Accessible island getaways in the Philippines

accessible islands in ph

Exotic islands are almost perfect getaways, if not for the often excruciating travel they require in order to get there. Thankfully, there are white sandy beaches that are so accessible that you could reach them in less than 20 minutes via boat ride. And if you’re lucky you could find one along a major road, or just in front of your hotel room. Yay!

In the Philippines here are some of the most accessible island getaways I’ve had been to and would like to share with you.

  • Cowrie Island and Luli Island in Puerto Princesa. These islands are part of the Honday Bay Island Tours that the city government offers to tourists. Normally, visitors can choose three islands for a one-day island hopping adventure. Pambato Reef and Starfish Island are two other island destinations that tourists can choose, together with Cowrie or Luli.

Private resorts and islands like Pandan Beach and Dos Palmas are also part of Honda Bay. These require higher fees though for a one-day tour around the island resort.

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Cowrie Island

How to get there: Rent a van or a tricycle from the city proper to the Honda Bay wharf. There tourists would be asked to register. DIY tourists would choose a tour for the day and pay the corresponding fee. Travel time from the town proper to the wharf could take 45 minutes.

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Luli Island could get a little crowded because it is the nearest island among all the island destinations in Honda Bay.
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This island disappears during high-tide and re-appears during low-tide. Thus the name Luli, or Lulubog-Lilitaw.

For entrance fee to these islands, please refer to the table at the end of this blog post.

  • Kurangon Islet in Tiwi, Albay. Albay’s two most beautiful mountains are an ubiquitous sight in this small coral-island in Tiwi. That’s not to mention that it is a marine sanctuary where different marine species can be seen and encountered when one chooses to swim in the area.
Kurangon islet in tiwi albay
Mt. Mayon and Mt. Malinao in the background.

It can be reached in less than 15 minutes via boat ride from Baybay, Tiwi, Albay.

How to get there: Look for PUVs (either van or bus) bound to Tiwi at Legaspi terminal. Travel time is around 45 minutes.

Note: As a marine sanctuary, the local government of Tiwi requires securing a permit before visiting the area. The permit can be obtained from the municipal office of Tiwi, Burueau of Fisheries and Agrarian Resources.

There’s no entrance fee, but a boat ride fee would start from Php 1,00-1,500 ++.

  • Dancalan Beach in Donsol, Sorsogon. This beach is along a main road in Sorsogon, so there’s no need for you to ride a boat to get there. Even if it tends to attract local visitors for its accessibility, your group can still have a “private” space as it has a wide and long stretch of shoreline. Besides, tourists that stay in its cottages would not return until afternoon from their Butanding encounter in Donsol.

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It can be an ideal side trip from Bulusan Lake, or a place to stay overnight for those who intend to swim with whale sharks. Either way, it’s a good place to spend the rest of the afternoon for sunset watching, swimming, or chilling out with friends.

Entrance fee is 10 pesos only.

  • Subic Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon. This secluded beach with pinkish sand is the main island destination for tourists seeking a pristine beach to swim and snorkel in Matnog, Sorsogon. Even if it is already getting known to tourists, the chance to have this island all to yourself is still high, especially if you would camp in the area for an overnight visit.

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There are other pristine beaches in nearby areas, and those too won’t disappoint. Among them is Tikling beach.

Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary is also a must-visit for an encounter with aquatic species that “grow and spawn in a protected habitat”.

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Tikling Beach

Entrance fee to Subic beach is 50 pesos, plus 20 pesos for environmental fee.

  • Cloud 9 in Siargao. Yes,  tourists flock to this part of Siargao for its magnificent waves which makes it the ultimate surfing destination in the Philippines. But no one says that you can’t take things slow here by just dipping in the water or basking in the sun. The beach, after all, is just a walking distance from most of the lodging houses in the area.

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And did I mention that Cloud 9 has the perfect setting for sunset watching, with two very spacious two-story viewing decks built near the shoreline?

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Then, there is also General Luna in Siargao. It is a small island village with two (and probably more) pristine white sandy beaches that locals frequented to swim, play, and practice surfing. Sunset here is also breathtaking.

The pier in General Luna serves as the jump-off sites for island hopping in the surrounding islands, or for visiting Bucas Grande Island in Socorro, Surigao del Norte.

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The beach facing the market

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  • Naked Island in Siargao. More secluded islands can be found in Siargao through island hopping, and it includes Naked Island. Like Kurangong Islet, it is bare with no vegetation thriving in the area. Rock formations are also nowhere to be seen in this island. Thus, the name naked.

Its endless expanse of clean, turquoise water matches the infinite look and feel of the sky.

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Guyam Island and Daku Island are the two other unspoiled islands that tourists can include in their island hopping adventure in Siargao, along with Naked Island.

Entrance fee to Daku Island is 50 pesos and 10 pesos for Guyam Island.

  • Atulayan Island in Camarines, Sur, Bicol. It is a favorite island getaway for locals that want a quiet weekend by the beach. It is secluded, far from the crowd, and not to mention, scenic.

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Fee for boat ride starts at Php1,500. It can be reached in 25-30 minutes from Sugod, Tiwi, Albay. It can also be accessed via Nato Port in Sangay, Camarines Sur.

Travel Note: Most of the islands mentioned in this post are considered secondary destinations, not because they are inferior in terms of travel standards, but because they happen to be near to already very famous destinations.

Rates/Islands Cowrie Island Luli Island Pambato Reef Starfish Island Pandan Island
Entrance Fee Php 75.00 Php 50.00 (Cottage fee not included) Php 50.00 Php 50.00(Cottage fee not included) Php 100.00(Cottage fee not included)
Island hopping  for 6 pax (3 cylinder engine) Php 600.00 Php 700.00 Php 700.00 Php 1,200.00 Php 1,200.00
More than 6 pax (additional rate) Php 100.00 Php 116.67 Php 116.67 Php 200.00 Php 200.00
Island hopping  for 6 pax (4 cylinder engine) Php 116.67 Php 133.33 Php 133.33 Php 233.33 Php 233.33
Rates 3 Cylinder Engine (6 pax) Additional person(s) 4 Cylinder Engine (6 pax) Additonal person(s)
Island Hopping- Short Distance (Cowrie, Luli, Pambato) Php 800.00 Php 133.33 Php 900.00 Php 150.00
Any 3 Islands Php 1,300.00 Php 216.67 Php 1,500.00 Php 250.00

Photo credits to my travel buddies Ely, Joann, Gin, Cath, and Avi.

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