Island-Hopping

The world’s second-largest archipelago is, naturally, an island-hopper’s dream. Little clusters of islets abound off all of the main islands, and in any coastal community you’ll find a boatman with a bangka ready to take you exploring.

Bacuit Archipelago This labyrinthine waterworld should be top of the list for any island nut.

Calamian Group Isolated fishing villages, magnificent coral reefs and mysterious inland lakes abound.

Caramoan Peninsula The karsts around this wedge of land in eastern Bicol rival those of the Bacuit Archipelago.

Port Barton A gaggle of offshore paradises awaits day trippers from this chilled-out but rapidly emerging beach town.

Mactan Island Escape Mactan's mad traffic with a day of snorkelling and eating seafood on offshore islets.

Romblon Bounce around by bangka in this diverse province in the Sibuyan Sea, north of Boracay.

Architecture

Scores of historic stone Spanish churches and elegant colonial-era ancestral mansions are the highlights.

Vigan Its Old Town is a remarkably well-preserved district of buildings with Mexican, Chinese, Filipino and Spanish influences.

Silay Essentially an open-air museum of sugar mansions and heritage homes from a bygone age.

Escolta St Fascinating Manila neighbourhood showcases American-era art deco and beaux arts.

Iloilo The Jaro district north of the centre is a fascinating timepiece, while not far outside the city lies mesmerising Miagao Church.

Taal Well-preserved 19th-century ancestral homes and one of the largest basilicas in Southeast Asia.

Beach Resorts

Whoop it up in a party-mad mecca, lose yourself on a private island or pursue underwater pleasures at a low-key dive resort. With thousands of islands, there’s a patch of sand for everyone.

Boracay Most widely known and visited, White Beach is ground zero for the Philippines' beachfront party scene.

El Nido The mix of exquisite luxury resorts on private islands and down-to-earth backpacker beach bungalows is unprecedented.

Siargao There’s no hotter island, as boutique properties appear on dreamy beaches lapped by perfect waves.

Panglao Island The Philippines' next world-class resort island is an extension of Bohol, with divine beaches.

Dumaguete It’s not a resort per se, but it’s within range of several of the best: Siquijor, Sipalay, Dauin and idyllic Apo Island.

Malapascua Island A laid-back diving resort on the verge of big things in northern Cebu.

Camiguin Resorts on this Jurassic Park–like island, still relatively undeveloped, offer seclusion in range of adventure.

WWII History

Few countries endured more pain, suffering and damage than the Philippines in WWII and sombre memorials across the archipelago commemorate key battles, historic landings and gruesome death marches.

Manila The capital has several poignant memorials such as the moving Manila American Cemetery.

Bataan Peninsula Kilometre markers retrace the Bataan Death March; Mt Samat is a must for military-history buffs.

Leyte Make like MacArthur and waltz ashore on Red Beach, where a statue re-creates his ‘return'.

Corregidor Island Only Bataan is more synonymous with WWII; visit on a day or overnight tour from Manila.

Puerto Princesa Embraces its strategic role in Pacific theatre with a clutch of thoughtful testaments.

Ecofriendly Experiences

Travelling green in the Philippines is easy but you need to do your homework. Start by travelling independently, as many domestic tour operators don't give a hoot about conservation, although there are notable exceptions.

Donsol Avoid hand-feeding programs and snorkel with the butanding (whale shark) here – a more natural and invigorating experience.

Pamilacan Island Spot dolphins and other cetaceans from boats once used by manta-ray and whale fishermen.

Tubbataha Reef Hop on a live-aboard for a dive safari to this protected sunken atoll in the middle of the Sulu Sea.

Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary The only place to go for responsible viewing of Bohol’s iconic primate.

Mt Iglit-Baco National Park Observe the annual tamaraw (endangered wild buffalo) count and hike to remote indigenous Mangyan villages.

Bohol Bee Farm This vast organic farm offers accommodation, food and tours, all sustainably served.

Philippine Eagle Center Working to ensure the survival of the Philippines’ national bird – the world’s largest eagle.

Tao Philippines The quintessential Palawan island-hopping adventure has plenty of green cred.