- 1 Top Islands In The Philippines
- 1.0.1 Palawan
- 1.0.2 Anawangin Cove in Zambales
- 1.0.3 Boracay
- 1.0.4 Cebu
- 1.0.5 Sambawan Island, Leyte
- 1.0.6 Calayan Islands, Cagayan
- 1.0.7 Caramoan Islands, Camarines Sur
- 1.0.9 Puerto Galera
- 1.0.10 Dumaguete, Negros Oriental
- 1.0.11 Ilocos Norte and Pagudpud
- 1.0.12 Kalanggaman Island, Leyte
- 1.0.13 Bolinao, Pangasinan
- 1.0.14 Samal, Davao
- 1.0.15 Siquijor
- 1.0.16 Fortune Island, Batangas
- 1.0.17 Palaui Island, Cagayan
- 1.0.18 Bohol
- 2 Bucketlist Islands
Top Islands In The Philippines
With around 7,107 islands making up the entire archipelago, it’s genuinely a difficult task to find out which of them should be recommended right off the bat to travelers. For one, with the sheer number of beautiful places all offering pristine beaches, unspoiled jungles and intense mountain views, it’s hard to say which one should definitively be the place you’d say is worth visiting. Off the top of my head though, these 15 places have made a huge impression on me, and should be checked off any traveler’s bucket list.
From diving to explore shipwrecks at various points of the island, to marveling at limestone formations in Coron, to lounging in the sun at El Nido, Palawan’s status as the hottest destination in the Philippines for both local and foreign tourists has only gotten better thanks to the efforts of their local government to promote tourism and preserve the natural beauty of places such as the Underground River in Puerto Princesa. Check here and book your day tour at the Underground River.
Anawangin Cove in Zambales
This crescent-shaped cove is known for its wild beauty which combines trekking through evergreen forests and mountains to reach an incredible beach that remains seemingly untouched even as word of mouth has slowly been buzzing in the city about this place. Go camping here and admire the stark loveliness of the ashy beaches—the relative quiet here is a refreshing change from more popular summer destinations.
No list about top Philippine islands would be complete without mentioning what is still widely considered the country’s most popular summer party destination if you want to get away with your friends. The pure white sands, rolling turquoise waters, and activities that range from parasailing and cliff diving to crazy nighttime bar crawl means that when in doubt, many people choose Boracay. Definitely highly recommended for those who prefer sportier or more social vacations. You may also book water activities here.
Consistently popular on any list, visiting Cebu means access to some of the most delicious lechon and fresh seafood you’ll ever eat in your entire life, not to mention having choices of beaches ranging from the more solitary (Virgin Beach in Daanbantayan, the northern part of Cebu—considered one of its best-kept secrets) to the more adventurous for scuba diving and swimming with sharks (Malapascua Island), this destination has it all for any kind of traveler. The laid-back attitude around here is also pretty infectious!
Sambawan Island, Leyte
With gorgeous sandy white beaches that rival other more popular destinations, beautiful coral gardens and fun for both amateur and experienced snorkelers, this little slice of paradise is still a relatively undiscovered gem that is a treat for backpackers looking for a place to call their own. Worth the boat ride!
Calayan Islands, Cagayan
There isn’t a lot of information online about this destination, which is actually a good thing—that’s how this group of islands has been able to preserve its relatively unspoiled natural beauty. With rugged cliffs, overnight camping at Sibang Cove, snorkeling, exploring the caves and dips of Malangsig Falls, this quiet place is a good choice, whether you’re traveling solo and looking for some serenity or traveling as a big group and looking for fun things to do in an uncrowded setting.
Caramoan Islands, Camarines Sur
Although this place has experienced a surge in popularity thanks to the Survivor TV series, the activities here in this gorgeously wild environment are not to be missed: from island hopping, to kayaking, to spelunking in Culapnit Cave and camping on the shores of any island you choose, its unexploited terrain makes this part of Bicol a must-see!
Famous for the beauty of White Beach in Sabang, its coral reefs, the great scuba diving and snorkeling you’re sure to get as well as the fun of the nightlife here, Puerto Galera is considered a great alternative for those looking for a Boracay-like atmosphere with better diving and quieter towns. The various lovely hotels here mean that you’ll never miss out on your creature comforts as well.
Dumaguete, Negros Oriental
This university town is home to sites such as the Casaroro Falls, Pulangbato Falls, Silliman University’s Anthropological Museum and Mt. Talinis (and its great hiking). Explore Panligawan and Pandalihan Caves for unbeatable spelunking—some people say that it feels like the caves are still alive.
Ilocos Norte and Pagudpud
For a place that has taken amazing care to preserve the picturesque loveliness of its Spanish-period architecture, it feels like you’re going back in time as you stroll through Calle Crisologo. Sample the awesome cuisine that Ilocos is known for, as well as its sand dunes, the Bangui Windmills, Saud Beach and its relative isolation, as well as the incredible Kabigan Falls.
Kalanggaman Island, Leyte
When people think of powdery white sand, they imagine Boracay, but this lesser-known island provides all that beauty without the crazy bustle of that destination. You’ll get to enjoy the pure environment in relative seclusion – there’s no power on the island though, so you may want to bring a power bank and a tent! Go snorkeling or kayaking, or lounge on the soft white sand after a lazy lunch.
Watch the sunset over unspoiled Patar Beach, which is a quiet and lovely spot that rivals the most well-known beaches in the country, yet is much less crowded and has attractions nearby such as the picturesque Bolinao Falls and the Enchanted Cave. Grab a cold drink and enjoy the view!
Also known as the Island Garden City, Samal Island is full of beautiful resorts, diving sites with gorgeous coral reefs, the nearby bat sanctuary and the incredible Hagimit Falls. The flora and fauna are remarkably well-preserved despite the uptick in tourism—definitely worth a visit!
With stretch upon stretch of powdery white coast along Salagdoong Beach, the majestic Cambugahay Falls and its clear waters, and the serene old Lazi Church, St. Francis of Assisi Parish and the San Isidro Labrador Church, there is so much to do in Siquijor, and without having to deal with the same tourist volume as other similarly situated locations. Highly recommended!
Fortune Island, Batangas
With charming Greek-like structures, a sea as deeply blue as the Aegean and a pale shoreline, you’ll feel like you’re in Santorini instead of the Philippines when you visit Fortune Island! Try snorkeling, hike to the lighthouse or go cliff diving for an adrenaline rush while you’re here.
Palaui Island, Cagayan
One of the most popular destinations up north thanks to Survivor, you can visit the Cape Engano lighthouse, or go snorkeling as part of the island is a marine reserve teeming with fish and other wildlife. You can also go hiking, explore the mangrove forest or relax at Anguib Beach. A restful retreat!
Famous for the Chocolate Hills, the Sandugo Compact Site, the various beaches (Alona Beach and Doljo Beach in Panglao to name a few) as well as the many churches, the snorkeling sites and nature sanctuaries, Bohol is an amazing place with so many sites to explore. Check out the many ancestral homes and watchtowers in this beautiful historic area! You can also enjoy scuba diving in Bohol.
The above are sites I’ve been to, but as an avid traveler, I have so many more islands I want to explore. Here are some which are still on my bucket list, still—I’ll definitely check off as many of these as I can during my free weekends!
18. Surigao del Norte
I’ve been hearing a lot about the mysterious Suhaton Cove and its caverns, its lagoons as well as the nearby Dako Island’s beaches, which are deemed to be some of the loveliest in the country. Silop Cave is also a cool place for spelunkers, so I hearSiargao Island, Surigao del Norte
This place is synonymous with surfing, and I’m always up for an adventure along the waves! Apparently it’s also a great place for camping and fishing—definitely a must-try when I finally go there.
19. Islas de Gigantes, Iloilo
With flawless white sand, the gorgeous Tangke Lagoon and inns tucked here and there for the idyllic island hideaway, this group of islets which some deem a hidden paradise is another destination I’ve been dying to visit in the south.
20. Biri Island, Samar
Incredible natural rock and pool formations that look like they’re straight out of a fairy tale, diving amongst the coral, and magnificent waves—these are the main draws of this island, and I can’t wait to explore their trails!
I’ve always wanted to snorkel in the beautiful Batabat Reef, or visit some of the natural springs in the area—Sira-an Hot Spring is apparently not to be missed, nor are the beaches along Malalison Island and Batbatan Island. It’s also a good place for diving.
22. Surigao del Sur
With a beautiful stretch of coastline, the sheer awe that is induced by the fairytale-like atmosphere of the Enchanted River and the amazing surfing you can get in the area, Surigao is emerging as a choice destination for tourists looking for something a little more off the beaten path, but still able to provide the comforts of the most luxurious hotels and cozy inns. You can also visit Tinuy-an Falls, the Niagara Falls of the Philippines.
21 thoughts on “22 Islands in the Philippines that you would regret not visiting”
Palawan and Cebu are one of my dream destinations. I hope to visit at least one of those this coming year.
Go! 🙂 You will love it
all these places look like the best place to go around with a camera and shooting away! but will you recommend these places to someone who doesn’t really enjoy beaches and waters?
Wow I love this post and have take note of all the beautiful beaches in Philippines. So far I have only been to Cebu Island and more to come.
Try the Palawan beaches too. They are the prettiest 🙂
i have a longing for travelling so this post is making me want to go more! x
Great post and I particularly LOVE the pictures! Which camera have you used? The sea is so dreamy!
Wow! I really don’t know how anyone could pick favourites out of that list – and there are clearly loads more islands too. What beauty and also what a range. Biri Island sounds especially amazing and also Cebu. Would love to see some of these!
ive only heard of one island from this list but i would love to visit each of them!
Totally agree with the first choice – Palawan is paradise and of course there are so many little island gems nearby crying out to be explored more. Our favourite was Flower Island – great name as well as being a paradise.
I am able to visit the more popular ones. I hope to complete the rest in the next few years.
missing the Philippines and it’s many sunny stunning beaches! Thank you for sharing this, Karla!
Due to the fact that we usually hitchhike when we travel, we usually avoid countries set on islands, as it’s obviously difficult to travel between the way we do it. However, I have heard a lot about the beauty of the Philippines and it’s certainly on my list! Thanks for this wonderful post!
Honestly, I didn’t know there were so many islands in the Philippines. Love the mix of the list you chose. Siquijor, Bohol and Fortune Island, Batangas look really amazing.
Karla!!!!!!!!! This is just too much…. I’m so tempted to visit your country now… This is too awesome, too picturesque, too mind blowing….
I should prolly stop saying one day, but stillm one day, I will start travelling and stop thinking. STOP PLANNING. Just do it… Happy 2016, anyway~
Philippines is on my bucket list, Thanks for sharing your experience. It is helpful to plan my trip there
I love Palawan!!! It was few times featured as the most beautiful island on Earth. El Nido is just stunning! Thanks for all other recommendations as well! They will be handy, since in 2016, I am looking forward to get back to Philippines.
Give me any of those islands! Ilocos Norte and Pagudpud looks and sounds great. I didn’t realise so many would have influences from Spain and Greece. With so many islands, its hard to know where to start but this list is a perfect place
I’d heard of a few of these, but I didn’t know there were so many great islands to choose from. I wouldn’t know which one to pick! But since they’re all beautiful, I don’t think any of them would be a bad choice 🙂
perfect list! wish i could travel to all of those!