Last month, I got introduced to some of the best beaches in the Philippines on my trip for TBEX. Before the conference, I went island hopping in Coron and saw stunning white sand beaches and secluded bays. I enjoyed my time there so much I’m determined to go back. I need to see more of those beaches! So, to help me plan I’ve asked some of the top travel bloggers to share their top tips, and today I’m sharing them with you! Presenting, in no specific order:
The Best Beaches in the Philippines
Port Barton, Palawan
The most famous spot on Palawan is arguably El Nido, however it is the lesser known idyllic beach at Port Barton that won our hearts. Port Barton is not easy to get to but after the somewhat uncomfortable journey you will be rewarded by the feeling that you’ve stumbled into a secret paradise that has yet to be changed by mass tourism. The sleepy beach town has no paved roads or large resorts and has limited electricity and internet. This just adds to it’s charm. What Port Barton does have is a stunningly beautiful, unspoiled, quiet beach dotted with just a handful of fishing and tour boats ready to take you island hopping…if you can tear yourself away.
The accommodations, restaurants and bars are fairly basic but incredibly romantic and charming. There’s even a beach tree house available at Ausan Beachfront Cottages. When we were last there in early 2016 they were starting to build a real road to replace the bumpy dirt one into Port Barton which is good and bad. It will make the journey more pleasant but will also bring more tourists and development. In other words go now before Port Barton potentially loses it’s sleepy, hidden paradise feel.”
– Sarah Hughes from Live, Dream, Discover
Puka Beach, Boracay
We first stopped by Puka briefly on a tour of Boracay island. It’s a beach known for Puka shells – the shells that are the definition of summer and beach jewelry, all over the world. In fact there are a number of different types of beautiful shells on the beach, which is mostly created from shell and coral fragments. It’s a shell-pickers paradise for this reason! There are also many heart shaped coral stones worn smooth by the waves.
We saw many honeymooners and families on this beach, which was slightly quieter and more peaceful than White Beach. The waters are clear and calm and there are reefs with colorful fish to paddle to and snorkel around just a short and shallow ways off shore. Beach lounges are free when you purchase a beverage at any of the stands. You can rent clear kayaks and snorkeling gear on the beach as well. For a truly instagram worthy photo-op, rent a giant unicorn shaped pool float. They look nothing short of magical floating on the clear, calm turquoise water.
This beach is very close to the luxurious Shangri La resort and spa. It was an easy ten minute ride from Discovery Shores Boracay (on White Beach) where our family had a wonderful stay.
There are some unusual souvenirs at the stands beside Puka beach. Gorgeous shells and textiles are the usual tourist fare, but our sons picked up bracelets made from the vertebrae of poisonous water snakes. I declined on the frog leather purses and monkey skull necklaces!
– Ciaran Blumenfeld from Mumfluential
White Beach, Boracay
White Beach in Boracay is probably the most popular beach in Boracay and for good reason – it’s stunning! As you might guess from the name, it has beautiful white powdery sand and blue water.
It’s also lots of fun. It is lined with a beach path which has the beach on one side and restaurants, bars, shops, etc on the other side. There’s also the possibility to do many water activities.
Despite being popular, we did not find it overcrowded especially if you head to the less crowded Station 1 and Station 3 areas.
It’s perfect for everyone except the people wanting to get away from it (although there are other beaches on Boracay where you can do that). We visited with our two toddlers but many people go in couples or with friends. There is a party culture on parts of White Beach so I imagine it would be a lot of fun in a big group too!
The only downside is that accommodation is expensive. We stayed at the Boracay Holiday Resort which is a short walk from the beach and had a variety of room types.
– Sharon Gourlay from Where’s Sharon?
Tucked away off the southern coast of Negros island is one of the most amazing beaches in the Philippines, Apo Island. And while it may not have the pearly white sands that many beaches in the Philippines are famous for, it does has sea turtles! These majestic creatures are protected under marine conservation efforts, so they can be found leisurely swimming through the waters all throughout the Chapel Reef. On Apo Island you can swim with sea turtles, go searching for exquisite coral and enjoy the haven of this protected marine sanctuary all to yourself without fisherman or boatloads of tourists.
Apo Island is the perfect location for people looking to get away from the crowded beaches and experience some simple living in nature. The island itself is relatively small, so don’t expect too much activity at nights, but it is the perfect place to enjoy for a few days before returning to the busy mainland.
– Jules Percy Hatfield from Don’t Forget To Move
Danjugan Island was our favourite destination during our month in the Philippines. It was a place unlike any other – an island that was saved from environmental destruction thanks to a group of conservationists. Now you can visit Danjugan and stay in an eco resort on the beach, in sustainable mud huts, and explore the island at your own leisure or with resident guides. There are several beautiful beaches around the island, which is onlly 1-5 km long and 500 meters wide, and there are also five lagoons where you can kayak.
Who is it for? Nature lovers, as facilities are comfortable but not luxurious. There’s very little wifi and connectivity, so it’s the perfect place to ‘disconnect’ in all senses!
Where to stay: there are only two places to stay on the islands, both managed by the Danjugan foundation – the mud houses I mentioned before, and some open huts where you can really be immersed in nature. Check out the Danjugan Island website to learn more!
– Margherita Ragg from The Crowded Planet
Crystal Beach, Northern Zambales
Crystal Beach Resort is one of the most popular beaches in the northern Zambales, Philippines. The resort has fine white sands that will tickle your feet as you walk toward the coast.The beach hosts several concerts of local artists during peak seasons, like for example during summer or Christmas.
The resort also offer a couple of island hopping adventures that will amaze the beach goers. Currently, they are hosting up to a month long stay for foreigners to enjoy the beauty of the beach and nearby tourist attractions.
Unlike other beaches in the Philippines, the Crystal beach resort has a spacious site where travelers can pitch their own tents. They also light a charming and colorful bonfire at night.
But most of all, the beach resort is very popular because of the surfing lessons and surfing activities that can be experienced in a very low price.
Who is it for? People who want to learn the basics of surfing. Party people (because of the events, bonfire and drinking buddies). Children? Not recommended, too strong waves.
Where to Stay: They have rooms but I recommend to just pitch a tent.
– Joe Gibson from Best of World Travel
Sierra Beach, Subic
We have been traveling around the Philippines many times. And for us, our favorite beach is Sierra beach located in the underrated Subic. In case you are wondering why this beach is so special for us, when there are a thousand beaches in the Philippines – we love it because you can feel the local vibe around it. There is plenty of space for playing around, especially if you are traveling with kids. The water is warm and calm, so it´s perfect for a swim. And the beach has a perfect spot to see the sunset. There are many places to stay at while you’re traveling in Subic, and our favorite one is The Lighthouse Marina Resort.
– Ruben Arribas from Gamin Traveler
Nacpan Beach – El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
El Nido, Palawan is one of the incredible tourist destinations in the Philippines. Known for its stunning bays and karst formations, El Nido is sure to capture your heart. Among the many places to see in El Nido is the secluded Nacpan Beach, located a few kilometers north of El Nido town. Nacpan Beach stands out its long stretch of golden sand and crystal clear waters. The best part? It’s still very quiet here. It’s a great spot of you want to have a relaxing rime on your own or if you seek a splendid getaway with your loved one. While there are still not resorts in this part of El Nido, there are some small restaurants by the beach where you can enjoy delicious barbecue meat and fresh fruit shakes. To get to Nacpan Beach, just hire a tricycle (tuktuk) from El Nido town, where most accommodation are.
– Gia Kristel De Guia from Mismatched Passports
Kagusuan Beach, Siquijor
One of the highlights of my Siquijor trip last 2012 is my short trip to the then-secret Kagusuan Beach. Hidden in the town of Maria, the way to get there is a visual feast already. You will pass through a narrow road with tall trees and if you’re lucky, a group of cows might even welcome you. By the time you park your vehicle of choice, you’ll see a leafy stairway leading you to the white sand Kagusuan Beach. With the pristine blue-colored water, gigantic rocks and the feeling of being isolated from the outside world, a successful traveler will experience a moment of solitude in one of Siquijor’s best spots.
– Micaela Rodriguez from Senyorita.net
Alona Beach, Bohol
Alona Beach is probably the most famous beach in Bohol. Yes, it’s touristy, but its white sand fringed by palms, and the intense blue of the water make this the beach to be at.
During the day you won’t actually find many people soaking up the sun, and you can find a quiet corner. It’s during the night that the beach becomes more lively: the restaurants take out the tables for a romantic dinner on the beach, and you can have a cheap massage in one of the many temporary “massage centers”.
This is a beach for everyone: young people, couples, and families will like it alike, although don’t expect crazy parties.
I suggest staying at Botanika Tarsier, a luxury resort made of 12 beautiful. sustainable villas. The resort is not on Alona Beach (in fact, they have their own private cove), but they provide free transportation to Alona Beach any time of the day and night.
– Stefania Guglielmi from Every Steph
Secret Beach, El Nido
The Philippines is full of gorgeous beaches to choose from, they have over 7,000 to choose from! Some of the best beaches in the Philippines are in El Nido, Palawan. El Nido is scattered with gorgeous beaches but Secret Beach is something magical. You can only get to Secret Beach certain times of the day, as you literally have to swim a hole in a rock wall to get there. Once inside you’ll be greeted with gorgeous limestone cliffs, turquoise waters, sandy beach, and the best part very little tourists. The easiest way to get to Secret Beach is via the El Nido Tour C or you could hire a private boat for the day. Try and not tell too many people about Secret Beach otherwise, we’ll have to change the name!
– Hannah & Adam from GettingStamped
Papaya Beach, El Nido
El Nido is a busy place be island hopping. Fortunately for us, after a 16 month bout of long term travel we decided to settle down and build a glamping site in the world’s number one island building. Since then we’ve explored a few of the 45 islands that dot Bacuit Bay (what you know as El Nido). Our absolute favorite beach is Papaya Beach. Typically overlooked as it sits around the corner (a rock), that separates the two. Beat the crowds and have the entire beach to yourself.
We usually rent a kayak from one of our neighbors at Las Cabanas beach, pack lunch, take snorkel gear and head across the bay (usually 30-45 minutes one way depending on weather conditions). We set up shop, get our gear on and usually find turtles feeding the rich coral life. A coconut stand provides the perfect refreshment, lunch, a nap, and then another half hour to home. As couple travelers we absolutely recommend this beach to those looking for a retreat from the rest of El Nido. And to continue the romance, of course, the best place to stay is The Birdhouse El Nido, hosted by the lovers at 365traveldates!
– Mark Villaflor from 365traveldates
Kalanggaman Island, Leyte
If you love sandbars, then you will definitely fall for Kalanggaman Island, which has not only one, but two! Around an hour-long boat ride away from the mainland of Leyte, Kalanggaman is a long white island with pristine sandbars on either side, lapped by mesmerizingly clear waters. One side is usually where the boats dock and where people usually stay. To go to the other side, you have to walk through coconut palms, wild pandan, and other greenery for around 15 minutes. This other sandbar is usually quieter and perfect for those who just want to enjoy its beauty.
You can easily go to Kalanggaman on a day trip or stay overnight for camping. Just schedule your tour ahead as the island has a limit to its number of tourists daily, as part of the local government’s efforts to preserve the island.
Also, while you are already in Leyte, take your time to explore other attractions as well, like Lake Danao and Canigao Island. Leyte is where Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck hardest over three years ago, and tourism can certainly help in its re-building.
– Claire Madarang from Traveling Light
Candaraman Island beach
Candaraman Island has a virgin beach that can make the front-page of a travel magazine — clear blue water, with groups of big starfishes in the sand. It’s an off-the-beaten find in the south of the Philippines. We stayed here for almost half a day, just splashing around and taking photos.
The beach in Candaraman Island is for backpackers looking for adventure. Candaraman Island isn’t developed yet, as do the rest of the islands in Balabac, Palawan. There are no accommodations or homestay in the island itself, and the only residents living there are the caretakers. We went there during summer and had the whole beach to ourselves.
For travelers looking for a place to stay, head to mainland Balabac and look for MLK or JD lodging. There are also other inns in the area, although most offer only basic fan rooms.
– Katherine from Tara Lets Anywhere
I wouldn’t mind living in this place forever!! I swear. This place is beyond amazing. I’ve been to a lot of beaches already, but this beach is one that took my heart away. Lakawon Island is a place you would not miss when you visit Bacolod. Aside from being so accessible from the city, it also requires just a minimum budget (spent less than 1000 pesos/ 20 USD including the transportation, food and the activities).
One of the best feature in this place is its Floating Bar called Tawhai. It is literally floating on waters! Imagine that! You can chill, socialize with the people, or jump on waters from the floating bar. This place is perfectly awesome! One for the books, indeed.
– Colleen Vidal from Colololz
My personal picks:
Misibis Bay, Cagraray Island
Misibis Bay is a a private resort beach on the island of Cagraray in Albay Bay. It stands out for its views. In good weather conditions, you can see Mount Mayon volcano, one of the Philippines’ most active volcano, directly from the beach. Set directly on the beach is Misibis Bay Resort, a luxury resort offering a range of water sports from standup paddle boarding to hobie cat sailing. It’s also a great spot for early risers to watch sunrise over the bay. Misibis Bay is a good choice for luxury adventure travel fans looking to fill their day with activities, but also wanting to relax afterwards.
Diatoy Island, Coron (Nothern Palawan)
My favourite beach in the Philippines, hands down, was Diatoy. Diatoy is a tiny island north of Busuanga island, with a pristine white sand beach, reachable only by boat. There’s no pier, so one of the traditional Filipino outrigger boats is the perfect way to get there. There’s not a lot to do in Diatoy. This is a place for relaxing and enjoying the pristine natural beach. Diatoy also has nice snorkeling – keep an eye out for the colourful, curious clown fish!
I went to Diatoy as part of a Palawan island hopping tour from Club Paradise on Dimakya Island, which is also the accommodation I can recommend in the area.
Note: I was in the Philippines as a speaker at TBEX and invited by the Philippines Tourism Promotions Board.