Finding The Best Beaches in the Philippines – The backpackers guide to Philippines beaches
Home to more than seven thousand islands, The Philippines is blessed with an abundance of tropical, picture perfect islands and of course its perfect Philippines beaches.
This has propelled the country to one of the hottest beach vacation destinations in the world, and as more backpackers are finding their way to the Philippines, more amazing beaches are being discovered and highlighted on the international stage.
If you are backpacking the Philippines and you are a certified beach lover, then there is no doubt that you will find our guide to the Philippines top 20 most awesome beaches in Philippines useful for planning your trip.
These Philippines beaches are not arranged in any order of merit, they are all stunners and worth a visit when you are backpacking the Philippines.
The listing ranges from popular often-crowded Philippines beaches to hidden gems that only a few tourists and backpackers know about, but of course the best part of backpacking in the Philippines is discovering your own beaches that are as yet undiscovered.
White Beach Boracay Island – Backpacker central
This is an obvious first pick for our list. Located on Boracay Island, White Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Philippines.
The beach is famously known for its gleaming powdery white sand that stretches for about 5 kilometers. It is divided into three locations; Station 1, Station 2 (main tourist area) and Station 3.
White Beach is perfect for sunbathing or simply relaxing on the sand. There are numerous bars and restaurants on the beach to ensure that you never have to step off the sand. The turquoise waters are popular for water activities such as diving and snorkelling.
Read our backpackers guide to Boracay Island
Getting to White Beach : The easiest way to get to White Beach is take a plane from Manila to Caticlan. A boat will then take you to Cagban Port on Boracay Island. From there, you can take a tricycle to any location on White Beach – Read more about flying into Boracay airport.
Bugsuk Island – one of the top beaches in the Philippines
Bugsuk Island takes its spot on the southern end of Palawan Province. The island is home to the longest stretch of fine white sand in the country (longer and finer than White Beach, Boracay).
This beach is located on the southern edge of the island, referred to as Barangay Sibaring.
The beach is so remote that there are no hotels, resorts, restaurants or even electricity close by, so to enjoy this lesser known perfect Philippines beach you will be coming for a camping trip.
Visitors have to bring everything they need for camping including food. But the rewards are plenty; an experience that leaves you wanting to stay forever, a sunrise/sunset that is indescribable and a relaxing detachment from the chaos of the world.
Please remember to be responsible when you camp here, always clear up after yourself, the only thing you should leave on the beach is your footprints.
Getting There: Take a bus from Puerto Princesa in San Jose to Rio Tuba. From Rio Tuba a 2-hour boat ride will get you to Bugsuk Island.
Calaguas Island Beach – One of the best beaches in Philippines
Calaguas is an island grouping in the Camarines Norte Province. It consists of two major islands and several minorones (micro islands) and of course some amazing beaches and bays.
The most popular beach attraction is the white-sand beach that is more secluded and preserved than Boracay’s White Beach, so much so that on many days of the week when the locals are working, you may find that you are the only people enjoying this particular Philippines beach.
It has however been attracting increasing attention in recent years and the word is that plans are afoot to develop it.
Plan your vacation quickly before the summer crowds swell up. Enjoy a sun drenched time on the beach, take a stroll along the fine white sands or swim in the clear turquoise waters, if you are quick you may be lucky enough to have the whole beach to yourself.
Getting There: Take a Philtranco bus from Cubao or Pasay to Daet, a journey of around 8 hours. If you are traveling by air, book a ticket from Manila to Naga Airport. Take a van from the airport to Daet, a 2-hour ride. To get to Calaguas from Daet, you need to take a 2-hour boat ride – its a hike but its worth it.
Golden Beach – Antique’s beautiful beaches in the Philippines
Located just an hour away from Boracay is Golden Beach, named so because of washed up golden rocks that mix in with the white sand. The beach is actually mostly white and is the only white beach in Antique, its length and tropical setting however places it firmly on our list of the best Philippines beaches.
It is located in Antique Province near the border with Aklan Province.
Come here to interact with unspoiled nature, enjoy the cool waters and enjoy spectacular sunsets. You can also interact with local fishermen or enjoy the best of local food at one of the several nearby restaurants.
Getting There: From San Jose, the capital of Aklan, there are several ways to get to Golden Beach. You can go by bus or hire a private car or van. A look at the provinces tourism guide provides more in depth information.
Panagsama Beach – Top of the surfing beaches in the Philippines
Panagsama Beach is located in MoalBoal, a small town on the southwest end of Cebu island. Panagsama Beach is the most popular beach in MoalBoal, attracting a regular surfing and diving crowd, if you are not into surfing or diving this gem of a location is also one of the best Philippines beaches for snorkelling, you do not have to paddle out very far to see a wide range of tropical fish.
If you are a surfing or diving enthusiast, make this beach a part of your itinerary.
The surrounding rain forests and numerous rivers make for an adventurous vacation for nature lovers. You can also explore the nearby White Beach, a quite spot popular for snorkeling due to its crystal clear waters.
Getting There: The best way to reach MoalBoal is to get to Cebu City first. There are many airlines coming from Manila to Cebu. From Cebu you can take a taxi, van or bus to MoalBoal.
Olanivan Island Beach – Secluded Philippines beach paradise
Another secluded stretch of paradise away from the maddening crowds.
Olanivan Island and its sugary white beach are located in Sarangani municipality in the province of Davao Occidental. Instead of bumping into a hundred other tourists, the only people you will interact with here are those of the local B’laan tribe.
The quiet serenity of the beach is a welcome feeling, especially if you have come from a crowded urban area.
Getting There: Balut Island, another major island in Sarangani municipality, is the gateway to Olanivan Island. First, take a flight from Manila to General Santos city. From General Santos take a ferry to Balut Island, a travel time of around 8 hours. From Balut, take an outrigger boat to Olanivan, which is an hour away.
Sugar Beach – Perfect for local themed Philippines beach holidays
The seaside city of Sipalay in the province of Negros Occidental is already a popular tourist destination. One of the best-loved beaches of the city is Sugar Beach.
This is a kilometer long beach characterized by creamy-colored sand.
The beach is bounded by clear waters on one side and lush vegetation on the other. Most sun beds are placed under the shades of the many coconut and eucalyptus trees growing along the beach.
Popular activities here include kayaking, snorkeling, diving and outdoor hikes.
Getting There: From Bacolod take a 6-hour bus ride to Sipalay City. If you are coming from Cebu, there is a daily 12-hour bus ride to Sipalay. Once you are in Sipalay City, a tricycle will take you to Sugar Beach. More information on the official website for Sipalay City
Onuk Island- One of the hidden beaches in the Philippines
Onuk Island in Balabac, Palawan Province, is a paradise like no other, its also one of the most hidden and exclusive beaches you can visit in the Philippines.
Being a private beach, access is limited hence making it a secluded location. Getting access involves some paperwork. You have to send in a formal request letter at the mayor’s office in Balabac or drop in and ask.
Once you get access to the island the trouble will have been worth it. The picturesque landscape combined with the white sands and the unbelievably clear waters make for a once in a lifetime vacation. You can enjoy swimming, snorkeling or just frolicking in the sand.
Getting There: Take a 7-hour bus ride from Puerto Princesa City to Rio Tuba. From Rio Tuba, Balabac is a 4-hour boat ride away. Tourism guide for Palawan can also help you plan your trip. www.palawanisland.org
Saud Beach Pagudpud – The Boracay of the North
Saud Beach in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte province is often called the ‘Boracay of the North’.
It consists of fine whitish-yellowish sands with coconut trees giving it the feel of a tropical beach.
That, combined with the calm clear waters has made Saud the most popular beach in the northern part of Luzon Island.
Other attractions in and around Saud Beach include Pasaleng Bay, the famous Kabigan Falls, Dos Hermanos Island (which is actually a twin set of mountains and not an island) and Bantay Abot Caves.
Getting There: From Manila, take a bus bound for Cagayan and ask to be dropped off at Pagudpud junction. The journey will take around 11 hours. From the junction, a tricycle will take you to Saud Beach.
Panampangan Beach, Tawi-Tawi – Unspoiled Philippines beach
In the southern most part of Philippines is the second largest island called Mindanao.
Further south of this, near the border with Malaysia, is an island province called Tawi-Tawi. It consists of numerous islands with plenty of white sand beaches.
Panampangan Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches to visit in the Philippines. The sand is so soft and so fine, that your feet will sink in, and the view is reminiscent of those of that you see on many a castaway film.
Other beaches worth exploring in Tawi-Tawi are Saluag, Omapuy and Sangay-Siapo – there are also a number of small bays and secret beaches that you can only find with a locals help.
Away from the waters, there is much to do in the many villages and towns of the province. You can explore old mosques, visit fishing villages or go hiking in the mountains.
Getting There: The nearby Bongao town is the gateway into Tawi-Tawi. Cebu Pacific operates flights from Zamboanga City to Sanga-Sanga airport in Bongao. From Bongao, you can then take a boat to Panampangan, an hour and 15 minutes away. More information on the Tawi-Tawi Philippines Government tourism page.
Mactan Island – Amazing Philippines beach & beach resorts
This is one of the most popular islands in Cebu province. It is separated by a bridge from the main Cebu Island. The island is densely populated and highly commercialized. With its white beaches, clear waters rich in coral and five-star luxury hotels, the island is a major draw for tourists.
It is especially popular with snorkelers, divers and surfers. You can also go jet skiing, swimming or parasailing. Away from the beach, shopping is a popular activity. At night, the island comes to life with a bustling and party-filled nightlife.
Getting There: There are two main ways to get to Mactan Island; by ferry or by air. An overnight ferry comes from Manila to Cebu from where you can take a boat to Mactan. Alternatively, take a flight from Manila to Mactan–Cebu International Airport.
Mabua Pebble Beach, Surigao – Not all Philippines beaches are sandy!
This one ranks as one of the most unusual beaches in the Philippines. It consists of smooth white pebbles that are said to have a therapeutic effect when you walk on them.
Mabua Pebble Beach is located in the slow-growing Surigao City, the capital of Surigao del Norte province. Other attractions around the pebble beach include rice paddies, the picturesque Mt. Bagarabon and the Mabua-Looc mountain trail.
Getting There: To get to Surigao, take a flight from either Manila or Cebu to Surigao Airport. Alternatively, take a bus from Davao to Surigao, a journey of 9-11 hours. To get to Mabua Pebble Beach from Surigao City, take a tricycle.
Looc Beach – Great Philippines beach resort destination
This is the sister island to Mabua Pebble, though vastly different in its composition. Looc Beach consists of much smaller pebbles mixed in with white sand. It is just a short distance away from Mabua Pebble Beach.
Looc Beach is perfect for swimming or just sitting on one of the large rocky outcrops while enjoying the tropical sunshine.
Getting There: To get to Looc Beach, follow the same travel plan as Mabua. Once you get to Surigao City, get a tricycle to Looc Beach.
Great Santa Cruz Island, Zamboanga – The ‘Pink’ Philippines Beach
If you ever wanted to see a pink beach, this is the place to go. The beach at Great Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga city is unusual in its colour. Pulverized coral mixed with white sand results in a unique pink hue. Though the place has lost some of its charm, owing to an influx of tourists in the 70s and 80s, it still has much to offer.
With the waters teeming with marine life and beautiful colourful corals, the island is popular for diving and snorkelling. There is no accommodation within the island and camping is prohibited. So only day trips are possible.
Getting There: You can get to Zamboanga city by air from Manila, Cebu, Davao or Iloilo. There are also ferries coming from these cities to Zamboanga. From Zamboanga you will take a boat to Great Santa Cruz Island.
Anawangin Cove, Zambales – Volcanic Beaches
In 1991 Mount Pinatubo erupted, pouring volcanic ash on the surrounding areas. Two Philippines beaches were forever changed after this event. Previously rocky, Nagsasa and Anawangin coves today are mostly white with very fine sand.
Anawangin cove is especially popular for its quaint picturesque look and the evergreen forest of Agoho trees growing just behind it. It is located in the municipality of San Antonia in the province of Zambales.
Getting There: Take a Victory Liner bus going to Zambales and get dropped off at San Antonio. Get a tricycle to take you to Pundaquit from where you will then take a boat to Anawangin or Nagsasa.
Bangui Wind Farm, Ilocos Norte – long eco beach in the Philippines
In the northern province of Ilocos Norte sits Bangui municipality. One of the biggest attractions here is the Bangui Wind Farm. The wind farm is located on an uninhabited and undeveloped beach. The wind turbines stretch over a 9 kilometer stretch of shoreline.
Many tourists come here to see the wind farm in action. But beware, the wind is particularly strong because of the flat landscape and lack of windbreakers.
Getting There: To get to Bangui, first get to Laoag city. You can take a flight from Manila to Laoag International Airport from where you will take a bus to Bangui. From the drop off point, find a tricycle to take you to the wind farm.
Calauit Island – Safari Park Close to this Philippines Beach
Have you ever wanted to go on an African Safari but never had the time or money? Well, worry not because there is a piece of African Savannah in the Philippines.
Calauit Safari Park in Calauit Island is a tropical island turned African Savannah. Though there is a beach, the biggest attractions are the giraffes, zebras and antelopes of the Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary which is set back from the main beach area, as Philippines beaches go it is not the very best, but the wildlife park makes it awesome.
Getting There: Calauit Island is located in Busuanga municipality in the province of Palawan. To get there, fly to Busuanga airport in Coron Town. From Coron, take a boat to Calauit Island.
Salagdoong Beach – Pristine small bay and snorkelling beach
Salagdoong Beach is a public beach located in the island province of Siquijor.
The beach is fairly small with a government run resort set up on it offering one of the few places to stay close to the beach. The clear water is great for swimming, diving and snorkeling while the pristine white sand is perfect for sunbathing.
You can also visit the nearby Kagusuan Beach or go and explore the historic Maria town.
Getting There: Take a flight from Manila to Dumaguete city. Get to Dumaguete Port via a tricycle where you can then board one of the several ferries going to Siquijor. From there, a tricycle will take you to Salagdoong Beach.
Black Island, Busuanga – Cave pocketed Philippines beach
The soft sand beach of Black Island lies in the shadow of large imposing black rock cliffs. Under these cliffs you will find numerous caves. If the beach is not an attraction enough for you, exploring the deep caves is sure to make your visit a memorable one should be.
The white sanded beach is great for sunbathing while the crystal clear water attracts snorkelers and divers.
Getting There: The island is located a short distance from Busuanga Island in the province of Palawan.
To reach the beach, you need to get to Busuanga first. Take a flight from Manila to Busuanga airport and then ride a tricycle to one of the several ports on the island. There, you will find a boat to take you to Black Island.
Alubihod Beach, Guimaras – A selection of Island Beaches
Located in the Western Visayas, Guimaras is one of the smallest provinces in the country.
Most of its beaches are little traveled. They have thus managed to retain their beauty and natural purity. One of the most beautiful mainland beaches is the 200-meter long Alubihod Beach which can be reached after a short pump boat ride from Iloilo.
This is a popular beach for budget backpackers that are searching for the perfect isolated beach .
Other great attractions in the area include Guisi Beach and Cabaling Beach. Several nearby islands, which are part of the Guimaras municipality create the perfect opportunity for island hopping.
Getting There: Take a flight from Manila to Iloilo. From Iloilo, Guimaras is a 15-minute pump boat ride away. A tricycle will then take you to whatever beach you want.
Helpful articles and blog posts on Philippines beaches
We only recommend writers and blogs that we read regularly and believe will deliver substantial value to our readers. The following is our top picks of articles we think are worth reading for you to get an insight the best Philippines beaches.
- “Siargao – Philippines: Surf and Beach Paradise” – by Keep Calm and Travel.com
- “Palawan: Untouched Beauty in the Philippines” – by Two Wondering Soles
- “Exploring the Great Santa Cruz Island of Zamboanga City” – by Out Of Town Blog
- “The Best Tourist-Free Beaches in the Philippines” – By I Dream Of This
- “8 Reasons A Trip To The Philippines Should Be In Your Future” – Huffington Post
- “16 Best Unspoiled Philippine Beach Destinations” – By Backpacking Pilipinas
Do you have an awesome link to a relevant well written article that should be included here? If so, hit us up on Twitter by following and messaging us the link. Looking for the best information on Boracay Island? Check out our backpackers guide to Boracay for further information.
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