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Boasting more than 36,000 kilometres of coastline and over 7,000 islands, the Philippines should certainly be in the running for your next beach holiday. Perhaps other southeast Asian countries might be better known as beach destinations but the Philippines deserves to be up there on the list of the world’s finest because its coastline is nothing short of ravishing.
Picking the best beaches in the Philippines is not an easy task because beaches are different things to different kinds of traveller. Some visitors will be looking for the most jaw dropping scenery; others will be more interested in what there is going on underwater.
Many people find lying on the sand a challenge (even when it’s one of the world’s most beautiful stretches) and would rather be enjoying some action on the water, and of course there are those whose choice of beach focuses mainly on the available opportunities for a party. Whatever your ideal beach looks like, you will definitely find something that fits in the Philippines, so here’s a rundown of our favourite stretches of coastline to inspire you.
If your idea of paradise is an island clothed in lush greenery, dipping skirts of snow-white sand into azure waters, then Palawan could be for you. El Nido, just to the north of Palawan, is a cluster of islets of rare and staggering beauty which many global publications have ranked among the top ten beaches on the planet.
Steep limestone crags emerge from lagoons painted in such a mesmerising colour scheme – jewel blue waters, charcoal-grey stone, emerald foliage – it’s hard to tear your eyes away. Take a tour of the big lagoon, small lagoon and secret lagoon to see what all the fuss is about. Snorkelling, swimming and kayaking through and around the vine-draped islets to enjoy the colours of the water and discover your own secret coves is the order of the day, and when you gaze out from under your palm tree across this incredible landscape, you might find you never want to leave.
Just off the northwest of Cebu island is Bantayan, known for its laid back atmosphere and tropical beauty. As soon as your toes sink into the gleaming white sand the little stresses of life begin to recede and you can enjoy some downtime just drinking in the natural spectacle all around you. Paradise beach is a secluded spot to head for, while Kota beach is a more lively scene with very calm, shallow water and a sandbar.
Hire a kayak and paddle through the mangroves to get a different perspective of this peaceful haven, looking out for local wildlife as you move around the waterways. Consider a boat trip to nearby Virgin island – another drop of gorgeousness in the turquoise waves – or book a skydive over Bantayan for the most impressive aerial views of some of the best beaches in Cebu.
Siargao is the surfing capital of the Philippines and is known for its year-round breaks and reliable waves. Cloud Nine is the most famous break, attracting experienced surfers with its incredible waves and the world famous surfing cup taking place every September.
If you are not a surfer there are still plenty of wonderful beaches to discover, including peaceful Alegria beach which is a jaw dropping spot featuring the obligatory Filipino staples of white powdery sand, cerulean water, nodding palms and enticing underwater life. It is one of the few beaches on Siargao where there are gaps in the coral and the water is deep enough to swim in. Another great place to take a dip – or even cliff dive – is Magpupungko Rock Pools, deep clefts in the coastal rock where you can leap and plunge into the beautiful clear blue sea. It might be Siargao’s surfing that brings you here, but it will be the relaxed pace of life and some of the best beaches in the Philippines that keep you here.
A collection of steep, sharp pinnacles of rock rise from the sea south of Coron Island which itself sits some distance to the north of Palawan Island. Of all the dreamy Palawan beaches, this is a destination for anyone seeking the original Eden. Blade-like rocks are softened by tufts of greenery which contrast perfectly with the pale aquamarine of the water. The calm lagoons are like glass, revealing the beauty of the sea bed and its inhabitants even without a snorkel and mask.
There aren’t many sizeable beaches but plenty of little coves reveal themselves as you explore the coastline, many of which are home to a couple of wooden fishing huts and little else. Kayak between one stunning lagoon and the next, each tucked among the sheer cliffs of the islands, dive, snorkel or simply splash about in this most staggering example of the beauty of nature.
Joined to Bohol by a bridge, sleepy Panglao has some white sand gems that belong in any list of best beaches in the Philippines. Its most lively beach is Alona, where you can find many of the island’s dive centres, ready to take you out into the deeper waters to explore the many dive sites in the area.
There are plentiful coral gardens, walls and wrecks to explore, some of which are also perfect for night dives. The marine biodiversity here is among the Philippines’ richest, and you can expect to see a huge variety of exotic species including giant black corals, schooling jack fish, turtles, sponges, frogfish, barracudas, moray eels, soft and hard corals as well as turtles and seahorses. If you are searching for a quieter, more secluded beach on Panglao Island, leave lively Alona and head instead for Dumaluan which has fewer facilities but enjoys a far lower footfall, though it is just as lovely.
Make it happen
There can’t be many destinations with so many perfect beaches to discover. Make your dream Philippines trip a reality with the expertise of the local specialists to help you plan. Send them your details and they will begin to craft your bespoke Philippines itinerary. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.