Summer is around the corner! Is there a better way to enjoy the season than frolicking in a beautiful beach? Yes, and it is called island hopping—a must-do activity during these sunny months. You won’t just visit beaches but also secret lagoons, coves, inlets, marine sanctuaries, and more! We gathered 25 of our best island hopping sojourns, and we highly encourage you to visit these paradises.
For our foreign readers who don’t know what this adventure is, island hopping refers to a recreational activity of cruising from one island to another. It traces its activity back to World War 2 when Allied forces would land their landing crafts on a Pacific island, wrestle the island from the Japanese occupants, then go to the next island. This maneuver was once called “island hopping.”
Note: The adventures are divided into clusters (groups of islands), single islands (one-island destinations), and coastline cruises (destinations that are along the mainland’s coast). These recommendations are from our own experiences; we did not include island hopping adventures that we haven’t tried yet.
We also provided a link to the specific blog post of each destination. For itineraries, budgets, contact details, and other important information of an island hopping destination that interests you, please click on that link.
Hundred Islands National Park, Pangasinan
Lingayen Gulf in Pangasinan is home to one of the most popular and historically important island clusters in the Philippines. The Hundred Islands National Park is filled with beautiful beaches, forest-covered islets, and towering rock faces. Some of the islands are developed into resorts, but if you want real peace and quiet, don’t worry. There are more than a hundred islands to choose from in the park.
Islas de Gigantes, Iloilo
Cerulean seas, blue skies, swaying palms, and sandy beaches await those who long for serenity and relaxation. Visit Islas de Gigantes, the tropical treasure of the Iloilo province. Explore rich coral fields, climb on top of rocky hills, and swim in a secret lagoon surrounded by towering cliffs. Don’t forget to have a feast of freshly boiled oysters and clams.
Islands Around Panglao, Bohol
Snorkeling around a shallow but beautiful reef? Basking under the summer sun on a lovely sandbar? Saying hello to clownfish, angelfish, and other denizens of the sea? Frolicking in a white-sand beach? You don’t need to travel far to do all these. Simply rent an outrigger boat and visit the sandbars, islets, and outcroppings that surround the island of Panglao in Bohol, right smack at the center of the country!
Islands Around Siargao, Siargao
Siargao is more than just an internationally known surfer’s destination. There are lovely pockets of paradise that are within reach from the coast of Siargao. These Edens come in the form of an isolated sandbar made of talcum-fine white sand, a secluded island with a rustic community, a lonesome islet with a shady grove, and a rocky shoreline made of secret tide pools.
Bacuit Bay, El Nido, Palawan
One of the most famous destinations in the country, El Nido in Palawan is truly an island-hopper’s heaven. Known for its rich ecosystems, blue waters, extraordinary natural beauty, and stunning geological formations, it holds the title as the Best Beach and Island Destination in the Philippines. Choose from among four different tours—Tours A, B, C, and D. Each tours brings you to five different islands—five unique destinations, five exciting adventures—around the turquoise waters of Bacuit Bay. Or to make the best out of El Nido, stay for a week and take all tours!
Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
These tropical jewels of Puerto Princesa, Palawan pepper the coast just a few miles off the capital city. Supplement your summer dose of Vitamin Sea with beautiful sandbars, hidden reefs, and sun-kissed islands around Honda Bay. Cap your day with a visit to Pristine Beach on the mainland, and watch small crabs scurry around the mudflats that are exposed by the receding tide.
Britania Group of Islands, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur
Do you want to have your very own isla paraiso, even for just a day? An island without disco music, modern buildings, pollution, electricity, and noise? A place where the songs of seagulls and the gentle crash of waves serenade you? Then head straight to the quiet Britania Group of Islands in San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. Oh, you can have your resort bring you a filling breakfast or lunch in the island of your choice!
Olango Island Group, Hilutungan Channel, Cebu
Any guidebook about Cebu never fails to mention how beautiful our beaches are. Many of these postcard-perfect beach are just a few miles offshore, nestled in the tiny islands of the Olango Island Group that dot the Hilutungan Channel off the coast of Mactan Island. In just 15 to 30 minutes, you are in a tropical paradise facing the ultramodern skyline of Cebu and Mactan. Island hopping around Mactan is a sure way to beat the summer heat!
Nogas Island, Anini-y, Antique
There’s something truly magical as you step on the mysterious Nogas Island in Anini-y, Antique. Feel the enchantment as you walk through a tunnel of gnarled plumeria trees. Smile as families of stray cats come to rub against your legs. Imagine the lighthouse to be an abandoned tower. And of course, enjoy the tranquil seas and clean sands while enjoying a view of the blue mountains of Antique.
Mararison Island, Culasi, Antique
Green, grassy hills. Rocky and sandy beaches. Amazing people. A rustic way of life. Mesmerizing scenery. Fresh air. Angelic children’s voices. They all come together in the paradise of Mararison Island in Culasi, Antique. Take a break from your daily grind, leave your stress for a moment, enjoy Mother Nature, and spend a well-deserved sojourn in this unique paradise.
Malapascua Island, Cebu
Don’t let its small size fool you. Malapascua Island at the northern tip of Cebu is a world-renowned summer playground and a diving destination. If you want sandy beaches, high cliffs, vibrant nightlife, island cruises, and fiery sunsets, then Malapascua is for you! Best of all, if you are a scuba diver, you will get a chance to see graceful thresher sharks and manta rays because the sea surrounding Malapascua is a sanctuary for these reclusive creatures.
Sambawan Island, Biliran
Easily one of the most scenic islands we’ve ever visited! Sambawan Island off the coast of Biliran is a picturesque place of solitude, a cool paradise to escape the summer heat, and an ideal venue where families and friends can congregate. What’s more, the waters that surround the island are rich with bewitching marine landscapes that will delight snorkelers and scuba divers.
Apo Island, Dauin, Negros
Like all things hidden, the real treasure of Apo Island is beneath its waves. Swim with gentle sea turtles. Hover over expansive coral gardens. Come face-to-face with strange marine organisms. Attend a class with massive schools of colorful fish. The hidden beauty of Apo Island, which is a marine sanctuary and protected area, is indescribable. Make it your summer destination!
Kalanggaman Island, Palompon, Leyte
Kalanggaman Island is one of the gods’ favorite islands. It’s not a surprise considering the darling of Palompon has everything—long sand bars, colorful coral reefs, wavy palms, crystal-clear water, and more. Camp under the stars, witness fascinating sunsets, and have fun with friends! Being the most viewed post of all time in this blog, Kalanggaman Island is proven to be easily one of the best summer destinations there is.
White Island, Camiguin
Right off the coast of Mambajao is White Island, the white gem of Camiguin. Completely devoid of trees, rocks, and other structures, this magnificent sandbar offers unobstructed views of the volcanoes of Camiguin. Being surrounded by turquoise waters means that White Island is a summer playground for visitors, friends, and families. Stay a while longer in the afternoon to catch a glimpse of Camiguin’s famed sunsets of fire.
Sumilon Island, Oslob, Cebu
This is an all-in-one adventure island just a mile off the coast of Oslob. Privately owned by Bluewater Resorts, Sumilon Island is filled with activities that will give you an adrenaline high—snorkeling, swimming, hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, and more. Wherever you go, you will be rewarded by stunning views of the sea and mainland Cebu.
Balicasag Island, Bohol, Cebu
With a white sandy beach forming a perimeter over a large coconut grove, Balicasag Island is among Bohol’s most popular island destinations. It has resorts that offer modern conveniences. But that is just the icing of the cake. The real cake is below the island! Yes, this is a diving destination, and the rich marine diversity you will find in the island’s dive sites is beyond compare.
Olango Island, Hilutungan Chanel
Just across the resort island of Mactan is Olango Island. A destination of its own, this is the site of the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the best known bird sanctuaries in the world. A recovering marine sanctuary, the San Vincente Marine Sanctuary, is also located here. Finally, with a mix of paved and unpaved roads, local bikers find the island a pleasure to ride on. You can include Olango Island in your tour around the Hilutungan Channel.
Mactan Island, Cebu
We couldn’t let this pass because this is our home island! Mactan Island is one of the major tourist islands of Cebu, boasting of a diverse set of resorts, tourist spots, and other attractions. As a coral island, Mactan offers some of the best diving, snorkeling, sailing, and water activities in the country. One of the best activities we recommend is renting a boat to circumnavigate Mactan—this will take you half a day—and see varied sights, from lonely cliffs to magnificent skylines.
Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
Like us, you may find secluded and pristine places more in tune with your heart. Rarely visited destinations such as the rocky islets and green lagoons around Nueva Valencia Bay in Guimaras are therefore perfect for you. Secluded beaches, sandbars, caves, mangrove forests, and snorkeling areas are all around the coast; take your pick!
Sohoton Bay, Bucas Grande
Easily one of the most serene and mystical destinations we’ve ever visited, Sohoton Bay and the Dagatan in Bucas Grande are sure to prove to you that magic still exists in this world. Sail on blue-green waters that could only be described as liquid emerald. Swim with gentle jellyfish. Discover a hidden lake. Explore the subterranean wonders of Crystal Cave and Bolitas Cave. As the highlight of your tour, visit the realm of sirens and mermaids in magical Sohoton Cove National Park.
Panagsama Beach and Pescador Island, Moalboal, Cebu
Panagsama Beach, the immediate shores along it, and Pescador Island a mile off the shore are well-known all over the world as classic divers’ and snorkelers’ havens. Witness sea turtles gliding by, frogfishes that hide in colorful reefs, reclusive sharks, and more. But the most awaited spectacle of all is the sardine run, an enormous cloud of fish that move in perfect sync.
Anawangin and Nagsasa Coves, Zambales
Zambales was one of the provinces that was affected during the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the 90s. However, Nature’s process of healing and rebirth gave rise to stunning, out-of-this-world landscapes and seascapes in Anawangin and Nagsasa Coves in the province. Be mesmerized at the golden hills, the dark sand, the pine-like Agoho trees, awesome cliffs, and more. Don’t forget to visit Capones Island where you can watch a lovely seascape from the very top of an old lighthouse.
Hermit’s Cove, Aloguinsan, Cebu
Hermit’s Cove is a hidden cove right at the edge of the sleepy town of Aloguinsan. The sandy cove is as captivating as any gorgeous beach. But what is even better is the massive and untouched coral reef that extends to Bojo River. Corals are even teeming just a few yards from the sandy shore. Don’t just go for the beach; check out what is underneath the water in Hermit’s Cove.
Colase Marine Sanctuary, Samboan, Cebu
Easily the largest marine sanctuary we’ve ever visited, the Colase Marine Sanctuary in Samboan is an abandoned fishing area thanks to the government’s declaration of it as a protected area. The absence of human intrusion for two decades allowed the corals to flourish beautifully. Hire a rowboat and skirt the edge of the sanctuary. You may be lucky because there are reported sightings of turtles, sharks, and whales visiting the area!
The Philippines has more than 7,000 lovely islands. We have the means to go to them. So this summer, let’s pack our bags, slip on our swimwear, and hop from one paradise to another. Tara na!
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