The Philippines Travel Guide
Planning your Trip: Weather/Best tome to visit.
High Season: Dec-April
Peak Season: April-May (Donsol Whale Sharks, flat seas for boat travel)
Festival season, cool/pleasant weather: Jan-Feb
Northern Luzon: Feb-April
El Nido (Palawan): Nov-May
Boracay (Visayas): Nov-March
North Luzon Island, Philippines: (Main island; Nov-May; April-June hotter, less crowds)
Cordillera Mountain Region, Northern Luzon Island, Philippines (To many travelers this is Northern Luzon, mountain trekking, great scenery)
Baguio, Cordillera Mountains, Northern Luzon Island
Sagada, Cordillera Mountains, Northern Luzon Island (Small town is Philippines closest thing to a backpacker mecca; famous for its hanging coffins and trail network)
Bontoc, Cordillera Mountains, Northern Luzon Island
Banaue, Cordillera Mountains, Northern Luzon Island (Hemmed in by dramatic rice terraces)
Batad, Cordillera Mountains, Northern Luzon Island
Vigan, Luzon Island, Philippnes (UNESCO, finest Spanish-colonial era town in Asia. Cobblestone streets)
Southern Zambales Coast (chilled out backpacker vibe)
Hermana Islands (Menor and Major Islands; off Santa Cruz, access via SeaSun Beach Resort)
Potipot Island (white sand beach where you can camp; also off Santa Cruz, access via SeaSun Beach Resort)
Hundred Islands National Park (best done in two or three days or more so you can snorkel, swim and lounge on beaches over a few days. 3 Islands with facilities incl Quezon, Govender’s and Children’s island-these are busy with tourists, rest are empty. Martha is picture-perfect beautiful. Cuenco has a cave that passes through it)
Paguppud, Luzon Island, Philippines (stuff of postcards, perhaps best beach town in North Luzon)
Baler, North Luzon, Philippines (Sabang Beach where famous surfing scene in Apocalypse Now was filmed. “Charlie don’t Surf”. Now a surf town, with annual international competition)
Ifugao rice terraces, North Luzon, Philippines (Maybe the most scenic rice terraces on the planet, UNESCO)
Batanes Islands, Philippines (A backpacker favorite, Group of 10 islands; 3 of which are inhabited; gets hammered by typhoons on a regular basis: “Home of the Winds”. An unknown to the masses hidden paradise with lush forests, white sand beaches and rolling green hills.)
- Batan (Main Island, Basco main town)
- Sabtang Island, North Luzon, Philippines (Very traditional Ivatan culture/architecture. Dramatic headlands, white sand beaches, striking mountainous interior)
- Itbayat Island, North Luzon, Philippines (Most remote inhabited island 15 minute plane ride from Basco to Itbayat. No beaches, cliff fringed all the way around. Wild nature. Authentic culture)
Babuyan Islands, North Luzon, Philippines (Visible from the mainland, yet off the beaten path. 24 volcanic islands, most with white sand beaches, but all with stunningly clear blue water. April-June best time to visit. Only 5 of the islands are populated, limited electricity. New airport was to go in 2017-18. Get there before it gets over-developed)
Palaui Island, North Luzon, Philippines (Home to one of the top beaches world, and far off the beaten path; No resorts or hotels, camping under the stars or home stays)
Southeast Luzon (May-July: island hopping; Aug-Nov: Surfs up; Oct-Dec: wet season)
Caramoan Peninsula, Luzon Island, Philippines (Jurassic Park Island-like, Filming location for US, French, Israeli, Danish, Serbian and other versions of Survivor TV series. Best to get there by boat, but road in is newly paved. Well off the tourist radar, but on weekends, Filipinos come from cities to island hop.
- Matukad Island, Caramoan Peninsula, Luzon Island (hidden lagoon accessible by swimming under rocks
- Lahos Island, Caramoan Peninsula, Luzon Island (Popular with Survivor crews)
- Aguirangan Island, Caramoan Peninsula, Luzon Island(postcard perfect)
- Sabitan Laya Island, Caramoan Peninsula, Luzon Island (V-shaped, long stretches of sand and Limestone outcrop at V-Base. Good snorkeling)
- Tinago Island, Caramoan Peninsula, Luzon Island(Secluded pristine cove
- Pitogo Island, Caramoan Peninsula, Luzon Island (Another Survivor location)
Donsol, Luzon Island, Philippines: Nov-June can swim with Whale Sharks.
Cataduanes Island, Luzon Island, Philippines (well off the tourist radar, magnet for surfers.
- Maribina Falls, Cataduanes Island, Luzon Island
- Toytoy beach, Cataduanes Island, Luzon Island
Masbate Islands, Luzon Island, Philippines
- Masbate Island (largest and most developed of the 3 islands comprising the Masbate province. Ranching main economy.
- Ticao Island (Manta Bowl – Area where it is easy to spot Manta’s)
- Burias Island (Wilder, more remote)
Marinduque Island, Luzon Island , Philippines (Laid-back island ringed by 120km paved road.
Tinaga Island, Luzon Island, Philippines (Considered one of the top islands in the world by long-time world travelers. Off-the-beaten path – probably not for forever though)
- Mahabang Buhangin Beach, Tinaga Island
Mindoro Island: (Seventh largest island in the country; Nov-May)
- Puerto Galera, Mindoro Island, Philippines (Dive mecca at the heart of the Verde Island passage, one of the world’s most diverse underwater environments)
- Bulalacao, Mindoro Island, Philippines (unassuming coastal town, surrounded by lost coves and practically uninhabited islands)
- San Jose Island cluster, Mindoro Island, Philippines (3 islands off shore from San Jose : White, Ambulong, Ilin)
- Apo Reef, Mindoro Island, Philippines (largest atoll-type reef in the Philippines. Adventurous snorkelers and divers are practically guaranteed to see big fish like: white tip and black tip sharks, reef sharks, jacks, tuna, and possibly hammerheads, whale sharks and manta rays. April-May or Nov best)
Boracay, Western Visayas, Philippines (One of the world’s top islands. )
- White Beach, Boracay (Overdeveloped beach that is the center of Boracay. Can be too much and perfect all at once. Most of Boracay’s new rules in place after the re-opening
- Puka Beach, Boracay (Not as popular as White Beach, but arguably more scenic and considered one of the top beach in the Philippines in it’s own right. Second longest beach on Boracay, mostly empty with no resorts and only a few beach bars/cafes.)
Panay Island, Western Visayas, Philippines (Island you land on to get to Boracay)
- Malumpati Spring & Bugang River, Panay Island, Western Visyas, Philippines
Gigantes archipelago, Panay Island Western Visayas, Philippines (10 total islands, incl two large islands Gigantes North (Notre) & South (Sur). Nice beaches, caves and scallops everywhere.
- Antonia Beach, Gigantes archipelago
- Bantique Sandbar, Gigantes archipelago
- Tangke Saltwater Lagoon, Gigantes archipelago (turquoise lagoon)
Sicogon Island, Panay Island, Western Visayas, Philippines (Once an exclusive destination for the rich, slowly being rediscovered.
Guimaras Island, Western Visayas, Philippines (A destination for backpackers in the know. Low-key resorts, winding roads ideal for motorbikes, rice paddies, sweet mangoes, coral islets. Very short boat ride from Panay Island, talk of putting a bridge in.
- Inampulugan Island, Guimaras Island, Western Visayas, Philippines (30 minute boat ride from Guimaras. Good spot to base for a few days with 4 islands
Negros Island, Western Visayas, Philippines
- Sugar Beach, Negros Island, Western Visayas (As top a remote beach as they come. Cut off from road networks by a tidal river. A true paradise. A handful of eclectic resorts offer lodging and food/drink beachside.
- Sagay Marine Reserve, Negros Island, Western Visayas: Nice snorkeling spots and white sand beaches. Huge, 200 hectare Carbon reef.
- Tambobo Bay, Negros Island, Western Visayas: Southernmost point of Negros, has a hideaway ambience. One resort with beachfront cottages/restaurant. Either boat in or 1700 step descent from road above.
- Dumaguete, Negros Island, Western Visayas: mellow college town makes nice base for exploring the Visayas, large expat community. Well connect Port, can travel almost anywhere from here. Only Cebu City has a bigger port in Visayas.
- Bais City, Negros Island, Western Visayas: One of the country’s top spots to view dolphins and whale watching.
Sipaway Island, Negros Island, Western Visayas, Philippines: 15 minute boat, Concrete path circles the island, perfect for motorcycling.
Apo Island, Negros Island, Western Visayas, Philippines: one of the country’s top dive and snorkeling spots. Great small village life on coral fringed island.
Siquijor Island, Boracay & Western Visayas, Philippines (Considered to be a top island in the world for those in the know. Backpacker favorite Renowned for its witches and healers, it’s a backpacker paradise with amazing beaches and best-value beachfront accommodations in the Philippines. Rent a motorbike to explore the 72km coastal ring road, practically devoid of traffic. Just about anywhere on the island is great for snorkeling.
- San Juan, Siquijor Island, Western Visayas: Siqujor’s best dive sites and some of its best beaches and range of accommodations. Paliton Beach is a stunning white sand beach northeast of town. More amazing beaches walking west from this beach.
Romblon Islands, Western Visayas, Philippines
Carabao Island, Romblon Islands, Western Visayas, Philippines (Island to the north of Boracay)
Tablas Island, Romblon Islands, Western Visayas, Philippines (Largest of the Romblon Islands. Miles of white sand beach, hidden coves, marine sanctuaries and a close boat trip to Boracay.
Romblon Island, Romblon Islands, Western Visayas, Philippines (authentic and lightly touristed, is a charming gem. Great for a few relaxing days.
- Romblon Town is main place to stay setting is said to be like a Hemingway novel with it’s throwback tropical port town filled with bustling tricycles, bangka traffic to surrounding islands and colorful expats. Good night market too)
Sibuyan Island, Romblon Islands, Western Visayas, Philippines (hardly any beaches, not good snorkeling, but promoted as the ‘Galapagos of Asia’ because of exceptional amount of intact forest)
Cobrador Island, Romblon Islands, Western Visayas, Philippines (Small island is virtually unknown, with nice beaches and extremely clear water)
Simara Island, Romblon Islands, Western Visayas, Philippines
Banton Island, Romblon Islands, Western Visayas, Philippines
Isabel Island, Romblon Islands, Western Visayas, Philippines
Carlota Island , Romblon Islands, Western Visayas, Philippines
Masestro de Campo Island, Romblon Islands, Western Visayas, Philippines
Cebu & Eastern Visayas: (Very popular main stream island that has landed on top 10 best island travel lists)
- Cebu City, Cebu Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (Pop of 886,000. Much more laid back than Manila. Preferred city to fly in and out of the Philippines)
- Olango Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (Just of shore from Cebu City)
- Moalboal, Cebu Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (small, lively, wildly popular coastal resort area; Coast resort 90km SW of Cebu City. Craggy coastline with shoreside bars and cafes. Directly off shore is great coral, perfect for snorkeling.
- Kawasan Falls, Moalbol, Cebu (series of 3 waterfalls with massive milky blue swimming hole)
- White Beach, Moalboal, Cebu (a few resorts, great snorkeling)
- Panagsama Beach, Moalboal, Cebu
- Pescador Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines 10 minutes from Panagsama Beach, swarms with marine life
- Sumilon Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (Off the southern tip of Cebu, marine sanctuary)
Malapascua Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (A favorite island for backpackers. Just off shore from Cebu City, Place to view thresher sharks, great beaches, 4 hour walk around the island)
- Bounty Beach: string of resorts offer beachside seating in sand.
- Gato Island: Sea snake breeding ground Feb-Sept
Bantayan Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (easy going island white ultra-white sand beach. Great for scooter exploration with little traffic, circumventing the island makes a great day. Limited snorkeling.
- Santa Fe, Bantayan Island, Eastern Visayas (Best base to explore island)
- Paradise Beach, Santa Fe, Bantayan Island
Camotes Islands, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (2 hours from Cebu, authentic island life. 3 Islands. Two biggest (Poro & Pacijan) and most visited are connected by a motorcyclable (main mode of transportation) mangrove forest bridge.
- Pacijan Island, Camotes Islands, Eastern Visayas: white sand beaches around Santiago Bay (resort area).
- Poro Island, Camotes Islands, Eastern Visayas: Lessor of the two.
Ponson Island: 3rd Island, 2 resorts, a $30 room on a white sand beach can be found.
Balicasag Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (Popular diving site 6km SW of Panglao (45 min), ringed by a marine sanctuary reef. 1 resort, catering to divers.
Lamanok Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (7kn N of Anda, Cebu Island is cave painting dating back tens of thousands of years old. Involves hiking and canoeing through caves to view. Maybe the globes most significant, accessible, yet almost unknown anthropological site.
Cabilao Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (diver island, limited beaches)
Bohol Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines
- Chocolate Hills, Bohol Island: 1,000s of cone shaped hills, said to be natural. Almost certainly pyramids or remains of ancient infrastructure covered in jungle. Tops of hills are treeless, with a strange consistent treeline about a 2/3 of the way up each hill. 2-3 days touring the chocolate hills loop by rented motorcycle is perfect, little traffic and good roads, base out of Loboc.
- Loboc, Bohol Island: One of the Visayas hottest destinations for independent travelers, kayak, SUP motorbike rentals, excursions, floating restaurants.
- Anda, Bohol Island: Small town of 1,500 sits on the Anda Peninsula on SE corner of Bohol seems forgotten in time. Resort hotels strung along a nice 3km beach, dotted with white sand coves. Lots of peace and privacy, very chill town. Explore past he big beach for even quitter coves.
Panglao Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (linked by two bridges to Bohol, spectacular coral, teeming marine life)
- Alona Beach, Panglao Island, Eastern Visayas (Great for snorkeling)
- Danao Beach, Panglao Island, Eastern Visayas
Balicasag Island, Eastern Visayas
Pamilacan Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (rich waters supporting megafauna: whales, dolphins, manta rays, sharks. Whale/Dolphin watching tours. Tiny island is fun to explore on foot. 23km E of Balicasag; Early morning dolphin tours near Pamilacan Island (Feb-July see whales too)
Leyte Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines
- Hinunagan, Leyte Island, Cebu & Eastern Visayas: Eastern frontier of Leyte, place to escape civilization. Honey-colored Tahusan Beach one of the best in Visayas with great snorkeling. A few places to stay on beach.
San Pedro and San Pablo Islands, Leyte Island, Eastern Visayas: group of off-shore islands from Tahusan, huts on Pedro, otherwise bring camping gear. Great snorkeling.
Limasawa Island, Leyte Island, Eastern Visayas: nice island, has deep religious significance to Filipinos, where Spanish first celebrated Mass in 1521, starting Filipino Christianity. Beautiful small coves ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Panaon Island, Leyte Island, Eastern Visayas: Beautiful island connected to Leyte by a bridge. Good place to see Whale sharks.
Biliran Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (paved ring road, perfect for a few days exploring its lush interior and beautiful coastlines. Extra lush it can rain anytime but Dec-April the worst. A short bridge connects to Leyte. Fairly cheap oceanfront accommodations-great value.
- Maripipi Island: Just off the northern tip of Biliran. Dramtic island is dominated by volcano. 1 beach resort.
- Sambawan Island: great snorkeling. More of a dive island. One resort has good value beach bungalows ($45)
Higatangan Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines: great swimming and snorkeling, on west side rock formations with sandy beaches between them. Good value resort on the island.
Kalanggaman Islands, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (Up-and-coming backpacker islands, popular with those in the know)
Samar Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines
- Borongan, Samar Island, Eastern Visayas, Philippines (genuine beach town, honey-brown Baybay beach. The beach has 5 stations (1-5). Decent rooms as cheap as $13 incl. surfboard all-day rental or basic AC room foe $14.
Balicuatro island group, Cebu & Eastern Visayas, Philippines: Known for rock formations, favorite of film directors), tidal pools and sea waterfalls.
- Biri Island, Cebu & Eastern Visayas, Philippines (Center of the Balicuatro island group, good, even great, snorkeling, but some corals are damaged. Good value accommodations)
Dalupiri (San Antonio) Island, Cebu & Eastern Visayas, Philippines (Good beaches, clear water, a place you’ll stay longer than you planned. Capul Island just off-shore makes for a nice long day trip.
Seven Islands, Cebu & Eastern Visayas, Philippines (idyllic, pink sand beaches and total isolation)
Calicoan Island, Cebu & Eastern Visayas, Philippines (ABCD is best beach, bridge links to neighboring Sulangan Island. Beach huts can be found for $13.
Mindanao Island, Mindanao, Philippines (Where ISIS-affiliated (Maute) attack happened in 2007, NPA (Communist New People’s Army active on the island, Island has a history of Islamic violence since the 60’s. North is basically safe, all activity is in the south and Zamboanga Peninsula which stretches almost to Malaysia-Borneo. Martial Law has been declared until December 2018 island-wide. Do significant research and check with your embassy before embarking on a trip here.)
- Enchanting River (Hinatuan River), Surigao del Sur, northern Mindanao, Philippines
Camiguin Island, Mindanao, Philippines (coral reefs, volcanos, waterfalls on lush island)
Siargao Island, Mindanao, Philippines (Simply a great island, widely considered one of the top islands in the world. Known for having one of the world’s great surf breaks. Surrounded by idyllic islands. New sealed road rings the island. Experiencing a boom, time to visit is now. Lots of surfer Expats live here. The type of island independent travelers extend their stay for weeks)
Palawan Island, Philippines (#1, TL#5, W#1, NG#13)
Puerto Princesa, Palawan Island, Philippines
Honda Bay Islands, Puerto Princesa Area, Palawan Island, Philippines (Not as nice as ultra-scenic Bacauit Archipelago to the north, but a 1 or two day island hoping tour is well worth it.)
Sabang, Palawan Island, Philippines
- Underground Subterranean River, Sabang, Palawan Island
- Sabang Beach, Sabang, Palawan Island NP, Sabang, Palawan Island
Balabac Islands, Palawan Island, Philippines (Off the southern tip of Palawan. Maldives-like paradise w/o the resorts. Few tourists.
Port Barton, Palawan Island, Philippines (Superb island hopping)
San Vicente, Palawan Island, Philippines (Long Beach 1, 2, 3, makes up 14km of white sand beach. International Airport opened in 2017, resorts just going in currently)
Taytay, Palawan Island, Philippines (Port town with little tourism, Island hopping in Taytay Bay. Malampaya Sound is a favorite place for dugongs and Irrawaddy dolphins.
- Flower Island, Taytay Bay Islands, Philippines (Quietly considered one of the top islands in the world, backpacker favorite)
El Nido, Palawan Island, Philippines (Some of the nicest lagoon fronting pocket and hidden beaches is the world; primary base for exploring off shore islands of Bacuit Archipelago, Nacpan Beach.
- Island Hoping: 4 standard tours (A, B, C, D)
Bacauit Archipelago, Palawan Island, Philippines (Crystalline waters of Bacuit Bay are a collection of dreamy jagged limestone islands. White sand beachs, lagoons, coves everywhere. Rivals anything in Thailand or even Halong Bay
- Miniloc Island: (Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Secret Lagoon)
- Cadlao Island: (Like a mini-Tahiti relocated to Bacuit, Cadlao Lagoon. Biggest Island and kayakable from El Nido.
- Matinloc Island: Great snorkeling.
Coron Island, Calamian Islands, Palawan Island, Philippines (#12, W#39)
- Lake Kayangan (Looks like a saltwater lagoon)
- Banol Beach
- Coron Town Island Hoping: Same as El Nido, 4 standard tours (A, B, C, D) – different from El Nido.
Busuanga Island, Calamian Islands, Palawan Island, Philippines (Largest and most developed of the Calamians
Calauit Island, Calamian Islands, Palawan Island (Zebras, Giraffes)
Pass Island, Calamian Islands, Palawan Island (Great snorkeling, beaches and camping)
Calumbiyan Island, Calamian Islands, Palawan Island (Great snorkeling, beaches and camping)
North Cay Island, Calamian Islands, Palawan Island (Great white sand beaches, great sunsets, camping or basic huts)
Black (Malajon) Island, Calamian Islands, Palawan Island (Karst and cave-studded with stunning beaches)
Culion Island, Calamian Islands, Palawan Island, Philippines (Laid back, second largest island in archipelago, pristine reefs. Former Leper colony island.
Linapacan Islands, Calamian Islands, Palawan Island, Philippines