Boracay, a small island about 300km south of Manila, is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines. In 2017, Condé Nast Traveler named it the best island in the world; that same year, its world-famous White Beach came in second at TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards.
A six-month-long tourist ban was imposed on Boracay in April 2018; however, this shouldn’t put a dampener on your travel plans to the region. Instead, it’s the perfect opportunity to explore more of what the Philippines has to offer. We round up eight lesser-known – but no less beautiful – beaches across the archipelago.
1. Magpupungko Beach, Siargao
Siargao may be a surfer’s paradise, but one of its biggest draws is its tide pools. Situated at the northernmost end of Magpupungko Beach, these shallow pools of seawater form during low tide. With their crystal-clear, blue-green waters, they make for perfect spots to swim or snorkel in. Fuel up with local Filipino fare at the small restaurants conveniently located along the beach.
Pilar, Surigao del Norte
2. White Island, Camiguin
For a more wallet-friendly alternative to the Maldives, make your way to White Island, a horseshoe-shaped sandbar surrounded by sparkling blue waters. With stellar views of Mount Hibok-Hibok from the shoreline, the beach is also a great place to catch the sunrise or sunset, but it can get very hot during the day as it’s devoid of natural shelter (although you can rent beach umbrellas for a small fee).
3. Nacpan Beach, Palawan
Located 45 minutes away from the town of El Nido, Nacpan Beach is one of the most highly ranked beaches in the Philippines. This 4km stretch of sand exudes a laidback vibe, and with only one restaurant to be found here, it’s not as touristy compared to other beaches. Whales, manta rays and dolphins are regularly spotted in these parts too, which is why it’s a hit with diving enthusiasts.
El Nido, Palawan
4. Long Beach, Palawan
Another Palawan contender, Long Beach is situated in the town of San Vicente. At approximately 14km, it’s the longest white-sand beach in the Philippines (reportedly thrice as long as Boracay’s White Beach!). At the moment, it’s a rather remote area with hardly any resorts around, so you can get a glimpse of what life in fishing villages is like here.
San Vicente, Palawan
5. Paradise Beach, Bantayan Island
Boasting aquamarine waters and powdery sand, Paradise Beach is a precious find for sun-seekers who want to avoid crowds and touts at all costs. Located on the southern part of Bantayan Island, the beach is also dotted with rocky cliffs, which double up as Instagram-worthy backgrounds.
6. Alona Beach, Panglao Island
The province of Bohol may be known for its iconic Chocolate Hills, but it also boasts a slew of scenic beaches. Take Panglao Island, at the southwestern tip of Bohol, as a prime example. Here, you’ll find Alona Beach, a 1.5km stretch of sand with hotels and restaurants dotting its length. Head out for a dive and admire the marine life at the house reef, or indulge in a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach.
7. Gota Beach, Caramoan
The Caramoan Islands shot to fame thanks to hit reality TV show Survivor, which was filmed here. Gota Beach on the Caramoan Peninsula is one of the area’s top attractions, and serves as a starting point for many tourists who come for a full day of island-hopping. The beach is full of impressive limestone formations, including a large rock – dubbed Explorer’s Rock – looming right out of the water. Thrill-seekers will relish jumping off the Cagliog or Langkipaw cliffs, or spelunking in the many caves found in the area.
8. Pink Beach, Great Santa Cruz Island
As one of National Geographic’s 21 best beaches in the world and the only one of its kind in Asia, Pink Beach is a must-visit. As its name suggests, its sand bears a pink-tinged hue thanks to the red organ pipe coral fragments that wash ashore. This is also one of the more eco-conscious beaches in the country: Only 500 visitors are allowed per day, and no trash is permitted to be left behind. On the island, you can also take a tour of the nearby mangroves, and check out the stingless jellyfish that live in the lagoon.