This is a popular day tour for those who only have a full day to explore El Nido.

El Nido Island Hopping Tour B covers Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave, Cathedral Cave, and Entalula Island. These destinations have talcum powder-like sand and waters so clear you can’t tell how deep it is. Pinagbuyutan Island offers some of the best snorkeling spots too, with its vibrant and colorful corals near the shore.

El Nido Island Hopping Tour C is another traveler-favorite like Tour A. It makes stops at Star, Hidden, and Secret Beaches; Matinloc Shrine; and Helicopter Island; this trip takes longer because of the distance the boat needs to cover. However, the long wait is worth it as the beaches are pristine, the limestone formations spectacular, and the photo opportunities are aplenty.

El Nido Island Hopping Tour D will take you to the lagoons and beaches of Minilob and Cadlao Island. This includes Small Lagoon (which used to be a part of Tour A) Bukal Beach, Cadlao Lagoon, Natnat Beach, and Paradise Beach. This isn't the most popular tour package so it's great for travelers who like peace and quiet. 

If you go early enough, there might be no one else visiting. Paradise Beach fits the description "tropical paradise" perfectly, while Cadlao Lagoon is the ideal place to swim around because of its clear waters and raw beauty.

Traveling solo isn’t a problem when visiting the beautiful beaches of El Nido as you can easily join any of the tours and meet new friends.

Aside from island-hopping, you can also explore the mainland of El Nido like joining day trips to Nacpan Beach, climb the Taraw Cliff, or eat seafood at the restaurants by the beach. 

1. Coron, Palawan   

Coron island hopping

Coron is a must-visit if you want to go island-hopping in the Philippines because of its crystal clear waters and gorgeous landscapes.  

A shared island-hopping adventure in Coron usually has a fixed itinerary. Some destinations you need to include in yours are Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake, and the Twin Lagoon.

Kayangan Lake is the iconic photo you often see online and in magazines, newspapers, advertisements, and postcards. It deserves the hype; the lake itself is beautiful and the mix of fresh and saltwater is cool. It is so clear you can’t tell how deep it goes until you make it to the bottom. 

Twin Lagoon is another thing of beauty; towering limestone formations flank the lagoons that have sky-blue waters. You can jump off the cliff or swim under the passage to get in.

Other stops included in a Coron day trip are Banol Beach, Smith Beach, CYC Beach, the coral garden, and Siete Pecados. These have fine white sand beaches and spectacular underwater ecosystems, especially Siete Pecados where you’ll see a variety of fish and corals.

If you prefer a more relaxing trip, go on an island-hopping trip in Culion, specifically in Malcapuya and Ditaytayan Islands. These have pristine beaches and swaying trees, and blue waters that all make for an idyllic backdrop for your photos. 

While island hopping in Coron is the popular thing you can do there, another highly-recommended activity is the wreck diving. 

There is a very good reason why Coron is one of the best diving destinations in the country, and it's because of the war-time Japanese shipwrecks in Coron that plenty of marine life now call home.

Snorkeling is also highly recommended, as well as hiking and soaking in a hot spring.

Plan Your Trip to The Best Islands of the Philippines

7 Most Beautiful Islands in the Philippines

Unspoiled fine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, incredible underwater sights, and towering limestone formations await you in the best islands of the Philippines! Delicious food and friendly locals will also make the experience more memorable. 

Find more island-hopping adventures that you can add to your itinerary when exploring over 7000 islands in the Philippines.