6 Best Philippines Beaches To Visit in 2023
The Philippines lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, stretching more than 1,840 kilometers. Explore some incredible beaches in spread across 7,107 paradise islands, the Philippines is readily accessible to the different capitals of the world. Its three main islands are Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
There are two distinct seasons in the Philippines, the wet (southwest monsoon) and the dry (northeast monsoon).
The wet season runs from May to October and the dry from November to April. The wet season is best avoided, as the country is hit by an average of seven typhoons and affected by fifteen.
November and December are the coolest months, with daytime temperatures of around 28°C, while March, April and May are very hot: expect temperatures to peak at 35°C.
Watch out for Christmas and Easter when the whole of the Philippines hits the road and getting a seat on a bus or plane can be difficult.
There’s not much to see or do at Bantayan Island, just off the northwest coast of Cebu, but this is precisely why people come here – just to lie on its beaches or laze for a few days at one of its sleepy little resorts. It’s also a handy stepping stone to Negros and on to Panay and Boracay.
Ferries from Cebu arrive at the island’s capital Bantayan, also the departure point for ferries to Negros. Most of the island’s resorts and beaches are concentrated in the pretty town of Santa Fe on the island’s southeast coast.
To get here from Cebu City take a Phil-Cebu Bus Lines bus from the Northern Bus Terminal to the northern port town of Hagnaya. It’s best to catch an early bus at 5am or 6am. It will take you straight to the pier at Hagnaya where you pay a P2 pier fee and P55 for the one-hour journey to Santa Fe.
Batangas Beach Resorts
For many hardworking city-dwellers first stop at the weekends is one of the many beach resorts in Batangas. In truth, the beaches are nothing to write home about, but they are at least relatively close to Manila. Three hours after leaving the smoke you can be breaking out the suntan oil.
When travelling to the beach resorts of Batangas you have two areas to choose from. You can take a bus (BLTB, hourly departures from Pasay terminal) to Nasugbu on the west coast. The road that runs north and south through Nasugbu is lined with resorts so the best thing to do is take a jeepney south from Nasugbu and get off where you feel like it.
North of Nasugbu the pleasant White Sands beach is also home to numerous small resorts.
The other area of Batangas province with sea and sand is Anilao, further south, which you reach by taking a bus (BLTB) for Batangas City but asking to be let off at the stop for Bauan.
From here you can take a jeepney to the pretty little barrio of Mabini, after which you will see dozens of rickety bamboo resorts along the shore.
A few kilometres beyond these cheaper resorts and accessible by jeepney are a number of more upmarket ones such as Aquaventure Reef Club.
Tourism has arrived on the tiny island of Boracay with a vengeance. Where you could once only get catch of the day and local rum you can now sit in marbled luxury with chateaubriand and Cuban cigars. The rapid increase in the number of upmarket resorts has crushed some of the island’s free-and-easy spirit, but the beach is still the best in the Philippines and the sunsets alone are worth the journey.
Thirty kilometers square and shaped like a dumbbell, Boracay lies at the northwestern tip of Panay Island, 350km south of Manila. It may be only 7km long and 1km wide at its narrowest point, but it’s a big tropical island in a small package, with thirty beaches and coves.
The most famous is White beach , on the island’s western shore: 4km of the kind of powder white sand that you thought only existed in Martini adverts.
In fact, the word Boracay is said to have come from the local word borac, meaning cotton, a reference to the sand’s colour and texture. One of the most popular activities in Boracay is doing nothing. Another is sitting on the beach at dusk watching the sun drift towards the horizon, or having an outdoor massage from one of the roaming beach masseuses.
You can also go horse riding, rent mountain bikes, motorcycles, kayaks, or go scuba diving with one of the many dive operators.
Other beaches worth exploring include Puka beach on the north coast, which is famous for shiny white Puka shells. The best way to get there is to hire a banca from local boatmen on White Beach for half a day (P500) per group.
To the north of White Beach sits the little village of Din-iwid with its 200-metre beach, accessible from White Beach on a path carved out of the cliffs.
At the end of a steep path over the next hill is the tiny Balinghai beach , enclosed by walls of rock.
On the northeast side of the island Ilig-Iligan beach has coves and caves, as well as jungle full of fruit bats.
Filipino modesty is forgotten on the tiny island of Camiguin during the annual Lanzones festival in the fourth week of October. Revellers dressed only in lanzones leaves stomp and dance in the streets as a tribute to the humble lanzones fruit, one of the island’s major sources of income. The festival is one of the liveliest and friendliest in the country, and this on an island that is already renowned for the friendliness of its people.
Camiguin is a big island in a small package (229.8 square kilometers, to be precise). Apart from the Lanzones Festival, it has seven volcanoes (some still active), a multitude of hot springs, a sunken cemetery, ivory-white beaches, offshore islands, a spring that gushes natural soda water, and 35 resorts, most with affordable accommodation and restaurants.
Ferries from mainland Mindanao dock at Benoni on Camiguin’s southeast coast, from where several jeepneys run every day to Mambajao (30min; P15), the capital, on the north coast, and a good place to start your tour. The last jeepney leaves around 6pm, but you can always negotiate a special ride for P150. Cabu-An beach is the closest beach to Mambajao proper and has some nice coral close to the shore.
You can swim at Ardent Hot Springs , a one-hour trek inland from Mambajao. Agohay beach , 7km west from Mambajao (heading anti-clockwise) is more popular than the beaches around the capital and has the benefit of being within striking distance of Mount Hibok-Hibok , an active volcano that is a worthwhile but challenging day’s climb.
The views from the top are nothing short of dramatic, with the coast of Mindanao in the distance. Continuing anti-clockwise you come to the barrio of Bonbon, the site of a sunken cemetery where snorkellers can see gravestones at low tide. The cemetery sank during a volcanic eruption in 1871. The brooding ruins of Gui-ob Church, another casualty of volcanic activity, are also here.
There are a number of good resorts and beaches in Catarman, on the island’s southwest coast, 24km from Mambajao. Six kilometres north of Catarman are Tuasan Falls and nearby are the Santo Nino Cold Springs. Both have deep pools that are good for swimming.
On the southern coast near Guinsiliban, fifteen minutes east by jeepney from Catarman, is a 300-year-old Moro Watchtower. Off the eastern coast is Mantique Island, which is fringed by nice beaches and has a steep drop-off on the far side for snorkelling. One of Camiguin’s most popular attractions is White Island, which sits off the northern coast and is only visible at low tide. It’s less of an island and more of an extended sandbar.
The views and the water are lovely, but there’s no shade, so make sure you take your own. Camiguin has a circumference of 65km and to circumnavigate it by jeepney would take about three hours, although connections between some of the remoter towns on the west coast (Yumbing and Catarman, for example) are unreliable. Alternatively, you could rent a motorcycle in Mumbajao.
From Bantayan you can hire bancas to take you to the nearby island of Malapuscua for P1500 (one way), about one hour away.
Malapuscua is 2.5km long and about 1km wide and tricycles are the only form of transport.
Bounty beach on the south coast is beautiful and not to be missed. Places to stay on the beach include BB’s Lodging House ($5-10), which has basic doubles, and the more upmarket Cocobana Beach Resort ($20-25), which has accommodation in spacious cottages.
If you want to go to Malapuscua direct from Cebu City, catch a bus from the Northern Bus Terminal to Maya and then hop on a public banca (45min).
It may be touristy and the hawkers can wear you down, but there’s no denying Puerto Galera on the northern coast of Mindoro has a stunning natural harbor, some quiet coves, cheap accommodation and excellent scuba diving. There are dozens of dive outfits in the area making it a good place to strike a deal and get yourself a discount on the going rates.
The point of arrival is officially known as Poblacion, though most people refer to it and the surrounding areas as Puerto Galera.
From the harbor jeepneys depart for the area’s many beaches.
Sabang is the busiest beach, with a mind-boggling variety of accommodation dotted haphazardly along the shoreline and plenty of choices for eating.
Neighboring Small La Laguna and Big La Laguna are rather more laid-back and family-oriented.
Twenty minutes by jeepney the other side of Puerto Galera harbour, to the east, is White beach. Accommodation here is strictly of the bamboo-hut variety and for meals you’ll have to eat what you are given: it might be catch of the day or a tin of sardines.
Five minutes beyond White beach by jeepney is Talipanan beach. Both are good bases for trekking in the mountains. One of the many locals who earn a little bit extra as guides will gladly take you to Talipanan or Aninuan falls.