The Philippines, although relatively well known and often in the news is rarely acknowledged for being the friendly, welcoming and beautiful travel destination it deserves. Travellers to Asia often succumb to its better known neighbours and as a holiday destination The Philippines might be considered one of the best kept secrets of South East Asia.
The Philippine's many tropical islands have some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Asia and the country's diving sites are well known in the diving community. With over 7,000 islands in the Philippines, deciding which ones to visit can be a daunting task. Here we highlight a small few of the country's amazing islands and the one thing they all have in common is they are all world-class holiday destinations.
Boracay is the Philippine's premier tropical paradise. Only 10 square kilometres in size and just a few hundred meters off the coast of the much larger Panay Island, Boracay packs in a lot of beauty for its miniscule size. The island is only accessible by sea and once on its shores, the troubles and worries of everyday life seem to fade away. Travel on the island is limited to jeep rides on sandy tracks and one main road.
Most of the tourist activities on the island are located on the island's western coast. This long, sandy beachfront stretch is packed with luxury resorts, small guest houses and a virtually endless array of entertainment options, including bars, restaurants, cafes, water sports centres and nightclubs.
Busuanga is a small island just north of Palawan Island, in the Palawan Province. The island is little-known to most travellers, however to the international scuba diving community, it is a destination like no other. During World War II the island was, like much of the Philippines, occupied by Japanese forces. Towards the end of the war the United States conducted a bombing run over the seas around the island and condemned a large number of Japanese military vessels to an eternity under the sea.
Today divers come to Busuanga from all over the world to wreck dive and explore the area's underwater environs. The wreck sites range in depth from 10 meters to 40 meters. It's recommended that divers have advanced certifications for the deeper sites, however some of the shallow wrecks are accessible to novice divers without any certifications.
Cebu is Boracay's main competitor for title of the Philippine's tourism capital. While it doesn't have Boracay's lively beach culture, what Cebu does have in its favour is size. At almost 5,000 square kilometres, it's one big island!
Most travellers never venture further than Cebu City or the island of Mactan, where the airport is located. But for travellers willing to spend a little time and effort, Cebu has some remote and truly worthwhile destinations. One such place is the small town of Moalboal, located on the south western coast of the island. Only a three hour bus ride from Cebu City, Moalboal is a pleasant and charming town with a welcoming ambiance.
Mindoro is an island sandwiched between Palawan and Luzon. It's the closest resort island to Manila, the capital of the Philippines. The main tourist draw to the island is Puerto Galera, a small city situated on a beautiful bay and known for its white-sand beaches. Puerto Galera can be reached via fast ferry from Luzon in less than two hours.
Besides relaxing in Puerto Galera, visitors to Mindoro can occupy themselves with scuba diving, jungle trekking and swimming at one of the island's waterfalls. And just outside of the Puerto Galera there is the Ponderosa Golf Club which boasts a 9-hole golf course.
Palawan is the Filipino destination of choice for eco-travellers and nature lovers. This long, thin island stretches for 450 kilometres and is one of the country's most unspoiled areas. Its largest city, with 200,000 people is Puerto Princesa. Unlike many major cities in the Philippines, Puerto Princesa is a green city that moves at a relaxed, island pace.
The island's most popular destination with tourists, however, is El Nido, on the extreme northern tip of the island. This is the place to be for nature loving travellers, as it's possible to rent kayaks, explore the nearby islands, scuba dive and even camp. El Nido is usually reached via a gruelling five hour bus journey on small, bumpy roads across the island from Puerto Princesa.
Emergency Phone Numbers
Best Time To Visit
November to April. Avoid monsoon season from June to October
Country: Republic of the Philippines