15 Philippine Top Beach Destinations To Add To Your Bucket List 2019
Want a meaningful and exciting 2019? You may want to spend and explore some worthy days in one or more of the Philippines’ most exhilarating islands or beaches, or both? And you can certainly do both as almost all islands in the country have beautiful and mind-blowing beaches where most remained untouched until this very day.
To give you an idea of what lies ahead on the Philippines’ most admired beaches and islands, I have prepared here a list of 15 of the country’s finest island and beach destinations which you can add from your bucket list of what to visit in 2019.
You can definitely reward yourself of a DIY (do-it-yourself) tour of the best islands and beaches in the Philippines or log on to IslandTravelXP.com for a group tour if you want more convenience and safer travel along with your friends or families.
Here are some of the Philippines’ best island and beach destinations you could add to your bucket list in 2019.
15. Bantayan Island, Cebu
Bantayan Island, Cebu
If you want to explore the northern tip of Cebu, you will certainly end up in Bantayan Island, a place known for its charming sunset, centuries-old churches, fine white sand beaches, and warm and friendly locals. There are three barangays (village) comprising this lovely island, namely; Sta. Fe, Madridejos, and Bantayan. Sta. Fe offers a wide and long stretch of fine white sand beach where there is no overcrowding.
You will be thrilled of the large saltwater lagoon in Kota Beach (or Camp Sawi), the blue skies in the Anika Island Resort, and the laid-back Budyong Beach Resort. The island has several high-end and budget resorts that’s why accommodation is not a problem. This island’s shallow but crystal clear water is a perfect swimming spot for kids and non-swimmers. The beaches are also a great place to camp and snorkel, among other water activities.
Don’t worry about how to get to Bantayan Island, this wonderful place has its own airfield connecting it from the Mactan- Cebu International Airport (only Air Juan has chartered and scheduled flights on this route). There are other routes if you want to travel by land from Cebu City or if you are coming from Masbate or Leyte. Island TravelXP Tours has a lot of options for a budget-friendly tour.
14. Paliton Beach, Siquijor
Paliton Beach, Siquijor – Photo by: jheanniiee
The undisturbed environment and the remoteness of Paliton Beach in Siquijor Island in the Philippines’ Central Visayas region are what makes this splendid white sand beach unique from other beaches in the country. Although it has a short stretch of pure white sand beach (only 150 meters), you can admire its elegant beauty and gorgeous appeal.
The Paliton Beach is a terrific place to camp, dive, snorkel, swim, and take pictures of the surrounding awe-inspiring natural landscapes and seascapes. The island is surrounded by the Bohol Sea where its pristine waters and white sand beach are an amazing contrast of nature while the surrounding area remains unspoiled and relatively clean. Your kids will surely appreciate this beautiful island and may separate them from their electronic devices for a while.
13. Malamawi Island, Basilan
Malamawi Island, Basilan – Photo by: boarding_gate101
Ever heard of Malamawi Island in far-flung Basilan province in southwestern Mindanao? Well, this island is considered the “Crown Jewel of Basilan” and I found it not hard to believe. I also found some of the warmest people down south lives in this part of Mindanao. The Malamawi Island is awesomely breathtaking, with all of its pristine and fine white sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters.
The island is just 500 meters away from Isabela City (former capital of the province) on the main island of Basilan. The beach has signs of developments where there are open cottages and inns for rent with minimal prices. The beaches are not overcrowded and seemingly cleaner with available bathrooms.
You can do a lot when you are on this magnificent island. The island’s White Beach is a paradise in itself. It’s like an endless beach of white and powdery sand with beautiful coral reefs, terrific schools of colorful fishes, and a lot of delicious Filipino delicacies and tropical fruits. What a heaven of an experience when we visited the island sometime April of last year! You should really include this island on your next trip!
12. Britania Group of Islands, Surigao del Sur
Britania Group of Islands, Surigao del Sur – Photo by: eyhphabet
The Britania Group of Islands is another top priority on my list of beaches and islands I would visit in 2018. This cluster of islands in northeastern Mindanao can be found in Brgy. Britania, San Agustin town, in the province of Surigao del Sur. Did you know that this group of islands is made up of more than 24 islands and islets spread in the clear blue waters of Lianga Bay? You will be surprised that most of these islands and islets are uninhabited and basically unblemished though they are being visited by more tourists every day.
You can do island hopping, exploration, swimming, take photograph, and other basic activities. Most islands have no beaches but they offer awesome sandbars, like the Naked Island, which is relatively a white sandbar with majestic rocks and no vegetation. The Hagonoy Island has some coconut trees for shade and some vegetation with a spectacular white sand beach. Quite interesting, really!
The other islands worth visiting are the Hiyor-hiyoran, Boslon, and the Haycock islands. Most accommodations can be had in mainland San Agustin where hotels and inns can be found and are located near the beaches facing the islands.
11. Calaguas Islands Camarines Norte & Caramoan Island Camarines Sur
Calaguas Island Bicol – Photo by: It’s more fun in Bicol
One of the remotest island and beach destinations in the Philippines are the Calaguas Islands. These islands could be found about 20km north of mainland Vinzons town in Camarines Norte, a province in southern Luzon and part of the country’s Bicol region. Some writers/backpackers describe this group of islands as a world-class destination comparable to Boracay and even Palawan. I think they are right. The islands are surrounded by the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.
You will be certainly captivated by the island’s famous long beach called Mahabang Buhangin, one of the longest and unspoiled beach shores in the country. The beaches have powdery white sands which remain primarily underdeveloped (although some innovations had been made since the boom of tourism a few years ago).
Moreover, the Caramoan Island in Camarines Sur, also a province of the Bicol region, has some of the rarest and distinct landscapes and water features different from any other Philippine setting. You can do island hopping, diving, snorkeling, cave exploration, kayaking, and other water adventures on this island with almost perfect powdery white sand beaches.
10. Carabao Island & Sibuyan Island in Romblon
Carabao Island Romblon – Photo by: iamjanmikel
The Carabao (also known as the town of San Jose or Hambil Island to others) and Sibuyan Islands are two island towns in the province of Romblon that offer unlimited excitement and pristine white sand beaches comparable to Boracay (only that these islands are not overcrowded compared to Boracay). And speaking of Boracay, the Carabao Island is fortunately just a 20-minute boat ride north of Boracay Island (separated by Hambil Channel). Aside from its turquoise blue waters, Carabao Island is also home to several beach resorts but still remains underdeveloped, a mere contrast from the Boracay of today.
However, much of the islands’ beauty and serenity are still intact and the waters remain as clear and gentle as it was years ago. On the other hand, the Sibuyan Island is about 50km northeast of the Carabao Island and is separated by the Sibuyan Sea. The island is situated in the Pacific Ocean. This island town in Romblon is delightfully filled with several unspoiled dive sites, seldom explored caves, heavy concentration of wildlife and marine life, and immaculate fine white sand beaches.
The people in these islands are warm and friendly, perhaps some of the friendliest in the world and not only in the whole Philippines. You can also trek a local mountain (called Mt. Guiting-Guiting) when you have time. A lot of mountaineers are fascinated with this mountain as I have seen them in troves during my 3-day stay at the island.
9. Apo Island and Apo Reef Natural Park, Occidental Mindoro
Apo Island and Apo Reef Natural Park – Photo by: Glen Imperial
If you are fond of exploring natural reefs, you might consider the Apo Reef Natural Park in the province of Mindoro Occidental into your 2018 bucket list of places to visit. This reef is known as the second largest contiguous atoll-like reef in the world, where the Great Barrier Reef of Australia leads. At 34 square kilometers, the Apo Reef Natural Park offers a great pleasure of seeing one of the most gigantic and beautiful reefs on the planet.
Not only that, you can expect some of the planet’s most impressive and distinct coralline rock formation and limestone. The natural park is comprised of 3 islands (the Apo Island, Apo Menor or Binangaan Island, and the Cayos del Bajo Island) where each island has its own unique landscapes and seascapes. The park is a marine sanctuary where you can find diverse marine life, colorful corals, and breathtaking mangrove forest on dry land.
The Apo Island is the largest island of the three with 22-hectare of land area. Park rangers are stationed here who patrol the area and they are equipped with basic amenities to aid visiting divers. You will surely enjoy the shallow lagoon and the white sand beach on this island. Check out one of the country’s most reliable tour organizers IslandTravelXP.com to make sure you don’t forget to include this itinerary on your next trip.
8. Burias Group of Islands, Masbate
Burias Group of Islands, Masbate – Kian Ang
If you are coming anywhere from the island of Luzon (especially from Metro Manila), the Burias Group of Islands in the province of Masbate can be easily reached by traveling inland (by bus or private vehicle) from Manila to Pasacao, Camarines Sur, the typical jump-off point to the island. From here, there are boats that depart from the Pasacao Port three times a day destined to San Pascual, one of the towns in the Burias Island.
Burias Island is not your typical island getaway. This group of islands will mesmerize you, especially the rustic town of San Pascual (the other town is Claveria) where some of the best dive sites could be found. The fine sand beaches are also one of the finest in the world! You can do a lot of things when you are on this island, which may include swimming, diving, island hopping, camping, snorkeling, and so much more water adventures.
7. Islas de Gigantes, Carles, Iloilo
Gigantes Island Bucketlist 2018
The Islas de Gigantes, or more popularly known as Gigantes Islands, is a group of about 12 islands and islets off the coast of Carles, Iloilo. You will love these breathtaking islands where the Gigantes Norte (North Gigantes) is a towering 213 meters (699 feet) in height while the Gigantes South (South Gigantes) is 232 meters (761 feet), the two highest and biggest among the twelve islands.
The other islands are Cabugao Gamay (the most photographed island), Bantigue, Cabugay Daku, Balbagon, Bulubadiang, Gakitgakit, Antonia, Gigantona, Ojatras, and Gigantillo. You will surely be impressed with the islands’ gigantic sceneries, beautiful sandbars, clear waters, saltwater lagoon, immaculate white sand beaches, caves and caverns (especially the Pawikan Cave), rich marine life, and other spectacular features that left us astounded the first time we saw those impressive landscapes and seascape wonders.
I am also amazed at the site’s overwhelming rock formations that could rival those in Palawan and the marvelous long stretch of white sand beaches. Moreover, the sandbar of Bantigue is truly amazing!
Try not to forget to include the Islas de Gigantes on your next bucket list for this year. You will surely miss half of your life if you fail to visit these incredible nature’s wonders! Check this one out, wanderlust!
6. El Nido, Palawan
El Nido Palawan Bucketlist 2018
You can certainly afford El Nido in Palawan even on a tight budget. I’ve done that so many times and I keep coming back to El Nido. I just can’t resist the temptation of going back to the spectacle of nature whenever I have time. But in some instances, I do create more time for my travels.
El Nido is truly fascinating, where else in the world can you find small and big lagoons surrounded by towering rock formations and a group of islands with steep kraft cliffs? While the waters are sublime and eternally crystal clear, the site is like an enchanted kingdom of adoring water features. The Nacpan beach in El Nido has more than 4-km stretch of fine white sand of shoreline, while the Calitang beach is equally majestic where its coral reefs are the finest in the world, really a rare find!
So ready those gears of yours that are probably gathering dust and old cobwebs covered with soot from your locker and up you go in El Nido!You won’t definitely regret this trip!
5. Coron Island, Palawan
Kayangan Lake Coron, Palawan
Perhaps one of the islands with remarkable beaches and exquisite geological features is Coron Island in Palawan. As part of the Calamian Group of Islands (also known as Calamianes) in the province of Palawan, Coron Island simply one of the best places to die for. I’ve been on this island countless times and I just couldn’t resist its charm and glamour. Coron is probably one of those islands with splendid waves (it’s located overlooking the Sulu Sea to the south) and unique ecological features where several shipwrecks from WWII had been found through the years. And many tourists are diving like crazy to admire what remains of the wrecks. Some shipwrecks could be found 60 to 80 feet (18-24 meters) from the surface.
The island is surrounded with other bigger islands (Culion and Busuanga Islands, among others), smaller ones (Calauit, Culion, Banana, Pass, Malcapuya, and Calumbayan islands), and several islets. You can find in Coron one of the jewels of Palawan, such as the Kayangan Lake, one of the cleanest bodies of water on earth; the splendid rock formation with unique features surrounding the island; and other dive and snorkeling sites. Island hopping is truly fun here!
There is certainly plenty to do in Coron, with a minimal budget which translates to a priceless adventure you can’t experience in other parts of the world.
4. Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte
Sugba Lagoon Siargao – Photo by: justonewayticket
Have you seen the movie “Siargao” (released in the Philippines in December 2017 as an official entry to the 43rd MMFF) which stars Erich Gonzales and Jericho Rosales? If you do, you might as well take a glimpse (in person) of this beautiful tear-drop shaped island lying 800km southeast of Manila and about 40km east of Surigao City, in the province of Surigao del Norte. This island paradise is featured in the said film as its major location.
Additionally, if you haven’t seen the movie or you haven’t been to the island, the movie will give you some previews of how stunning this place is. It is also most likely that you will add this gorgeous island to your list of must-visit places. Siargao is a unique destination, where you can find solitude and fortitude while you are amazed of the island’s ideal waves for surfing (currently, the island is the country’s surfing capital and one of the best places to surf in Asia).
Furthermore, the Sohoton Cave in Gen. Luna town is really a breathless find while there are several lagoons lying in between rocky hills and are waiting to be discovered. Aside from long stretch of white sand beaches and various surfing spots (the locals really know where the best spot to surf is), there is a Tattoo Bar (also called Jungle Disco) lying hidden between palm trees and is open every Friday where locals (one of the warmest peoples in Mindanao) and tourists have a night full of music and fun sipping local wine.
Some other attractions in Siargao Island include the Guyam Island, Jacking Horse and Tuesday Islands, Naked Island, and Daku Island.
3. Boracay Island, Aklan
Photo by: Boracay Island FB page
The Boracay Island is undoubtedly one of the best island destinations in the Philippines and even around the globe. The Condé Nast magazine had named Boracay as the top island destination in the world outside of the US in 2017 (the resort island also topped the list in 2014 and 2016). No wonder that this tiny island destination never seized to amaze travelers around the world. And why not? The island has become the top destination for total relaxation, nightlife, and mesmerizing tranquility, aside from its pristine and fine white sand beaches and turquoise water.
Boracay is also well-known as the beach capital of the Philippines and for its various attractions spread throughout the small island. Some of the best places to explore are the Boracay Butterfly Garden and Farm, the Gateway Arc, the KAR-TIR Seashell Museum, numerous caves, Willy’s Rock, Mount Luho, the Boracay Rock, and the Beaches and Naked Rock, among others.
2. Panampangan Island in Tawi-Tawi
Panampangan Island in Tawi-Tawi – Photo by: lakwatshelah
If you are fun of doing walking in a white sand beach, you will be stunned to find Panampangan Island in Tawi-Tawi province one of the longest sandbars in the Philippines. With more than 3km stretch of sandbar, the Panampangan Island is also made up of immaculately fine white sand dotted with numerous coconut trees. What a delightful sight, really!
This island is Tawi-Tawi’s prime tourist destination which fortunately is still underdeveloped and remains untouched until now. Its shallow waters are ideal for snorkeling and swimming with various marine life. The Panampangan is one of two islands situated on a reef where it is part of its dazzling shallow waters. The island covers 12 hectares of pure and pristine white sand and can be easily reached from a 45-minute speedboat ride from nearby Bongao town.
The island has picnic huts and other basic amenities and inhabited by only a handful of Badjao families. But don’t forget to bring your own food and beverages as there is no resort available on site.
1. Balabac Island, Palawan
BALABAC ISLAND PALAWAN – Photo by: sandywadingan
This island paradise is truly worth as the top destination on your bucket list. And why not? The municipality of Balabac Island in Palawan is located in the southwestern-most part of the province and less than 50km away from Malaysia’s Pulao Banggi Island (Kudat Division of Borneo Island) separated by the Sulu Sea. We are not surprised though that some inhabitants speak Malay.
The town of Balabac is consists of more than 30 islands and islets around the mainland and some of the remotest islands in the Philippines. Island hopping, deep diving, scuba diving, snorkeling, and forest adventure are definitely awesome and mind-boggling. The islands offer a tremendous amount of fine white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and home to most indigenous plants and animal species (including several marine life).
Some of the marine species you can catch a glimpse with are the dugongs (sea cows), saltwater crocodiles, sea turtles, and sawfish, among others. There are also indigenous plants and exotic animal species that you can see in the forest of Balabac (such as the endangered Pilandok or Philippine mouse-deer, the world’s smallest deer). If you have more time for an adventure of a lifetime, visiting the Balabac Island in Palawan is really a must!