Island-hopping in the Philippines is like visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris. With over 7000 islands, you’d be silly not too. Thankfully, the sheer limestone cliffs and beyond beautiful water teeming with tropical fish and coral is still relatively untouched by tourists. Palawan and Boracay are the best places to explore uninhabited islands but you’ll need a few hot tips if you want to do it properly…

6 Tips for Island Hopping in the Philippines

BYO Reef Shoes…

Thongs just won’t cut it when wading through reefs, caves or walking from your anchored boat to shore. Havaianas slip off as the waves wash in beneath you, so unless you want to run the risk of stepping on exposed coral or having something slimy underfoot, a good pair of slip-on aqua shoes with hardy rubber soles are recommended. Even if they totally cramp your island style!

El Nido, Palawan, is the best place for a DIY Robinson Crusoe experience…

With over 1700 islands and inlets in the Palawan Province alone, it’s easy to stumble across deserted caves, cliffs and coves providing the perfect backdrop for secluded seafront barbecues.

If you have a group, hire a private boat…

Sure, you can go the commercial route and mix with other tourists. But if you have a group of four or more it works out around the same price and is well-worth the experience to get off the beaten. In the El Nido and Palawan region, Daphnee Travel and Island Tours have a great reputation. You can hire snorkel  gear and kayaks with them also, and they know the islands inside and out! All you have to do is tell them the type of day you’re looking for and they can tailor the private tour to you!v

Protect your iPhone or camera from boat splash back with an underwater case…

Because anything can happen near water and it usually does…

Head for the islands around the Bacuit Archipelago for world-class vistas… 

Skip Halong Bay (and the 4093486723-491 tourists who visit each day) and hop between these stunning islands to the north of Palawan. The Archipelago’s peaceful islands and karst cliffs put it’s Vietnamese sister to shame; you’ll feel like you’re on the set of ‘The Beach’.

If you book an island hopping tour, book one which includes lunch…

Many islands in Palawan and Boracay don’t have any amenities, let alone food and drink stalls! If you’re going to go down the commercial route, be sure to book a tour which supplies a hearty lunch of fresh-caught seafood. Trust me, you’ll need it after all the snorkelling.

island hopping palawan


(Coron Beach, Palawan)IMG_4013

(Exploring hidden caves, Crystal Cove, Island near Boracay)

Boracay Ceb Juanderers 150

boracay crystal island diving

Boracay Ceb Juanderers 159

(Walking the plank on an island opposite Crystal Cove, near Boracay… You can jump from different heights 10m, 15m, 20m)

Boracay sunset

(Boracay Sunset)

Palawan island hopping

(Island hopping Palawan Province)

the small lagoon el nido palawan

Cebu guitars

(Cebu guitars)

marang of mindanao

(Marang, fruit of Mindanao…Warning: tastes like a custard apple mated with a wet sock)


Read my article, 8 Unexpected Reasons to Visit the Philippines, for more tips.

Getting To and Around The Philippines

Cebu Pacific Airlines flies direct from Sydney to Manila five times a week. The no-frills carrier offers the cheapest flights from Sydney to Manila on the market. Once in the Philippines, Cebu flies just about anywhere domestically. For more information, visit their website: 

More Information

For more information on island-hopping and discovering the Philippines, head to the Australian Tourism Philippines website.


Stefanie Acworth was a guest of Cebu Pacific Airlines and the Philippines Tourism Board in August 2015. All opinions are her own.