Philippines, with its archipelagic state, is unarguably a country that never runs out of beautiful islands to offer. It comprises more than seven thousand islands—all having their own unique charm.
That being said, island-hopping is one of the major things to do in the Philippines. Several island-hopping destinations, may it be off-the-beaten or popular, are just within reach for those seeking a world-class and adventure-filled experience.
In this post, I created a list of amazing island-hopping destinations that we have visited across the country, as well as other equally wonderful sites that still remain unchecked on our bucket-list.
Island Hopping Spots in the Philippines
1. El Nido, Palawan
El Nido is famous for its numerous islands and beaches at the Bacuit Archipelago; plenty enough that it offers not one, not two, but a total of four island-hopping tours! To make things simple, the tours were named as Tour A, B, C, and D (with A and C being the most popular). The place is jam-packed with gorgeous unique sites and experiences, and crystalline water is a very common thing to see in this dreamy place.
Main attractions: Kayaking at Small and Big Lagoon; climbing Matinloc Shrine and Taraw Cliff; snorkeling at Shimizu Island; traversing the Snake Island‘s long sandbar.
Getting there: Fly to Puerto Princesa International Airport, and from there, you can either ride a bus or van going to El Nido. Land travel is approximately 5 hours.
2. Caramoan, Camarines Sur
We’re all told that Caramoan gained its popularity through Survivor Series. But I have a strong belief that its own natural beauty is the real proof that this paradise deserves all the fame. It’s a great destination for Island-hopping activity which is divided into two: Short Trip and Long Trip. The Short trip takes you to nearby Islands comparable to that of Palawan, while the long trip covers farther destinations that involves sandbars, lighthouse, and lovely beaches.
Main attractions: The mysterious milkfish of Matukad Island; breathtaking view from Guinahoan Island‘s Lighthouse; wide expanse of sandbar at Manlawi; long stretch of sandbar at Cotivas Island.
Getting there: From Manila, ride a bus going to Sabang Port and from there, ride a boat to Guijalo Port of Caramoan. From Guijalo Port, ride a tricycle to Caramoan Town where hotels and homestays are located. You can charter a tricycle to Brgy. Paniman where boats for island-hopping are available. You can also fly to Naga Airport and from there, ride a bus or van going to Sabang Port.
3. Romblon, Romblon
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Another bucket-list worthy is this paradise called Romblon. An archipelago just near the ever famous Boracay Island, but only gained popularity just recently. Long stretch of sandbar with fine white sands, beautiful rock formations and cliffs, clear waters and mountains in the distance, and beaches full of towering (and even leaning) coconut trees are among the charming things to behold from this paradise.
Main attractions: The swirling white sandbar of Bon Bon Beach; the enchanting lagoon at Tinagong Dagat; cliff-jumping at Marakay Marakay; the picturesque leaning coconut trees of Carabao Island.
Getting there: From Manila, fly to Tablas and take a jeepney to San Agustin where pump boats for island-hopping are available. You can also fly to Caticlan Airport and from there, board a ferry to Odiongan then take a jeepney to San Agustin.
4. Gigantes Islands, Iloilo
Islas de Gigantes is a group of islands at the northern tip of Iloilo Province. It has two major islands namely, Gigantes Norte and Gigantes Sur. Most of the islands and beaches are in Gigantes Sur area, but if you’re up for more adventure like cave spelunking and lighthouse visit, you may extend your exploration to Gigantes Norte. Twin beaches, sandbar, limestone cliffs, lagoon, and fresh scallops are what to expect from this slice of heaven on earth.
Main attractions: The twin beaches at Cabugao Gamay Island and Antonia Island; the giant Tangke Saltwater Lagoon; the S-shaped sandbar and fresh scallops of Bantigue Island.
Getting there: Fly to Iloilo International Airport and from there, make your way to Tagbak Terminal where you can catch a bus or van bound to Carles. Boats for island hopping are available from Bancal Port which is just beside the bus terminal in Carles.
5. Burias Islands, Masbate
If you want an exceedingly unique island-hopping trip without having to take a flight from Manila, Burias fits perfectly for you. It is a group of islands located in Bicol Region but accessible through Quezon Province. Aside from white sand beaches, sandbars, and clear waters — huge boulders of rock formations that are believed to be sculptured by the wind and ocean waves will literally leave you speechless!
Main attractions: Oddly shaped rock formations of Animasola Island; the hat-shaped island called Sombrero Island; cliff-jumping at Dapa Island; the long stretch of sandbar at Tinalisayan Island.
Getting there: From Manila, take a bus to Lucena then take another bus going to San Andres, Quezon. Boats for island-hopping are available at the San Andres Port.
6. Hundred Islands, Pangasinan
Hundred Islands is one of the easiest to reach when you have a sudden itch for an island-hopping trip. It’s home to more than a hundred coral islands and colorful wildlife and fishes. Most of the islands and islets are untouched, except from four major developed islands namely, Governor’s, Quezon, Marcos, and Children’s Island. The islands are near each other with 5 to 10-min boat ride distance so island hopping is quite an ease.
Main attractions: Stunning view from Governor Island‘s view deck; snorkeling at the giant clam sanctuary near Quezon Island; cliff-jumping at Marcos Island; kayaking at Children’s Island.
Getting there: From Manila, ride a bus bound for Alaminos then take a tricycle to Lucap Wharf where boats for island-hopping are available.
7. Coron, Palawan
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Coron is a tropical paradise nestled at the northern tip of Palawan. Despite having many similarities with El Nido, this idyllic destination still got its own unique beauty. Island hopping in Coron is definitely one of the best especially when it comes to colorful marine life and mesmerizing beaches and lagoons. It is also home to Asia’s cleanest lake having serene emerald waters being surrounded by enormous limestone walls.
Main attractions: The Asia’s cleanest freshwater lake called Kayangan Lake; a pair of wondrous lagoons well known as the Twin Lagoon; the long snaking sandbar of Bulog Dos Island; snorkeling at the famous Skeleton Wreck.
Getting there: Fly to Busuanga Airport and from there, ride a van/shuttle to Coron Town. There are many tour operators throughout the town offering island hopping tours.
8. Siargao, Surigao del Norte
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Aside from being a surfers’ haven
and a filming location, Siargao is also a home to dazzling islands worth visiting. Island hopping is one of the many exciting activities to do in Siargao which people call the Tri-Island Hopping Tour. It’s something you really cannot miss when visiting this tropical paradise due to its relaxed vibe, clear vibrant waters, powdery white sand beaches, and unspoiled shores.
Main attractions: The teardrop-shaped island called Guyam Island; the bare island hence its name Naked Island that boasts powdery white sands; the island covered with an army of palm trees called Daku Island.
Getting there: Fly to Siargao Airport and from there, ride a van/multicab to General Luna where you could hire a boat for island hopping tour.
9. Panglao, Bohol
Bohol has always been about Chocolate Hills and lovely Tarsiers but know that there’s more to Bohol than these. Island hopping in Bohol is equally pleasurable as other spots. And if there’s one thing that sets it apart is the opportunity to see pods after pods of dolphins not in a dolphin show but in the wild! It also involves a sand bar visit and snorkeling with schools of fishes and even sea turtles! Truly an unmissable world-class experience!
Main attractions: Pods of wild dolphins that can be spotted early in the morning near Pamilacan Island; C-shaped sandbar of Virgin Island; snorkeling with colorful marine life and sea turtles at Balicasag Island.
Getting there: Fly to Tagbilaran Airport and from there, make your way to the city center where you can take a ride to any resorts in Panglao. Once in Panglao, you will be offered island hopping tours by various tour operators.
10. Almeria, Biliran
This not so touristy province also boasts unbelievable seascapes and landscapes that are nearly unknown to the public. To experience island hopping here would definitely give anyone a taste of heaven on earth. Uncrowded and unspoiled, the islands here are a perfect refuge for those seeking for quiet and tranquility. Beaches with fine white sands and a breathtaking view from the top of a hill would instantly make you adore the Maker!
Main attractions: Climb to Sambawan Island‘s watch tower overlooking Maripipi Island; snorkel at Dalutan Island; witness the shifting sandbar of Higatangan Island; beach-bum at Agta Beach.
Getting there: Fly to Tacloban Airport and from there, ride a van/bus bound to Naval, Biliran. Charter a tricycle to Kawayan Port where boats for island hopping are available.
11. Jordan, Guimaras
Did you know that this province famous for export-quality mangoes is also a great island hopping destination? Guimaras is an island province with surrounding waters freckled with several islets awaiting to be explored. White sand beaches, caves, pawikan sanctuary, and a handful of islets and sandbars will certainly give you a memorable island hopping trip. You could also get a chance to see Pulang Pasayan or Red Shrimps (alive and not yet cooked!).
Main attractions: experience white sand beach of Ave Maria Islet; see bats sleeping and hanging inside Baras Cave; witness different species of fishes at SEAFDEC; visit the sanctuary of sea turtles at Turtle Island.
Getting there: Fly to Iloilo Airport then take a passenger van to SM Iloilo. Ride a jeepney to Ortiz Wharf where boats bound to Jordan, Guimaras are available. Once in Jordan Port, ride a tricycle to Alubihod Beach where you could hire a boat for island hopping.
12. Matnog, Sorsogon
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Down in the southernmost tip of Luzon is a quiet town loaded with lovely natural attractions. Matnog, Sorsogon is another destination to fulfill your exciting island hopping goals! Startling pink sand beach, lively fish sanctuary, mysterious-looking sea caves, and a long stretch of white sand beach ideal for camping and beach-bumming are among beautiful things to behold from this last frontier in the south.
Main attractions: The amazingly pinkish sands of Subic Beach; a home to diverse species of fishes known as Juag Marine Sanctuary; a cluster of small caverns at Calintaan Caves; beach camping at the shores of Tikling Island.
Getting there: Fly to Legazpi Airport then ride a tricycle to Daraga-Matnog Bus Terminal where you could catch a bus going to Matnog. Charter a boat for island hopping at Matnog Town.
13. Pagbilao, Quezon Province
One of the nearest island hopping destinations from Manila lies in Pagbilao, Quezon Province that is more commonly known as Borawan Island Hopping. A camp site fronting the white sandy beach beside a huge sea cave, an island with limestone rock formations and turquoise waters, a white sand beach with lush vegetation and a sandbar at low tide should already spark an interest to anyone looking for a quick escape from the city.
Main attractions: overnight camping at Puting Buhangin‘s campsite alongside a massive sea cave of Kwebang Lampas; swimming and beach-bumming along the shores of Borawan Island; have a sumptuous lunch fronting the sea at Dampalitan Island.
Getting there: Ride a bus bound to Lucena Grand Terminal then take another bus to Unisan. Get off at QCRB Bank in Padre Burgos then take a tricycle to Aplaya where you could rent a boat for island hopping.
14. Tingloy, Batangas
Another island destination that manila-dwellers will surely love is in Tingloy, Batangas more commonly known as Masasa Beach. Many people prefer staying at Masasa only but I suggest you make the most out of the trip by visiting other nearby islands and beaches. I guess a hat-shaped island and a pebbled beach absolutely makes up a worthwhile island hopping experience to cherish!
Main attractions: Masasa Beach‘s crystal clear waters and long stretch of white sand beach; the hat-shaped island known as Sombrero Island; the pebbled shores of Sepoc Beach.
Getting there: Take a bus going to Batangas Grand Terminal then ride a jeepney to Anilao or Talaga Port where you could catch a public boat to Tingloy.
15. Britania Islands, Surigao del Sur
In this eastern part of Mindanao facing the Pacific Ocean are stunning islands and islets beautifully scattered in the waters of Lianga Bay. Britania Group of Islands is another destination that would capture every island goer’s hearts. Small islands decorated with arrays of palm trees and super duper clear waters are to look forward to. The islands are just a stone’s throw away from the mainland making it a chill and relaxing island hopping trip.
Main attractions: Swim and relax in the waters of Hagonoy Island; be amazed with the super fine white sands of Naked Island; feel tiny at Hiyor-hiyoran Island’s towering palm trees; get across Boslon Island‘s sandbar connecting it to another island.
Getting there: Fly to Butuan Airport then make your way to Integrated Bus Terminal. Ride a bus bound to Tandag and alight at Britania Junction.
16. Balabac, Palawan
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Last but not the least is the group of islands in the southern tip of Palawan known as Balabac. It used to be an extremely hidden gem unknown to the public until words about it have gone out on the internet. A literal example of a piece of heaven on earth—only if you don’t traverse to certain prohibited places. A dreamy and marvelous place, Balabac Palawan has now become every backpacker’s ultimate island hopping goals.
Main attractions: Be amazed with Camiaran Island‘s pink sands; snorkel at Sicsican and Nasubata Reef; swim at Onok Island; admire the sandbar and starfishes in Candaraman Island.
Getting there: Fly to Puerto Princesa Airport and head to San Jose Terminal. Ride a bus/van going to Rio Tuba where you can ride a boat to Balabac.
Do you have other favorite island hopping destinations in the Philippines? It’s quite difficult to narrow down this list so feel free to comment down your other most loved destinations!
If you still haven’t tried island hopping in the Philippines, now is the time to go and carve out your own adventure on these lovely islands. Have fun!
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