Are you finding it difficult deciding which are the best islands in the Philippines to visit? With literally thousands of beautiful islands in the Philippines, it’s no wonder it is so hard deciding which ones are perfect for your trip. If you’re finding it almost impossible to decide which of the Philippines top islands to visit on your next trip, then you’re going to love this guide on the most beautiful islands in the Philippines.
There are over 7000 islands in the Philippines and so with the help of some great bloggers, I’ve compiled this excellent guide on some of the best islands to visit in the Philippines. It includes some of the more famous islands in the Philipines such as Boracay, Palawan and Bohol, as well as those less visited islands like Leyte, Siquijor and Miniloc Island.
Whether you’re looking for pristine beaches perfect for relaxing, the islands which have the best snorkelling or even the best party islands, in this best islands in Philippines 2020 guide, no matter what sort of vacation you’re after you’ll find the perfect island.
Best Islands in the Philippines to Visit
When people think of the best islands to visit in Philippines, Boracay is often a firm favorite. Boracay is a small tropical paradise, only 7 km long and 1 km wide. However this small island is full of endless powdery white beaches, a great range of resorts and hotels to suit all kinds of budgets and plenty of activities to keep your days as busy or as relaxing as you want them to be.
Despite being one of the most visited islands in the Philippines, Boracay is still stunning. The island has 12 beaches with the most popular being White Beach and Bulabog. Across these beaches, there are three main areas. Station One is in the north and an area well known for its first class resorts. For those wanting to be in the heart of it all, Station Two in the center is the ideal area, while Station Three is where you’ll find some of the more affordable accommodation options.
On Boracay, holidaymakers tend to spend their days in the crystal clear water. Water activities include snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, windsurfing, kite surfing and more. Another popular activity is to go island hopping and visit the nearby islands including Balinghai Beach, Crystal Cove, Crocodile Island, Magic island West Cove and Puka Beach.
Sunsets are gorgeous on Boracay, and you must watch at least once before leaving the island. After the sunsets, visitors flock to the bars and restaurants around the island. Bar hopping is also a popular past time on Boracay, especially for the younger crowd.
There are no direct flights to Boracay, so you’ll need to fly from Manila into Caticlan or Kalibo Airport on Panay Island. From here, make your way to Caticlan Jetty Port and take a short boat to the island.
If you’re looking for the best islands in Philippines for a typical beach holiday, you can’t go wrong with Boracay.
Contributed by Dave from Survey Dave
Bohol is the 10th largest island in the Philippines and is the best island in Philippines for those after a combination of gorgeous beaches as well as some great inland attractions. As well as stunning beaches, Bohol is perhaps best known for its unique inland natural attractions including spectacular landscapes, jungle adventures, river cruises and waterfalls. It is also reasonably easy to reach via a short flight from Manila to Tagbilaran City – Bohol’s capital.
While the beaches are superb, Bohol has some great inland attractions to visit. One of the most popular inland places to visit is the Chocolate Hills – where you can see over 1500 mounds which were formed by coral deposits. Another highlight is a visit to the Tarsier Sanctuary where you can see the Tarsier – the world’s smallest monkey. Also don’t miss a relaxing lunch cruise on the Loboc River where you can see how the locals live. You can join a day tour to visit all of these attractions.
Of course like all of the other Philippine Islands, Bohol also has some beautiful beaches which are great for snorkelling and diving. There are many islands accessible from Bohol Island too which means you have access to a wide range of great island activities. For the best beaches check out Panglao Island – see it’s own entry below.
If you’re after not just the most beautiful island in Philippines but one that has some of the most diverse landscapes, then definitely consider a visit to Bohol.
Contributed by Suzi from Survey Suzi
Inaladelan is a breathtaking get-away from the island of Palawan, one of the itineraries of the island hopping tour. I consider this one of the top islands in Philippines because there are so many things that Inaladelan offers.
There is so much to do in Inaladelan like snorkelling in the clear waters and even swimming turtles. You can witness the hatching of these turtles during certain times of the year.
Not only is Inaladelan one of the most beautiful island, Philippines has, it is also great for adventurers who want to experience camping on an island. Inaladelan Resort provides tents for those who reserve an overnight stay. Imagine spending the night under the stars and the sound of local wildlife, so great. And don’t worry, there is security on the island to keep you safe.
As you wake in the morning, a real treat awaits you. The view is just stunning. You’ll see all the different colours of the water, like blues and turquoises. Nothing will prepare you for the breathtakingly beautiful view; it’s well worth the effort.
While not one of the more famous islands in the Philippines, if you want to experience a real vacation, Inaladelan is for you. Adventures like swimming, snorkelling, camping, star gazing, napping on hammocks, playing with the wind, and much more are all waiting for you.
To reach this hidden island in the Philippines, you’ll need to fly to Puerto Princesa City, which is the capital city of Palawan. From here it’s a two hour drive to Port Barton, from which you’ll need to take an outrigger boat to Inaladelan Island.
Contributed by Maria Elsa Jose from TravellingQuote
Palawan is one of the most beautiful Philippines islands, located in the Mimaropa region in the province of the same name. It lies between the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea and is named after its largest island Palawan.
This famous island in the Philippines has been voted as the most beautiful island in the world many times in a row. This is no surprise as apart from perfect turquoise white-sand beaches, the island boasts of some of the best coral reefs, abundant marine life, limestone mountains, caves and rare wildlife.
This Philippines paradise island is fantastic for adventurous travellers, beach lovers and those who want to drive around or relax. Palawan’s top three islands that draw most visitors include Puerto Princesa, El Nido and Coron. Palawan is an excellent choice if you’re into diving as Coron is one of the best islands for diving and snorkelling in the country.
Some of the things that you should do in Palawan include visiting the UNESCO heritage site Puerto Princesa underground river at the Subterranean River National Park. It is an 8km long gorgeous natural limestone karst landscape, considered the longest underground river in the world. For adventure lovers, ziplining is another activity that you can try at Las Cabañas Beach in El Nido, where you will cruise over the sea to reach Depeldet island, 750m away.
Palawan is one of the Philippines best islands to visit for island hopping. You can take plenty of full-day island hopping tours, which take you to Shimizu island, Sabang Beach, Secret Lagoon, and Kayangan Lake among others. If you want to exclusively chose any of these activities, there are separate tours, like full-day diving tours or kayaking with a boat trip.
Getting to Palawan is easy with direct flights from Manila which are cheap and only take around an hour.
Best Accommodation: Golden Pension House Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Reshma Narasing from The Solo Globetrotter
One of the largest islands of the Philippines archipelago, Leyte receives far fewer visitors than most and is one of the best Philippines vacation islands. This island is perfect for the more adventurous traveller who wants to experience the Philippines without the beach-going crowds. This is where you’ll get to experience local life in the Philippines with none of the tourism sales pitch and probably taste some of the best mangoes of your life!
Leyte has been through more than its fair share of natural hardships and felt most of the effects of super-typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, which claimed 22,000 lives from the island. Wandering around Tacloban, the capital of the island, you can still see the ships that were brought inland by the storm surge and hear stories from many locals who lost their livelihoods as a result. Leyte – especially Ormoc Bay and the MacArthur Landing – are also good places to visit for history lovers as the island played a strategic role in world war two.
Tacloban is the main city on the island and has some of the most comfortable places to stay on the island. From here you can do a day or overnight trips to other parts of the island. Transport on Leyte is poor, so the best solution is to organise local drivers or go with a locally owned tour company who can transport you around.
Recommended spots to visit on Leyte include San Juan Ignacio bridge (the longest in the Philippines), island hopping around the Cuatro Islas, visiting Lake Danao in Ormoc, and taking a day trip to Kalanggaman island which is just one hour from the port of Palompon. Kalanggaman Island is also a nice place to stay. Kalanggaman restricts visitors to 500 per day so you’ll need to book in advance.
The easiest way to get to Leyte is to fly to Tacloban. Otherwise, there are ferry services from Cebu and Bohol that serve multiple ports on Leyte including Ormoc, Palompon. Ferry services change regularly in the Philippines and at the time of writing, there are no known ferries direct to Tacloban.
Best Accommodation: Hotel Estrella Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Ellie & Ravi from Soul Travel Blog
I’ve been to several of the popular islands in Philippines, but I have never felt so relaxed in a destination like Siquijor. Siquijor is a small island near Cebu and Dumaguete that is a laidback, low cost, less polluted, and uncrowded. This is the perfect place if you’re looking for Philippines most beautiful island.
There are only chartered flights to Siquijor. From Cebu or Dumaguete, you can easily go to Siquijor via ferry. Siquijor has 6 municipalities and it is recommended to book accommodation in San Juan as most of the interesting places are in this area.
The Lazy Lizard Hostel is in San Juan and is up in the hills and surrounded by a forest with $8 to $15 rate per night. The hosts are friendly and accommodating. You can easily go around Siquijor by renting a scooter that is at $7 per day.
Cambugahay Falls is the most popular spot in Siquijor with a big turquoise water pool and three tiers. A swim to the cold water of the pool plus the adrenaline of swing is the perfect way to freshen up during the dry season.
Siquijor is home to several waterfalls like the Lugnason Falls and the 4 hidden gems namely the Locong Falls, Kawasan Falls, Lagaan Falls, and Cabugsayan Falls. These waterfalls are near each other and they appeared in one row on the map.
Siquijor has a couple of white sand beaches like the Paliton Beach and Salagdoong Beach. You can do spelunking in Cantabon Cave or swim with a school of barracuda in Tulapos Marine Sanctuary. Divers love Siquijor because of its rich marine life. Another unique thing about Siquijor is their faith healers and you can visit them.
Siquijor is an island that is highly recommended for divers and beach lovers who prefer a long and relaxing island vacation on a budget. Certainly one of the top islands to visit in Philippines.
Contributed by Mike and Katie from The Hollapinos
Miniloc Island, El Nido
Far from the crowds and the day trippers is a tiny private island off the mainland of Palawan called Miniloc Island. If you love active holidays with a little relaxation thrown in, you will love Miniloc, one of the top 10 islands in the Philippines.
Miniloc Island is a small resort nestled at the base of sheer limestone cliffs. This isn’t the island for you if you are looking for 5-star luxury. It has a family friendly, casual and relaxed vibe with a focus on outdoor activities.
There is just a single restaurant to provide all meals and a beach bar to enjoy Sunset drinks each day. The swimming pool has prime position and a small beach is just for guest use.
The resort is excellent for couples and families alike. Activities on the island include snorkelling, diving with a PADI certified instructor and windsurfing. Take a boat to the nearby Beach Club for a great day out at a gorgeous sandy white beach, or grab a kayak and paddle around the island.
On Miniloc Island you are perfectly positioned to enjoy some of the stunning sights of Bacuit Bay before the tour boats arrive from El Nido town.
There are just 50 rooms offered with full board in a range of settings from overwater bungalows to family cottages. Rooms are not overly generous in size, but all have private terraces to enjoy the views. Access to the island is via plane to El Nido town and then a 45-minute boat transfer.
If you are looking for a unique stay in a stunning location, Miniloc Island is the best island to stay in Philipines.
Contributed by Rachel Rodda from Coffee Wise
Kalanggaman belongs to one of the most stunning little islands in the Philippines. Located about a 40 minute boat ride away from the city of Palompon, this long sandbar island offers the most picturesque views and could easily be the most beautiful island in Philippines.
Anybody who enjoys solitude, pristine nature and the ocean all around you will love Kalanggaman. It’s the best island to go in Philippines where you can take things easy, swim in the crystal turquoise waters, laze out on the bright white sand, walk along the sandbar and then just take a walk to the greener part of the island for a change of scenery.
There’s not much else to do, actually. Most people are drawn to Kalanggaman for the sand bar. It stretches far out into the ocean, so at the end of it, you almost walk on water. It’s an incredible feeling. Snorkelling and diving can be done too, but better bring your own equipment.
You can arrange a visit to the island at the tourism office in Palompon, where they regularly send out pump boats with tourists to the island. The number of visitors to Kalanggaman is capped, because it can easily become crowded. You should carry your own food and plenty of water and take all trash back with you.
It is possible to spend the night on the island. A few huts were built there only recently. Again, the tourism office in Palompon can help you with that. A popular option, though, is just to take a day trip to the islet. If you choose to do so, you can stay at the highly rated beachfront resort called Sergi’s Resort and Hotel.
If you’re looking for a new island in the Philippines to visit, consider going to Kalanggaman.
Best Accommodation: Sergi’s Resort and Hotel Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Veronika Primm from Travel Geekery
While many people consider Panglao merely an extension from Bohol, this small island has plenty to offer on its own.
Panglao is connected to Bohol by two bridges (Suarez Bridge and the Gov. Borja Bridge), so it is easy to reach. Simply take a jeepney or tuk-tuk from Tagbilaran, the capital of Bohol.
Like any of the top 10 islands in Philippines, on Panglao the beach is the place to be and Alona Beach is best on the island! For beach and sun lovers, this beautiful white sand beach is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a cocktail or two.
For more adventurous travellers, there are several dive schools located on Alona Beach which offer scuba diving courses and fun dives. If you are a diver, I highly recommend going on a few dives as the underwater world around Balicasag Island Marine Sanctuary (a few kilometres from Alona Beach by boat) is splendid.
If you don’t have a PADI (and aren’t interested in getting one), I recommend joining a snorkelling tour, which makes for a fun day out and costs around $20 (depending on your bargaining skills).
While you’re on the island, a lovely place to eat is Bohol Bee Farm Restaurant, where all dishes are organic and homemade. While the food is a bit pricy for the Philippines, it’s a nice way to support a good cause and have a great meal at the same time.
If you are looking for luxury accommodation, consider staying at the Amorita Resort, a 5-star hotel at the edge of Alona Beach. We only had drinks here as the resort was above our travel budget at the time, but it looked like a wonderful place to stay. Still, we enjoyed a cocktail and admired the view over the beach from the well-kept hotel grounds. For the budget travellers, stay at Royal Paradise Guesthouse where you’ll find friendly staff, a comfortable and great breakfast.
If you’re looking for one of the best islands of the Philippines for your trip – consider Panglao Island.
Contributed by Lotte Eschbach from Phenomenal Globe
Malapascua is a tiny island north of Cebu that is perfect for backpackers, divers, and even non-divers. It’s super easy to get to from Cebu though it will take a good portion of the day between buses and a boat, but it’s totally worth it to have a little holiday on a holiday.
Most people that visit are divers because it’s one of the best places in the world to see thresher sharks. If you already have certifications, that’s great, but you can also take any diving courses you need here. But don’t worry if you’re not a diver, there are plenty of ways to stay busy.
This tiny carless island is ideal just to relax and enjoy the beach. Some of the ways to enjoy Malapascua that aren’t diving include reading on the beach, walking around the island, reading in a hammock, playing street games at night, enjoying a fresh mango juice, or looking for the lighthouse. If you want something a little more active, you can go on a snorkelling or island hopping tour from here, too. No matter what you decide to do, Malapascua is a nice island in Philippines that is fun and relaxing at the same time.
There are plenty of places to stay on the island and I personally loved Villa Sandra (great for budgets) and Evolution Dive Resort (an excellent mid-range, but still affordable option.)
Contributed by Megan Johnson from Red Around The World
I hope you found this best islands in the Philippines 2020 guide helpful. Another gorgeous island to visit which we didn’t include is Bantayan Island – find out more about it here. If you’re interested in other Philippine guides, check out our 10 days in paradise guide here or if you have longer check out this 3 weeks to one month guide.
Sharon first fell in love with the Philippines back in 2013 when she spent her son’s first birthday on the beach in Boracay. Now she has visited many times and loves sharing her love of the Philippines here so others can enjoy it too