The Philippines is an archipelago made up of more than 7000 islands, divided into three regions: Luzon, Visayas e Mindanao. It is therefore clear that for those who are preparing to visit the Philippines for the first time it will not be easy to choose the right island for their holidays.
Unfortunately, however, not all of them can be visited. It is also impossible to say what they are the most beautiful islands of the Philippines, because each has its own characteristics.
In general, being an archipelago, a trip to the Philippines is particularly suitable for those who love excursions and "island hopping" tours. There are islands perfect for those who practice diving, with unique backdrops and the possibility of spotting different marine species. But there is no shortage of perfect places for those who love to relax on some paradisiacal beach.
The important thing is to understand which are the main destinations to go to in the Philippines, what each island offers and choose according to your holiday idea.
It was not easy to plan our itinerary, I had to carefully study the various forums and blogs to understand which could be the best island in the Philippines, for my needs.
Eventually in about 2 weeks I chose to visit: Cebu, Malapascua e Bantayan.
In this article I want to describe the main islands based on my experience and based on the information I found to outline the travel itinerary in the Philippines.
Which Philippine Island to Choose
Cebu is one of the main tourist destinations in the Philippines, thanks to its strategic position, the continuous air and sea connections and the many attractions that the island offers: hiking, waterfalls, relaxing on the beach, diving, snorkeling etc.
Don't miss the beautiful ones Falls area, a path immersed in nature, between waterfalls and pools of turquoise water. If you are particularly adventurous you can join the canyoning groups that will guide you in the best dives.
The island is also known for snorkeling with whale sharks in the Oslob area.
Cebu and in particular Moalboal (Panagsama Beach) it is perfect for those who practice diving or simply for snorkelers. And it is this last aspect that fascinated me most; I found wonderful seabeds, without having to participate in group outings, I was able to see many fish, corals and sea turtles swimming in front of my hotel.
Moalboal also has a great beach, White Beach, precisely characterized by white sand and crystal clear waters.
Cebu is an island that is definitely worth a visit, ideal for every need and a starting point for exploring the other islands of the Visayas archipelago.
ALSO READ: Where to Stay in Cebu
Bohol is another of the destinations to consider on a trip to the Philippines. Bohol is famous for Choccolate Hill's, of the hills declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, so named for the color they take on during the dry season.
Also Bohol is known for sanctuary of the Tarsier, a large forest dedicated to the protection of the smallest monkey in the world. Beware that there is only one reserve that really takes care of this pet and that is Corella, managed by the Philippine Tarsier Foundation.
A good base from which to explore the island is Panglao, and in particular the area of Alona Beach (leads Hotel and Panglao), full of restaurants and accommodation facilities.
If, on the other hand, you prefer a less animated and not very touristy area, where you can only enjoy the beaches, then look for accommodation in Anda (see hotels in your area) .
In general, Bohol is the ideal choice to go on vacation in the Philippines for those who want to tour the island and admire its natural beauty, but also relax on the beach and engage in snorkeling and diving.
Siqujor is the magical and mysterious island of the Philippines. Known primarily for its shamans / healers, but also for its stunning beaches, waterfalls, hiking trails, diving and snorkeling sites. An island still not very touristy, to be explored by motorbike passing through its villages and admiring the unspoiled nature.
The most famous beach, absolutely not to be missed in Siqujior is Paliton Beach, white sand and crystal clear waters. The beach is also quite close to San Juan (vedi Hotel San Juan area), the recommended area to stay on the island.
If you are looking for a magical place, with a surreal atmosphere, if you want peace and tranquility, if you love the seabed, the island of Siquijor is the one for you.
One of the best snorkeling islands in the Philippines and for diving is Apo Island, here you can swim with sea turtles and admire the depths rich in corals.
You can go to Apo with daily excursions, starting from Siquijor or Dumaguete, or stay on the island for one or two nights to experience a few days of complete relaxation, swimming with turtles and tropical fish.
Keep in mind, however, that the beaches are small and mostly rocky, there is only electricity for a few hours a day and the island as well as a small village does not offer much.
Malapascua it is a small island that can be reached with about 30/40 minutes by boat from the port of Maya, on the island of Cebu. It practically turns on foot, it is a recommended place for those looking for a few days of relaxation.
But the strong point of the island is definitely the diving. In particular Malapascua is famous for the sighting of the thresher shark, the undisputed symbol of the island.
The beaches are beautiful, although I've seen better ones, and when I went (February) there was a little too much algae.
Malapascua also offers the possibility of day trips, in particular I recommend Kalanggaman Island, a small paradisiacal atoll with a strip of white sand, bathed by transparent waters and with unique colors.
If you go diving, Malapascua is the perfect island for you. If you are looking for a few days of relaxation or want to visit Kalanggaman Island, I recommend staying on the island for a maximum of 3 days. There are also some snorkeling spots, but it's not a must in Malapascua.
Unfortunately the island was devastated by typhoon Yolanda in 2013 and there are traces still visible.
Bantayan is the island that I liked the most in the Philippines, a sort of unspoiled Boracay. In fact, the island is not at all overrun by mass tourism. There are beautiful beaches and the possibility of day trips to nearby islands such as Virgin Island.
I recommend staying in the resort of Santa Fe (See Hotel), where the sandy beaches are and where there is more choice of restaurants.
If you want you can also admire Bantayan from above, the only island in the Philippines where you can skydive, even without experience.
Among the most beautiful beaches of Bantayan and the Philippines there is Paradise Beach, absolutely not to be missed.
Bantayan is perfect for all those looking for a quiet island, where to enjoy its beaches and spend a few days of absolute relaxation, without having to stay on a boat every day.
Boracay is one of the most popular destinations to go to in the Philippines.
The perfect mix of evening life, entertainment and paradisiacal beaches, with its very famous White Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
It must be said that in recent years mass tourism has taken over, so much so that for a few months the island has been closed to restore the natural ecosystem.
If you are young and want some movement then Boracay is the right choice. If you are looking for a quiet and unspoiled place, consider other islands.
One of the destinations in the Philippines considered unmissable is Palawan, voted several times as the most beautiful island in the world by Condé Nast Traveler magazine. If you are looking for unique beaches and islands in the world, you must go to Palawan.
It is the largest island of the archipelago and the perfect destination for lovers of nature and boat excursions.
One of the best known destinations in Palawan is definitely El Nido, is located in the northern part of the island and is a whole of many islands, tropical bays and turquoise lagoons. Here you will have the opportunity to admire the coral reef and the many species of tropical fish, a paradise for those who practice diving or snorkeling.
Another attraction not to be missed is the National Park of the Underground River in the surroundings of Puerto Princesa, a World Heritage Site and the Seventh Natural Wonder of the World.
Palawan is an island that almost deserves a holiday apart; if you don't have much time to dedicate to the many islands of the Philippine archipelago you could evaluate a stay only in Palawan, there are really many things to do.
As you will have understood Palawan and in particular El Nido is ideal for those who want to visit the natural wonders, the beauty is to take part in daily tours among the many islands. If you are looking for a more stationary and less itinerant situation, you should change your destination.
Coron – Busuanga
Coron is an island of the Calamians and is located north of Palawan. Coron City is instead the city of the neighboring island of Busuanga, the perfect arrival point and base for exploring the beautiful Coron Bay.
Here you can arrive by plane, reaching the Busuanga airport, or by sea; there are ferries that connect Coron to El Nido, perfect for those wishing to visit both areas. Always check the weather conditions because in case of bad weather connections to and from Coron may be suspended.
The island is one of the most fascinating and unspoiled destinations in the world. However, its postcard beaches and the most beautiful places can only be reached by boat tour and in fact, like Palawan, it offers the possibility of making many excursions, for every taste, and is the ideal seaside destination in the Philippines for those who never want to stay still.
A true paradise for diving enthusiasts but also for all those who wish to admire an unforgettable panorama, considered by many to be the best of El Nido.
The landscape of Coron is unique, with its characteristic rocks that come out of the sea, the white beaches and the lakes.
There is also the possibility of organizing cruises between El Nido and Coron, an ideal experience for those who want to live a few days in full contact with nature.
Coron is less touristy and cheaper than the El Nido area, therefore uncrowded but also offers less in terms of restaurants or bars.
Siargao is the favorite destination for surfers, but the island in addition to fantastic waves offers several natural attractions, such as swimming pools Sit down, mangrove forests, coral reefs and white beaches.
The waves are the best in the country, especially the island of Siargao is famous for Cloud Nine, one of the best waves in the world.
Do not miss Sugba Lagoon, a spectacle of nature, vaguely reminiscent of the Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat.
If you are looking for an unspoiled island away from the typical tourist routes, you would do well to evaluate Camiguin. It is a volcanic island located in the Mindanao area.
Camiguin is a real paradise on earth, with waterfalls, white beaches, forests and a landscape that in some ways recalls Hawaii. Ideal for trekking lovers, who can try their hand at paths between volcanoes and waterfalls.
Camiguin is a quiet and safe island, but terrorism has occurred in some areas of Mindanao.
Pamalican - Apples
Going from one extreme to another, one cannot fail to mention Pamalican, an atoll bathed by crystal clear waters.
This is a small private island, recommended for those looking for a similar place in the Maldives.
Here is the Amanpulo resort, a 7-star hotel that has had the honor of hosting celebrities such as Lady Diana and Frank Sinatra.
North Luzon: Risaie Banaue
Although the Philippines attracts tourists from all over the world mainly for its tropical beaches, however if you love the mountains there is something for you too.
The northern area of the island of Luzon is ideal for those who love trekking and to discover the characteristic rice fields, among the most famous in the world. In particular, the rice terraces of Banaue, a Unesco heritage site.
And if you want to discover Philippine history and culture, you can't miss Vigan.
These are just some of the best-known islands in the Philippines. Choosing will not be easy, but if you analyze in detail what each island offers and what you want to do, you will surely have clearer ideas.
Many will suggest Palawan or Coron, but if for example you don't like boat tours, they probably won't be the best choice for you. If, on the other hand, diving is your passion, you would do well to consider Malapascua as a travel destination in the Philippines. If you want to explore the seabed with fins and snorkels, a good choice is Moalboal or Apo Island. As you have seen, there is something for everyone.
I hope I have clarified your ideas a little, if you need further advice, comment on the article or write me in private.
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