Idyllic North Pandan Island (P150 entrance fee), ringed by a halo of fine white sand, coral reefs and coconut palms, lies two kilometres off the west coast of Mindoro. In 1994 a sanctuary was established around the eastern half of the island so the marine life is exceptional; with a mask and snorkel you can see big grouper, all sorts of coral fishes, even the occasional turtle.

If you want to visit the island it’s easy to arrange a boat to Pandan (20min; P600 return for a boat which can hold 15 passengers) from the Sablayan Eco-Tourism Office. You’ll need to pay a P75 fee to set foot on the island.

The island is the site of the well-run Pandan Island Resort (t0919/305-7821, wwww.pandan.com), a back-to-nature private hideaway developed by a French adventurer who discovered it in 1986. There are four types of accommodation at the resort: budget rooms (P500–999) standard double bungalows (P1500–1999), larger bungalows for four (P2000–2499), and family houses for up to six (P500–999). During the diving season (Nov–May) the island is so popular that all rooms are often taken, so it’s important to book in advance. Guests are required to take at least one buffet meal at the resort restaurant every day, and this is no bad thing: the chef dishes up excellent European and Filipino cuisine (try the tangy fish salad in vinegar) and the beach bar serves some unforgettable tropical cocktails.

On most days the resort’s scuba-diving centre organizes day-trips to Apo Reef, and longer overnight safaris both to Apo and to Busuanga off northern Palawan if there are enough passengers. Even if you don’t dive, there’s plenty to keep you occupied on and around the island itself, including kayaking, jungle treks, windsurfing and sailing.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Philippines features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A Rough Guide to: the best islands in the Philippines

A Rough Guide to: the best islands in the Philippines

Isolated bone-white beaches, reefs teeming with marine life, cascading rice terraces – it’s no wonder that the Philippines is often associated with tropica…

11 Jan 2018 • Esme Fox insert_drive_file Article
Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Modern Bangkok, historical Hanoi and tourism-boom town Siem Reap — home to the world-famous Angkor Wat temples — are some of Southeast Asia's best drawcards…

21 Nov 2017 • Marco Ferrarese insert_drive_file Article
A postcard from the Philippines: saving the tarsiers in Bohol

A postcard from the Philippines: saving the tarsiers in Bohol

Tarsiers are the world's smallest primate – and 20 years ago they were dangerously close to extinction. But numbers are rising in Bohol, in the Philippines…

03 Nov 2017 • Mike MacEacheran insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right