While Paris has the Eiffel Tower, London’s got the Big Ben and New York has the Empire State, the Philippines’ pride is its natural beauty away from the cities. In a global report, the Philippines ranks among the world’s best places to visit because of its splendid, natural attraction: the beaches. This is unsurprising to anyone who has visited any of these majestic beaches in the Philippines, spread across the country’s 7,107 islands. Powdery soft sand, gentle sea breeze, rich aquatic wonders, year-round sunshine, friendly smiles—all this and more make the Philippines a must-visit. So when are you traveling?
White Island, Camiguin
The White Island of Camiguin does not usually land in popular lists of the best Philippine beaches. Such a shame, for it is a scenic getaway that deserves attention. The White Island is a desolate sandbar a few minutes away by boat from the main island of Camiguin. Upon arrival, you will notice that no tree inhabits its vast expanse; what you have as backdrop is the lush green island of Camiguin itself. The combination of seascape and lush mountainous vista makes this beach destination a breathtaking place. The sleepy town attracts travelers all year long, but energy bursts during the Lanzones Festival in celebration of the unique, local fruit famous for its succulent sweetness with a sour kick.
El Nido, Palawan
To say El Nido is a paradise is an understatement: there are not enough words, no sufficient image, to describe how beautiful the place is. Part of the environmentally gifted main island of Palawan, El Nido perpetually attracts an international set of travel connoisseurs including Hollywood celebrities. Its popularity is matched by its undeniable luxury. But while El Nido hosts some of the most expensive and exclusive beach resorts in the world, travelers with a penchant for rustic budget hotels have options as well.
The beaches of El Nido are nestled between bay views and towering rock formations that appear to be unravaged by time. The contrasting features of its beaches create the perfect setting for wanderers. Its diverse marine life also makes the place an ideal stomping ground for biologists, social scientists, and local life. Don’t miss the sunset: the sea against the dramatic sky will leave you breathless.
Mactan is sometimes referred to as Maktan, yet this distinction does not affect what travelers commonly experience when they visit — amazement for the place and its people. An island part of the thriving city province of Cebu, Mactan’s natural attractions include marvelous beaches, underwater adventure, and affectionate smiles of its people.Travelers to Mactan won’t fail to notice the warmth of its people. Although the Philippines is globally rated as one of the happiest countries in the world, there’s something extraordinary in the smiles you will encounter here. The French have an apt phrase for such enigmatic quality: Je ne sais quoi (I don’t know what). The world-class beaches of Mactan and the universal happiness of its people make this destination truly memorable.
Puka Beach, Boracay
For many travelers, a voyage to the Philippines is not complete without experiencing the white beaches of Boracay, which is arguably the most popular beach destination in the Philippines. Countless travelers continue to rate it as the top spot for a relaxing vacation. Traditionally, Boracay is divided into three inter-connected stations filled with beach resorts and interesting establishments. A Boracay beach resort in the first and second stations, such as Discovery Shores boracay, is considered a hip area because the location is embellished with upbeat party scenes.
More secluded, tranquil locations have deservedly received more visits in recent years. One such place is Puka Beach, an 800-meter stretch of white sand dotted with puka shells located at the northern tip of the island. The place is a great option for travelers looking for best, alternative locations to the bustling parts of Boracay. Soft, gentle waves interact with the sand, creating a laid back atmosphere with relaxing acoustics. Shells in Puka Beach abound, and they make for great ornaments such as necklaces, bracelets, and house trinkets. These chic, tasteful handicrafts are conveniently sold in shops in the area.
Activities are endless in Boracay. Kayaking, island hopping, parasailing, a relaxing moment on the beach—all these are within reach. It’s great that hotels in Boracay are offering more options for travelers seeking a calmer island vibe.
Ah, the beaches of Panglao Island. The long, stunning stretch of Panglao is an extension of Bohol in Central Visayas. Both Panglao and Bohol are a traveler’s nirvana, and for good reasons. Both islands have topnotch white beaches and diving centers, centuries-old churches, diverse wild life, verdant rivers, and a world-class children’s choir. From wild encounters with tarsiers and dolphins to inspiring views of the the Chocolate Hills — a UNESCO World Heritage site — the whole destination seems to have it all. Another must-see in Panglao is its close neighbor, Balicasag Island, which is famous for diving and snorkeling activities. More temperate travelers can opt to lounge by the beaches of Panglao. Gastronomic pursuits are also recommended; the island offers a multitude of delicious and healthy eats. There are high-end beach resorts should you wish to splurge, but travelers can easily adjust to budget hotels without missing any of Panglao’s delicate charm.
Coron, like El Nido, is located in Palawan. But don’t make the mistake of comparing the two as some sort of “rivals.” They are emphatically not. Any traveler who has visited Coron and El Nido knows that it is unwise to prefer one over the other: the only proper choice is to prefer both. Apart from the pristine beaches of Coron, the place has loads of other treats. Water-enthusiasts would be delighted to know that Coron has both sea and fresh water as comely attractions. Hopping from one beach to the next is highly recommended, just as hopping from one lake to the next is. The seven enchanting lakes of Coron — of which the two most famous are Lake Barracuda and Lake Kayangan — are among the clearest and cleanest in the world. Rocky cliffs of marble and limestone dot the landscape, and climbing them is fun yet challenging. Coron is called by some a “jewel” among the islands of Palawan. No doubt are they right: Coron leaves an indelible imprint on adventure-seekers lucky enough to sample even just its pure waters.
Siquijor is an island province that lies southwest of Bohol. If there is a word often used by travelers in describing the island, the word frequently uttered is “mystical.” Magic and sorcery shroud the island with spell-binding mystery. Love potions are sought by travelers from local apothecarists and self-labeled occultists. (Judging by the mesmerizing pull of Siquijor among travelers, one can bet the potions are working!). Once the enchanting dust settles, however, what comes clearly to view are the legendary beaches of Siquijor. Already at the port, you will be greeted by the clear waters of the island. And the local people are generous with their warmth and hospitality. Salagdoong Beach, famous for its cliff diving site, is without a doubt an enticing destination. Cliff diving sites, you might think, are quite common enough. But Salagdoong is a cut above the rest. The picturesque jumping point is not only thrilling but also enthralling. Siquijor and its royal blue waters — enriched by shades of cyan, turquoise, and cerulean — are truly, in a word, mystical.
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Proudly facing the West Philippine Sea, Pagudpud’s beaches are nothing less than amazing. Coconut trees line the sundry landscape of its fine beaches. Pagudpud is a coastal town, and it requires around 9 hours of land travel from the Philippines’ capital, Manila. But the adage “All good things come to those who wait” is true for travelers who endure the long journey to Pagudpud. Perhaps after waking up from a relaxing nap on Pagudpud’s beaches, why not consider kitesurfing? Pagudpud is among the top kitesurfing destinations in the world. To the uninitiated, kitesurfing is akin to wakeboarding; but what pulls the former is not an electric cable but the wind of the open seas. Drifters who journey to Pagudpud’s beaches appreciate that it’s not yet as crowded as one might expect. So if you’re dreaming of a solitary travel, head on out to Pagudpud. Now.
The Philippines and its remarkable beaches are inviting to travelers in search of familiar and less familiar destinations. What literary great Kate Chopin says,“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace”could readily capture the journey to these beaches. So off you go, traveler, these slices of heaven await you.