The Philippines is an archipelago made up of over 7,000 islands (yet only around 2000 are inhabited). Each one has a rich biodiversity ranging from tropical rainforests, mangroves and coral reefs to mountain ranges, amazing beaches and a diverse range of flora and fauna making it the perfect place to head to if you are a nature lover and looking for a tranquil place to chill out and relax. However, it is also the ideal travel destination for water sports enthusiasts as you will find world-class surfing and diving conditions in the Philippines too.
Tourism is crucial to the country’s economy yet, the Philippines is still a relatively undiscovered travel destination, however, it is becoming more and more popular and now features on many people’s bucket lists, including ours. Visiting the Philippines can be incorporated into an around the world trip, a South East Asia adventure or even as a stand-alone holiday. If organising your trip yourself is a daunting task, don’t worry there are a number of holiday packages to the Philippines available which takes the stress out of the planning process.
All of the islands are without a doubt beautiful, therefore making our task of listing the 5 most beautiful islands quite tricky, however, some certainly have more to offer than others, therefore, here are our top 5.
1. Boracay, Aklan
Even if you are not overly familiar with the Philippines, the likelihood is you have at least heard of Boracay, the small island in the central Philippines. Boracay is famous for its powder white beaches and has won many internationally recognised rewards. In fact, the island is home to no less than 12 beaches with the most popular being the White beach, which is also the biggest on the island which stretches 4km and is lined with many 5 star hotels, restaurants and bars and not forgetting Willy’s Rock which is a castle-like volcanic formation that dominates the seascape along the beach.
You will also find a number of dives shops on White Beach, in fact on most beaches on the island, proving what a great island it is to dive from, it is even considered by many to be some of the best scuba diving the Philippines has to offer. Other watersports, including jet skiing, parasailing and banana boating, amongst others, are also all popular activities in Boracay. If all the daytime activities aren’t enough for you, just wait until the sun goes down, that’s when the island really comes alive with live music, fire dancers and beach parties galore. With many bars and clubs to drink and dance the night away in, Boracay is a party lover’s paradise.
2. El Nido, Palawan
If you are looking for paradise on earth, you need not look any further than El Nido which is known as the Philippines’ last frontier. The natural beauty found on this island is breathtaking. With emerald waters making snorkelling a dream come true, and jungles and mountains, seeing really is believing, with everyone who has ever visited agreeing that photographs of this stunning island, really do not do it justice.
Again, the beaches of El Nido are beyond beautiful and are even said to be the inspiration behind ‘the beach’ in Alex Garland’s novel of the same name. In fact, Conté Nast listed El Nido as one of The 20 Best Beaches in the World 2017, a high accolade indeed. The thing is with over 50 unspoiled beaches on the island, deciding which one to visit first, is a very tough decision.
3. Panglao Island, Bohol
Panglo Island is another paradise island in the Philippines famed for its beautiful beaches, Alona Beach in particular, which is already a popular snorkelling location for many because of the diving spots deep under the white sand beach. If snorkelling is not your thing, not to worry, corals and colourful fishes can be seen even without equipment because the water here is so clear.
There are plenty of hotels in Alona which makes it the perfect place to base yourself in order to explore the rest of the island. With many world-famous sites in Bohol, such as the Chocolate Hills, Tarsier Sanctuary and Loboc River there is plenty to do and see on the island. Alona Beach or indeed Panglao Island itself, is not particularly known for its nightlife like some other islands are. Instead, here you will find many restaurants offering a variety of dishes from around the world, making it perfect for couples looking for a romantic retreat.
4. Samal Island, Davao City
Located in the Davao Gulf, there are a number of hotels and resorts, approximately 70, on Samal Island, officially called the Island Garden City of Samal, catering to all different tastes and budgets making it the largest resort city in the Philippines. It is a popular destination to visit if you are looking for a laid back holiday due to the number of beautiful beaches and breathtaking and unique natural attractions just waiting to be discovered.
One of the most popular attractions on Samal Island is Hagimit Falls, a relatively small waterfall, however extremely stunning. Also, the natural pool at the bottom of the falls provides a perfect spot for diving enthusiasts. If hiking is more your thing, then you must visit the summit of Mount Puting Bato, the highest point on the island. With two trails leading to the top, the Guilon Trail which takes approximately 2 hours and the Tayapok Trail which takes approximately 30 minutes, fitness levels dependant of course. The views from the top look phenomenal making the hike to the top completely worthwhile.
5. Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley
Palaui Island is located off the northeastern extremity of Luzon Island, the largest island in the Philippines and was listed as a National Marine Reserve on 28th August 1994. Again, as with most, if not all, of the islands in the Philippines, the beaches found here are true gems, with Pauli Island earning the 10th spot in the CNN’s World’s 100 Best Beaches list, with CNN praising its “raw beauty.” in 2013.
The northern point of the island is called Cape Engaño. Here, on the top of the hill you find the ruins of Cape Engaño Lighthouse which has been named a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum. A major positive about visiting this island is the amazing seafood readily available especially at Punta Verde and a potential downside, depending on how off the grid you like to travel, is there is no electricity at night and only solar power during the day, so don’t forget to charge your tech before visiting.
Please remember you are not allowed to take bring out anything from the island and the beaches including sand, shells and corals – “take only memories, leave only footprints”
With so many beautiful islands in the Philippines, all offering something a little different, which one will you visit first?
Have you visited the Philippines before? Which islands would you recommend visiting, we’d love to hear from you? Please let us know in the comments section below.
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