With more than 7,600 islands, the Philippines will never run out of gorgeous beaches to discover. Its tropical climate and warm people make the archipelago an alluring destination for anyone looking to spend some time under the sun.
Two of the country’s most beautiful shores are found on the islands of Boracay and Palawan. But if you’re looking for a sun-soaked adventure slightly off the beaten path, check out these equally stunning beaches in the Pearl of the Orient.
Bantayan Island, Cebu
Save for the newly introduced skydiving adventure offered in the southern municipality of Santa Fe, the only thing left to do on Bantayan Island is relax. This tropical locale is the definition of laid-back beach life — most establishments outside resorts are closed by 5 p.m. and the streets are left quiet and calm.
Those who go to Bantayan Island are looking for serenity on sprawling white sand beaches overlooking the calm, clear waters of Cebu. There are no action-packed activities aside from island-hopping to nearby Virgin and Hilantagan islands, an experience best enjoyed with a bountiful seafood lunch and afternoon dips in the crystal-blue sea.
Valugan Boulder Beach, Batanes
The Philippines’ northernmost province of Batanes is home to one of the most unusual beaches in the entire country. Instead of fine sand, the bewildering Valugan Boulder Beach is covered in boulders and rocks made smooth by the constant coming and going of Pacific waves. Mount Iraya, a volcano that erupted more than a thousand years ago, is responsible for this one-of-a-kind formation.
Philippine Airlines and SkyJet have regular flights to Basco, Batanes, making a trip to Valugan Boulder Beach easier than ever. From the airport, hire a tricycle (a motorcycle with a sidecar) to get to the shore.
There are no accommodations at the beach, so book a stay in the central town of Basco. When on the island, try Ivatan cuisine at its finest at Marconine’s — if giant rock lobsters are on offer, be sure to order one. Though coconut crabs (locally known as tatus) are a threatened species, so if you see it on the menu, avoid it.
Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte
This teardrop-shaped island has a certain rural charm that calls upon adventurous souls, while also appealing to the jet set with exclusive retreats like Nay Palad Hideaway.
Siargao is best known as the surfing capital of the Philippines, frequented by professional wave catchers — even the band Red Hot Chili Peppers couldn’t resist a visit after performing at the 7107 International Music Festival in 2014.
Getting to Siargao has gotten easier in recent years since major airlines started flying to the island directly from Manila. If you want to catch the perfect wave, visit between August and December.
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
This sleepy coastal town lies on the tip of the northernmost part of Luzon Island, roughly 10 hours by land or 70 minutes by plane from Manila. Ilocos is one of the most-visited destinations in the Philippines for the famous Bangui Windmills and the 1892 Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, but the main attractions are the beaches.
Pagudpud is home to Saud Beach, a stretch of fine white sand that has retained its natural beauty despite the (minimal) developments around it. Equally as picturesque, Blue Lagoon is another popular sun-drenched destination nearby.
Strong winds from the West Philippine Sea and Pacific Ocean make both beaches prime places for waterborne activities like surfing, kiteboarding and windsurfing from June to October.
Teeming with marine life, Panglao is known for its striking coast and its marine attractions, including scuba diving with dolphins, whales and barracudas. Alona and Dumaluan are two of the island’s most picturesque beaches whose calm turquoise waters are only rivaled by their spotless white shores.
Aside from mastering the quiet art of being a beach bum, find time to visit two iconic Bohol destinations: the thousand-plus Chocolate Hills and the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary for a view of the world’s smallest primate.
Known as the “island born of fire,” the province of Camiguin was formed by volcanic eruptions — in fact, there are more volcanoes on the island than there are towns.
Despite being the second-smallest island in the archipelago, Camiguin is big on beaches, the two most scenic of which are White and Mantigue islands.
White Island is an uninhabited sandbar of pure ivory beach that only appears depending on the tides, while Mantigue is a fishing village with thriving marine life, making it a nice spot for diving and snorkeling.
Aside from island hopping, visit the famous Sunken Cemetery, the Santo Niño Cold Spring and the Ardent Hot Spring. Between aquatic adventures, fuel up on Asian street food at Guerrera, home-farmed honey and locally grown coffee at The Beehive Camiguin Driftwood Cafe and traditional Filipino seafood at J&A Fishpen Resort and Restaurant.
Caramoan, Camarines Sur
Known as the scenic backdrop to seasons 25 and 26 of CBS reality show Survivor, this secluded group of islands is home to countless amazing beaches that are particularly postcard-worthy.
This part of the province is brimming with marine flora and fauna, making it a favorite for divers. Island hoppers often visit Lahos, Minalahos Island, Cagbalinad Island and Matukad Island, but Caramoan also has underground streams, hidden lagoons, caves and waterfalls to explore.
Tired of sunbathing on the beach? Trek to the summit of Mount Caglago for a breathtaking view of the surrounding islands and a nearly 10,000-acre limestone forest. Hungry? Savor Filipino food at Wowoys Seafood Island, try regional pork dish Bicol Express at Caramoan Bed and Dine and indulge in fresh flame-grilled fish at Caramo-tan Grill and Restobar.
Anguib Beach, Palaui Island
This hidden island gem lies around 15 hours away from Manila, which includes an hour-long ride on a small boat in the open sea, a trip that’s only for the strong-willed. But the experience of Anguib Beach is well worth the trip.
The turquoise sea, scenic beach, verdant tree line and blue sky are the definition of picture-perfect. Picnic tables and native cabanas under lush pine trees provide plenty of spots for you to soak it all in.
This stretch is ideal for those who are looking to disconnect (there is almost no network signal on the island, and power is only available after sundown until midnight), relax and reflect. There are no accommodations or restaurants on the island, so camping is probably your best overnight option. Make sure you pack necessities, like toiletries, a first aid kit and snacks.