While most travelers opt to discover the Philippines by land or by air, what better way is there to experience the country’s true idyllic beauty as a maritime domain than by traveling by sea?
Embarking on a boating tour is one of the most ideal ways to explore the Philippines. For one, it affords a private group of passengers maximum control over every little detail of their journey. For another, it allows a greater level of independence than other types of transportation would. Lastly, a boat tour places participants right in the midst of the fresh ocean air and the picturesque and unspoilt waters that are the true highlights of each island destination. In these respects, boating is the superior way to travel through the country. Thus, island hopping is something you should look forward to when you buy a motor boat or sailboat in the Philippines.
Which Philippine island destinations are worth cruising to? Here’s a list of 12 stops you should make while on a boating tour of the country.
El Nido, Palawan
El Nido is a globally renowned paradise for travelers. It’s won awards from respected institutions like Conde Nast Traveler, TripAdvisor, and iTravelerAsia for its spectacular nature destinations, its world-class resorts, and its sustainability efforts. It’s a fitting idea to head there via sailboat, a form of transport that offers a lower impact on the environment. Then, you can get off the deck and indulge in popular marine activities, like snorkeling or diving.
Hundred Islands, Pangasinan
Another top island destination in Luzon is the Lingayen Gulf area of Pangasinan, which houses the Hundred Islands National Park. In this popular island-hopping destination, only Governor Island, Quezon Island, and Children’s Island have been developed for tourism. However, while you’re on a boat, you can still take in the visual marvels of all 124 islands in the national park. You and your passengers will have fun sighting the mushroom-shaped, forested isles..
Pundaquit is located in Zambales, which is another province in the Philippines known for its marine environments. This beach area is the jumping off point to the diving and camping sites of Anawangin Cove, Nagsasa Cove, and Capones Island. On its own, however, Pundaquit is also worth a stopover while you’re on a boating tour. The ash-gray sand, the sight of Mount Pundaquit, and the sunset views from your watercraft will all be worth it.
Caramoan, Camarines Sur
If you’re a fan of Survivor, you might recognize Caramoan as the location for several of the show’s seasons. This island destination in the Bicol region is just as gorgeous up close as it is on camera. From your boat, you’ll be able to survey the island’s many lagoons, limestone formations, and coves.
Islas de Gigantes, Iloilo
The province of Iloilo is a key maritime destination in the Visayas, and it is home to one of the country’s most prominent sailing clubs. It is also the location of the Islas de Gigantes, a chain of islands that’s the subject of colorful lore. Locals believe engkantos inhabit the islands, and that the saltwater lagoon of Tangke rises every year, without fail, on St. John the Baptist’s feast day. Regardless if these are true or not, if you travel here, you’re guaranteed a magical time while on your boat.
Boracay has long been known as a nightlife capital in the Philippines, and it attracts numerous local and international tourists alike. But if you don’t feel like mingling with the crowds there, you can enjoy yourself just as easily from aboard your boat. After all, away from Boracay’s shores, you’ll be able to view the island’s world-famous turquoise waters up close.
Yet another marine hotspot in the Visayas is the highly developed island of Mactan, in Cebu. Mactan is one of the best places in the region to visit for boat tours, as well as watersports. You will enjoy twice as much if you’re on a private boat and cruising in your own time. And if you need a safe place to dock your boat, you can always make a stop at the Cebu Yacht Club in Lapu-Lapu City.
Panglao Island, Bohol
Panglao Island is Bohol Province’s top tourist hub, and it’s definitely one of the top places to go for your boating photo ops. Panglao’s sprawling cliffs, hilly landscape, and crystal-clear waters will provide a true feast for the eyes. Lots of tourists make their way to Panglao by boat, so you can join them in your common desire for adventure in Bohol.
Samal Island, Davao del Norte
The Island Garden City of Samal, as it is officially known, is one of the prime boating destinations in Mindanao. Of key interest in the area are the Pearl Farm Beach Resort, the Monfort Bat Cave, and the Hagimit, Tambang, and Tagbaobo waterfalls.
Here, boatmen can park their private vessels at the Holiday Oceanview Marina, which can be found on the island’s north shore. Samal should be on the travel bucket list of divers, cavers, watersports fans, and boating enthusiasts alike.
Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte
Siargao Island is the Philippines’ very own cloud nine surfing hotspot. But surfing doesn’t have to be the only highlight of a trip here. You can also cruise the spirited waves of Siargao via boat. This is how you can get the best views of the natural wonders farther offshore. Keep an eye out for Siargao’s lagoons, coves, and soaring palm trees.
White Island, Camiguin
If you’re steering your boat towards Camiguin Province, make sure you head to the curious horseshoe-shaped sandbar called White Island. No trees or buildings line the sandbar, and you will get a different view of it depending on the position of the tide. Other sights that you’ll be treated to from aboard your boat are the nearby Hibok-Hibok volcano and Mt. Vulcan. Allot time to visit White Island if you’re cruising within Northern Mindanao.
Once Islas, Zamboanga del Sur
Once Islas, or “eleven islands,” comprises a group of islands in Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur. Open to the public since 2018, it has slowly become one of Mindanao’s gems for eco-cultural tourism. Those who stop over at Once Islas can catch a glimpse of Bisaya-Bisaya Island’s natural infinity pool and other fascinating land and water formations. Boat tourists should contact Zamboanga City’s tourism office for inquiries, as there’s a maximum number of people who can be accommodated daily.
The list above comprises only 12 destinations out of thousands that are possible. These should be motivation enough to plan an unforgettable private boating trip in the Philippines!