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.
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.
Pangasinan on the western side of Luzon is a travel-worthy destination in the Philippines because of its scenic islands, beautiful beaches, stunning waterfalls, verdant hills, and many more.
One of its most popular attractions is called the Hundred Islands National Park, a protected area and the Philippines’ first national park. An island-hopping trip around the Hundred Islands National Park will give you access to some of the 124 islands and islets off Alaminos, Pangasinan.
Some recommended islands to visit 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 lounging on the white sand and swimming during your island hopping trip, you can also 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.
Bohol in Visayas is one of the must-visit Philippine destination for beach lovers, nature lover, and divers. The main island of Bohol gives you access to more than 75 islands and islets such as Panglao Island, Balicasag Island, and Virgin Island.
Bohol is home to both natural and man-made wonders. A must-do here is the countryside tour where you can visit the top attractions in Bohol and Panglao Island.
Visit the majestic Chocolate Hills that has been hailed as the country's third National Geological Monument, Tarsier Sanctuary where you can see the smallest primate, and the Bilar Manmade Forest filled with mahogany trees.
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 try paddleboarding and ride mountain bikes.
Panglao Island's most famous attraction is Alona Beach, one of the best beaches in the Philippines. Some of the best resorts and hotels in Bohol are lined up or near Panglao Island's Alona Beach.
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 are vendors there selling fresh sea urchin; have some for less than a dollar!
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.
Siargao, a tear-dropped island at the northeastern tip of Mindanao, is best known for being the surfing capital of the Philippines.
This tropical paradise is often hailed by local and international publications as one of the best islands in the world. It has stunning islands, powdery white sand beaches, natural lagoon pools, and gorgeous mangrove forest reserve to name a few.
The island of 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 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.
Boracay has always been on the top of the list when it comes to the best islands in the world. It has been hailed as one of the best island in Asia and the world by international travel publications throughout the years.
This island in Visayas is blessed with white sandy beaches, idyllic islands, and stunning views. These are just some of the reasons why Boracay is a tropical paradise and a tourist favorite.
There are a lot of water sports you can do here, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, paraw sailing, windsurfing, kite surfing, and many more. 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.
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.
Cebu in Visayas is blessed with pristine islands, white sand beaches, diving spots with colorful underwater ecosystems, and historical and picturesque land attractions.
It's one of the most popular island destinations in the Philippines and is often included in the best islands in the world. Cebu also has its own international airport that services direct flights from different countries.
In northern Cebu, you can go island-hopping in Camotes Island, Bantayan Island, or Malapascua. When you go to the south, you can travel to Moalboal to experience the sardine run, join the adrenaline-pumping canyoneering tours to Kawasan Falls, or hike Osmeña Peak.
Island-hopping in Mactan is a good option if you have limited time since it's the nearest from the airport. 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.
There are so many things you can do in Cebu aside from island hopping trips, snorkeling, and diving. You can also go on a food crawl at Carcar and find out why Anthony Bourdain loved their Cebu lechon (roasted pig) so much.
You can also visit historic places; after all, Cebu was where Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan first set foot in the Philippines over 300 years ago.
Its pristine islands, each one more breathtaking than the next, offers a variety of water activities such as island-hopping, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, stand up paddle-boarding and more.
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.
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.
Coron, located at the northern tip of Palawan, tops the list of most publication's picks for the best islands in the world. Its stunning islands, idyllic beaches, crystal-clear freshwater lakes, and out of this world shipwreck diving sites are just some of the many reasons why it's a must-visit.
A shared island-hopping adventure in Coron usually has a fixed itinerary. Some destinations you will be visiting are Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake, and the Twin Lagoon.
Kayangan Lake, the top attraction in Coron, is one of the cleanest bodies of water in the Philippines. It's a mix of fresh and saltwater that offers the coolest and most refreshing swim. The water in Kayangan Lake 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 thanks to the towering limestone formations flank and sky-blue waters. You can ride a kayak 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 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 shipwreck diving.
Coron is one of the best diving destinations in the Philippines because of the war-time Japanese shipwrecks in its waters that plenty of marine life now call home.
Snorkeling is also highly recommended, as well as hiking and soaking in a hot spring.
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 island-hopping adventures that you can add to your itinerary when exploring over 7000 islands in the Philippines.