As an archipelago, the Philippines is blessed with more than 7,000 islands. Each one has a unique characteristic, which is why tourists from all over the world flock here all year round. There are white beaches, gold sand beaches, and a lot more to discover. So which island to visit in Philippines? In this post, we will help you find your next destination. So pack your bikinis and trunks and we will take you to a sultry journey all over the country.
I’ve seen a lot of similar lists before with Boracay, Palawan, or Puerto Galera, as the top island getaway. But as a DIY traveler, I think it’s such a shame not to appreciate the beauty of Jomalig Island.
Jomalig is an island municipality in the Quezon Province, neighboring the Polillio Islands. Going here entails a 4 to 5-hour bus ride from Metro Manila to Ungos Port in Real Quezon. From there, you have to take a 5 to 7-hour motorboat ride to reach the island.
Too much travel for a getaway? Although the travel time is intimidating and the Pacific Ocean can be pretty rough, the island is worth the distance.
After almost 12 hours of commuting and riding the large waves of the Pacific, we were treated to golden sand and crystal clear waters. Jomalig is an under-developed island, the same reason why it has such a charm for tourists.
The most popular spot in Jomalig is Salibungot Beach. This is a strip of golden fine sand, so fine that your feet will dig through every step. We arrived here almost at peak season but we got the beach to our selves for half a day.
We also took a habal-habal (motorcycle) tour around the island. Habal-habal is the major mode of transport in the island since paved roads are quite a rarity. The itinerary includes Little Boracay, Little Batanes, Turtle Rock, and more for roughly US$12.
TIP: Prepare for the boat ride. If the boat leaves at around 9 am from Ungos Port, you will face large and dizzying waves. Bring some plastic bags to barf on.
Every island list in the Philippines won’t be complete without mentioning Boracay Island. This is located in the province of Aklan, south of the capital Manila. Boracay takes pride in its fine white sand and crystal water. Every year, Boracay attracts about 2 million tourists, with foreigners outnumbering the locals.
To go to Boracay, you can fly from Metro Manila to Caticlan Airport or Kalibo Airport in Aklan. It’s best to land to Caticlan so you can ride a jetty boat that will take you to the island within 10 to 20 minutes.
In the past years, Boracay is dubbed as the ‘World’s Best Island’. Many international travel magazines have praised and featured this island due to its breath-taking vistas and glorious sunsets.
However, extreme commercialization damaged the island. The PH government unraveled waste problems, with sewage being dumped in less populated parts of the beach. With this, the island was closed temporarily and rehabilitated for six months back in 2018.
In October 2018, the island was reopened with regulated tourism.
Calaguas Island is located in the Bicol region in the province of Camarines Norte. Although always inundated with typhoons during the wet season, the Calaguas Island becomes a tourist hub during the dry season.
It’s famous for its Mahabang Buhangin, a three-kilometer pristine beach. Although it’s not as popular as Boracay, Mahabang Buhangin has an unadulterated charm. This is the perfect spot for tourists who want to go off the beaten path to avoid the crowds.
Remember, that like Jomalig Island, there are no fancy accommodations in Calaguas. There are nipa huts along the beachfront and you can also set up a tent. It’s perfect for DIY travelers and backpackers who are looking for raw adventures.
4. Miniloc Island
If you’re planning to go to the famed Palawan, forget about the crowded Coron. For a unique experience, we recommend that you visit the Miniloc Island. Although its beaches are quite obscure, the beauty of this place lies in its aquamarine lagoons.
You can do some kayaking here to explore their three precious lagoons: the Secret Lagoon, Big Lagoon, and Small Lagoon. You can reach this through the Tour A package offered in El Nido. Aside from Miniloc Island, the tour will also bring you to the Seven Commandos Beach and Shimizu Island.
You can also swim here and get up close with 1.5-meter jack fishes and other species of reef fishes. And since this is part of the highly-commercialized El Nido, there are fancy accommodations and dining options in Miniloc.
Among locals and tourists, Miniloc Island is also known as the ‘Eco-Discovery’ resort. During peak season, this can get really touristy. Still, you can always find a spot with fewer people so you can relax and enjoy.
Known as the ‘surfing capital of the Philippines’, there’s no doubt why Siargao became a top choice for many local and foreign tourists. Although it’s a surfers’ spot, there are many charms hidden in this beautiful island.
To go to Siargao, you can book a direct flight from Metro Manila, Clark in Pampanga, and Cebu in the south. The island welcomes about 12 flights a day so going here will not be a problem if the weather allows.
There are cave pools and islets here that you can visit. You can also indulge in the almost untouched landscape and beaches of Siargao. Many tourists even call it the ‘New Palawan’ since its beauty can pit with the tourist-favorite Coron and El Nido.
One of the favorite spots here is Naked Island. But wait, it’s not a nudist beach. It’s called as such because it lacks trees or shade. There’s also Daku, an island barangay that you can reach through a boat ride. Lastly, you can visit Guyam Island. It has rocky edges and receives strong currents.
You can tour these three islands through a tour package or by individual boat rides.
Located about 10 kilometers off Mindanao, Camiguin Island is a rising gem in Region X. White Island has been a favorite of many tourists due to its pristine white sand beach and calm waters. It also has a sandbar, which attracts hundreds of tourists during the peak season.
Moreover, White Island is very accessible from mainland Camiguin. It’s a great observing point for the Mt. Hibok-Hibok which lies on Camiguin Island. Here, you can relax and get absorbed by the beauty that surrounds you.
For the best experience, we recommend visiting White Island before sunrise and sunset. The island is graced by one of the most remarkable sunsets you can ever see in the Philippines.
To go to Camiguin, you first need to fly to Cagayan de Oro (CDO) since there are no direct flights to the island. From Balingoan Port in CDO, you will ride a ferry that will take you to Benoni Port in Camiguin. The travel time is around 1 to 2 hours. There are departing ferries every 1 to 2 hours from 4:15 am to 4:15 pm.
7. Kalanggaman Island
Another must-visit in the Bicol Region is the Kalanggaman Island in the province of Leyte. If you want to avoid the hefty prices at Pamalican Island, you should go to the Kalanggaman instead. It’s a small island with two sandbars on each side.
However, take note that there are no hotels or commercialized establishments. Most of all, there’s no electricity and water supply. Still, many campers and tourists go here to unplug from the city life and enjoy a simple and peaceful getaway.
Don’t worry because there are basic facilities here like cottages you can rent and communal toilets. If you’re going to camp out, you have to bring your tent and equipment.
Kalanggaman Island isn’t the easiest and fanciest option, but it’s surely one place that depicts the Visayan beauty.
While you’re in Kalanggaman, you can do snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing by the beach. As a place called “Palompon’s Island Paradise’, Kalanggaman will give you the tranquillity you’re looking for.
Before you go here, make sure that you bring enough food supplies, power banks, and other essentials. Also, you must book a reservation with the Palompon Ecotours before going to Kalanggaman.
8. Malapascua Island
Many Filipinos know that Cebu is as important as Manila and other key places in the country. It’s home to the Malacañang of the South and the famous Malapascua Island.
Malapascua is located in the northern part of the province and under the jurisdiction of the Daanbantayan municipality. It’s known for its dive sites, the main reasons why many foreigners go here during the peak season. To add to its allure is its white sand beaches like Langob and Guimbitayan. You can hang out here to relax by the sea without being bothered by large crowds.
Bumming and swimming are some of the most enjoyable things to do in Malapascua. If you have the guts, you can try cliff jumping. But to make the most out of your day, we recommend booking a motorcycle day tour. You can also rent a motorcycle to drive on your own.
Moreover, there are several dive shops located all over Malapascua. If you have a basic dive certification or experience, you can book a dive with the thresher sharks.
Too much of the south! Now, let’s go up north in Batanes. It’s home to the northernmost island of PH, the Mavulis Island. The highlight of Batanes is its rolling hills in Batan Island, also dubbed as the ‘Marlboro Country’ by its visitors.
Among the 10 islands in Batanes province, only Batan, Itbayat, and Sabtang are inhabited. Batan is the most touristy due to its surreal and picturesque vistas. It’s like a view straight from a postcard. Wherever you look in Batan, there’s something worth laying your eyes on.
If you want the best spot to take photos of the famous lighthouse, you must go to Sabtang Island. This is located southwest of the province where you can feast your eyes on the Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint. This place is the home of traditional Ivatan houses as well as free-range animals.
Moreover, you should check out the Nakabuang stone arch located on Morong Beach. It’s a man-made structure and a crowd favorite for IG-worthy photos.
There are direct flights from Metro Manila to Batanes, though you must avoid going here during the wet season. Batanes gets hit by typhoons yearly and many flights get canceled. The best time to go here is from January to May.
10. Isla Verde
If you’re looking for a great spot not too far from Metro Manila, the Verde Passage is your best bet. Isla Verde is a remote island, but quite easy to go to. From Metro Manila, you can take a 2 to 3-hour bus ride to Batangas City then a tricycle ride to Tabangao Port. After that, you will ride a motorboat going to Isla Verde for 1 to 2 hours.
The magic starts on the boat ride. The clear waters of the Verde Passage will give a nice view of its coral gardens. Take note that the Verde Passage has one of the most diverse marine life in the Philippines.
For a dive, you can bring your gear then rent a boat from the locals. Resorts in Isla Verde offer island hopping tours, which include a stop in Mahabang Buhangin. You can take a dive or snorkel here to see the colorful underwater world.
Remember, though, that there are no ATMs in Isla Verde. Make sure that you bring enough cash and supplies before you board the boat. We also recommend bringing your food here since supplies on the island are quite limited.
Which island to visit in Philippines? With more than 7,000 to choose from, the only challenge is which one to visit first. Whatever you choose, one thing is for sure: there’s always something to discover and enjoy.