Cut off from the main Southeast Asian overland route by the South China Sea, The Philippines was often overlooked as a major travel destination. Now times are a changing and many visitors are becoming increasingly curious about the unspoilt dazzling beaches, year-round sun, laid back lifestyle and excellent opportunities for diving, island-hopping and surfing. Our guest blogger Gem Muzones who is one half of the travel blog Travels With a Hobo – was born and raised in the Philippines, so in a country formed of 7,107 islands this she’s expertly narrowed it down to just 10 of her favourite beautiful beaches…
Puerto Galera, Mindoro
Located in the heart of Oriental Mindoro, Puerto Galera makes a perfect marine sanctuary for diving. The UNESCO-protected site is 130 km south of Manila and greatly boasts of beautiful white sandy beaches. It is also known to have the most diverse diving sites in Asia and the densest population of marine life. If you’re into music festivals, you can go to Puerto Galera every March for the Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival. In fact, it was back in Malasimbo 2012 where Beep and I had our first trip together. To read about the amazing experience we had, you can check out I Fell in Love with the Hobo at Malasimbo.
How to get there: It is relatively easy to get to Puerto Galera from Manila. The island is just a 3-hour car drive/bus ride away. Just drive through South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and head over to the Batangas Pier. From there, you can ride a ferry going to the island.
Boracay is among the most famous beaches in the country with over 350 resorts around the island. With its beautiful pale sand, travelers are sure to be in for a treat. Boracay was featured on CNN’s 100 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World, and recently ranked number 2 next to Palawan as the Best Island of 2016 by Travel + Leisure, an online travel magazine. You can do a lot of water activities on the east side of the island and enjoy the nightlife in the west. To complement your relaxation, try out the famous Jonah’s Fruit Shakes & Snack Bar. They are known to serve the best mango and other fruit shakes that would leave you wanting more!
How to get there: Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from Manila to Boracay. Airlines can only fly to Caticlan or Kalibo. If you take the Caticlan route, paradise would just be a 20-minute boat ride away, while landing in Kalibo would entail you to take an hour’s worth of drive before hitting the port.
El Nido, Palawan
El Nido is one of my favorite beautiful beach destinations in the Philippines. CNNGo dubbed El Nido as one of the Philippines’ best beaches, and it surely lives up to its title. El Nido is home to a spectacular marine ecosystem with 50 white sand beaches across the island. You might also be thrilled to know that El Nido is among the largest marine reserves in the Philippines with a total sea area of 903.21 sq. km. What should get you excited about El Nido is the secret lagoon hiding behind rock formations and trying out the bird’s nest soup.
How to get there: While you can fly directly to El Nido, airfares are quite extensive. For budget travelers, there are flights from Manila to Puerto Princesa. From there, it’s a 6-8 hour bus or van ride to El Nido.
Samal Island, Davao City
The island is known for being the Garden City of Samal. With 70 resorts around, Samal Island is the most developed vacation destination in the Philippines. The island has its fair share of white and pink sand beaches, along with world-class resorts such as Kaputian Beach and the famous Pearl Farm. While you are in Samal Island, don’t forget to check out Montfort Bats Conservation Park, where you can witness approximately two million fruit bats fly around. You should also visit Mt. Apo, the highest mountain in the country.
How to get there: You can take a direct flight from Manila to Davao before coming onboard a ferry to reach Samal.
Coron Island, Palawan
Another beautiful island that Palawan is proud of is Coron. It’s just off the coast of Busuanga, and completely captivates tourists with its natural beauty and limestone cliffs. Be prepared to be encapsulated by crystal clear blue-green waters where you can spend all day scuba diving or snorkelling. You can also go on an adventure and hop from one island to another. If you are looking for cheapskate accommodations, check out the Patrik & Tezz Guesthouse. The humble inn has been consistently awarded the number 1 Bed and Breakfast in Coron by Trip Advisor.
How to get there: You can take a flight to Busuanga from Manila, then a 45-min van ride that takes you straight to Coron.
Panglao Island, Bohol
Like Boracay, the Panglao Island of Bohol offers you pristine white sand beaches and is easily one of the most stunning beaches in the Philippines. The island is absolutely ideal as a diving spot and has an abundant marine life. In fact, with 250 different species of crustaceans and 2,500 mollusks, the marine reserve of Panglao is the largest compared to Japan and the Mediterranean Sea. If you ever find yourself in Panglao, check out the Alona beach, which is one of Panglao’s precious jewels, together with Dumaluan and Doljo Beach.
How to get there: The island is conveniently accessible from Tagbilaran, which is one airplane ride away from Manila. From there, you can take a 30-minute drive to Panglao.
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Crowned as the Boracay of the North, Pagudpud is known for its beautiful white sand and being the best destination for kite surfing in the Philippines. While you are there, check out the Bangui Windmills and the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. After relaxing by the beach, you can head to Vigan City and relive the mesmerizing colonial architecture that has been preserved through time.
How to get there: If you don’t want to sit for long hours of land travel, you can take a flight to Laoag City and rent a bus or car that you can take in transit to Pagudpud.
Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley
Palaui is among the top hundred beautiful beaches presented by CNN. Nature has molded its beauty, and Palaui nurtures a rich biodiversity. What makes it the perfect getaway place is that there are no hotels or luxury items on the island. Its unspoiled beaches allow you to relax, hike, and visit lighthouses.
How to get there: Palaui is connected through Sta. Ana, Cagayan. You can take a car ride from Manila or fly to Tuguegarao.
Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte
The tear-shaped island of Surigao del Norte has the largest mangrove forest in Mindanao. Not only that, but the island is also known to be the surfing capital of the country and best place for diving and snorkelling. The island is known for its Cloud Nine Waves, which makes it a surfer’s paradise.
How to get there: You can book a flight from Manila heading to Cebu to get to Sayak Airport in Siargao. From there, ride a habal-habal (motorcycle) going to General Luna.
Crowned as the “Garden of Eden” of the Philippines, Camiguin is a must-see destination for every traveler. The pear-shaped island offers you a unique marine experience like its Giant Clams Ocean Nursery or the Katibawasan Falls.
How to get there: The captivating Garden of Eden is one flight away from Manila. You can hop on a plane and fly directly to Camiguin Airport. You can get to the city by tricyle or motorcycle.
Wherever your heart may take you, Philippine beaches can be a solitude. Don’t wait for the right moment, make the moment right! Set out and enjoy the wonderful beaches the Philippines has to offer you.
10 of the most beautiful beaches was written by our guest blogger Gem Muzones who forms one half of the wonderful blog Travels with a Hobo, she believes travelling is the best way to relieve work stress and instead of splurging on dates, her and her other half go on budget trips in the Philippines and Asia.