The Philippines is an island country located in the west of the Pacific Ocean and washed by 3 seas. Tourists come to this paradise-like place in search for exotic and natural attractions. In fact, The Philippines have every attribute of a tropical island vacation: warm blue sea, white soft sand on the beach, palm trees, coral reefs and breathtaking sunsets.

It is in the Philippines you can easily find yourself on a completely uninhabited island, which will be yours for the whole day of secluded relaxation. But keep in mind that you will not be able to visit all of the Philippine islands in one vacation since there are more than 7000 of them. Instead, plan an island-hop trip and visit the most marvelous and beautiful spots to enjoy tropical sun, warm sea and a colorful marine world.

Here is a short list of the Philippines islands you absolutely cannot miss.

LUZON

Many believe that it is Luzon should be the first destination point in a travel plan of any tourist. Unfortunately, travelers often neglect this island, but you shouldn’t. Give Luzon at least two days and you will be amazed how much it can offer.

At first, while in Manila visit an old Spanish quarter called Intramuros. Then make a trip to the famous mountain resorts of Baguio at an altitude of 1500 meters above the sea level, where you will be surrounded by moist tropical forests. Enjoy the stunning view on the natural attractions, such as Mayon and Taal volcanoes, rice terraces, waterfalls and Sumaguing Cave.

How to get to the island: the easiest way is by plane to Manila airport.

BORACAY

Boracay is the leader among beach destinations in the world. Its sandy beaches from year to year occupy top positions of the tourist ratings. The island is very small (1 km wide and 7 km long) and can be easily walked around by foot, which is ideal for a beach holiday.  During the day take a swim on the White beach and then rent a tricycle to go to the Bulabog beach to surf. When you will get tired of the standard tropical activities, visit the Bakhawan Eco-Park – a 220-hectare mangrove forest located only 2 hours away from the Boracay.

How to get to the island: by plane from Manila or Cebu. There are two airports located on the neighboring island called Panay, from where you will have to take a ferry to Boracay.

PALAWAN

When mentioning Palawan Island, we actually mean a mini-archipelago consisting of several dozen of tiny islands and one big one. This is a real paradise for divers and those who love expensive eco-style vacations. The main attraction of the Palawan Island is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park with stunning limestone karst landscape and an underground river.

Another unique feature of Palawan is the El Nido reserve zone in the north of the archipelago. Two out of 39 rocky islets are mostly uninhabited and occupied by respectable eco-hotels with luxury beaches. The El Nido forests are inhabited by rare representatives of exotic species of flora and fauna and more than 100 species of birds.

How to get to the island: depending on which island of the archipelago you are staying, local airlines may fly you from Manila or Cebu to the airports of Puerto Princesa, Cuyo, Pamalican, Busuanga and El Nido. Yachts or speed boats can be used for traveling between islands.

CEBU

Cebu is the second largest and the oldest island in the Philippines. It is one of the biggest competitors of Luzon for the tourist’s attention. It is Cebu that starts the history of the country and therefore can boast many historical monuments from the time of Spanish colonization. The main architectural sights of the island are Basilica del Santo Niño, the Chapel of the Last Supper, Fort San Pedro, the Magellan Shrine and more.

A good alternative to a beach may be a trip to the Kawasan Falls, where visitors are offered a unique hydro massage procedure. You will be put on a bamboo raft and passed through the waterfall.

Near Cebu, there is a wonderful island called Bantayan, which is perfect for a relaxing and secluded vacation. While on Bantayan visit not so popular among tourists Paradise Beach or take a look at the underground cave with crystal clear blue water located at the Ogtong Cave Resort.

How to get to the island: Many airlines offer direct flights to Cebu. Or you can fly to Manila first and then get to Cebu by plane or a ferry. Keep in mind that travel time from Manila to Cebu by ferry is 20-22 hours, while travel time by plane is 1 hour and 20 minutes.

BOHOL

The island of Bohol can be called “the land of miracles” due to its excellent conditions for eco-tourism. Bohol is full of natural attractions, such as the Philippine tarsier or a unique geological formation called chocolate hills, where you can find an observation deck with a stunning view on the entire island. And, of course, white beaches with unique sand, which is exported to many countries. For instance, the Singapore island of Sentosa consists of the sand from Bohol.

Unlike Cebu, Bohol almost does not have any night life and not so many shops. As an entertainment for travelers, local companies offer rafting along the river and trips to Aboriginal village, where you will see them fishing and hunting for lizards and snakes. Later on, you may try the main dish, which is a Lapu-Lapu fish.

Bohol is surrounded by 70 small islands, which are also fun to explore. Bohol and its satellite islands are perfect for scuba diving, snorkeling and dolphin watching.

How to get to the island: by plane from Manila (flight time is 1 hour 20 minutes) or by ferry from Cebu (travel time is about 2 hours).

SANTA CRUZ

Santa Cruz Island is located in just 5 km from the Zamboanga peninsula. This place has earned the fame of one of Zamboanga’s favorite holiday destinations with the best beaches on the Philippines.

In former times the Santa Cruz Island was crowded with tourists, but due to the military conflict in Mindanao, it has turned into a quiet cozy place. In order to get to the island, you need to pre-book a pass in the Department of Tourism of the city of Zamboanga, as Santa Cruz is a protected area. But this fact does not stop those who want to see a unique pink sand beach. There are only three beaches in the world with pink sand and one of them is located on the Santa Cruz Island. The color of the sand is pink due to the mixing of powdered red coral organics with ordinary white sand for millions of years.

Santa Cruz also attracts divers from all over the world. There are several small picturesque coral reefs around the island. Crystal clear water allows taking beautiful underwater footage.

How to get to the island: by boat from Zamboanga (travel time is 30 minutes). Also, the City Department of Tourism organizes one-day tours to Santa Cruz.