Coconut trees, hammocks by the sea, and the warm summer breeze that gently escorts the ocean waves complete the picture of the perfect Philippine get-away. Everywhere you look, there’s something about the country that can leave you breathless (traffic jams aside). But other than its natural wonders, there’s one thing that keeps the Philippines at the pedestal of every traveler–its people.
Showing the world the beauty of living in simplicity, the Philippines is far from being a grandiose country. You can’t find the most luxurious shopping lanes or the most breathtaking castles here. But what you get in exchange is a close-knit community that thrives on life’s simplest treasures. Pull a stop at any tourist landmark and you’d find warmth in its locals. And if you haven’t pictured yourself eating on banana leaves, a visit to its beaches is the best time to try this eccentric, yet enjoyable tradition.
Can’t wait to bask under the sun and get that golden tan? Let’s explore some of the best beach destinations in the Philippines.
What to Expect When You Travel to the Philippines
Currency: Philippine Peso (₱)
Language: Filipino/Tagalog; English is used as a second language by many of its locals
Transportation: Taxi, bus, LRT/MRT train stations, jeepneys (14-passenger, four-wheeled vehicle), tricycle (three-wheeled motorcycle with a passenger carriage)
Credit Cards and ATMs: You can easily spot ATMs in the Philippines, but it’s practical to carry cash for buying small items. You can also use credit cards in many of its establishments. Just be extra cautious when you’re in crowded spots of the city. Pickpockets are rampant, especially in its train stations, making it wise to choose private over public transport.
Time Zone: GMT+8
Weather: The Philippines is a sun-loving country that experiences tropical climates almost all-year-round. It has five climates: tropical savannah, tropical monsoon, tropical rainforest, oceanic and humid subtropical. Its average yearly temperature is at approximately 26.6 °C, with typhoons falling anywhere between June and November. The humidity levels in cities are usually oppressively high, so don’t pack any winter clothes.
Best Travel Times: December to February is the peak travel time in the Philippines, with temperatures ranging between 24°C to 31°C. The country is especially festive during this season since Christmas and New Year are well-celebrated by Filipinos. The summer season, which falls from April to May, is extra hot and humid, making it a great time to explore the best beach destinations in the Philippines.
How Much Does a Trip to the Philippines Cost?
They say “it’s more fun in the Philippines,” but what they forgot to add to this popular line is that it’s also cheap to travel around its landmarks–well, that’s if, of course, you don’t plan to visit its whooping 7,000+ islands.
Believe it or not, a trip for two for a week in this country would only cost around $800, and that’s not even stretching your budget yet. When you travel to the Philippines, here’s what you can expect as far as travel costing goes:
- Food: The culinary scene in the Philippines is deeply rooted in old traditions that make the country a great hub for a diverse gastronomic experience. You can buy street foods for less than a dollar, and you can easily grab a decent budget meal for only $3 to $5. On average, a typical traveler’s food costing for an entire day is around $12. But if you want something fancy, you can also spot high-end restaurants in major cities. All-you-can-eat buffets can cost up to $10 per person, depending on where you dine in.
- Philippine Hotels: Dorm rental is at around $7 to $10, while private rooms range between $15 to $25. The more comfortable, mid-range hotels in the Philippines cost somewhere between $30 to $50, but if you want to splurge on accommodation, there are luxury hotels that cost about $60 and above. In provinces that feature the best beaches, travelers also have the option to rent nipa huts or shared rooms with hammocks. These accommodation types are a great way to cut your expenses.
Travel Tip: Spending a week is not enough to fully enjoy the best beach destinations in the Philippines. But if you want to maximize your vacation, you can book domestic flights that cost somewhere between $50 to $150, depending on your destination.
Its local airlines also hold seasonal seat sales packed with the most amazing deals, so booking early is a great way to save up on transportation. Considering food and travel expenses, a trip to the Philippines can cost roughly around $35 to $50 a day, minus the plane tickets.
The Best Beach Destinations in the Philippines
✈ You can either fly from Manila to Busuanga airport or book a ferry from Puerto Princesa to Coron. Puerto Princesa, which is home to the world-renowned Underground River, is a famous tourist landmark in the Philippines. You can reach Puerto Princesa by booking a flight from Manila.
More than a cluster of stunning, unspoiled islands, Coron is a sanctuary tucked away from the city life. It’s practically a virgin island isolated from large crowds and huge establishments, making it one of the best beach destinations in the Philippines if you want to be one with nature.
Its town is still quite under-developed, which is frankly one of its charms–at least, for us. But its greatest highlight is its jaw-dropping islands. Diver or not, you’d surely appreciate the shipwrecks that lay on its seabeds. Any day in Coron is the best day to grab your goggles and just explore its underwater gems.
It takes more than a day to tour around its endless islands. But when you book a boat for a day tour, you get to marvel around its most famous landmarks like the Kayangan Lake, which is a popular viewpoint for photography enthusiasts. Named as one of the clearest lakes in Asia, the Kayangan lake offers you scenic hill views of the sea.
Coron’s Twin Lagoon also won’t back down in terms of providing you a peaceful and serene underwater experience. Pro tip: befriend your boat riders and they might even take you to the far-off islands that are A+ in terms of the sand, sun, and beach.
El Nido, Palawan
✈ The cheapest way to get to El Nido is to book a flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa. From there, you can rent a van that will take you to this amazing island. It usually takes a day to reach El Nido via air and land arrangement, but it can help you significantly cut on your travel expenses.
Another option is to book a flight directly to El Nido, which cost roughly $82 for a one-way ticket from Manila. The only airline company that flies to El Nido is Air Swift, and you’d have to book in advance if you’re traveling on-peak.
Probably the more luxurious counterpart of Coron, El Nido is the realization of every traveler’s dream. You won’t find the cheapest Philippine hotels here because most accommodation types are built for luxury. But if you’re all in for the best beach experience, El Nido should be in your bucket list.
From hidden lagoons to picture-perfect islands, El Nido is all about a complete underwater experience. Think of white sand and clear, blue waters, and your mind will surely take you to El Nido. When you step foot on the island, take a boat tour to explore Bacuit Bay, which shelters 45 islands that have been tagged as one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Along with its secret beaches are great wildlife and ridiculously-gorgeous stone formations and sandbanks.
You can also book a kayak to visit the famous Cadlao island. And if you’re done with the sea adventures, why not fly from island to island via Nacpan Beach’s 750-meter zip line? You can also climb your way atop Taraw Cliff, which is the highest viewpoint in El Nido. A vibrant feast of scenic seascapes, El Nido is one tough contender to beat in the beach department because of its relaxed atmosphere.
✈ You can’t fly directly to Boracay, but you can book a flight from Manila to Kalibo or Caticlan. Between the two, flights to Kalibo are usually cheaper because it is farther from Boracay. Taking this route, you’d have to rent a van and take a 1-hour ride to Jetty Port, where you need to book a 10-20 minute boat ride to Boracay.
If you booked a flight to Caticlan, on the other hand, you also need to make boat arrangements that will take you to Boracay, but it only takes 3-5 minutes to arrive at Jetty Port via a tricycle.
A food hub, an energetic night scene, and a stunning 7-kilometer shoreline make Boracay one of the best beach destinations in the Philippines. There’s no stopping the fun when you’re in this tourist hub. The beach itself is stunning, to say the least, but what makes it extraordinary is its diverse range of activities.
Closed to tourists back in 2018 for a widespread conservation effort, Boracay is now ready to take your trip to the next level. Its pristine white sand beach is calm and serene, making it idyllic for water activities like kayaking, snorkeling, and parasailing. If you’re looking for something a bit more extreme, you can also sign up for an unforgettable cliff diving experience.
In terms of accommodation, Boracay is divided into three stations: Station 1 is where you can find the most luxurious Philippine hotels. Since a stay here is quite pricier, it is less crowded as compared to other stations. Station 2, which is the center of all activities, is filled with restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and mid-range hotels. The last station, station 3, is where you’d see the cheapest hostels. The main downside of this area is its beach, which falls on the steeper side of the road.
The perfect spot for honeymooners, backpackers, or just any type of traveler, Boracay is a place where solace meets fun and adventure. Cliff dive in the morning, bask under the sun in the afternoon, and watch fire dancers as you drink tequila before you hit the bed–Boracay can give you all these and more.
Caramoan, Camarines Sur
✈ You can reach Caramoan in two ways: 1) land arrangement or 2) air and land arrangements. By land, the travel time from Manila to Caramoan usually goes over 12 hours. By air, you can book a 2-hour flight to either Naga or Virac. Once you arrive at your booked destination, you’d have to travel by land for around 2 hours to reach a boat port that will take you to this secluded island. Boat rides can take 1.30 to 2 hours.
The road to paradise isn’t always easy, and that’s probably one thing you should know before you plan a trip to Caramoan Island. A beach destination that’s off the beaten track, Caramoan feels more like an island in Tom Hank’s Cast Away than a touristy beach hub.
You won’t find a lot of luxurious Philippines hotels and amenities here since it’s a remote area. In fact, the long travel time to the island is a huge discouragement to many tourists. But if you’re an adventurous soul that’s in search of a raw and authentic beach experience, Caramoan is one for the books.
Caramoan rings a bell to Survivor fans since two of its seasons were shot here. But unlike the isolated image that the island portrays in the series, Caramoan is home to some 47,000+ locals. So if getting essentials is your main concern, you can easily swing by Caramoan’s supermarket to buy food and souvenirs.
Its greatest highlight: its unspoiled islands that are home to abundant wildlife. Swim from island to island and dive from the tall cliffs of Matukad–the sky’s the limit when you’re in Caramoan. A quiet paradise that brings the clearest lakes and beaches at the center stage, Caramoan fuses magic and adventure in one traveling escapade.
Siargao, Surigao del Norte
✈ The fastest way to get to Siargao is to book a flight from Manila to Sayak Airport in Siargao. Currently, only Cebu Pacific flies here. Once you arrive, you have to take a 45-minute van ride to General Luna, which is the main tourist hub on the island.
Tagged as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines,” Siargao is a remote island best known for its rolling waves. Its most prominent surfing spot, popularly called Cloud 9, is an attraction that draws local and international surfers, especially during the last quarter of the year. During this season, the waves are incredibly huge, making Siargao a host to countless surfing competitions. But even in other months of the year, you’d still be amazed by the world-class waves that hit the island’s shore.
While its surfing scene made Siargao one of the best beach destinations in the Philippines, there are a lot of factors that separate this island from other beaches. For one, it is home to picturesque islets and lagoons that are perfect for underwater activities. One landmark you shouldn’t miss out on is Sugba Lagoon, which is located in Del Carmen, Siargao. Its turquoise water is surrounded by mangrove trees that serve as your bridge to nature.
This, along with Sohoton Cove, Naked Island, and Guyam Island, can quench your thirst for a relaxing week-long get-away. The best part: thanks to Siargao’s rising popularity, local restaurants and bars have continued to multiply in its main town, providing you diverse gastronomic experience. Practically a hub for backpackers, Siargao will complete your trip to the Philippines with its natural charms and its flourishing local community.
Balesin Island, Quezon
✈ Balesin Island Club members can fly directly to and from this island via a private chartered plane or a turboprop aircraft.
A trip to the Philippines may be inexpensive, but it doesn’t mean that the country can’t offer luxury. A place that combines scenic seascapes, great architecture, and lavish amenities, Balesin is a private island exclusive to its members and their guests. Call it a haven for the ultra-rich and influential cause it can live up to these claims.
This 500-hectare greenery screams eco-friendliness with its organic farms, water recycling and harvesting systems, and green transportation. The beach is calm and quiet, making it the perfect spot for honeymooners and soon-to-be brides and grooms. Good thing that the island is open for events even for non-members, but you do have to splurge to make reservations.
The sand that goes from pearl white to golden brown is matched by clear, turquoise water that’s home to well-preserved corals and aquatic animals. The resort also gives you access to recreational amenities like mountain biking, boxing, fishing, and tennis, along with other sports-centered activities. So if you don’t mind spending on luxury, you’re most welcome to join the club.
Buenavista Island, Samal
✈ Book a flight from Manila to Davao International Airport. From there, you’d have to ride a van and book a ferry to reach the Buenavista Island.
Joining the bandwagon of private resorts is Buenavista Island, which is located in Samal. But unlike Balesin, you don’t need to sign up for a membership to enjoy this island’s exclusivity. While Buenavista is privately-owned, it is open to the public. You just have to book island and hotel arrangements in advance to secure a slot.
Flaunting powder-like sand and sparkling blue water, the Buenavista Island offers you a serene get-away. Its well-preserved, exotic coral reefs are a major attraction to divers. And if you are no diver, you can find joy in its crystalline water and its lush greeneries. Go kayaking, snorkeling, or bask under the sun–you can do everything you want on this island (in private).
The group packages for Buenavista Island is quite cheap at around $740 – $800 per 10 persons. This fee covers transfers from the airport, food, and underwater activities that you can enjoy the whole day. A real steal if you’re traveling in groups, the Buenavista Island is a great jump-off point if you want to travel around Davao and its neighboring cities.
Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley
✈ To reach Palaui Island, you can either take a 16-hour bus ride from Manila to Palaui. Alternatively, you can book a flight to Tuguegarao and take a 3-hour bus ride to Palaui.
Boasting dramatic ruins and volcanic stone formations, Palaui Island once bagged the 10th place of CNN’s World’s 100 Best Beaches. It was named as a National Marine Reserve back in 1994, and it was featured in two seasons of Survivor.
While these achievements put Palaui Island on the map of many travelers, its natural seascape and lush farmlands make it a standout. Once you set foot on this 2,400-hectare island, you’ll be welcomed by pristine coastlines that invite you to a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. So if you’re heading up north, a trip to the Philippines won’t be complete without a visit to Palaui.
A remote island inhabited by Aetas, Palaui is far from being a modernized city. A visit to its shores can take you back to the time when life was simple. Aside from engaging in water activities, you can also hike your way to Punta Verde Beach via the Lagunzad Trail. Here, you can see rich forestry and mangroves that are well-preserved by its locals. For a more extreme hiking experience, you can take the Leonardo Trail, which flaunts mountainous pathways.
Tubod Beach, Siquijor
✈ You can fly from Manila to Dumaguete, which is the closest airport to Siquijor. From there, you can ride a motorcycle that will take you to the ferry port. It usually takes a 1-hour boat ride to get to Siquijor.
Clothed with mystery and folklore, Siquijor remains to be a secluded area because of tell-tales about witchcraft. But if you’re not a fan of other-worldly stories, Siquijor is a great place to visit because of its marvelous beaches.
One of the most-visited beaches in the province is Tubod Beach, which is mostly a part of Coco Grove Resort. From powdery white sand to clear water, Tubod Beach is the perfect place to unwind and let go of the city’s bustling noise. Here, you can find unspoiled coral reefs and vivid marine life. Snorkel in the afternoon and enjoy a pina colada as you watch the sunset–you can do all that and more in this breathtaking beach.
If you’re done enjoying the sight of dancing coconut trees, you can head out to Salagdoong Beach. Also a popular landmark in Siquijor, Salagdoong’s sand isn’t as powdery as Tubod’s. Its trade-off: extreme water activities such as cliff diving and waterslide. Hitting the sweet spot between a peaceful and adventurous travel experience, Siquijor’s magic doesn’t lie in sorcery. It lies in its unspoiled natural wonders.
Panglao Island, Bohol
✈ You can book a flight from Manila to Panglao International Airport. Once you’re in Panglao, it only takes a short tricycle ride for you to reach its major tourist attractions.
From snorkeling to cliff diving, Panglao Island gets you access to the most extreme water activities. Sustained by beach clean-up projects, Panglao is home to the most amazing beaches, caves, and greeneries. It is one of the most popular diving spots in the country because of its colorful display of marine life and lush coral gardens.
The view of the beach is just amazing, especially when the water mirrors the sunset. And if you’re lucky enough, you may even spot some dolphins and sea turtles as you swim deep into its waters. To be honest, its white sand is just a bonus because its beach alone does a great job of pulling beach lovers to its shores. Just imagine laying on a hammock as you watch the sunset while the trees continue to sway in rhythmic harmony. Isn’t that the definition of a perfect island getaway?
As if the beach is not enough, Bohol is also known for world-class tourist landmarks like the Chocolate Hills and the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary. So if you’ve got time to spare, head out to these tourist spots to experience the other gems that Bohol has to offer. These attractions are around 50+ kilometers away from Panglao Island, but they’re definitely worth the extra travel time.
Our Major Take-Aways
A trip to the Philippines opens you to different kinds of adventures. But just like traveling to any other country, you can’t explore all of its islands in one go. When planning your trip, choose the landmarks that best reflect your needs as a traveler so you can efficiently filter your options. Traveling is always subjective, so only you can define the factors that set one travel destination apart from others.