The Philippines and picture-perfect beaches go together like a bucket and spade. The country is made up of more than 7000 islands, and almost all of them boast at least one stretch of pristine golden sand with iconic bangka boats bobbing in shallow teal waters offshore. Whether you're looking to find an underrated spot on a secluded island, a cove with a good swell for surfing, or a lively patch where you can enjoy a cocktail in the sun, here are 12 of the best beaches in the Philippines.
Editor's note: during COVID-19 there are restrictions on travel. Check the latest guidance before departure, and always follow local health advice.
1. White Beach
With its glorious, powdered-sugar sand, White Beach is the center of the action in Boracay and the only sight most visitors ever see. Beach locations are defined relative to three former boat stations, where bangkas (small, canoe-like boats) from nearby Caticlan used to arrive. The area south of Station 3, known as Angol, contains most of the budget accommodation, including a few remnants of Old Boracay.
2. Long Beach
San Vicente's signature attraction, Long Beach, is a real beauty. It actually consists of three beaches – Long Beach 1, 2 and 3 – which combined yield about 14km of almost empty golden-hued beach on the west coast of Palawan. Among them, Long Beach 2 is perhaps the pick of the litter; it's 50m wide, offers pink-hued sunsets and stretches uninterrupted for 7km.
3. Nacpan Beach
For an easy day trip out of El Nido, on the island of Palawan, head north by tricycle or motorbike to this incredible, white sand beach. Development has arrived in Nacpan and new guesthouses, boutique hotels and upscale tented camps are popping up everywhere. Still, the atmosphere remains mellow – for now.
4. Sandira Beach (Paradise Beach)
Around 5km east of Santa Fe, on Bantayan Island, this sublime beach has white sand, shade umbrellas and excellent swimming, and the surrounding area is attractively landscaped and trash-free. It's very popular with locals on weekends and holidays.
5. Saud Beach
This dazzling long arc of white sand shimmers into a perfect swimming pool of blue sea. Located on the northern tip of the island of Luzon (the largest island in the Philippines), the beach is home to a big selection of accommodation, but it's still a pretty mellow place (outside of holiday weekends). Coconut palms fringe the beach and waves peel off the reef when there's swell.
6. ABCD Beach
One for the boarders; ABCD Beach on Calicoan Island is named after the four reef breaks along this coast, which draw surfers from near and far between June and October. The shoreline remains undeveloped, with a few restaurants and a handful of surf schools helping visitors hone their technique. Beyond the reefs here there is nothing but Pacific Ocean all the way to South America.
7. Toytoy Beach
Quiet and secluded, Toytoy, in the remote northwest of Catanduanes island, is a long, untouched stretch of sand with coral formations that makes it a great spot for snorkeling. Catanduanes is well off the typical tourist trail, so if you're looking for underrated, lesser-known sands to lay your towel, this could well be the place for you.
8. Maremegmeg Beach
Often called Las Cabanas Beach after a local resort, this is the closest nice beach to El Nido and has a rockin' sunset bar scene centered around Beach Shack and Maremegmeg Beach Bar. A zipline flies over the water between the mainland and an offshore island.
9. Cloud Nine
Another hotspot for surf nuts, the name of this legendary right-hander says it all. Despite increasing in popularity of late – some locals dub it ‘crowd nine’ – Siargao’s signature wave remains the country’s most legendary break.
10. Danao Beach
Far more mellow than its noisy neighbor Alona, Danao Beach, on the beautiful Panglao Island (part of Bohol province), consists of patches of fine white sand backed by coconut palms – it's an idyllic tropical setting.
11. Paliton Beach
Northeast of San Juan, on the western side of the island of Siquijor, is stunning white-sand Paliton Beach. The water is as clear as glass and there are wonderful views of Apo Island. Take the turnoff at the little church in Paliton village, and head along a sealed track for about 1km to the beach. The best diving in Siquijor is along a wall that runs from Paliton Beach southeast to Tubod Beach.
12. Anawangin Cove
Accessible only by boat or on foot (five hours from Pundaquit), this stunning arc of white-ash sand can get packed with visitors from Manila, but if you catch it at a low time, it can be magical.
This article was first published in April 2017 and last updated in February 2021.