Philippines: In search of the perfect beach

Philippines: In search of the perfect beach

There are no shortage of beautiful beaches in the Philippines. There are long ones, pink ones, hidden ones, deserted ones, rugged wave battered ones and sugary white ones. There are beaches full of colourful kitesurfers and beaches for cocktail swilling backpackers. The choice is mind boggling. The only trouble you might have is deciding which beautiful beach to sink your toes into.

Having spent a month in the Philippines travelling to as many of the islands as we could manage, we found lots of stunning beaches, all unique in their own special way. Here’s our pick of the best.

Discover secret beaches in the Barcuit Archipelago, Palawan

There are rumours that the paradise cove depicted in Alex Garland’s classic ‘The Beach’ was actually inspired by the islands surrounding El Nido. With soaring limestone cliffs, sparkling lagoons, deserted white beaches and coral reefs teaming with colourful fish it’s hardly surprising.

An island hopping tour is the best way to explore these beaches and can be arranged easily from El Nido town. Tour C (there are 4 to choose from) is the best for sand lovers as it sails further north to the hidden beaches around Matinloc and Taiputan island. Our personal highlight was swimming through a narrow crevice in the rock to reach a hidden lagoon sheltering the “Secret Beach”, a small crescent of perfect white sand nestled within the cliff walls. The trip also takes in various idyllic snorkelling spots where you can spot clown fish (think Finding Nemo) among the colourful coral and includes a bbq lunch on the beach.

Kayaking in Miniloc Island's small lagoon, Palawan
Kayaking in Miniloc Island’s Small Lagoon, Palawan

For a real Robinson Crusoe experience book an overnight camping trip and sleep on the beach under the stars. We arranged our trip through El Nido Paradise which included two full days of island hopping (Tour A and Tour C) plus overnight camping on a deserted beach with limitless rum! We watched the sun set with our new friends then took a midnight swim among the tiny, twinkling bioluminescent plankton under the stars. Paradise!

Boat on deserted island in the Barcuit Archipelago, Palawan, Philippines
Our desert island home in the Barcuit Archipelago, Palawan

Party on Boracay’s White Beach

White beach is the ultimate party beach, combining powdery white sand with cheap cocktails. It also boasts one of the best sunsets in the Philippines. Recline on a beanbag with a mojito and watch the paraw boats glide by as the sun sinks below the horizon then dance the night away to the resident DJ. Get there early to bag your sunset viewing spot and take advantage of 241 offers.

Sunset from Boracay's White Beach
Boracay’s famous sunset from White Beach

Wander deserted beaches on Siquijor

There’s something magical and humbling about having a beautiful beach all to yourself, staring out over the vast ocean hearing nothing but the waves and gentle swish of the breeze through the palm leaves. If solitude is what you’re after then Siquijor is the place for you. It’s coastline is dotted with stunning empty beaches. You don’t even have to work hard to find them, just jump on a motorbike, follow the 72km coastal road and pull over whenever you spot a patch of sand that takes your fancy. We liked the beaches on the eastern side of the island between Maria and Lazi which sit on a marine sanctuary. You’ll be tripping over starfish as you paddle through aqua blue water beneath the swaying palms.

Boats on a deserted beach on Siquijor island, Philippines
One of the many beautiful deserted beaches we discovered on our motorbike tour around Siquijor island

Siquijor is also the ideal place for good value beach front accommodation so ideal if you’re travelling on a budget. We stayed at Kiwi Dive Resort on the north eastern tip if the island for £11 a night. There is a coral reef not far from the beach and the resort also offers motorbike and kayak rental. For wannabe divers it’s an ideal place to do a PADI open water diver course.

Explore jungle and mountains from Sabang beach, Palawan

This little gem, an hour west of Puerto Princessa, ticks all the boxes for nature lovers. With lush green jungle that stretches all the way down to the ocean and a dramatic mountain backdrop to the white sandy beach, you might find yourself staying longer than expected. If you throw one of the world’s longest underground rivers into the mix you’ve got a pretty sweet holiday destination. We stayed at Bambua Nature cottages set in the heart of the jungle amid chattering monkeys, just ten minute walk from the beach. Their Nature Experience Package costs £80 per person and includes 3 nights in a charming, spacious jungle hut, plus activities such as the underground river, a mangrove paddle tour and mountain trek with guide.

Man strolls along Sabang beach in Palawan at sunset
Taking a stroll along jungle lined Sabang beach, Palawan, at sunset

Kiteboarding on Bulabog Beach, Boracay

On the opposite side of Boracay Island is blustery Bulabog beach which couldn’t be more different to its calm western cousin. Swap your cocktail for a kiteboard and take to the waves for an adrenalin high like no other. Introductory 3 hour courses aren’t cheap (£100), but when you discover the complexities of learning this sport you’ll understand why! The first 2 hrs of the lesson are all about learning how to control the kite with the last hour focussing on getting you up on the board. But when you finally hit that sweet spot and the wind hauls you out of the water and you’re bouncing across the waves, it’s a fantastic feeling!

Kiteboarders on Bulabog beach, Boracay, Philippines
A sky full of kites at Bulabog beach, Boracay

Hammock swinging on Calaan beach, El Nido, Palawan

Calaan beach is the perfect place to relax after a day of island hopping in Barcuit Bay. Just a 30 minute walk (or 5 minute tricycle ride) up the beach from busy El Nido, it’s the ideal place for some quality hammock time. We stayed at Garden Bay Beach Resort located on its own picturesque bay with silky sand and an exquisite view of Cadlao island at sunset.

Calaan beach, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
Peaceful Calaan beach, El Nido
Hammock silhouetted against the sunset on Calaan beach, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
Watching the sunset over picturesque Cadlao island

There’s no doubt that the Philippines is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and with so much choice there really is a beach for everyone. So if you’ve yet to find your perfect slice of sandy paradise, this could be the destination for you!

4 thoughts on “Philippines: In search of the perfect beach

  1. I love the way you’ve painted the Philippines in words. Together with the stunning photos I can imagine myself there.


  2. Sandy beaches, coral reefs and lush green jungle. Kitesurfing, kayaking and motorcycling along the coastal road. There’s so much to see and so much to do!


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