What does the perfect beach experience mean to you? A tropical paradise with no one else around? Sipping a long, cool drink from a beachfront bar as the sun sets? With countless tiny islands and hundreds of miles of coastline, the Philippines are a treasure trove of seaside terrain, so whether you’re looking for rocky inlets to discover or remote white sands to leave your footprints in, there's a beach in the Philippines that's perfect for you. We’ve picked out five of our favourites to get you inspired...
Balinghai beach, Boracay north coast
The well-documented delights of Boracay’s White Beach make it one of the most popular beaches in the Philippines, but just around the corner is a hidden cove which has all the benefits of Boracay without the bustle. The few visitors determined to sample the relatively inaccessible tranquillity of Balinghai beach get there either down the steps from the only resort on this side of the bay, or by outrigger canoe sailed around the headland. Sheltered by a smattering of tiny, rocky islets leading from the cliffs out into the sea, the crystal-clear waters lap hypnotically at the white sands. The uneven, rocky backdrop gives Balinghai more character than its more famous cousin around the coast, creating some fantastic shadows and contrasts for keen photographers. This is a place where you can gain some peace and respite from beach-life crowds but still be back in time for cocktails.
Hidden coves on the Underground River trail, Sabang beach
Trekking to the Puerto Princesa Underground River in Sabang is a popular excursion for intrepid visitors looking for a taste of the wild. The Jungle Trail winds over rocks and roots, along narrow walkways and steep paths, leading eventually to the mouth of the subterranean river. The path is only suitable to those with high levels of physical fitness and gritty determination, and most who trek it are stalwartly headed for their destination, so miss the coves and bays along the way. As the hike can take up to two hours there will be regular rest breaks. Ask your guide if you can take them on the beaches tucked away beyond the trees. Looking out across aquamarine water from the undisturbed sands, with only the occasional monkey or monitor lizard for company, it can feel as if you’re the only people in the world.
Calachuchi Beach, Coron
The bay stretching away from Calachuchi (or Kalachuchi) Beach is speckled with a rocky archipelago that draws your gaze to the larger, misty islands on the horizon. Kalachuchi is the local name for the headily-scented frangipani flowers that grow here, and the vibe in this secluded bay is set firmly at exotic paradise. Enjoy lunch in the cool shade of the wooden shelters at the back of the beach when our island-hopping tour stops here for a picnic, or perhaps take a kayak or paddle-board out on the water. Some of the beach’s best treasures lay in the outcrops of coral beneath the waves, so bring your snorkelling gear and let time slip away as you lose yourself in the fascinating life of the underwater forests. See Napoleon Wrasse, cuttlefish, seahorses amid a rainbow of tropical creatures as you float over the seabed, enjoying the primal, timeless bubble of this hidden gem.
Blue Lagoon Beach, Pagudpud
A curving ribbon of golden sand separates the hills of Maira-ira Point in Pagudpud’s northern tip from the implausibly vivid swell of peacock-hued sea that gives the Blue Lagoon its name. The journey there fires up a sense of adventure as the road snakes around the steep cliffs along the coast, providing a trip to rival any major ocean highway. At one end, the small town spills out into buzzing beachside bars and paluto restaurants full of fresh seafood. When you crave a little more seclusion, simply walk to the far side of the bay and find long stretches of deserted sand where you can sit in tranquillity and look out on the mesmerising blue. If that sounds a little too calm, climb up the hillside a little way from the quieter side of the beach to a zip-line launch point. From here, you can strap yourself in and whizz across the cove to land on the beach, full of adrenalin!
Daku, Guyam and Naked islands, Siargao
Each of these three islands is only a stone’s throw from Siargao, which has become known as the Philippines’ surfing capital. The unspoiled sands, perfect breaks and relative ease of access (direct flights from Manilla and Cebu) make Siargao is a real-life surfers’ paradise, with plenty to explore for non-surfers too. Naked Island is a huge, open sandbank with a mound of shimmering sand peeping above the water’s surface; ideal for shallow swimming. Guyam is the epitome of the picturesque tropical island: white sands, turquoise seas and a core of swaying palms to daydream under. Daku, the largest of the three, boasts what is arguably one of the finest beaches on the planet. Along with the ideal trinity of sea, sand and shady palms, there are wooden cottages to hire by the day where you can rest in the shade and watch the world go by. Simply choose the island that suits your mood, and set sail.
If this has you dwelling on the details of your ideal beach, ask our Philippines Destination Specialists for advice on tracking it down - it will be there somewhere!