Start planning your island vacation in the Philippines
With over 7,000 islands in the Philippines, this country isn’t short of idyllic escapes. But planning an island-hopping vacation in the Philippines can be overwhelming with so much choice. There’s diving with turtles, exceptional food to seek out, friendly locals to meet and, of course, plenty of white-sand beaches to sunbathe on. But how do you choose? We’ve narrowed down the five most exciting islands in the Philippines for your vacation.
What makes the Philippines’ islands unique?
It’s not all about beaches and sunning yourself on the Philippines’ many islands. Here you can try paddle-boarding, kayaking, and snorkeling for something more exciting, or diving to see underwater forests with diverse marine life and fluorescent coral. Jagged cliffs and azure lagoons make for some spectacular scenery, and there are thrills to be had by trying cliff-jumping or climbing waterfalls. Islands in the Philippines have a huge array of activities and landscapes on offer, making this the ultimate island-hopping destination.
The best islands to visit in the Philippines
From beautiful natural surroundings to intriguing wildlife, plus rugged coastal scenery and glorious, glistening beaches, the Philippines is a stunning location for an island-hopping vacation. These are the best islands to visit in the Philippines.
Meet the locals of Coron
This small island has a small population to match. But humans are outnumbered here by the wonderful wildlife. Both green and hawksbill sea turtles make their home on Coron’s beaches, which are part of the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In evenings, you’ll spot fruit bat colonies flitting about at dusk, and rare and endemic bird species can be seen throughout the day. Book a rustic villas complete with hammocks to make this the ultimate island vacation in the Philippines.
Go island-hopping around El Nido
Why visit one island when you could explore many? El Nido is the island-hopping hub of the Philippines, with lots of tiny islets and lagoons to see. Take a boat trip and enjoy swimming or kayaking in the calm, blue waters. Play beach volleyball by day and sip cocktails from a coconut at night. Snorkeling and sunbathing here are also popular highlights.
Switch off on Cebu
This jungle-clad island is the perfect place to switch off from the stress of the everyday. Spend days snorkeling or diving among shimmering sardines, which move in unison in a mesmerizing dance, and see coral reefs with incredible biodiversity. Hike up waterfalls then dive into their pools, and don't miss snacking on the succulent mangoes grown here.
Go remote at Siquijor
An island steeped in mystery and rumours of magic thanks to the presence of its local ‘healers’, Siquijor is the most intriguing of all the islands in the Philippines. Few visitors make it out here, so it’s the best island for getting away from the crowds. Expect gorgeous waterfalls, deep, dark caves and lush forests ripe for hiking.
See amazing rice terraces on Luzon
Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines and it’s where the capital, Manila, is based. But beyond the chaos of the city, there are some surreal highlights on this island. We love the UNESCO Banaue rice terraces in the north of the island, sitting among a steep and striking mountainscape. Take a hiking tour up Mount Pulag to find yourself in the clouds, and visit the unusual hanging coffins and caves of Sagada for a fascinating day-trip.
Tips for planning an island-hopping trip in the Philippines
You’ve got to come equipped for an island vacation in the Philippines. Carry plenty of Philippine pesos with you, as ATMs are rare on the islands here, and remember that bartering is part of the culture when purchasing souvenirs or booking day-trips. Be sure to carry a reusable water bottle to save on plastic waste, and pack an underwater camera to help you document the unforgettable memories and beautiful marine life.