Last year, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) added 534 previously uncharted islands to the map of the Philippines, bringing the official count to 7,641. They all have a few things in common: soft white sand, crystal clear water, and blissful year-round weather. Yet most tourists only flock to a chosen few – leaving more for the rest of us.
Below are six lesser-known Filipino islands that stand out from the rest. Whether you’re looking to stuff your face with authentic Filipino food or just post up in paradise, these hidden gems are the perfect places to escape from the grind.
1. Bantayan Island, Cebu
Known for: Amazing local eats and historical architecture
Beyond its beaches, the ultra-fresh seafood is reason enough for a trip to Bantayan Island. But a trip wouldn't be complete without a taste of Cebu lechon, the best roasted pig dish in the Philippines and arguably the world, according to Anthony Bourdain. Bantayan Island is also home to a 400-year-old Spanish-era Church, made of coral stone, and a 1800s fort, built to fend off pirates.
2. Camiguin Island, Mindanao
Known for: Volcanoes and hot springs
Coined the “Island Born of Fire,” Camiguin Island has the most volcanoes of any Filipino island, including Mount Hibok-Hibok, Mount Mambajao, Mount Uhay, and Mount Vulcan. The island’s also known for its waterfalls, beautiful white sandbar, and hot and cold springs.
3. Coron, Palawan
Known for: Lakes, lagoons, and paradisiacal beauty
Coron is part of the archipelago province of Palawan, which was named the “Most Beautiful Island in the World” by the Conde Nast Traveler in 2016. It has everything you’d imagine in a tropical paradise: pristine beaches, clear blue water, picturesque cliffs, and expansive lagoons. Coron’s underwater shipwrecks and colorful coral reefs also make for an unforgettable scuba diving adventure.
4. Ifugao, Luzon
Known for: Instagram-worthy mountain views and U.N.-protected rice terraces
Ifugao’s claim to fame are the 2,000-year-old Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras. An ideal destination for hiking, these rice terraces are widely considered the eighth wonder of the world and even listed as a UNESCO heritage site.
5. Sambawan Island, Biliran
Known for: Coral gardens and marine life
Sambawan Island is small, uninhabited, and rich in marine life, making it ideal for diving junkies. The rocky hills are also perfect for a scenic nature walk – just make sure not to step on any of the adorable tortoises!
6. Siargao Island, Caraga
Known for: Isolated beaches and surfing
Siargao is a tear-drop shaped island just southeast of Manila. Warm waters, excellent swells, and chill local vibes have made this island popular among the surfing community. True experts head to Cloud 9, a verified “wave magnet,” for unmatched barreling opportunities.