THE TOP 10 DESTINATIONS TO VISIT DURING YOUR TRIP TO THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippines is easily one of the most beautiful destinations that I have ever traveled. With over 7,500 islands, there certainly isn’t a shortage of incredible places to visit, but this also makes it an overwhelming task to decide where best to go. That’s why I have created this Philippines island guide, highlighting ten destinations (from personal experience) that you NEED to see for yourself during your trip to the Philippines.
10. CRESTA DE GALLO
Cresta De Gallo, an incredible island that 95% of you will have never heard of - probably because it’s one of the hardest islands in the Philippines to get to. It’s a destination where you just have to wing it and hope that everything works out. However, one of the best things about the Philippines is the locals; they’ll stop what they’re doing in a heartbeat to try to help you! So even if the destination is off-the-beaten-path, it’s still possible to find, you’ll just need to really want it.
I visited back in 2017 and I’ve heard it’s a little easier to reach now than when I went. Head to Sibuyan Island, Romblon (another of my top ten destinations in the Philippines) and hire a boat to take you to paradise for around $30 USD. It should take around an hour each way to get to Cresta De Gallo.
If you’re someone who wants’s to get away from it all and will to go that extra mile to be in a really remote, untouched piece of paradise, Cresta De Gallo is the place for you!
9. EL NIDO, PALAWAN
El Nido, a place more of you will recognize. It’s one of the most talked-about destinations in all of the Philippines. I’ve been three times and seen the increase in tourism for myself - nevertheless, it’s still a must-visit destination! It reminds me of Avatar; incredible dramatic limestone mountains jutting out of emerald blue waters.
El Nido is particularly well known for its island tours. Tour A is probably the most popular, visiting small and big lagoon. If you're in a large enough group, I recommend renting out your own private boat. This means you can decipher your own route, away from the crowds. During my latest visit, I did just that; visiting small lagoon and headed to a private island for lunch. For me, it’s the best way to enjoy El Nido.
However, El Nido isn’t just about the island tours. It’s also a pretty great destination to dive. I had one of my best dives here, seeing turtles, barracuda, seahorse, and other incredible marine life. Also, it’s home to Nacpan beach - often described as the most beautiful beach in the world!
Bohol is a diverse island in the Philippines. Offering both high-end hotels and hostels, beaches and exploring opportunities; everything is here in Bohol, there's so much on offer. Also, Bohol is home to one of the most unique and nervous creatures in the world, called a tarsier - the look like a monkey that had a baby with an alien - just be respectful when around them, they’re highly sensitive to noise and flash photography!
There are two main areas to Bohol. There’s Anda in the north; with white sand beaches and the incredible Cabagnow cave pool. In the more southern tip of Bohol is Alona, a good area to stay with lots of accommodation, food, and nightlife choice. Alona is also a great place to base yourself if your planning on day trips around the island - my favorite being visiting the tarsier and Chocolate Hills.
7. PORT BARTON, PALAWAN
Port Barton is Palawan’s secret hideaway between El Nido and Porta Princesa. About a four-hour drive away from El Nido, I definitely recommended Port Barton if you want to relax in a peaceful, quaint, yet easily accessible area in the Philippines. There's a couple of bars on the beach so there is some evening entertainment, but nothing compared to its neighbors… yet! Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to try one of their island hopping tours, but I heard they’re meant to be amazing, so that’s definitely worth checking out.
6. TABLAS & ROMBLON
Tablas and Romblon are two very close islands, making for an incredible trip - that’s why I’ve combined them. Starting with Tablas, a place that’s so unknown I’m proud that I managed to find it! It’s a dormant but beautiful island made for exploring; incredible white sand beaches, beautiful sunsets, you’ll find it all here.
A one hour boat ride away from Tablas is the island of Romblon. Romblon is home to one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen, Bon Bon beach, making the travel completely worth it. With that being said, it's actually not that hard to get here, even though these two islands are definitely off the main tourist path. I flew from Manila to Tablas in roughly an hour using Cebu Pacific or you can catch a ferry from Caticlan (near Boracay).
Number five goes to the extremely underrated Dumaguete. The great thing about Dumaguete is not necessarily Dumaguete itself (although you have to visit Casaroro Falls) but what surrounds it. There’s Apo Island which literally means sea turtle island and Siquijor Island, often called the island of witchcraft (don’t let this put you off!), known for its beautiful beaches and Cambugahay Falls. Dumaguete is also relatively close to one of my favorite discoveries in the entire country, the Manjuyod sandbar or ‘The Maldives of the Philippines’.
Bantayan Island is one of the islands I love most in the entire world; it’s like Boracay before Boracay blew up. Bantayan is not exactly the easiest island in the world to get to, but it’ll be so rewarding - that seems to be a trend here, the more you put into getting there the more you're going to enjoy the destination. Typically, it also means fewer people; for me, that's what travel is about, experiencing the things that few others have seen.
You'll definitely want to rent a motorbike in Bantayan; it’s definitely a full day trip just to scratch the surface of this island. The people in the Philippines are extremely kind, it doesn't matter what road you travel down, typically they always greet you with a massive smile; don't be afraid to pull over and actually have a conversation with them. I remember in Bantayan stopping at a random little market and just sitting down and having a beer with a few of the guys - even though there was a bit of a language barrier, they really appreciated me making the effort to talk to them.
3. BADIAN, CEBU
Badian, a province in Cebu is home to beautiful beaches and incredible canyon cliff jumps. I could not recommend the canyoneering more if you like getting out of your comfort zone. The whole experience is amazing and just when you think it’s all over, at the very end of the canyon, you’ll arrive at what is the greatest waterfall I think I've ever seen, Kawasan Falls. It's a mainstream destination, so try to figure out the low times to visit, but even if you have to share it with other people, this is still an unforgettable experience.
The dreamy island of Coron is very similar to El Nido, but not as busy. Only two of the eleven lakes on the island are accessible to the public, not even the locals can swim in the other nine sacred Lakes. There's a lot of history here and there's even said to be a giant octopus that swims in the lakes, so always keep an eye out.
There are three main things that you must do in Coron. The first two can be done on a day trip; start your morning freediving into a sunken Japanese warship, if you can hold your breath long enough. Then end the day at Pass Island with nothing but beautiful white-sand beaches surrounded by cerulean blue water and a whole lot of nothing to do. The third thing to do in Coron is, of course, the lake tour. There are loads of island tours, so shop around - my favorite trip was one that took me to the lagoons but also showed us a secret lake where we had to swim under a rock structure to access it. If the weather is good, it’ll blow your mind.
Number 1 goes to the unbelievable island of Siargao, also known as Cloud Nine. Siargao is a surfers paradise; it’s where I had my first ever successful surfing day, a very rewarding experience. Nevertheless, surfing only just scratches the surface of amazing things to do here; there’s the emerald green Sugba lagoon and the incredible rock pools of Magpupungko, to name a couple. Siargao is also surrounded by loads of other beautiful islands just waiting to be explored, such as Naked Island and Guyam Island. With direct flights from Manila in around 1 hour and 45 minutes, you must visit!
Beautiful landscape, good nightlife, and chilled vibes all in one place, Siargao is my number one must-see destination in the Philippines!
That’s my top ten destinations to visit in the Philippines!
If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines, my entire video travel guide will provide you with a great head start - check out my free preview here. It covers everything you could possibly need to know; from safety, transportation, hotels and the best must-see hidden gems.
Let's get lost again in the next one!