El Nido, Palawan
Dubbed as one of the best beach and island destinations in the Philippines by CNNGo, El Nido is blessed with amazing views you want to wake up to every day - eye-popping limestone formations rising out of unbelievable clear waters, romantic lagoons, and virgin forests. You can easily forget the time and spend your days snorkelling, kayaking, or sunbathing on one of its several deserted white beaches.
Palaui Island, Santa Ana, Cagayan
The biggest island in the country, Palaui is an untamed beauty accessed from the northeastern tip of Luzon. It is being considered as a location for the British Survivor series. So before that happens, meet some natives at Sitio Punta Verde, trek the scenic forested landscape, conquer the ruins of the 120-year-old lighthouse atop a hill, and go down to lounge at Cape Engaño.
Isolated on the northernmost part of the country, the Batanes group of islands shows you nature at its best and life at its simplest. Desolate yet dramatic landscapes of verdant pasturelands, rolling hills and great turquoise seas, Batanes can help heal your tired, urban spirit. Or at the very least provide some incredible landscape photos to post in Facebook.
Islands of Zambales: Potipot
Zambales has a following among local backpackers what with the several coves and islands the province has to offer for cheap weekend getaways from Manila. Two of the easier-to-access islands are Potipot in Candelaria and Magalawa in Palauig, both are only short boat rides away from the mainland.
Islands of Zambales: Magalawa
The two islands, however, have areas that resemble well-maintained parks (both have caretakers) with huts and benches to boot, so just don’t expect them to be totally ‘untouched by civilisation’. Yes, fellow backpackers have been there before you, but they still make for great beach camps. En route, sample the famous Zambales mangoes, which are abundant at this time.
Calaguas, Camarines Norte
This group of islands in the Pacific, off the coast of Camarines Norte, is often dubbed by adventure-seekers as Bicol region's Boracay. That is when the famed Philippine island didn't have resorts or even electricity ages ago—just a long stretch of immaculate white sand beach. And you can get the same cast-away vibe in a just as beautiful stretch of white beach at Calaguas's Mahabang Buhangin.
Mahabang Buhangin (which translates to “long beach”) in Calaguas is two hours by boat from the mainland. Most visitors fall for the quiet and deserted charm of the island and spend the night there; if you’re among them, get ready to pitch your own tent, bring your own supplies, and have an evening spent listening to the ocean and watching the stars.
One of the many quiet beaches in the islands of Calaguas
Islands off Dumaguete: Apo and Siquijor
Both islands are accessible via the seaport city of Dumaguete for some easy day trips. Apo Island (in the photo), may not be much to look at, beach-wise, but underwater is a whole different story. The marine sanctuary is considered by many divers as one of the world’s best and UK-based magazine, Sport Diver, agreed, including it their list of world’s “ultimate dive destinations” a few years back.
Siquijor also has its share of marine sanctuaries (Tulapos Marine Sanctuary), though most curious visitors go for the tiny island’s reputation for the supernatural. Don’t let that get in the way of having quality island idling about or discovering some precious hidden coves. back.
Sumilon Island, Cebu
Off the southeast coast of the municipality of Oslob, Cebu, this is the first marine protected area in the country. To date, Sumilon’s most popular attraction is its sand bar, because of its shifting shape depending on the season. Oh yeah, it also has that white beach going for it. back.
Sumilon Island, Cebu
In Sumilon island, there is only one resort (Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort), but if you prefer to rough it up a wee bit, you can go “glamping” (glamorous camping). Instead of staying in one of the villas overlooking the water, the resort will pitch you a tent by the beach. Hello, great outdoors with resort perks! back.