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10 Beautiful but Remote Islands in the Philippines Unknown to International Tourists

Updated on March 24, 2020
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Jenny is a girl who loves many things. She loves street foods, traveling, nature, music, cats, and dogs! She's crazy about purple & writing!

Panampangan Island, Tawi-tawi
Panampangan Island, Tawi-tawi | Source
Calaguas | Source

List of 10 Island Destinations That you Haven't Heard of

1. Hinugtan Beach, Malay, Aklan
2. Calaguas Island, Camarines Norte
3. Caramoan Islands, Camarines Sur
4. Kalanggaman Island, Palompon, Leyte
5. Panampangan Island, Tawi-tawi
6. Islas de Gigantes, Iloilo
7. Britania Group of Islands, Eastern Mindanao
8. Dinagat Islands, Dinagat Island Province
9. Seco Island, Antique
10. Camotes Island, Visayas

Camiguin...white beach
Camiguin...white beach | Source

Let's get real. If you hate the crowd and you feel you're not young anymore for parties and nightlife, remove Boracay from your travel bucket list. If you want to enjoy an island getaway but have limited budget, forget about the exclusive islands of El Nido. Wait what? Why am I telling you this?


My first article "10 Most Beautiful Beaches in the Philippines" was a huge success in that it garnered a lot of traffic, however, some people were still looking for places that are less popular but equally stunning. To be honest, I totally get it. We want to see beautiful places and it is perfect when we enjoy the views all to ourselves. Going to Boracay, for example, is probably one of the most exciting travel plan you'll make but when you get there and see that the beautiful beach is crowded and you can barely have your own private space, it can be really frustrating.

So, for all those beach bummers out there who love off-beaten tracks, pristine turquoise or emerald waters and a lot of private space, this article is for you.

1. Hinugtan Beach, Malay, Aklan

This is very close to Boracay but only a handful of tourists know about this place and that it can be accessed from Boracay by boat. We didn't go to this place by boat though. We were on the mainland and we had our motorbike that time and we just saw a little sign on the road that led uphill towards a beach. So we followed the sign and the road until we were stopped by a rough road leading downhill. That must be the beach we figured so we walked all the way down the muddy rough patch. It is not safe to ride on a motorbike on that road, I swear. So better to ditch your motorbike somewhere safe and flat. There is no one there anyway...After, 15 minutes of muddy walk into a little jungle, the paradise was waiting on the other side...When I say paradise, it is really that and more...there was no one else there but a few fishermen and at the end of the long stretch of white beach, there is a resort but no one was there except for one foreign family...

I thought how beautiful it was and how lucky we were to have stumbled on that road sign. I almost prayed that tourists will never hear of this beautiful place and just stay in Boracay because the place is so unspoilt and clean and tranquil and everything Boracay isn't. I'm sure Boracay was much more beautiful before it was discovered and developed for tourism...but I hope Hinugtan Beach will never suffer Boracay's fate.

How to get there:

Hinugtan Beach is accessible by boat from Boracay or from the town of Alegria and because it is not a common island destination included in tours, the boat rental may be a bit pricey but very negotiable. The easier way to get to the beach is by land. The sign board to the beach that we saw is along the national/provincial road located in Buruanga. From Caticlan, hire a motorcycle and ride to Buruanga. Travel time is about 15 minutes. Follow the road sign (it can be easily missed so focus on the right side of the road - if you are from Caticlan).


2. Calaguas Islands, Camarines Norte

Calaguas Islands dot the Pacific coast of Vinzons, Camarines Norte. It is accessible by boat and travel time is 2 hours from the main land. Going to this secluded island is arduous but it is well worth it. The reason why it remains pristine up to now is because it is remote and not readily accessible to a lot of tourists. If you are strong enough to brave the journey, the reward will surely take your breath away.

There are quite a few resorts already on the island and a number of cottages to stay in for the night but majority of the tourists prefer to stay in a tent because it is cheaper and more rewarding. I went to Calaguas with my travel buddies a few years ago (before I went to Boracay actually). It was so beautiful that even after seeing Boracay for the first time, I still loved and preferred Calaguas. We camped and our tent was really spacious and I loved that we can see the stars from inside.

Boracay has set the bar so high that almost all Philippine beaches with white sand are compared with Boracay. So many beaches were called Boracay of the North or the South but none of these beaches really came close to the white powdery sands of Boracay until Calaguas. The white powdery sands of Calaguas is very similar to that of Boracay. What makes it better than Boracay? Less crowd..(mostly local tourists in the weekends) and not a lot of commercial establishments.

How to get there:

From Manila, you can either travel to Calaguas by air or by land. There are daily flights from Manila to Naga and from Naga you need to take public transport to Daet. Travel time is 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Manila directly and endure 8-10 hours of travel and then get off at Daet terminal. From Daet terminal you can take a public jeepney to Mercedes or Vinzons and from there, a boat will take you to Calaguas. You can also go to Paracale from Daet terminal and in Paracale you can ask a fisherman to take you to Calaguas.


3. Caramoan Islands, Camarines Sur

Just like the Calaguas Islands in Camarines Norte, Caramoan Islands on the other side of the Bicol Province are equally stunning and still unspoilt. The beauty of the island debuted in the international scene when Survivor used the island as a backdrop or setting for their TV series. There are a lot of beautiful islands to choose from in Caramoan and each island has its own distinct beauty and character more alluring than the next.

Caramoan also offers more activities and opportunities for diving and surfing. There are limestone cliffs to climb as well for adventurous seekers. The peninsula is a series of natural wonders on its own. Explore different islands and you will surely fall in love with its natural splendor. Matukad island is the most popular among tourists. Lahos island is spectacular and Sabitang laya offers diving and snorkeling opportunities and twin beaches for you to conquer. Gota beach is where Survivor village is located and the cottages there can be rented..

How to get there:

From Manila, you can either travel to Caramoan by air or by land. There are daily flights from Manila to Naga and from Naga you need to take public transport to Sabang Port. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Manila directly and endure 8-10 hours of travel and then get off at Sabang Port. Sabang Port is the jump-off point for Caramoan. There are ferries and trigger boats every hour from 6am until 11am only and if you miss the last ferry, you can hire a private boat which is pricey and can range from 2500 to 3500 depending on the size.

What to do:

Each island in the Caramoan group offers different activities. Aside from island hopping, other water activities can be enjoyed like snorkeling, swimming, diving, and surfing. There are also limestone cliffs to climb and hills to trek.

Matukad Island is one of the group of islands in Caramoan peninsula...
Matukad Island is one of the group of islands in Caramoan peninsula... | Source
Sabitang-laya is a triangular shaped island in the Caramoan peninsula and is different from the other islands as it has twin beaches...
Sabitang-laya is a triangular shaped island in the Caramoan peninsula and is different from the other islands as it has twin beaches... | Source

This Video is for everyone who likes to visit the Philippines and has no idea where to go and what to do...

4. Kalanggaman Island, Palompon Leyte

Kalanggaman Island is a remote gem located 20 kilometers west of Leyte province. Although it is fast becoming a popular island destination, the tourists are mostly locals and infrastructure on the island is still down to the bare essentials like toilets, dressing rooms, few cottages here and there, multi-purpose hall and one or two tree houses. All boats leave the island before sunset and they won't be back until after sunrise.

So what's with the island? Local travel bloggers and mainstream media put the island on the travel map and since then a lot of local tourists flock to the island to get a glimpse of its natural beauty. The government is promoting Kalanggaman to be one of the popular island destinations in the country but they still try to observe responsible tourism by limiting the number of people that can set foot on the island everyday.

How to get there:

The fastest way is by air to Ormoc city via Cebu. Flights from Manila to Ormoc is not yet available as of writing. From the airport, head towards the city ark or behind the pier. There are buses and vans there that you can take to go to Palompon. Travel time is 1.5 hours. Get off at Palompon at the Eco Tourism Office. Pay your fees and hire a boat to the island. Travel time is more or less an hour and it is totally worth it.

That glorious sandbar!..
That glorious sandbar!.. | Source

5. Panampangan Island, Tawi-tawi

Located in the southernmost part of the country, Tawi-tawi is part of the Sulu archipelago and is still largely unexplored because of the remoteness of the place and the on-going tribal clashes in Mindanao.

Somehow, the hefty price tag for boats and the remoteness of the place coupled with the inherent danger in some places in Mindanao helped in the preservation of this paradise. With 3km of white powdery sands (as in powder-like and no crushed coral roughness) Panampangan island offers the longest sandbar in the country. Here, there are food stalls and convenience stores anywhere. Visitors to the island have to bring their own food and water and they have to coordinate with the Philippine Marines before visiting the island. Once there, be prepared to be blown away by the natural beauty of the island.

How to get there:

Panampangan Island is 13 nautical miles from the jump-off point which is Batu-batu, Panglima Sagala- a town located in Tawi-tawi mainland. Travel time is 2 hours with an outrigger boat and less than an hour with a speed boat. Before going there, one must coordinate first with the Provincial tourism office to ensure safety.

crystal clear waters...
crystal clear waters... | Source

6. Islas de Gigantes, Iloilo

Located off the coast of northeastern Iloilo towns, Carles and Estancia, Islas de Gigantes otherwise known as Island of the giants, is a group of islands that offer pristine white sands, clear turquoise waters, ragged rock formations and bountiful seafood. The island is remote and relatively undeveloped. The biggest island offers basic accommodation but the others are solely intended for tent camping.

Aside from beach bumming, island hopping is also a popular activity on the islands. The main sites are Pawikan caves, Bantigue Island, Tangke, Antonia Beach and Cabugao Gamay Island. Antonia beach is known to have the best white sandy beach and calm clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling. For more adventurous tourists, they can scramble to the top of the jagged limestone rocks at Gigantes Sur to get a 360 degree view of the islands and the Visayan sea. Finally, sea food lovers can feast on the fresh catch of the day for lunch and they will not be disappointed.

How to get there:

Carles and Estancia are the two jump-off points to the islands. Both towns can be accessed from major transport hubs in the Panay peninsula namely Boracay, Roxas city and Iloilo. From Iloilo city, land and ferry connections to Islas de Gigantes via Carles will take 5-6 hours. From Roxas city it will be 3-4 hours and from Boracay or Caticlan, travel time takes 6-7 hours. The most convenient way to go to the islands is via Bancal Port in Carles because there are daily trips to the island.

Tangke Lagoon
Tangke Lagoon | Source

7. Britania Group of Islands, Eastern Mindanao

Britania Group of Islands was once Surigao del Sur's best kept secret but now, it is not a secret anymore because it has started to gain a slow yet steady local followers. It is not too remote so it can be easily accessed unlike the others on this list however, since it is in Mindanao, only the very brave ones are able to get there.

Britania group of Islands consist of 24 islands and islets most of which are uninhabited. Some of the islands also don't have a beach but are great for snorkeling and diving instead. If you visit this place, you will surely enjoy serenity at its best with nothing but the sound of birds and waves crashing into the shore.

How to get there:

There are 3 popular ways to get to Britania. The fastest is via Tandag city. Take a bus bound for Butuan and get off at Britania junction in Salvacion. Travel time takes 1.5 hours. If you are coming from Butuan city, take a bus bound for Tandag city and get off at Britania junction in Salvacion. The trip takes 3-4 hours. The least convenient but still possible way to get to Britania is via Davao city. Buses bound for Tandag is available but limited. Travel time is 6 hours.


8. Dinagat Islands, Dinagat Island Province

Dinagat Island province is the newest addition to the CARAGA region in Mindanao having been added only in 2006. It is also the only island province in the region and it is considered one of the most unspoilt paradise destinations in the country as it managed to stay out of tourists' radar. The Island province is rich in natural resources. It offers myriads of pristine beach coves, thick forests, lush islands, lakes and even a tidal pool. There are also occasional houses on stilts typical of coastal living.

Island hopping in Dinagat is the most popular activity. There are 7 islands to explore and a tidal pool in Libjo town. One thing that stands out about this province is instead of aquamarine waters, you will see emerald green waters instead, thanks to the lush vegetation all around. The tidal pool looks similar to the blue hole from above and it is simply wonderful.

How to get there:

From Pantalan Dos port in Surigao city, take a passenger boat bound for San Jose. Or take a boat bound for Basilisa Dinagat Islands. Travel time is 1.5 hours. You can also go to Bitaog beach from Basilisa as there are daily boat trips from there.

Emerald waters and white sands...Dinagat islands
Emerald waters and white sands...Dinagat islands
Lake Bababu in Basilisa, Dinagat Island Province
Lake Bababu in Basilisa, Dinagat Island Province | Source

9. Seco Island, Antique

Seco Island derived its name from its elbow shape which is called "siko" in Filipino. This island is very tiny and uninhabited. It is also prone to rough seas and high tides and so it is not very accessible especially during the rainy season. Local government units regulate tourism on the island and because it is a marine protected site, camping, fishing and other activities are all strictly regulated.

When the weather is good, you need to wake up at 3am and leave the jump-off point in Tibiao to witness the sunrise. It is always advised to visit early because the waves can get really rough later in the day. Camping over night is also not allowed during rainy season for safety reasons. There are no establishments on the island. Just white sands, a few trees and the turquoise waters. Big boats cannot go close to the island because the corals extend several hundred meters from the shore, so small bancas are sometimes provided or fishermen will have to swim and guide the boat very carefully. Swimming is not allowed because of strong tidal currents.

How to get there:

Tibiao is the jump off point and it can be accessed from Caticlan. From Tibiao port, travel time takes 3.5 hours.

Seco Island is also ideal for kitesurfing as it is always rigged with strong winds...
Seco Island is also ideal for kitesurfing as it is always rigged with strong winds... | Source

10. Camotes Island, Visayas

For the last 500 years since the Spanish occupation of the Philippines, Camotes group of Islands managed to remain the same with only minor changes. The white sandy shores are still pristine with the addition of a few establishments but here you will not find any luxurious accommodation or hotels. Just a basic place to rest with basic amenities are found on the two most popular islands. For the rest, tent camping is still the most preferred method of staying over.

Camotes Islands got its name when the Spaniards first came to the island and asked the locals its name. The locals replied "camote" (a root crop) thinking that the Spaniards were asking about what they were harvesting. Things to do in Camotes include: snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, spelunking and island hopping.

How to get there:

There are 3 ways to get to Camotes Islands. From Cebu or Mactan, there are fast ferries available at specific times of the day and travel time to Camotes is between 1.5 - 2 hours. Secondly, you can come from Danao Port as there are boats living for Camotes daily from 5:30 am to 9 pm and travel time is 2 hours. Lastly, if you are from ormoc city in Leyte, you can take a boat to Pilar in Ponsol Island (among Camotes islands) and travel time is 1 hour only. From Pilar, you can ride a boat to other islands.

Santiago beach, Camotes Islands..
Santiago beach, Camotes Islands.. | Source
hinugtan beach malay aklan:
Hinugtan,, Buruanga, Aklan, Philippines

get directions

Calaguas Islands:
Tinaga, Calaguas, Philippines

get directions

caramoan islands:
Matukad, Caramoan, Philippines

get directions

Kalanggaman Island:
Kalanggaman Island, Philippines

get directions

Panampangan Island, Tawi-tawi:
Panam Pangan Island, Philippines

get directions

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Jennifer Gonzales


Submit a Comment
  • Sam Shepards profile image

    Sam Shepards 

    2 years ago from Europe

    Ow, to beautiful to be true. :) Philippines is on my shortlist for the coming year. The doubt is mostly over, was considering doing Indonesia again, but the Philippines has me.


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