Planning an island-hopping trip in the Philippines can be mind-boggling, an archipelago composed of over 7,000 islands. Yes, you read it right, our beautiful country, despite its size is blissfully studded with IG-worthy, snow white beaches lapped by a swirling mix of cerulean and emerald waters. So how do you plan your beach holiday in the Philippines?
To help you decide which islands to visit, I have handpicked beautiful destinations with island-studded seas. There are certainly more out there (Yes, I hear you Britania Islands, hope to visit you soon!), I do plan to update this list in the future, so feel free to leave your suggestions through the comment sections below.
So without further ado, here’s my handpicked list of best island-studded seas in the Philippines (notice their similarities?):
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BEST ISLAND STUDDED-SEAS IN THE PHILIPPINES
8. HUNDRED ISLANDS, PANGASINAN
As you might have surmised, Hundred Islands is ringed by more than one hundred islands. While most of the islands here are desolate, you can visit the four developed islands: Children’s Island, Quezon Island, Governor’s Island and Marcos Island where the whims of adventure-seekers are easily catered for. You can go cliff jumping, snorkeling, kayaking or ride the zipline. Avoid the weekend and holidays as the place can get too crowded.
HOW TO GET HERE: READ DIY TRAVEL GUIDE TO HUNDRED ISLANDS
Guimaras is blessed with languorous beaches, the kind of laid-back vibe travelers cherish. This chilled out island is best known for its sweet mangoes (there are more or less 50,000 mango trees in Guimaras), scenic sunsets and yes, picturesque islands. You can hire a tricycle to get around, see the ruins of the Spanish-era lighthouse and the windmills in San Lorenzo. If swimming and lazing on the shores of Alubihud Beach is still not enough for you, charter a boat to explore the scenic islands off shore. If you’re looking for some off-beat beaches, try the island hopping offered by the Community-Based Rural Tourism program of San Roque in Nueva Valencia.
HOW TO GET HERE: READ BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE TO GUIMARAS
6. GIGANTES ISLAND, ILOILO
Step off the grid in Iloilo, head north to Gigantes Islands. This group of islands sprinkled off the coast of Carles is peppered with pockets of white sands lapped by brilliant blue water. Cabugao Dako may not be a top draw, but it sure offers a perfect beach for swimming and cliff diving too! On the other hand, the vanishing shores of Bantique Sandbar is the perfect spot to chill and get a tan. Tangke Lagoon has karst formation that spill down the seafoam-colored lagoon. Considering staying overnight at the picturesque Cabugao Gamay, climb it rock formation to get a glimpse of the surrounding islands and feast on freshly caught wasay-wasay and scallops sold by local fishermen for only PHP 1 a piece! One reader commented, ” Gigantes Islands is the definition of true island living”.
ALSO READ: READ TOP ATTRACTIONS IN GIGANTES ISLANDS
5. SOHOTON, BUCAS GRANDE ISLAND
Sohoton in Bucas Grande is oozing with breath-snatching scenery and jungle-clad islands. It has an appeal of a place that is still on the verge of discovery. Sohoton is known for the abundance of stingless jellyfish thriving in its impossibly emerald green lagoons. Stay overnight in one of the resorts in the islands to savor nature at its finest.
HOW TO GET HERE: READ TRAVEL GUIDE TO SOHOTON BUCAS GRANDE
4. SIPALAY, NEGROS OCCIDENTAL
Sipalay is surprising and a true superstar. It is nature at a very grand scale, framed by headlands reminiscent Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, but instead of rice fields, they are lapped by parakeet-colored sea. Most resorts here offer splendid view of the island-studded seas. But if you want a beach-front accommodation where you can relax and get a tan, head to Sugar Beach. Sipalay is a haven of world-class diving, there are about 42 known diving spots here including Great Canyons, Toscana Reef, Kevin’s Reef, Coca-Cola Wreck and Disneyland, among others. Dive shops are located at Punta Ballo and Sugar Beach.
HOW TO GET HERE: READ SIPALAY TRAVEL GUIDE
3. CARAMOAN, CAMARINES SUR
For decades, Caramoan was a local secret, until it was featured by the hit TV series Survivor. It has diverse islands and beaches at every turn, mostly accessible by boat. Some have rock-fringed shores, some are hemmed in by rolling hills reminiscent of Batanes, while others have pearl white sands surrounded by karst formations. Lavished by natural resources, there is much to like in Caramoan aside from its world-class beaches, tourists can also kayak or go river crossing to reach mystical caves hidden in its lush forests. Despite its fame and commercialization, you can still get a glimpse of the typical island living in the Philippines.
HOW TO GET HERE: READ CARAMOAN GUIDE, BUDGET + ITINERARY
2. EL NIDO, PALAWAN
Just a mere mention of El Nido connotes images of jade-colored limestone islands. No wonder it is usually featured in glossy magazines and ranks top on travel websites around the world. Join island hopping tours or charter a boat to explore sweeping bays riddled with superlative lagoons and fringed by otherworldly limestone hills. Island hopping tour is divided into Tour A, B, C, D and E. If you only have a few days for your holiday, pick Tour C or Tour A. Charter a tricycle to take you to the Twin Beach of Nacpan, a largely uncrowded beach where coconut palms back a powdered-sugary soft sands, and perfect waves peel off in several directions in the bay.
HOW TO GET HERE: READ EL NIDO BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE
1. CORON, PALAWAN
Coron needs no introduction, the name itself speaks splendor. It’s an archetype of nature’s artwork and the ultimate introduction to island life in the Philippines. Imagine karst formations crowning a swirling blend of shamrock green and cobalt blue waters. Coron is sprinkled with 13 lakes, but only two is open to the public. About 22, 000 hectares of lakes, land and islands here are ancestral domains of the indigenous tribe of Tagbanua. Coron also harbors some of the best snorkeling and diving sites in the Philippines, boasting of eleven World War II boat wreck sites.
HOW TO GET HERE: READ CORON DIY TRAVEL GUIDE
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