Pristine beaches, diverse wildlife and delicious food… the Philippines really has it all. With over 7000 islands to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start when planning a holiday to this vast archipelago. So in this post, we’ll be highlighting some of the country’s unmissable locations to help you.
When you think of the Philippines, it will be images of Palawan your mind instantly conjures—colossal limescale cliffs, golden sand beaches and turquoise waters, filled with an abundance of coral and wildlife.
For me, it is without a doubt the most beautiful island in the Philippines and should be number one on your hit list if you’re travelling to this remarkable country. Fly into Puerto Princesa and check out the ethereal rock formations of the Subterranean River National Park, which has been named one of the ‘New7Wonders of the World’.
Travel to peaceful Port Barton—a secluded bay with tiki bars and hipster cafés which is quickly becoming an island hopping hub. From here, take a boat to Inaladelan Island where you can swim with turtles, lion and clown fish. Another must-visit is White Beach, where you can see the magical bioluminescent plankton glow at sundown.
Finish up your trip in El Nido, exploring the vast Las Cabanas beach, where you can zipline across the sea to another uninhabited island. Take a trip on a traditional paraw boat where you’ll be able to kayak into hidden lagoons and snorkel the most secluded beaches—some of which are only accessible by swimming to shore.
Bohol’s bohemian vibe sets it apart from other islands in the Philippines. While you’re here, you’ll want to see the Chocolate Hills—they’re made up of over 1000 grass-covered limestone domes that turn brown during the dry season and resemble a box of chocolates.
Bohol Bee Farm is also a popular local attraction. Visit the Buzzz Café for delicious organic produce grown on site and take a tour of the farm where you’ll learn about the different gardens, handcrafts and see the production of its goods.
Lastly, the endangered tarsiers are a must-see here and Bohol is one of the only places in the world you can get up close with this tiny primate. The curious-looking creatures have the largest eye-to-body size ratio of any mammal in the world and measure a mere 85mm to 160mm in height, making them incredibly hard to spot, even when one is right in front of you! Visit a sanctuary where you’ll be guided by an expert who can point you in the right direction.
After all this excitement, head to Alona Beach for a dose of rest and relaxation. This bustling resort is packed with restaurants serving international cuisine and you’ll find plenty of live entertainment right on the beach.
If you’re partial to more commercialised, lively islands (or like to party!), Boracay is the island for you. White Beach, famed for its 4km stretch of pure sugar-white sand, is separated into three stations that are peppered with bars and restaurants. For an astonishingly good breakfast, visit The Sunny Side Café. For delicious seafood, burgers and chicken wings, there’s nowhere better than Pig Out Bistro.
If you prefer a quieter beach, I’d recommend heading to Puka Beach and on your way visiting Spider House—a bamboo retreat built into the cliff face of Diniwid Beach. You can dive off the deck straight into the crystal clear water below and enjoy delicious sushi whilst looking out onto the ocean.
One for eco travellers, Donsol is frequented due to its location on the migration path of the majestic whale shark and its ethical approach to tourism. Other whale shark hot spots in the Philippines have come under fire for overcrowding and allowing visitors to touch the animals, but in Donsol strict rules are adhered to, ensuring the endangered animals are protected.
Known locally as butanding, they are the largest fish species in the world, measuring up to 41.5 feet. They’re also completely harmless. Choose a tour operator that follows WWF guidelines—rules include limiting the number of swimmers per boat to six—for a truly intimate experience.
“Amazing is an understatement!”
“We just don’t have words for this place. Perfection!”