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Islands You Should Visit in the Philippines

A photo of boats near an island El Nido, Palawan is among the popular Philippine islands you should visit.

The Philippines is a magnificent country that offers its visitors a memorable island experience. Praised by both mainstream media and tourists alike, it’s considered one of the top tourist destinations in Southeast Asia.

A few of the many reasons for the country’s international popularity include the friendly locals, rich culture, interesting cuisines and delicacies, and, of course, abundant beaches.

In the Philippine Islands, you can find some of the world-renowned natural wonders: Rice Terraces in the Ifugao Cordillera Administrative Regions, Underground River in Puerto Princesa Palawan, Barracuda Lake in Coron, and the Chocolate Hills of Bohol.

Aside from the many picturesque natural wonders, foreigners also flock to this country to experience and take part in its many vibrant festivals: Sinulog Festival in Cebu, Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan, Dinagyang Festival in Ilo-ilo, and Masskara Festival in Bacolod.

With over 7,000 beautiful islands, you’ll never run out of places to see or things to do. This begs the question, which islands should you visit first?

If you’re afraid of getting lost, carrying a Philippines map in your bag would be a great idea. Essentially, there are three main regions that make up the Philippine Islands: Luzon, the northern region and the largest island in the Philippines; Visayas, the central region; and Mindanao, the southern region.

Each of these unique regions is composed of rich and culturally diverse islands that offer more than white sand beaches. To get you started, below are the top must-visit islands in the Philippines:

  1. Siargao Island

This island has been branded as the surfing capital of the Philippines. Its welcoming ambiance, wonderful locals, and surf-friendly waters are comparable to those in Bali, Indonesia. It’s difficult to not fall in love with this destination.

Things to do: Of course, surfing should be number one on your list. The best place to catch and cruise along some gnarly waves is at Cloud 9, located in General Luna. However, if you don’t think surfing is for you, there are tons of other activities you can do in Siargao that are equally exciting.

  • Explore the Caves of Tayangban Pool. One of the hidden gems of Siargao is a beautiful body of water surrounded by glowing rock formations. It’s basically a pool inside a cave where the only way to fully explore it is by swimming and climbing your way through it.

  • Rent a bike or motorcycle. The most convenient way to get around the island is by renting these two modes of transportation. For a meager amount of 500 pesos (10 USD) per day, you can explore Siargao to the fullest.

  • Go island hopping. There are many remote and untouched islands in Siargao worth visiting. The three most popular ones are Naked Island, Guyam Island, and Daku Island. You can visit these islands by renting a motorboat, which you can find in the ports.

  • Lastly, visit the local beaches. This island has no shortage of white sand beaches. In fact, there are too many to mention. But here are our top three recommendations: Doot Beach, Secret Beach, and Alegria Beach.

Getting there: There are two ways to go to Siargao – by sea and by air. Air travel is most convenient. Fly from Manila or Cebu and get plane tickets going to Sayak Airport (Siargao Airport). On the other hand, if you choose sea travel, you will need to get on a ferry boat from Cebu to Surigao City, then change ferries from Surigao to Siargao.

  1. Palawan Group of Islands

Renowned international travel publications claim that this island is one of the best places to visit in the world. It’s a definite must-include in your Philippines travel list.

The two most popular spots in Palawan are Coron and El Nido island. There, you’ll find a sea of tourists from different parts of the globe enjoying the island’s natural and pristine beauty.

Things to do: With over 1,700 islands, you’ll surely find a lot of fun activities to do. Here are a few of our recommendations:

  • Snorkeling and scuba diving. Palawan is rich in marine life. Its ecosystem is nothing short of diverse. Below the blue waters, you’ll find an abundance of coral reefs, sea turtles, and different species of fish.

  • Explore the Underground River. It’s approximately 8.2 kilometers long and is one of the longest underground rivers in the world! The river goes through jaw-dropping cave formations and mesmerizing limestone cliffs, leaving visitors awestruck.

  • Visit the local waterfalls. Nothing is more relaxing than experiencing the serene calmness of nature’s mesmerizing waterfalls. The two most famous waterfalls in Palawan are Estrella Falls and Bakbakan Falls.

  • Go island hopping. Island hopping should never be off your list when visiting the Philippines. Each region is filled with majestic islands worth visiting. If you’re in Palawan, you should visit these islands: Simizu Island, Honda Bay, Busuanga Island, Dilumacad Island, Cowrie Island, Lu-li Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, and Tapiutan Island.

Getting there: Although Palawan is a famous international destination, very few airlines offer direct international flights to this island. As of 2020, only Philippine airlines provide direct flights.

  1. Boracay Island

As declared by the Department of Tourism of the Philippines, the island is approximately seven kilometers in length and only one kilometer in width. The whole area is walkable. You don’t need any vehicle to get around.

It might be considered the smallest island in the Philippines, but its size does not equate to its beauty. Though small, the activities on the island are endless.

Things to do: Aside from enjoying the beach waters and scenery, here are other fun things to do in Boracay:

  • Visit the caves. There’s a bat cave on the northeastern end of the island, specifically located near Ilig-Iligan Beach. If you’re not afraid of these nocturnal animals, schedule a tour on-site.

  • Go deep-sea diving. Boracay island has one of the clearest beach waters in the Philippines which makes it ideal for snorkeling. The best snorkeling spots can be found in Tambisaan and Bulalog Beach, where marine life is abundant.

  • Other fun things to do: kite surfing, windsurfing, ziplining, cliff diving, parasailing, mermaid swimming, kayaking, and scuba diving.

Getting there: Unfortunately, you won’t find any direct flights to Boracay. Instead, you’ll need to book a flight to the neighboring islands of Caticlan or Kalibo. Afterward, you can get on a ferry that will take you directly to the island.

  1. Cebu Island
Aerial view of Cebu City Foreign nationals often stay in Metro Cebu for its vibrant nightlife.

Cebu is the center of trade, commerce, and tourism in the Philippines. It offers its visitors both a metropolitan lifestyle and provincial-island life. From its bustling capital, Cebu City, to its far-flung rural areas, you’re bound to fall in love with this island.

Things to do: Choose between staying in the capital city where you can immerse yourself in the metropolitan scene or explore the provincial areas of the north and south for a more relaxed and simple lifestyle.

While in Cebu City you can:

  • Visit Magellan’s Cross and Fort San Pedro, two historical landmarks of Cebu.

  • Stop by the centuries-old church Basilica Minore Del Sto. Niño.

  • Try local cuisines such as the famous charcoal-roasted pig, Lechon.

  • Go bar hopping on Mango Avenue.

While in the provincial areas of Cebu, you can:

  • Visit Bantayan Island and go island-hopping.

  • Explore these famous waterfalls in the south: Kawasan Falls near Moalboal; Tumalog Falls in Oslob; and Aguinid Falls in Samboan.

  • Travel south and stop at Oslob to go dolphin and whale watching.

  • Go hiking on the trails of Osmeña Peak.

Getting there: Since Cebu is an international travel destination, it’s likely your local airline offers direct flights to the island.

The Philippines is filled with thousands of marvelous islands. It will take more than a year to explore each one of them. For now, consider these popular islands on your next international getaway.

Plan a Vacation in the Philippines

If you’re in search of a perfect vacation destination, then consider the Philippine Islands as your top choice. Tropical climate, white sand beaches, clear waters, friendly locals, and good food, the Philippines has it all.

Don’t want to spend the entire trip alone? You don’t have to! Register on our website and sign up for a singles vacation tour. You’ll get to meet beautiful island ladies while enjoying your trip. Check out our tour schedules and sign up today!

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