The Ultimate Guide to Island Tours in the Philippines

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Island Tours in the Philippines

Nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia, the Philippines is a strikingly beautiful archipelago made up of over 7,000 islands, each one brimming with lush landscapes, vibrant wildlife, warm-hearted locals, and rich cultural heritage. These islands offer countless unforgettable tours, giving visitors a taste of the country’s staggering natural beauty. Here, we’ve put together the best island tours in the Philippines, guaranteed to make your vacation a tropical paradise dream.

Palawan: El Nido and Coron Island Hopping Tour

Island Tours In The Philippines, Palawan

Known as the “Last Ecological Frontier of the Philippines”, Palawan is an undisputed paradise. Take an El Nido island hopping tour to explore stunning lagoons, white sandy beaches, and impressive limestone cliffs. Highlights include the Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, and Snake Island.

In the northern part of Palawan, a Coron Island hopping tour awaits. Visitors get to explore the Twin Lagoons, Kayangan Lake (considered one of the cleanest lakes in Asia), and the captivating shipwreck diving spots. Both El Nido and Coron offer unparalleled opportunities for snorkeling, diving, and wildlife spotting.

shipwreck diving Island Tours In The Philippines, Coron

But these two popular towns are rather inundated with tourists and so are the sites around them. If you have the budget, to get from one to another we would suggest a private island hopping tour expedition. There are some 82 islands along the way, in a beautiful, remote area, with crystal clear waters that the high traffic sites of El Nido and Coron cannot boast. For the budget conscious we also offer group tours. Don’t miss out on turtles, manta rays and secluded, white sand beaches away from the crowds.

Pros and Cons of a boat tour in Palawan

Palawan, the largest province in the Philippines, is a must-see destination known for its lush wildlife, crystal-clear waters, and striking limestone formations. Like any travel destination, however, it has its advantages and disadvantages.

limestone cliffs island tours Philippines, twin lagoons


  1. Spectacular Scenery: Palawan is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking natural wonders, including the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the stunning limestone landscapes around El Nido and Coron.
  2. Biodiversity: Palawan is known as the Philippines’ “Last Ecological Frontier” due to its preserved habitats, unique flora and fauna, and rich marine life.
  3. Adventure Activities: With numerous islands, lagoons, and marine sanctuaries, Palawan offers a plethora of outdoor activities. These include island hopping, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and exploring hidden caves and beaches.
  4. Cultural Immersion: The island’s ethnic groups, such as the Palawan and the Batak tribes, offer rich cultural experiences. Palawan also has historical sites and World War II wrecks that history enthusiasts will find interesting.
  5. Clean and Sustainable Tourism: Palawan has made efforts to promote sustainable tourism, which means your visit supports the local economy without damaging the environment.

port barton island tour


  1. Accessibility: Traveling to Palawan can be a challenge. It requires a domestic flight from Manila, and getting around the islands often requires boat or ferry rides which can be affected by weather conditions.
  2. Limited Infrastructure: Compared to other tourist destinations, Palawan’s infrastructure is less developed. Some areas have limited internet connection, and power outages can occur.
  3. Cost: Due to its remote location and popularity as a tourist destination, visiting Palawan can be more expensive than other parts of the Philippines. Costs may include flights, boat tours, and accommodations.
  4. Overcrowding: Some areas in Palawan, particularly El Nido and Coron, can get crowded during peak season. This can sometimes lead to lesser quality experiences in terms of service and environmental preservation.
  5. Weather Dependency: Much of Palawan’s appeal is outdoor-oriented. Hence, weather plays a big factor in your experience. The rainy season, which typically occurs from June to November, can disrupt travel plans and outdoor activities.

snorkeling on an island tour

Despite its cons, Palawan is widely regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful island destinations. Like any travel, proper planning can mitigate most potential disadvantages. It’s essential to consider these factors to ensure your trip is as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.

Boracay: The Classic Island Experience

Famous for its stunning white-sand beaches and lively nightlife, Boracay is one of the Philippines’ top tourist destinations. The island hopping tour around Boracay will lead you to picturesque spots like Puka Shell Beach, Crocodile Island, and Crystal Cove Island. Enjoy activities like snorkeling, diving, parasailing, and stand-up paddleboarding or just laze around the mesmerizing white beaches.

Oysters in Boracay Island, Philippines

Pros and cons of an island tour in Boracay, Philippines.


  1. Beautiful beaches: Boracay is famous for its pristine white sand beaches, particularly White Beach, which is often listed among the most beautiful beaches in the world.
  2. Water activities: The island offers a wide range of water activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, paddleboarding, and kite surfing, with numerous operators offering equipment rentals and courses for beginners.
  3. Vibrant nightlife: Boracay has a well-deserved reputation for its lively nightlife scene, with a wide variety of bars, clubs, and beach parties that cater to different tastes. The dining is also plentiful in variety and exquisite.
  4. Rich biodiversity: Island hopping tours can give you the chance to encounter diverse marine life, especially around nearby islets and coral reefs.
  5. Local culture: Visiting Boracay gives you the opportunity to learn about the local culture and history of the Philippines, particularly the Ati people who are indigenous to the region.
White beach boracay Island tour
The famous White Beach of Boracay, the main beach.


  1. Overcrowding: Boracay has become a major international tourist destination, which can result in overcrowding during peak seasons. This has led to challenges in maintaining the island’s environmental sustainability, but new regulations have limited the influx of tourists and strict laws were put into place to keep the beaches clean and clear of overbuilding.
  2. Environmental concerns: The increasing tourist activity has put pressure on the island’s ecosystem, leading to pollution and damage to marine life in some areas. The government had to temporarily close the island to tourists in 2018 for rehabilitation, but that has helped greatly.
  3. Pricey: Due to its popularity, the cost of vacationing in Boracay can be higher than in other parts of the Philippines, or even the rest of South East Asia. Expect to pay more for accommodation, food, activities andeverything.
  4. Commercialization: Some visitors feel that Boracay has lost some of its original charm and authenticity due to the influx of tourists and development of resorts and commercial establishments.
  5. Seasonal weather: The Philippines has a tropical climate, which means that there are periods of heavy rainfall. The wet season (June to October) may disrupt outdoor activities and travel plans.

Cebu: Mactan Island-Hopping Adventure


Just off the coast of Cebu City, the Mactan Island-hopping tour provides a beautiful escape to Olango Island Group. Known for its thriving fish sanctuary and bird watching opportunities at the Olango Wildlife Sanctuary, this tour is a must for nature lovers. Visit Hilutungan Marine Sanctuary for some of the best snorkeling in the region, and don’t miss out on Pandanon Island, known for its stunning white sand bar.

Pros and cons of a Mactan Island-Hopping Adventure in Cebu, Philippines.


  1. Beautiful Beaches and Islands: Mactan and the surrounding islands are well known for their white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, offering an ideal setting for relaxation.
  2. Excellent Snorkeling and Diving: The surrounding islands like Hilutungan, Nalusuan, and Pandanon have marine sanctuaries that are home to various marine species, making them great spots for snorkeling and diving.
  3. Historical Significance: Mactan Island itself is rich in history. It’s the site of the Battle of Mactan where native chieftain Lapu-Lapu defeated Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.
  4. Convenient Location: Mactan Island is connected to Cebu by two bridges, and it’s also where the Mactan-Cebu International Airport is located, making it easily accessible for tourists.
  5. Local Cuisine: Cebu is famous for its unique Filipino dishes, including lechon (roast pig), which is considered among the best in the country.



  1. Overcrowding: Similar to Boracay, Mactan and its surrounding islands can get crowded, especially during peak seasons. This could impact the tranquility of the experience.
  2. Commercialization: As tourism has grown, so too has commercial development. Some tourists feel this detracts from the natural beauty of the area.
  3. Marine Damage: Over the years, certain marine areas have experienced damage due to tourism-related activities. It’s important to choose eco-friendly tour operators and follow local regulations to minimize impact.
  4. Variable Water Clarity: While the waters around these islands are usually clear, water visibility can sometimes be affected by weather conditions and human activity.
  5. Cost: As with other popular tourist spots, some visitors find the costs for activities, meals, and souvenirs in Mactan higher compared to less touristy parts of the Philippines.

Bohol: Balicasag and Virgin Island Tour


Bohol isn’t just about the Chocolate Hills and Tarsier Sanctuary. It also offers a fantastic island hopping experience, most notably the Balicasag and Virgin Island tour. Here, visitors can witness an underwater paradise filled with colorful coral gardens and diverse marine life in Balicasag. The Virgin Island, known for its crescent-shaped sandbar, is another must-visit location where you can relax and enjoy the serenity of the surroundings.


  1. Exceptional Snorkeling and Diving: Balicasag Island is known for its rich marine biodiversity and is considered one of the best diving and snorkeling spots in the Philippines. You may encounter sea turtles, colorful corals, and a variety of fish species.
  2. Stunning Natural Beauty: Virgin Island, also known as Pungtud or Pontod Island, is famous for its long, curving sandbar. It’s a picturesque place perfect for relaxation and photo opportunities, especially during low tide when the sandbar is more visible.
  3. Accessible Location: The tour is typically taken from Alona Beach, Panglao, which is quite accessible, especially if you’re already visiting Bohol.
  4. Dolphin Watching: On your way to Balicasag Island, you’ll often have the opportunity to see dolphins in their natural habitat, particularly early in the morning.
  5. Seafood Feasts: Balicasag Island offers fresh seafood meals, with local eateries preparing a variety of dishes you can enjoy after snorkeling or diving.



  1. Crowds and Tourist Traffic: As these are popular tourist destinations, they can become quite crowded, especially during peak seasons. This can impact the tranquility of the experience.
  2. Marine Environment Concerns: As with many tourist hotspots, the local marine environment is under pressure from the high number of visitors. It’s important to follow guidelines to ensure you don’t contribute to the damage.
  3. Variable Weather Conditions: Weather in the Philippines can be unpredictable, with potential for tropical storms. Bad weather may disrupt your plans or visibility underwater.
  4. Entrance and Rental Fees: There may be various fees associated with the tour, such as environmental fees, boat rental, snorkeling or diving gear rental, and guide fees, which can add up.
  5. Limited Facilities: Especially on Virgin Island, facilities can be quite basic. This includes limited food options and lack of public restrooms.

Siargao: The Surfing Capital


Known as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines”, Siargao offers more than just catching waves. Its island hopping tour includes Naked Island, known for its powdery white sand and clear waters; Daku Island, the largest among the group, where you can enjoy a beach picnic; and Guyam Island, perfect for sunset viewing.

Pros and cons of an island tour in Siargao, Philippines


  1. Surfing Paradise: Siargao is internationally recognized for its surfing spots, particularly Cloud 9, which is considered one of the best in the world.
  2. Natural Beauty: Apart from its beaches, Siargao is known for its stunning landscapes including the Magpupungko Rock Pools, Sohoton Cove, and the Sugba Lagoon.
  3. Island Hopping: Trips to nearby islands like Naked Island, Daku Island, and Guyam Island are commonly included in tours, offering a diverse experience with more beaches, snorkeling spots, and scenic views.
  4. Local Community: Siargao has a laid-back and welcoming vibe, and the local community is known for its warmth and hospitality.
  5. Biodiversity: The region’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems are rich in biodiversity, offering unique wildlife viewing opportunities.



  1. Increasing Popularity: Siargao has been gaining attention as a tourist hotspot, which could lead to overcrowding, especially during peak seasons.
  2. Limited Infrastructure: The local infrastructure may not be as developed as in other tourist areas. This includes road conditions, availability of ATMs, and medical facilities.
  3. Environmental Concerns: The increasing number of visitors and ongoing development could put pressure on the island’s natural resources and ecosystems.
  4. Limited Non-Surf Activities: While there are activities other than surfing, such as island hopping, kayaking, and paddleboarding, visitors looking for historical or cultural attractions might find the offerings somewhat limited compared to other destinations.
  5. Weather-Dependent: Siargao is a tropical island and certain times of the year (particularly from November to March) can be rainy, which might affect outdoor activities.

Batanes: The Northernmost Frontier


While it’s the smallest province in the country, Batanes provides a tour experience like no other. Often likened to New Zealand’s landscapes, Batanes’ rolling hills, and rocky cliffs facing the wild, open ocean are a sight to behold. The island tour covers spots such as the Basco Lighthouse, Marlboro Hills, and the honesty coffee shop, among others.

Pros and cons of an island tour in Batanes, Philippines


  1. Breathtaking Landscapes: Batanes is known for its beautiful and unique landscapes, including rolling hills, rugged coastlines, and lush pastures, often likened to the landscapes of New Zealand or Ireland.
  2. Rich Culture and History: The Ivatan people, the indigenous inhabitants of Batanes, have a rich culture and history that they’ve preserved over centuries. The traditional stone houses, cultural artifacts, and historic sites provide insight into their unique way of life.
  3. Peace and Tranquility: Batanes is one of the least populated provinces in the Philippines and far from the typical tourist trails. This means less crowd and a more peaceful, laid-back experience.
  4. Outdoor Activities: There are numerous opportunities for hiking, cycling, and photography. The islands offer a variety of trails with different levels of difficulty and views.
  5. Wildlife and Biodiversity: Batanes is home to diverse flora and fauna, some of which are endemic to the islands.



  1. Remote Location: Batanes is the northernmost province in the Philippines, and it’s quite remote, which can make the journey longer and more costly.
  2. Limited Accessibility: The islands are mainly accessible by air, and flights can be expensive and subject to weather conditions. Flights may also be limited, which requires more planning.
  3. Weather-Dependent: Batanes is known for having ‘four seasons in a day’, and weather can be quite unpredictable. It’s also frequently visited by typhoons, which may disrupt travel plans.
  4. Limited Modern Amenities: While this could be a pro for those seeking a more rustic experience, it could be a con for travelers who prefer more modern conveniences. The local infrastructure, such as accommodations, restaurants, and internet connectivity, may not be as developed as in more popular tourist areas.
  5. Conservation Restrictions: To preserve its natural beauty and cultural heritage, there are certain restrictions in place. This may limit certain activities or access to specific areas.

Conclusion about island tours in the Philippines

The Philippines, with its diverse marine life, stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, truly is a tropical paradise. These island tours are just a glimpse of what the country can offer. With more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is definitely not a country you can visit in a two-week window. If you spread yourself out and focus too much on the hotspots, you will easily spend half your vacation time (and budget) traveling from one location to another. Our suggested routes might give you some insights into how best to explore the country. Otherwise, if you’d like to start with the cream of the crop, Palawan, that is our specialty and we’d be happy to put together the perfect island tour for you!

island hopping tour in the philippines

Experience the thrill of an island hopping tour in the Philippines

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We are a family operation managing private custom boat tours in the beautiful Palawan area, and are happy to help travelers with their plans through the country, having traveled a lot of it ourselves and planning to visit it all.

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