If you’re chasing that postcard image you’ve dreamt of visiting a thousand times, come to the Philippines. The dream is here with hundreds of pure white sand beaches that feel like walking on powder next to turquoise water that is as warm as it is clear. Palm trees stretch over the beach as if posing for photo while lounge chairs with umbrellas team up to provide a little extra shade.
With over 7,000 islands, you’re never far from a white sand beach in the Philippines. It’s deciding which beach to choose that is the hard part. While there’s no such thing as a “bad beach” in the Philippines, many beaches offer something different. Choose between beaches with amazing sea life to be discovered, beaches with incredible nightlife and restaurants, beaches with water sports, and beaches that are so desolate that all you can do is sit and ponder life.
Let’s have a look at the best beaches in the Philippines:
1. White Beach, Boracay
White Beach on Boracay is where beach dreams come true. White sand, turquoise water, lounge chairs with umbrellas and palm trees bending towards the water. Even during high season when most tourists flock to this paradise island, White Beach is still totally enjoyable. It’s a 4km beach, which means there is room for everyone.
Lots of water activities happen off the shore of this beach such as parasailing, kayaking, and banana boat rides. Or if you prefer, stay in your lounge chair while hawkers offer your beverages, food, and jewelry.
2. El Nido, Palawan
Far off on the island of Palawan is the idyllic El Nido. You’ll find a few spectacular beaches here such as Buena Suerte Beach, Caalan beach, Papaya Beach, Yoga Beach, and more. In El Nido, every beach is more jaw-dropping than the next.
El Nido beaches have become a ‘bucket list’ destination for travelers as they are perfectly picturesque and accessible while being mysterious and full of adventure.
You’ll find that these beaches haven’t been developed as much as other tourist destination beaches in the country. You get a sense of pure, unadulterated adventure here- the kind that just makes you feel alive. Climb along the beaches over rocky paths and jungle trees to discover coves, caves, and corals galore.
3. Paradise Beach, Bantayan Island
A honeymooner’s paradise can be found on the small island of Bantayan Island just west of Cebu. Most months out of the year, couples will find themselves totally alone. This desolate beach turns adult couples into playful little children who can forget the world while splashing in the water, running barefoot in the sand and taking to the jungles to explore paths trodden by few adventurers before them.
There are no distractions here- no resorts, bars, or jewelry hawkers- most of the year, anyways. However, the weekend before Easter is a popular time for Filipinos to travel and since Bantayan Island is within such close proximity to Cebu, expect a sudden rush of tourists.
4. Cagayan Valley, Palaui Island
Like a scene out of the ever-popular series “Lost”, Cagayan Valley on Palaui Island doesn’t feel real. While bathing in the warm water looking upon the shore, not only will you gaze upon bright white beaches, but also volcanic mountains and rolling hills with no development in sight. Often referred to as a beach that encapsulates “raw beauty”, Cagayan Valley is stunning.
Visit Egaño Cove where you can visit a World War II lighthouse that almost feels out of place. Take the 229-step concrete stairway to the top for stunning views. If you feel like doing something a little crazy, you are welcome to “camp” or sleep in the lighthouse.
5. Alona Beach, Panglao
Alona beach is located on the tiny kidney bean-shaped island called Pangloa. This may be one of the smallest tourist islands in the Visayas but it has a lot to offer in terms of pristine beachfront property. You can stay in a top-tier resort, comfy guesthouse, or dirt cheap hostel and still enjoy the same tropical oasis.
Ditch the beach towel- the sand is so soft! Lying at the waters edge with your toes in the sand and a beer in your hand is what every country song sings about and you can make that country some come true on Alona Beach! There are tons of fabulous bars here that encourage day drinking!
6. Dumaluan Beach, Panglao
If you’re looking for a bit of privacy on your beach holiday, book a stay at one of the few resorts on Dumaluan Beach. When you stay at Bohol Beach Club, South Palms Resort, or Dumaluan Beach Resort, you are guaranteed exclusive access to this 3km stretch of tropical heaven. The staff from the resorts do an impeccable job of maintaining the grounds. They also put out colorful beanbag chairs and umbrellas alongside the most comfortable lounge chairs. Did I mention there are hammocks?
7. Caramoan, Camarines Sur
‘Survivor’ fans might geek out while visiting Camarines Sur. This island and it’s beaches- particularly Caramoan beach- has been used as the site for two ‘Survivor’ seasons back in 2010. This beach is so beautiful, that the French version of ‘Survivor’ decided to follow suit with producers saying, “We chose Caramoan because it’s really wild. It’s necessary that contestants don’t see anything other than nature for them to believe that they’re really lost in the wilds.”
Not everything you see on TV is true to reality, however. While the beaches may be untouched, the 107-square mile Camarines Sur is home to 47,000 local residents. This island actually has a lot to offer in terms of shops, stores, and supermarkets. Buy some flip-flops in town, pack a lunch from the supermarket and grab a couple beers from a small shop- then head down to Caramoan Beach.
8. Babau Santa Beach Resort, Talicud Island
Visiting Davao actually means that you get two islands in one and one of the best beaches to visit- Babau Santa Beach Resort. This private little island makes for the perfect day trip. Charter a private boat to take you to a beach where you will have tons of privacy. This beach is the kind of beach you could spend all day lounging on with friends, reading a book solo, or brushing up on your photography skills.
The shore is very shallow which means you can wade out quite a ways and experience bathwater temperatures! Lay down in the water near the shore to get the perfect tan without having to battle strong currents or waves or getting too hot on the sand.
9. Canibad Beach Cove, Samal
As the Philippines become more and more popular, it becomes harder and harder to find those elusive secluded beaches where you are the only humans in sight. When you find one of those beaches still existing in 2017, you jump on the chance to visit.
Canibad Beach Cove on Samal island is one of those elusive spots because it takes some effort to reach. Located in the Penalata District, you’ll have to hire a private charter to zip you around to the Davao Oriental-facing side of Samal. Once you’re there, you’ll almost certainly be the only ones. You won’t find any fancy restaurants or shops, so bring your own snorkel gear and towels! This would be the ideal spot for a sexy photo shoot or a super private marriage proposal!
10. The Island Buenavista
Ever wanted your own private island? Well, you can make that dream come true on The Island Buenavista. This small island is inhabited by one beach resort that rents the island out to only one group at a time for an all-inclusive day pass or overnight stay.
Group packages start with 10 people for around $740 per day. That includes transport from Davao airport, meals, drinks, and activities like kayaking and snorkeling- the whole shebang. What a steal!
11. General Luna, Sairgao
If you’re on a budget, General Luna beach on Siargo Island is the place for you. Thankfully, this slice of small beach town paradise hasn’t made its way into the backpacker guidebooks just yet.
Many travelers flock to the beaches of Siargo Island to surf as there are some great waves and swells kicking off year round. However, if beach bumming is more your thing, there are calm areas of water as well. Plenty of small watering holes and mom & pop shops offer food and drinks with a local touch.
You’ll feel more like a resident than a tourist and more like you’re on an adventure than a holiday. When you’re all through getting your tan on, the island offers lagoons, mangroves, hiking, and more!
12. Zamboanga, Great Santa Cruz Island
Have you ever seen a pink beach? I didn’t think so! The sand of Zamboanga is a mixture of crushed red organ pipe coral and that famous white sand. Hence, the extraordinary color.
Before you go, however, here’s what you need to know: the southern region of the Philippines has becoming increasingly more dangerous for tourists as the rebel guerilla group has become stronger in their stance to control the territory. While this means that Zamboanga might be a risk at the moment, don’t let it out of your sight. If the conflict were to ever waver, you can bet that Zamboanga Beach will become a tourist hotspot known worldwide.
How has Nacpan not blown up on the backpacker/traveler circuit yet? We’re not sure but we’re certainly not complaining.
A change of pace, the sand here is actually a Grand Canyon burnt orange that really pops against the green jungle. Walk onto the long jetted peninsula and it will feel like you are walking on a highway towards the end of the earth.
Nacpan is relatively undeveloped meaning you’ll only find a handful of guesthouses here. These guesthouses run on generators so after a certain hour, there will be no electricity (i.e. no fans) at night. What that does mean, however, is that there is no noise or light pollution so that you are totally connected with your surroundings.
Nacpan is just a 45-minute scooter ride away from El Nido yet is still quite desolate.
Undoubtedly home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in the Philippines, Coron Island has got it all. Get there and just start exploring.
Rent some kayaks and investigate the small islands surrounding Coron. Discover small beachy inlets and take the perspective view from the waters to truly appreciate how perfect this place is.
Along the shores of Coron you’ll find huge pools of natural hot springs. At sunset, these pools fill up with other travelers and become sort of a laid back, backpacker pool party minus the chaos.
Time runs slow on the shores of Coron and it feels good.
15. Salagdoong Beach, Siquijor Island
While Salagdoong Beach may not be the biggest, it is certainly one of the most multifaceted. This little strip of beach on the island of Siquijor attracts local families on the weekends and small groups of travelers during the weekdays.
Local families tend to stick to playing in the clear water and relaxing under an umbrella on the beach.
The travelers, being the crazy daredevils they are, opt for the more extreme activities that Saladoong Beach has to offer. I’m talking about the waterslide and the cliff diving. Built atop cliff rocks there is an old but sturdy waterslide that spits you out right into the ocean. For the cliff diving, you can run straight off a cement pier for a free-fall into the water.
For the least crowded window, come during the morning on a weekday!
16. Leyte, Canigao Island
Rock up to the beautiful beach of Leyte and you’ll quickly see why locals called it “little Boracay.” Boracay and Leyte both have attractive qualities in common: the sand is powdery and white, the water fades from a clear crystal to a deep turquoise, and the scenery is on a National Geographic level.
But there are certainly elements that separate Leyte from Boracay. First and foremost, Leyte is tiny! It’s basically a rock in the ocean with a spectacular beach. There is major development here- just a few grass huts. Another distinct element that not only separates Leyte from Boracay but also from many islands in the Philippines is that the locals are serious about trash clean up and recycling making this one of the best maintained islands around.
You can come for a day trip to take some amazing photos and experience what an island in the middle of no where is like, or you can stay at one of the local guesthouses to get a feel for small-island local life.
17. White Island, Camiguin
When the sun sits just right in the sky, the water off the shore of White Island looks like that of a mirror. Every cloud can be seen and even the green volcanic formations leave their reflection.
You can walk a solid 20 minutes along the sandbar with the sparkling water next to you on either side. It’s the ideal place to take selfies and make all of your Instagram followers super jealous.
This beach has yet to start developments, which means that it is ultra-pristine, but also that there isn’t much shade. If you’d like to have a break from the sun, ask a local to help you hire an umbrella before you head down.
18. Crystal Beach, Zambalas
Instead of dreading that Manila layover, get out of the airport and head over to Crystal Beach.
Because this beach is so underrated, you’ll actually find that the locals are really happy to have you! The overall experience is fabulous. Don’t come expecting white, powdery sand- this sand is a bit coarser but still a really beautiful beige color next to water that is perfectly warm!
There are tons of great places along the beach where you can get truly local dishes like pork siseg (pork ears and pigs belly). Go explore some nearby villages via tricycle taxi where you can eat more and meet more lovely locals who will be surprised to see you.
19. Balesin Island, Quezon
Off the coast of Luzon is Balesin Island- a private, members only island that you can access while staying at the ultra-posh Balesin Island Club.
This club is set on a 500-hectacre piece of greenery that has be designed to be eco-friendly with water recycling, water harvesting, organic farming, and even eco-friendly transportation.
It’s a bit of a splurge but if you’re looking for somewhere to spend your money, this is it. The 7-kilometer beach is unlike anything you’ve ever seen with ombre-colored sand that goes from bright white to beige and then to a golden brown.
There is so much to do here outside of lounging like a Kardashian; you can play tennis, go mountain biking, take a boxing class, or even visiting the aquatic sports center.
20. Dahican Beach, Mati
In every movie you’ve ever seen that boasts a hidden beach where locals come to surf and hang out with each other like it’s not big deal- they might as well be filming at Dahican Beach.
With palm trees stretching over the sand, dropping coconuts at their feet, and crystal blue water reaching up to touch them, this beach is what dreams are made of.
The water is perfect for surfing, body boarding and skim boarding as the beach faces the Pacific Ocean, creating the perfect waves to play in.
You’ll also find that resorts are exclusively located on the ends of this 7-kilometer beach meaning that the majority of this strip offers unobstructed lounging space for you.
21. Oslob Beach, Cebu
Extremely clear water, white sand beaches, and just meters away from a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Oslob Beach is a must-visit location!
Visit Oslob Beach and you’re sure to wind up diving with Whale Sharks.
These gentle giants of the sea can grow up to the size of a bus- that’s 40 meters long. While they are huge, they are nothing to be afraid of. Whale Sharks aren’t actually sharks, but filter-feeding fish. And you can find them year round of the shores of Oslob. The fishermen feed them a healthy diet so they stay loyal like big puppy dogs instead of migrating. This means that no matter what time of the year you visit Oslob, you have a 99% chance of seeing them and swimming with them.
22. Port Barton, Palawan
It’s not all about El Nido and Puerto Princesa on Palawan! Go discover a beach less traveled in San Vicente. This low-key strip of golden sand and palm trees should certainly be in the running for best beaches in the Philippines.
This location offers everything that other Palawan beaches do but with less crowds and slightly cheaper prices. Off the shores of Port Barton, you can snorkel among coral reefs full of rainbow colored fish and the occasional sea turtle.
This beach comes fully equipped with a sleepy little beach town that offers amazing seafood and wonderful hospitality. It’s not too far from the airport, either, so it’s easy to add a visit into your Palawan plans.
23. Bounty Beach, Malapascua Island
Shark Week fans unite! Malapascua Island has incredible beaches to offer but you might not want to swim too far out into the waters. Link up with a tour company or diving school who will take you out to see Hammerhead Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Thresher Sharks, and Shale Sharks.
It’s not all scary creatures out here. You’ll also find sea turtles, devil rays, and manta rays, along with incredible sea life filled with anemones, eels, coral, and colorful schools of fish. It’s a diver’s paradise.
24. Pandan Beach, Araceli
The cove at Pandan Beach features shallow waters that extend for a quarter of a kilometer into the sea. This means you can tan half-way submerged in the cool water rather than on the hot white sand. Remind me- why don’t tourists come here?
“Palawan’s hidden gem” as some like to call it, Araceli often flies under the radar when it comes to holiday plans. If you decide to take the path less traveled, you’ll enjoy island hopping, incredible sea life for snorkeling, and Araceli’s most popular food export, the “Curacha Crab”.
As with most tiny paradise islands, however, it’s only a matter of time before more Pandan Beach starts to get discovered. Currently, there are is a handful of accommodation for you to stay. I
25. Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
In the north of island Luzon, lies a beach so beautiful that is almost looks fake. With impossibly turquoise water that seems to glow and billowy sand that begs you to build a sand castle, you’ll want to stay here all day.
Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte has often been referred to as the “Boracay of the North” with a beach that offers resorts, water activities, plenty of restaurants, and picturesque scenery.
Because of it’s northerly location, Pagudpud receives strong winds that make this an ideal location for kite surfing. You’ll find a few kite surfing schools along the beach and in the town which offer lessons and gear for you to play.
Oslob Beach, Cebu