22 Beautiful Islands in the Philippines You Must See!
Last Updated on March 11, 2019 by Anita Hendrieka
With over 7000 islands, the Philippines is one of the top places in the world for tourists to experience. You can expect pristine beaches, palm trees, idyllic sandbars, cool beach bars and much more. There really is something for everyone in the Philippines.
There are obviously so many islands in the Philippines which you can choose so I have picked the top 22 that you should add to your must-see list. Some you may have never heard of before, and some may be on your radar already.
22 beautiful islands in the Philippines you must see!
Suggested by Cheeky Passports
With over 7,000 islands making up the island nation of the Philippines, finding the best spots might seem like a tough call! During our two months of travelling around the country and visiting numerous islands, we were left with little doubt that of all the islands we visited, Sibuyan was our favourite.
Not being one of the most popular islands in the Philippines, Sibuyan sees little tourism. Package tourists tend to prefer Boracay with its white sand beaches over Sibuyan, which is wilder and less developed.
The untamed jungle surrounding the large Guiting-Guiting mountain is home to many waterfalls which are not quite easy to get to, and you are far more likely to encounter locals who will curiously question your presence on the island, rather than glitzy tourists.
Sibuyan appeals to the more adventurous travellers who prefer exploring the thick jungle rather than those looking to work on their tan. You can easily access a spectacular white sand beach from Sibuyan though. Cresta de Gallo island, lies only 2 hours away (by boat) from Sibuyan and makes for a fantastic day trip.
If you’re looking to get away from the crowds when exploring the Philippines, do put Sibuyan on your itinerary!
Suggested by Gamin Traveler
Camiguin is one of our favorite islands in the Philippines and it can be found in Visayas. Although it’s a famous destination, it’s not so crowded like El Nido, Coron and Siargao. Although Camiguin is one of the smallest provinces in the Philippines, there are many things to do in Camiguin. From visiting Mantigue island where you can do an snorkeling and enjoy the stunning paradise. Just a reminder that you have to maximize your day as you can’t have an overnight stay in the island.
There’s also White Island, a beautiful sandbar where you can take beautiful pictures and swim in clear, blue waters.
And for our third recommendation, it is Hibok Hibok Arden Hotspring where you can access by trekking, motorbike or tricycle. It’s a calm and relaxing place with blue waters. It’s great going at night when it’s colder in this area in Camiguin.
Apart from visiting these tourist spots, Camiguin is known for Lanzones, a tasty fruit that can be found in Southeast Asia. If you are visiting around October to December, you will find lanzones everywhere in Camiguin. You should not miss it!
3. Sombrero Island
Suggested by The Jerny
Batangas is one of the most popular tourist destinations near Metro Manila. The province boasts many mountains and beaches and is famous for excellent diving spots and marine sanctuaries. It is most frequented on summer as it is the nearest coastal area where you can find light brown to white sand beaches that are totally loved by many.
Located in Anilao, Batangas, Philippines, lies the small but fascinating Sombrero Island where it got its name from its form because, on a bird’s eye view, it looks like a hat. It boasts its glittering white sands with large rock boulders on the side. The shore would welcome you with school fish swimming even in the shallow parts of the island. Snorkeling works best if you are fond of seeing marine creatures.
The fee to this island is 200 pesos ($4) each and will only take you about 15 minutes to 20 minutes of boat ride from Masasa Beach and about 20 minutes to 30 minutes from any resort in Anilao.
4. Balabac Islands
Suggested by Wandering Wheatleys
Palawan is an island in the Philippines that attracts thousands of visitors due to the infamous El Nido region in the north. But very few people venture to the southern end of the island, where a grouping of 31 nearly uninhabited islands referred to as the Balabac Islands sits right off the coast.
The Balabac Islands have an unfortunate (and unfounded) reputation with the Palawan locals who may tell you that you’ll be kidnapped by pirate terrorists! Well, we didn’t run into any of those, but we did find pristine sandy beaches, vibrantly colored coral reefs, and the friendliest of locals. And we didn’t see a single other tourist during our 4-day stay.
In order to visit the Balabac Islands, you’ll need to hire a local guide. Many of the islands are privately owned so a visit must be arranged ahead of time. Your guide will provide you with daily boat tours to the surrounding islands as well as rustic lodging and preparation of all of your meals so you won’t have to worry about a thing during your stay.
They’ll chauffeur you around to pink sand beaches and sandbars with sand so soft that you’ll sink to your knees! You’ll visit pristine underwater coral gardens where you can snorkel to your heart’s content. And you’ll marvel at the display of stars in the night sky from your remote island lodging – far from the lights of any city.
If you want to have an off-the-beaten-path adventure in the Philippines and a little piece of paradise all to yourself, then you’ll absolutely love the Balabac Islands!
Suggested by Walk My World
Cebu is a jungle paradise and an adventure lover’s playground. It gives Bali a run for its money as the waterfall capital of Asia with hundreds of stunning falls that are easily accessible. The most famous of which is Kawasan Falls, an epic waterfall with a bright blue pool at the bottom, perfect for swimming. If you’re looking for more of an adventure there’s Aguinid Falls where you can climb up the five-level milky blue falls aided by a rope. For a more quiet and less well known waterfall you can’t miss Inambakan Falls, where you could easily spend a day exploring the various levels and pools along the way.
However, Cebu isn’t just about waterfalls (although you could spend months exploring them all). The town of Moalboal has a really laid back traveller vibe with coffee shops and restaurants lining the beach and rustic town. Just off the coast of Moalboal is the chance to spot a natural wonder – the sardine run. Grab a snorkel and swim directly from the beach and prepare to be surrounded by millions of sardines and maybe even glimpse a turtle or two.
If that’s not enough, then you can head for a sundowner at White Beach. The views from this beautiful stretch of sand look out to the island of Negros, which the sun sinks behind at the end of the day. Cebu is one of those islands that is quickly gaining the attention of the rest of the world and will be on every traveller’s Southeast Asia bucket list.
6. Secret Paradise Resort & Turtle Sanctuary
Suggested by The Adventurous Flashpacker
Secret Paradise Resort & Turtle Sanctuary in Palawan is about as close as you’ll get to a private island, without technically being one. The beachfront resort is reached via a 45-60 minute boat trip from Port Barton, and is exclusive to resort guests. The undisputed star of the show is the resort’s location and picturesque natural surrounds. Secret Paradise Resort boasts four private beaches with soft white sand and two private bays with sparkling turquoise water. As if that weren’t enough, the resort is nestled in a sprawling nature reserve with hiking trails, waterfalls, birds and monkeys.
Think you might get bored stuck at a private resort (admittedly one with ‘paradise’ in the name)? Think again! There’s a myriad of activities on offer at Secret Paradise Resort & Turtle Sanctuary, whether you’re planning a lazy island getaway or an active beach holiday. The resort offers the usual Palawan activities, sans the crowds of El Nido: beaches, snorkelling, island-hopping, kayaking and hiking.
And in case it’s not obvious from the name, the resort also has a unique drawcard. Yup, it’s home to a turtle sanctuary and protected marine area! As well as spotting turtles cruising the bay, you just might be lucky enough to witness turtles laying eggs or hatching on the beach. An incredible experience at an incredible resort.
7. Sambawan Island
Suggested by Tara Lets Anywhere
Sambawan Island is one of the most underrated places to visit in the Philippines. This gem is tucked away in the province of Biliran, in the Visayan region.
One thing that’s definite about Sambawan Island is that it’s beautiful. It has an elongated shape, surrounded by a few grass-covered islets. If you want to see the island in its entirety, you can climb up the viewdeck which is located in the middle and which gives an overlooking view of both ends of the island. This is also the best spot for picture taking.
There isn’t much to do here. People visit to relax, swim in the beach and dive. We’d been told it has one of the best dive sites in the country. Others also venture here to do photography of nature and night sky.
Currently, there is only one resort on the island, although there are also tents available as accommodation. It’s also possible to take a day tour here or go on a complete island hopping tour which stops in Sambawan Island.
8. Calintaan Island
Suggested by Raescape
Did you know that the Philippines has five pink beaches? Three of those are located in a single island! Tucked away to the southernmost part of Luzon is the province of Sorsogon. A little town of Matnog would be the pickup point to this island, Calintaan Island. It is mostly popular to the locals of the province. This island is known for its Subic Pink Beach, which is divided into two: Subic Liit and Subic Laki (Subic Small and Subic Big).
The pinkness of the sand came from corals and shells that had been naturally broken down into tiny particles of sand. You may opt to visit the island on a day trip or you can stay for a night or more. Overnight stay are located in Subic Beach. Included in the trip is an island hopping where one would also visit the third pink sand island in Sorsogon, Tikling Island. If you want to be in a secluded paradise, this is the place for you. This place is perfect if you want to relax and enjoy the beach!
Suggested by 7 continents 1 passport
Nalusaun is a man-made island in the Cebu Strait and one of the islands comprising the Olango Island Group, between the province of Bohol and Mactan Island, south of the Philippines. I’ve never heard of Nalusaun Island before and just visit it because one of my Filipino friends told me that it’s one of the best islands in the Philippines and arranged an excursion for me.
The tiny island has a Marine Sanctuary in one side and a stretch of sandy beach on the other with one of the most beautiful blue water that I’ve ever seen. Snorkelling at Nalusuan Island is fantastic! The water was so clear that I could see a stunning array of fish such as sturgeon, angels, cardinals and parrots. At one point I was surrounded by thousands of fish and they were all swimming around me.
After crossing a wooden bridge to get to the other side of the island I had picture-perfect scenery: soft sand, swaying coconut trees, hammocks, beach chair and pristine turquoise water. I could walk for meter and meters with the water only up to my knees.
To complete the daydream, the beach was completely empty and I could believe that such an idyllic place exists without the usual hoard of tourists.
My friend was completely true. Nalusuan Island is really one of the best islands in the Philippines!!
Suggested by The Nomadic Vegan
The island of Bohol has three big claims to fame: chocolate hills, tarsiers and diving.
There are more than 1,000 of these “Chocolate Hills” that rise up from the landscape of the Bohol interior, which is otherwise filled with rice fields and palm trees. They really do look like little chocolate candies, especially when it hasn’t rained for a while and the grass growing on them is more brown than green.
The Philippine tarsier is the smallest and oldest primate in the world, lives on only four islands in the entire country, and is an endangered species. There is a protection center in Bohol where the staff take visitors for walks through the nearby jungle to see the animals.
Tarsiers can jump several meters from tree to tree, yet they are so small that they could fit in the palm of your hand (but please don’t try to touch them!). They have proportionally huge eyes, can twist their head almost 360 degrees, and generally look like pre-midnight Gremlins.
And finally, there’s the off-shore diving. Panglao Island just off Bohol is famed as one of the best scuba diving sites in Southeast Asia. If diving is not your thing, you can choose to snorkel instead.
Either way, you will see loads of coral and colorful fish, and perhaps even turtles or dolphins. Like with the tarsiers, it’s important not to touch the wildlife or the coral and to wear only reef-safe sunscreen.
Suggested by Wandering Wagers
Sangat Island is a small island off the coast of Coron in the Palawan region of the Philippines. The Coron region is world renowned for having crystal-clear waters and towering limestone karsts. Sangat Island itself is one of the best places to base yourself for kayaking intimate mangroves or exploring the dense jungle through its miles of hiking trails. Because of Sangat Island’s remoteness, you will often be the only one on the trails.
This makes Sangat island a haven for spotting wildlife such as monitor lizards and monkeys. But the true reason to go to Sangat Island is not because of what’s over the water but what is underneath the waves. Sangat Island is in close proximity to multiple sunken World War II ships making this island the perfect base for wreck diving. The on-site resort, Sangat Island Dive Resort has a dive company to make exploring the surrounding waters easier. For those that do not want to go diving, it is also possible to snorkel the house reef right off the beaches of Sangat Island.
Suggested by Travel Geekery
Kalanggaman is a tiny island in the Leyte Province. The nearest town on land is Palompon. This island is a little paradise. You can walk all around it in under 1 hour and enjoy such peace like nowhere else, not only in the Philippines.
It is regulated how many people can visit the island and until recently, there were no facilities, making it even more pristine. Since then a few huts and a few facilities were built, but the island still retains its pristineness.
Visit Kalanggaman for a long stretch of pure white sand dotted with palm trees and nearly lost in the sheer size of the ocean. Swim in the turquoise water and watch little crabs. It’s an ideal place for relaxation, meditation, enjoying the tropical nature and for some awesome photo taking opportunities.
You can get to Kalanggaman by arranging a boat from Palompon Tourist Agency. The ride takes an hour and you might even see dolphins on the way!
Suggested by Foodie Flashpacker
Coron is part of the Philippine archipelago Palawan that has been named the most beautiful destination in the world not once, not twice but three times. And when you visit, it’s easy to see why.
The water is the shades of turquoise that you would swear was Photoshopped if you weren’t seeing it with your own eyes. This makes for some world class scuba diving, as you can imagine. You can even dive the remains of sunken Japanese warships!
But if you’re not into diving there’s still a lot to see and do. You can go island hopping, hiking, snorkelling or just lounge on some truly epic beaches topping up your tan.
Frequent power outages might be frustrating in the moment but they serve as a great reminder of how remote of a destination you’re visiting.
In all of my time spent in the Philippines, I enjoyed Coron the most and can’t wait to get back!
Suggested by Point and Shoot Wanderlust
Dubbed as the Home of the Winds, Batanes is a group of islands in the northernmost part of Philippines. Only the three biggest islands are inhabited and visited by tourists. Although the province’s landscape has been likened to that of New Zealand and Scotland among other countries, Batanes has its own charm that will make the difficult journey worth it.
The airport is located in Basco, Batan and the easiest way to get there is by air. Easy is a relative term because depending on the weather and wind, flights can be canceled. This and expensive flight prices deter a lot of people who want to visit. But those who are lucky and who dare, get rewarded with rolling verdant hills, unforgettable views, unique rock formations, and a peek into the local culture and food among others.
To get to the other islands, Sabtang and Itbayat, you have to brave the ocean in a local boat called faluwa. Your journey might be smooth or it might be vomit-inducing, depending on the weather or season.
Is it safe for solo travelers? The crime rate is practically non-existent that locals don’t even bother locking their homes. They are even famous for a small shop that runs on honesty, aptly called Honesty Café.
Suggested by Everywhere with Ferna
Siquijor is known as the Mystical and Mysterious island in the Philippines. Being an island associated with shamans helping people with their health problems became the place magical to many. It is the shaman’s’ traditional practice for many generations. One of the things to do here is witnessing the annual celebration of the shamans that takes place at the top of the mountain. Apart from the story about shamans, there are amazing things that can be experienced in Siquijor on why people love to visit. Like, the charming, friendly and energetic vibes of the locals who can surely melt the heart of the visitors.
Not only that, traveling to this 102KM coastline covered with white sand beaches can give spice to a traveler’s life about nature. This is through the blue-green color of the Cambugahay Waterfalls that has a multi-layered cascade and the very famous Enchanting Balete Tree that has a massive root system. With its crystal clear sea water, solemn environment, breathtaking views especially at the central part of the mountain where a 360 sight of the island can be embraced from within.
This is also an island of adventures, especially for underwaters like snorkeling, freediving, and diving. Locals favorite is the public beach Salagdoong which is also a government-owned, what excites the locals most is the 35 feet cliff jumping directly to the blue color sea water. And lastly, never missed witnessing the remarkable sunset at Paliton Beach.
Suggested by Universal Traveller
Located along the Southwestern edge of the Philippines, Palawan province holds some extraordinary opportunities for adventure.
Chief among them is Puerta Princesa. This coastal town is a good base for day trips to Honda Bay with its beautiful beaches and the Subterranean River National Park.
The Subterranean River National Park and UNESCO world heritage site holds one of the world’s most extensive cave systems. But what makes this park so much cooler than caves in the rest of the world is its fully-fledged river system, which is almost entirely underground.
Even crazier – the system is still being mapped, and researchers recently discovered a second layer of river, meaning there are countless waterfalls roaring deep beneath the island.
One of the best ways to experience this cave system is via a boat tour. Though tickets can be hard to get (only 1200 people are allowed inside the caves each day), I think they’re well worth the trouble. As you weave through the labyrinth along the still water, you’ll catch glimpses of stunning, cathedral-like rock formations, one of a kind plant and animal life that includes, lizards, sea snakes, monkeys and more. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Palawan.
Suggested by Pinoy Adventurista
An off-the-beaten destination and a must-visit island in the Philippines is Biri Island in the municipality of Biri in Northern Samar. Showcasing amazing and peculiar rock formation battered by the strong waves, a trip to this island is worth the long travel.
Don’t miss having an amazing visit to the many rock formations that will let you ask yourself, “am I still on earth?” Yes, that’s the feeling I had when we visited Biri Rock Formations on Biri Island. Truly amazing and memorable experience!
Biri is one of the most underrated tourist destination in the Philippines that only a few dared to visit. If you’re traveling to the Philippines soon, don’t miss Biri Island’s stunning rock formations. Every spot is definitely “Instagram-worthy”!
Suggested by Destinavo
Panglao is a small Island that is located South of Bohol. In recent years it has become more popular among Tourists, and the beaches here are Amazing. But it’s still quite a hidden gem with White powder sand, crystal clear waters and swaying palm trees.
Alona Beach is the most famous beach in Panglao, located on the Southern tip. From here it’s also easy to join a day trip tour to one of the nearby paradise islands.
If you want to have a romantic vacation with beautiful scenery and nice hotels, then Panglao is the destination for you. And when you want to go exploring, just jump on a tricycle and drive to Bohol to see the Amazing chocolate hills, or why not the super cute Philippine Tarsiers?
There are also plenty of watersports available in Panglao. The easiest way to get here is from Cebu, and then a boat to Bohol. From Bohol it’s just a short drive to Panglao Island, and they are interconnected via a bridge.
Suggested by Boracay Compass
The biggest thing that Boracay Island has going for it is its diversity in things to do. I mean, the Philippines has thousands of islands, many very beautiful, but Boracay is unique in that it’s the most well rounded destination…
Apart from activities, there are for example also many restaurants, nightlife venues, and beaches to explore. And all within a compact little island, so you won’t be wasting much time traveling from place to place. I sometimes compare Boracay to a city on the beach, in a good way (though it has some downsides as well, as has become apparent by the rehabilitation).
Another thing that I really enjoy is how its main White Beach has 3 different areas that each have their own distinct vibe, catering to different styles and moods…
You’ll find most of the luxury hotels in Station 1 for example – It has the most spacious beach, and beautiful shallow water. Station 2 is where I like to stay most of the time, as it’s the vibrant center and close to all the action. And then there’s Station 3 which is the more laid back rustic side of the island.
Each of these areas has their own charm, and I love having the option to choose between them based on which best fits my current mood.
Suggested by Be My Travel Muse
Siargao Is my favorite island in the Philippines for outdoor adventures. It’s the surf capital of the country but it’s also surrounded by gorgeous islands and lagoons. There are tons of day trips that you can take to the Sugba Lagoon, Magpupungko rock pools (pictured above), Naked island among others, and mangroves.
There are so many things to do on Siargao, I bet you could live there for months and still not see everything even though it’s not that big of an island! The water is super beautiful and clear, and my favorite thing is how committed the locals are to a plastic free island.
Suggested by Red Around the World
Malapascua is a tiny little car-free island just north of Cebu. Its claim to fame is diving to see thresher sharks, but it’s got a lot more to offer. No matter your budget, there is a place to stay. While hostels may be limited, you can still find relatively cheap hotel rooms ($30+ per night).
While diving is the top thing to do on Malapascua, there are plenty of other things to do. You can walk around the island easily in an afternoon. You can find other small, less populated beaches around the island, too. Go on an island hopping tour, relax in a hammock, read on the beach, learn to dive or take a new diving course, and if it’s your thing, you can even do a little gambling on the street. It’s almost like a big bingo roulette. I spent a week there as a non-diver and could have easily stayed longer. It’s the perfect little island for a holiday on a holiday.
Suggested by Brainy Backpackers
Biliran is a lush green island in the Eastern Visayas. There are numerous waterfalls and countless that are yet not discovered.
The island is covered in thick jungle and some of the waterfalls are only reached by a long solitary hike. This makes it the perfect place for anyone who enjoys escaping the crowds. You could spend days exploring hidden waterfalls.
While some waterfalls are hidden gems, there are also those who are more popular and easy to get to. These are usually filled with a fusion of locals and tourists. Although the island in itself is not yet overcrowded by tourism.
There are also a few beaches, though not the best of the Philippine islands. The beach on the west coast in Almeria is quite nice.
The best way to get around the island is by renting a scooter. However, there are other options. You could take the local bus or rent a tuc tuc with a driver or a motorcycle taxi for the day. The drive around the island is a good day trip with time for stops. The views you get on the way are mesmerizing.
Tell me below which one of the beautiful islands in the Philippines is at the top of your list!
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