With its warm, tropical climate and friendly people, the Philippines is gaining a reputation as a must-see destination in Southeast Asia.
While most travelers have been to the capital Manila and experienced its bustling streets and great cuisine, few of them have ventured out to experience the country’s beautiful tropical islands – and there are more than 7,000 of them to choose from.
Here are five of our favorite islands in the Philippines that you’ve probably never heard of, and should definitely visit.
1. Jomalig Island
Off the coast of Quezon province, about 200km east of Manila, are three beautiful islands – Polillo, Balesin, and the most secluded of all, Jomalig. The island is accessible by boat from the town of Real, which is around four hours from Manila by road.
This unspoiled corner of the Philippines has beautiful sandy beaches, a warm ocean, and a refreshing lack of tourist developments. If you’re looking for a real paradise island, this may be the place for you.
While there are a few hotels and resorts on Jomalig, camping is by far the best way to experience the island. Travelers who have their own tents, cooking equipment, and food supplies will save themselves precious time which they can spend enjoying the surf, or watch amazing sunsets over the sea.
2. Seco Island
A tiny island located in the middle of the Sulu Sea off the west coast of Panay, Seco is barely visible on a map. Even if you have an international relations degree, you may not have heard of this little gem – and its seclusion is exactly what makes it worth visiting. Kite surfing fans will love Seco, and for nature enthusiasts, there are beautiful coral reefs and crystal-clear waters to snorkel in and explore.
3. Pandanon Island
For travelers who need a break from the rush of city life and just want to perfect the art of relaxation, there’s probably no better island than Pandanon. With its convenient location between Cebu and Bohol, it’s easier to reach than some of the other islands on our list. Once you arrive there, prepare for a day of swimming, jet-skiing, and total relaxation. You’ll want to stay forever!
4. Batanes Island
In the extreme north of the Philippines, across the sea from Taiwan, lies the Batanes Archipelago. This remote chain of islands has a fascinating history, including a famous 1791 rebellion against Spanish rule led by the Ivatan leader, Aman Dangat.
With enough cultural heritage to fill an international relations masters degree thesis, and beautiful unspoiled beaches to relax on after a day’s sightseeing, this island is a rare gem. Travelers should check the weather forecast before heading north for Batanes, which experiences typhoons from time to time.
Famous for its cleanliness, good governance, and most importantly for visiting foodies, the world’s sweetest mangoes, Guimaras is an island that’s guaranteed to create good times. With easy boat access from Iloilo City, there will be plenty of time to explore the island, enjoy scenic biking trails, and of course – sample its famous mangoes.
The Philippines is a country of contrasts and its thousands of beautiful islands each have something unique that visitors will enjoy discovering.