A Starter Guide for the Best Beach Destinations in the Philippines

It’s no secret that the Philippines is one of the best destinations for beach bums and sun worshippers. With more than 7,000 islands to choose from, one won’t run out of choices as these beautiful sandy shores and pristine waters are scattered around this rich archipelago.However, if you are one of those people who haven’t heard about the beauty this country has to offer (Have you been living under a rock?!), then you should know that you are missing so much in your life. So if you are planning on your next beach holiday to the Philippines, here’s a guide on the best beaches to see for first-timers or second-timers alike (multiple-timers are also very much welcome):

Boracay Island, Aklan

Boracay Island, AklanMany things have been said about this island found in the Visayas province–things like paradise, best island in the world, best nightlife, etc. I hate to burst your bubble, but yeah, Boracay is all these, and more. With its long stretch of white sand beaches, one can choose from over 300 resorts and accommodation options and experience the various activities the island has to offer. From great pubs and active nightlife to extreme sports and great diving spots, one trip to Boracay is never enough! It is fast becoming a popular destination for weddings, too! With its powdery white sand beaches, picturesque landscapes and an array of world-class resorts, Boracay is the perfect location for couples in starting their journey to forever. Make sure to put this highly-lauded island at the top of your list when visiting the Philippines!Best Time to Visit:Take advantage of the summer season and explore the island from February to May. Experience a crazy weekend during the “Laboracay”, happening every 1st day of MayGetting there:You may fly to Kalibo (KLO) or Caticlan (MPH) and take a vehicle (van or bus) to Caticlan Jetty Port; then, take a twenty-minute boat ride to the main island.

Panglao Island, Bohol

Panglao Island, BoholBohol is just an hour’s plane ride from the capital, Manila. While famous for its unique attractions such as the River Cruise in Loboc, Chocolate Hills in Carmen, and the tarsiers (considered as the world’s smallest primate), this wonderful gem in the Visayas has a lot of things in store for its visitors, especially the island of Panglao. The powdery white-sand beaches are not the only reason why vacationers flock to Panglao. Activities such as dolphin-watching, island hopping to Balicasag Island and Pamilacan Island, caving and diving can also be enjoyed. But maybe you are the type who prefers to just lounge around and chill. The one and a half kilometer beachfront  of Alona Beach is the perfect location to laze around. All you need to do is relax while sipping a refreshing coconut water and enjoy people watching until the sun goes down. At night, Alona Beach transforms into a thriving after-dark hotspot. You can enjoy a night sampling local seafood delicacies, drinking crafted beers and listening to local folk songs, something Boholanos are known for. If you feel like Boracay is too crowded for you, Panglao Island is your best alternative!Best Time to Visit:Come from July to October when there are less tourists. Bohol celebrates the Sandugo Festival during the whole month of July, which is a commemoration of the blood compact between Spanish Explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna in 1565.Getting there:There are direct flights to Tagbilaran (TAG) from Manila (MNL). Take a tricycle to Dao Terminal where you can ride a Tawala-bound jeepney going to Panglao Island (takes an hour)

El Nido, Palawan

El Nido, PalawanNext on our list is located in Palawan, dubbed by the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler as the best island in the world. Because of its reputation, Palawan is being swarmed by local and foreign tourists all year round. One of the famous destinations in Palawan is El Nido, a six-hour drive from the main city, Puerto Princesa. However, one can say that the long (and sometimes tumultuous, to say the least) ride is definitely worth it once stepping on the main town. It’s like being in a time warp. You will be surrounded by majestic limestones, powdery white sand beaches and clean turquoise waters–just plain beauty all around, it’s mind-blowing! And once your heart has settled, you will feel a peace you have never felt before and you realize, you are finally home. One never leaves El Nido without trying one of the many island hopping activities offered by local tour operators in the area. Since there are so many islands to choose from (and boy there’s a lot!), I recommend getting to the Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Hidden Beach, Matinloc Shrine and Paradise Beach. Swim your heart out to any of these and take lots and lots of selfies!Best time to Visit:While it’s good to come here during off season (July to November) to avoid the crowd of tourists, the weather during peak season (January to June) is at its absolute best.Getting there:There are direct flights from Manila (MNL), Cebu (CEB) and Iloilo (ILO) to Puerto Princesa. From the airport, get a tricycle to take you to the bus terminal. You can hail a van or take a bus going to El Nido.

Coron, Palawan

Coron, PalawanSince I cannot get enough of Palawan, it would be a disgrace if I don’t include Coron in this guide. While it is relatively much easier to get here via Busuanga, Coron has it’s own magic to share to its first time visitors. Firstly, it’s a world class destination for divers for its impeccable marine life. There are World War II shipwrecks that are now home to a variety of fishes and marine creatures. Secondly, kayaking in the Barracuda Lake and Kayangan Lake with the breathtaking karst formations as your backdrop is truly an activity you should never miss. Thirdly, when the cold air of the night is starting to give you a chill, a relaxing dip to the Maquinit Hot Spring will melt all the stresses away. If you are done exploring the waters and fancy some more nature-tripping, you may head to Calauit Island for a lovely safari extravaganza. This island is home to some African animals such as giraffes, zebras and antelopes. It also houses unique species of wildlife such as the Calamian deer, sea eagles, pythons, Palawan bearcats, peacock pheasants and more. If you are in for more adventure, then brave the 718 steps leading to the summit of Mt. Tapyas. Considered as the second highest mountain in Coron, it provides a great panoramic view of the island. It has a huge crucifix as landmark so one will not miss it while frolicking around.Best Time to Visit: If you don’t mind coming in with a swarm of tourists, then March to June is the best time to go.Getting there: Fly from Manila (MNL) to Busuanga (USU). Take a van for a 40-minute ride to the town proper of Coron. So there you have it, folks! May this guide help you discover the beautiful beaches and other wonders the Philippines has to offer. Keep those itchy feet going and moving!