It is true — the Philippines is an island lover’s Mecca!
The country is stretched up to 7,000 islands, each of which is a traveler’s dream. The islands of the Philippines offer the ultimate island getaway, with transparent emerald seas and white sand beaches. Because the Pacific Ocean surrounds the country, it is no surprise that it has some of Asia’s best beaches and scuba diving opportunities.
Hence, the most challenging decision you will have to make as a traveler is deciding which island to visit first.
Let us begin with the top islands that are both exceptionally beautiful and easily accessible, making them ideal for first-time visitors.
Luckily, the eTA visa waiver to the Philippines makes it easier to obtain a tourist permit to visit the country.
Siargao rose to fame as the surfing capital of the Philippines, and more recently, as the “Best Island in the World,” voted by Condé Nast readers in 2018. The famous Cloud 9 break is located here, but there are numerous coastline spots that bring huge waves. Even if you don’t surf, watching some of the world’s best surfers visit the island is a fun activity.
The most impressive is the stunning lagoons of Sohoton cove, a natural wonder that is worth the 2-hour detour from the Cloud 9 surfing beach. You can experience the grandeur of white sand beaches, spectacular islets, vast coconut forests, cool tidal pools, and other natural wonders on the main island.
Siargao is one of the best places to visit if you want to experience a relaxed island lifestyle. Although this remote island is going through new developments, the area is still relatively uncrowded.
El Nido has long been a popular tourist destination in the Philippines. As a result, there is a well-developed tourist industry, with the main draw being various day-long island hopping tours.
El Nido is tourists’ favorite in the Philippines for spectacular “over-the-water ” sea views. Imagine uninhabited white sand beaches, hidden lagoons, and massive forest-covered limestone mountains rising out of pristine tropical waters. Enjoy a freshly prepared Philippino BBQ and visit Nacpan Beach, considered to be the best beach in Asia.
You can sail deep into the ocean, discovering snorkeling spots, vast canyons, and breathtakingly beautiful scenery. There are literally dozens of boats that leave from the port every day, and tours are still reasonably priced.
Boracay Island is a vacationer’s dream. This island is known as the beach capital of the Philippines for a reason — it consists of more than 12 beaches. This little island in the west Visayas region is ideal for beachgoers seeking simple sun relaxation or water activities.
White Beach, a 4-kilometer stretch of fine white sand and blue waters, is the star of the show. Puka Shell Beach, located on the island’s tip, is a popular destination for shell collectors. Cagban Beach is a peaceful location with nearby caves rumored to still have treasure chests. Diniwid Beach, located at the north end of White Beach, has the best view of the island from a platform rock.
Boracay is famous as a resort island as well. If you want to relax and enjoy a tropical resort experience, this is the island to visit.
Balabac is among Palawan’s southernmost group of islands. It is so far south that Sabah, East Malaysia, is closer to Balabac than Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s provincial capital.
The biggest attractions here are 31 beautiful islands that are still largely undiscovered by tourist crowds. Pristine, crystal-clear waters, and white sand beaches surround these islands. And, the sandy shores of many of these beaches are dazzling white to off-white, and many have a blushed pink hue. The best places to visit in Balabac are: Onuk Island and its crystal blue waters stretch as far as the eye can see; Bugsuk Island, which has the most powdery, whitest sand beach in the Philippines; and pink sand beach of Camiaran Island.
Although, Balabac is a remote island and will be a little tough to reach for first-time visitors, it is worth a visit. And, if you are eager to visit the island, you must forget the tourist conveniences.
Coron Island, one of the world’s top diving destinations, is a tropical paradise with electric blue and green water that appears surreal. The mountainous island is located at the tip of the Palawan island region, the Philippines’ westernmost section of islands. Diving is a famous activity on this island due to numerous shipwrecks, including WWII Japanese shipwrecks.
Many of the preserved shipwrecks are in depths ranging from three meters to 42 meters. Because of their size, some of the wrecks require more than one dive to explore, but you can spend a week easily diving in this area.
Barracuda Lake, a former volcano with many unusual rock formations and fish, is a great place to go for non-shipwreck diving.