Planning a trip to the Philippines? Pack your swimsuit, because beaches are a no-brainer when it comes to exploring this glorious archipelago.
Most travellers to these sunny shores squeeze themselves into tourist hotspots like Boracay and El Nido; but if you really want to get away from it all, we called on a Philippines expert to compile a list of beautiful alternative beaches for you to lay your towel down — the best beaches in the Philippines for travellers seeking off-the-beaten-track experiences.
Less development and more remote locations make these more eco-friendly choices – ideal for seeing the Philippines in all its natural splendour. Some require a little pre-planning and a lot of time to get to, but we promise these best beaches in the Philippines are more than worth the journey.
If you're looking for experiences beyond the beach, discover the best islands in the Philippines for different kinds of travellers. In the meantime, dive into this overview of beautiful undiscovered Philippines beaches that'll see you exploring far beyond Manila beaches.
If going off-grid is your ultimate goal, make a beeline for Cresta de Gallo. This tiny island is only accessible via private boat from Sibuyan – a one-hour trip that caps off a long series of plane, ferry and jeepney rides. Those willing to endure this trek are rewarded with one of the most secluded slices of paradise in the Visayas region.
The island’s name translates to “rooster’s crest”, inspired by its novel shoreline. On its northernmost tip, a beautiful white sandbar juts out like a seaside runway, surrounded by a crystalline ocean that sparkles for miles over the horizon.
There are no hotels here, so unless you want to travel to and from Sibuyan, you’ll need to make use of the campsite facilities. However, with views like this, even the most precious of travellers may be tempted to rough it. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the whole island to yourself.
Guarded by steep cliffs, this idyllic stretch of white sand is naturally isolated from pesky intruders – making it perfect for solo travellers or small groups in search of solitude. The only way to get here is through Eagle Point Beach and Dive Resort in Anilao (just under four hours by car from Manila), where you can take a 20-minute boat ride to the island.
For your efforts you’ll be rewarded with pristine conditions, turquoise waters and an astonishing panorama from the island’s hilltop viewpoint. What really sets Sepoc Beach apart, however, lies below the surface. The island is in the thick of the coral triangle: an area that contains 76% of the world’s coral species.
Snorkel to see colourful fish or dive deeper to discover the Sepoc Wall, where vibrant coral gardens give way to a dramatic 90 foot drop.
A mystical island which is well-known for its witchcraft and black magic, Siquijor casts a spell with the beguiling Paliton Beach. Only a 40-minute tricycle ride from the main port, this small stretch of sand attracts a more zen backpacker crowd.
Here you’ll find beanbags, beer stalls and inihaw (Filipino BBQ), their glorious aromas wafting between swaying coconut trees. This “mini Boracay” is the best place to watch the sunset on the whole island, with people making haste towards its shores before the crack of 6pm.
But don’t worry, the beach may be on the petite side, but it never gets too crowded. Grab a bottle of San Miguel and watch the sky melt into brilliant violet.
Word is getting out about this picturesque gem, situated right on the northernmost tip of Luzon and boasting two kilometres of coconut tree-fringed coastline.
Locals will happily remind you that this is what Boracay used to look like before the beer towers and bars moved in – untouched by urban development with a pristine beach.
There’s a rustic charm here that’ll appeal to older travellers, with a modest number of guesthouses and restaurants modelled into nipa huts. Catch a one-hour flight from Manila to Laoag airport, followed by a two-hour drive to Pagudpud where the beach is right on your doorstep.
Alternatively, budget travellers can get an overnight bus from the capital and wake up to the sounds of gentle waves swathing the shore.
Mindanao is often overlooked by foreign travellers in favour of its northern siblings, but they’re missing out. A 30-minute tricycle ride from Mati city centre (Mati is a city in Davao Oriental), Dahican Beach has a youthful buzz to it, thanks to a loyal community of surfers and skimboarders who spend their lives taming the waves.
Check out the boardwalk for some epic sunset views, perfectly framing the photogenic shoreline. Nature-lovers will be thrilled to know that a whopping three species of marine turtle (out of seven worldwide) nest on Dahican Beach.
Local conservation group Amihan sa Dahican-SOS (Save Our Seas) helps ensure hatchlings and their mothers are safe from poachers, returning over 100,000 baby turtles to the sea in the past four years — the highest rate in the country. When night falls, keep your eyes peeled for tiny flippers wriggling out from the sand.
The coffee-like sand and salty sea air of Calaguas Island in Camarines is enough to wake up even the tiredest of city-slickers. Its main beach, Mabahang Buhangin, is a sight to behold, with azure water hugging two kilometres of wild jungle coastline.
From Manila, travellers can brave 14 hours of zigzagging bus routes and long boat rides to arrive on these fine white shores, but once here, you’ll be thankful you made the journey.
There’s also an option to take a one-hour flight by sea plane to Daet, followed by a bus to Vinzons, a tricycle to the port and then a two-hour boat ride to Mahabang Buhangin, Calaguas Island – a complicated journey, but one that will get you to this glorious beach in under five hours.
This is one for adventurous souls: expect no phone signal, no ATMs (bring cash) and only the wilderness as your playground.
Hike to the tip of Mabahang Buhangin (translated to “long sand”, which implies how much of a sweat you’re going to work up), explore its secret coves, or kayak across the glimmering sea, with water so clear it’ll look like you’re floating.
In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan landed on this very island, kickstarting 300 years of Spanish colonial rule. On these shores, you’ll find a marker declaring the very spot where the sailor took his first steps and changed Philippine history forever.
If you’re even the slightest bit of a history buff, this belongs on your bucket list.Today, Handig Beach has remained largely untouched by time: thick ancient jungle gives way to fine white sand and curious rock formations (perfect vantage points for diving into the cool sea).
The area’s pristine condition is in part thanks to its remoteness: to get here, you’ll need to fork out at least 3,000 php (£46) for a one-way pumpboat ride from Guiuan. But with so much raw nature on your doorstep, that’s a small price to pay.
Siargao has fast-become one of Mindanao’s buzziest destinations, gaining a reputation as the surfing capital of the Philippines. Yet for a little rest and relaxation, there’s no better draw than Magpupungko Beach.
This photogenic scene attracts a relaxed, younger crowd, restoring their batteries on its porcelain shores while tropical house music streams from the beach bars.While here, don’t miss the Magpupungko Rock Pools.
These magnificent tidal pools only reveal themselves during low tide; giving travellers just a few hours per day to dive in (times change everyday, so plan in advance). At three-metres deep, these irresistible lagoons are filled with crystal-clear blue water and spires of limestone, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything quite like it.
To get here, rent a moped from General Luna and enjoy the glorious 45-minute drive, zooming down sun-kissed roads lined with coconut palms.
The tribes that once ruled the archipelago cultivated a rich folklore, which still lives on today. One such legend denotes the origin of the Islas de Gigantes: a cluster of gorgeous karst islands off the coast of Iloilo.
It’s said that a heartbroken giant, learning of the death of his lover on their wedding day, hacked himself in two: creating Gigantes Norte and Gigantes Sur islands, respectively. On the latter you’ll find Antonia Beach.
Here, the powdery soft sands give way to crystal-blue waters perfect for snorkelling, with vast coral reefs hiding giant sea cucumbers and clownfish between the crevices. Once you’ve got your land legs, wander to the edge of the sandbar and climb the crocodile-shaped rock formation for a full view of the beach in all its glory.
To get here, you’ll need to catch a ferry from Estancia Port to Barangay Lantangan, where it’s another 30-minute seaward journey to this slice of paradise.
You might also want to read up on fun adventure holidays in the Philippines, and our guide to Camiguin Island: the hidden gem of the Philippines.
If this run-down of the best beaches in the Philippines has you hankering for more inspiration, discover more in The Rough Guide to the Philippines and our customisable tailor-made trip itineraries to the Philippines.
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