Summer doesn’t have to end when you own a vacation home at one of these top Philippine destinations.
As much as you’d probably claim to be a city dweller at heart, there really is something to be said about taking some time off from your busy schedule for some respite at one of the Philippines’ most popular islands. Admit it; once your feet hit the sandy shores of your choice beach destination, you’re immediately transformed into a beach bum, sipping drinks from a coconut while wishing you could just live with the locals. It’s not entirely impossible, you know. That is, if you had the means to buy a private property there.
Owning a vacation home means having access to your own private sanctuary, a place where you can freely relax after a long day of taking in what the location has to offer. Whether you’d prefer to buy a place that’s ready to take you in, or to have one built to your specifications, a vacation home in one of these 15 destinations will always make you wish you could stay just a little longer.
Located at the northernmost part of Luzon, Batanes (capital city: Basco) is on every local traveler’s bucket list for having beautiful beaches, lush sceneries, and friendly Ivatan people. Batanes has a land area of about 35 square kilometers and is composed mainly of rolling hills and mountains, a truly picturesque area that can provide you with the getaway you need. The province’s economy largely relies on farming and fishing, and commodities here tend to cost much more than those in Metro Manila.
Sabtang Lighthouse in Sabtang, Batanes (Photo via Shutterstock)
Pollilo Island is a 628.9-square-kilometer island located within the province of Quezon. Divided into three municipalities—Polillo, Burdeos, and Panukulan—Polillo Island is home to around 65,000 residents and is known to house the Komodo dragon’s relative, the Butaan lizard. If you plan on retiring here, fishing would be your number one past time, as the municipality of Burdeos has a thriving fishing ground with flourishing marine life. But its most famous claim to fame is Polillo’s Balesin Island, a 500-hectare members-only paradise boasting 7.3 kilometers of white-sand beaches and world-class services and amenities.
Balesin Beach in Pollilo Island (Photo by Monica Arellano-Ongpin via Flickr Creative Commons)
The island province of Masbate (capital city: Masbate City) is located roughly at the center of the Philippine archipelago, and has a total land area of 4,151.78 square kilometers. Top tourist magnets include the Mandaon’s Bat-Ongan Cave, a favorite attraction among local trekkers, and centuries-old lighthouses such as Aroroy’s Bugui Point Lighthouse and Balud’s Jintotolo Lighthouse.
A beach in the island province of Masbate (Photo by write4acause via Flickr Creative Commons)
The province’s people make a living working in industries such as farming, livestock and poultry raising, and fishing. If owning a ranch is a lifelong dream of yours, you can achieve that in Masbate. The island is second only to Bukidnon in raising cattle, and Rodeo Festival is one of the top celebrations of the province.
Found in the MIMAROPA region, Marinduque (capital city: Boac) spans over 95,000 hectares and is famous not just for its surrounding beaches like Poctoy White Beach in Torrijos, but its various cave systems, which include the Bathala Cave and the San Isidro Cave in Santa Cruz, and the Talao Cave in Gasan. Marinduque’s populace, which totaled almost 228,000 in 2010, is well-known for the colorful Moriones Festival, a yearly celebration held during Holy Week.
The gateway to the island of Marinduque (Photo by Totoyba2 via Wikimedia Commons)
Fit for tourists who want to feel like royalty, Marinduqueños welcome visitors with a putong or tubong ceremony, wherein guests are seated and crowned with flowers, as locals dance and sing in their honor. Safety won’t be a big concern. Said to be one of the most peaceful provinces of the country, Marinduque was recognized as such in 2013 by the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Security Forces.
Found off the southwestern coast of Luzon and northeast of Palawan, Mindoro is the seventh largest island of the country. A mountain range divides the island into two: Occidental Mindoro (capital city: Mamburao), which is characterized by various land forms and bodies of water such as mountains, hills, rivers, and lakes; and a more commercially successful Oriental Mindoro (capital city: Calapan). Businesses on the island are mostly based on agriculture, the leading products being fruits, rice, sugar cane, and peanuts.
Marine life in the coral reefs of Mindoro (Photo via Shutterstock)
The island is made popular by its rich natural resources, Occidental Mindoro for the Apo Reef Natural Park and Oriental Mindoro for the pocket beaches of Puerto Galera. With several coral reefs that boast a great biodiversity of marine life, Mindoro is a scuba diver’s haven, attracting tourists from all over the world.
The tourist magnet Palawan (capital city: Puerto Princesa) is the largest province of the country, and has an almost 2,000-kilometer coastline composed of white-sand beaches, rocky coves, and islets. Seeking refuge within nature is easy when you live in Palawan. The province is also known as the Philippines’ “Last Frontier” and was designated a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1992.
The limestone formations of El Nido, Palawan (Photo by Lincoln Gasmen)
As a famous vacation hotspot (it was even voted as the world’s best island by prestigious American magazine Condé Nast Traveler), Palawan is best known for the Puerto Princesa Underground River, the limestone formations of El Nido, and the historical dive sites of Coron. Aside from its constantly thriving tourism scene, Palawan’s economy stems from agricultural industries, such as crop production, mining, logging, and fishing.
Boracay wasn’t awarded 2012’s “Best Island in the World” by international magazine Travel + Leisure for nothing. Popular for its white sand beaches, variety of water activities, and thriving nightlife that seems to go on all year round, the 10.32-square-kilometer Boracay in Malay, Aklan, is often the top-of-mind choice of local and foreign vacationers, particularly during the summer months.
Willy's Rock and the Lourdes Grotto at Boracay Island (Photo via Shutterstock)
Understandably, Malay’s economy is mainly propelled by its tourism industry, making it the municipality with the strongest economy in Western Visayas. Soon, it won’t be hard to find a condo that’ll let you wake up to a view of the beach. For one thing, Megaworld is building Boracay Newcoast, a 150-hectare township that will combine residential, commercial, and retail elements to cater to those who wish to live in the island.
With a first-income class economy, the island of Cebu is one of the most developed provinces in the country. Its capital, Cebu City, is recognized as the main center of commerce, trade, education, and industry in Visayas, and some of its most thriving industries are business process outsourcing (BPO), tourism, shipbuilding, and furniture production.
A whale shark in the waters of Oslob, Cebu (Photo via Shutterstock)
Cebu’s most popular claims to fame include the Sinulog Festival, also recognized as the largest fiesta in the Philippines; as well as attractions such as Magellan’s Cross and Fort San Pedro in Cebu City, and Malapascua Island in Daanbantayan. And good news: flying to and from your vacation home in Cebu is about to get easier and more convenient, as plans have already been laid out to expand and improve the Mactan–Cebu International Airport (MCIA).
Bohol (capital city: Tagbilaran) is a favorite year-round destination among Filipinos and international travelers. For sea frequenters, the 4,821-square-kilometer Bohol is a must-see as it also has some of the most beautiful beaches of the country, the most famous being Alona Beach in Panglao Island. Bohol is one biodiverse island, housing several of the country’s top natural attractions such as the world-famous Chocolate Hills and the Loboc River both in the municipality of Carmen, Panglao’s dive sites, and the Mag-Aso Falls in Antequera.
The world-famous Chocolate Hills of Carmen, Bohol (Photo via Shutterstock)
Tourism is easily the biggest driver of the province’s economy, although the island also has a thriving agricultural scene. The province isn’t really known for having an exciting nightlife, but if your main reason for going to Bohol is to get away from the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila, you’re in the right place.
With a land area that spans 12,309 square kilometers, Negros is the fourth largest island in the Philippines, and is divided by a mountain range into two: Negros Occidental (capital city: Bacolod) and Negros Oriental (capital city: Dumaguete). Tourists flock the province for attractions such as the active Kanlaon Vocano in Bacolod and the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes in Dumaguete.
Masskara Festival at Bacolod, Negros Occidental (Photo via Shutterstock)
While sugar growing is the biggest industry in Negros, there are other agricultural industries that contribute to the province’s economy, such as gamefowl breeding, fishing, and prawn farming. Bacolod, on the other hand, is where you’ll find factories, bottling plants, industrial businesses, and steel fabrication. Residing on the island, you’ll always feel you’re in the company of friendly Negrenses. After all, Dumaguete is known as “The City of Gentle People,” while Bacolod is nicknamed “The City of Smiles.”
Located in Western Visayas is Guimaras (capital city: Jordan), a 504.5-square-kilometer island flanked by the islands of Panay and Negros. As a primarily agricultural province, Guimaras is also known as the “Mango Capital of the Philippines” for being a leading exporter of the fruit (it is estimated that there are over 50,000 mango trees on the island), which is said to have made its way to the White House and Buckingham Palace.
The Roca Encantada House, a heritage home in Guimaras (Photo by Rabosajr via Wikimedia Commons)
Beach-goers also flock the province to visit the white-sand shores of Alibuhid Beach, Baras Beach, and Natago Beach, all of which are found in Jordan. Passionate about environmental protection? Guimaras is home to a wildlife reserve in Inampulungan Island in Sibunag, as well as the national marine reserve of Taklong Island in Nueva Valencia.
Called “Centro de las Islas Filipinas,” the 1,533-square-kilometer province of Romblon is located in the MIMAROPA Region. It is awash with various natural attractions, the most notable of which include the Guyangan Cave System in Banton, Mount Guiting-Guiting in Sibuyan Island, the only blue hole in the Philippines located in San Agustin, and plenty of white-sand beaches and diving sites.
A beach in Romblon (Photo by Yvette Tan via Flickr Creative Commons)
Another nickname for the archipelagic province is “Marble Capital of the Philippines,” since a large part of Romblon’s economy driven by its thriving Italian-quality marble mining and processing industry. Locals also make a living in agricultural industries like crop cultivation, livestock development, and fishing. If you’re worried about your protection, Romblon is said to have a practically zero crime rate, making it a safe place to live in.
Located in Surigao Del Norte, 437-square-kilometer Siargao has a coastline composed of reefs and white sand beaches. The island is also known as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines” among Filipino and foreign surfers, who particularly flock to General Luna’s Cloud 9 during monsoon season. But more than that, Siargao is also a sanctuary for the largest mangrove forest reserves in Mindanao, found at the municipality of Del Carmen.
Siargao's Cloud 9, a popular surf site for local and foreign tourists. (Photo via Shutterstock)
For activities that involve more swimming and lounging than surfing, guests can go on an island-hopping trip to Naked Island, Daco Island, and Guyam Island. Another activity for those who’d rather leave surfing to the pros is game fishing. Every summer, a game fishing event is held in Siargao, and catches can include tuna, mackerel, and even octopus and stingray.
The island province of Camiguin (capital city: Mambajao) is located in the Bohol Sea off the northern coast of Mindanao. As the second smallest island of the Philippines (barely 240 square kilometers), Camiguin packs a big punch when it comes to tourism, with attractions such as Mambajao’s Mount Hibok-Hibok, Mount Vulcan, White Island, Katibawasan Falls and Ardent Hot Spring; Catarman’s Sunken Cemetery; and Mahinog’s Mantigue Island.
Volcan Beach in Mambajao, Camiguin (Photo via Shutterstock)
Agriculture is the main source of income here, with top products including copra, abaca, and mangoes. Another popular produce in Camiguin is lanzones, the harvest of which is celebrated through the colorful, week-long Lanzones Festival in October.
Island Garden City of Samal
Located two kilometers away from Davao City, the Island Garden City of Samal is a fourth income class city in Davao Del Norte. Known as the Philippine’s largest resort for housing almost 70 resorts within its area of 301.3 square kilometers, Samal is popular for its white sand beaches, particularly Kaputian Beach and Pearl Farm Beach Resort, as well as nearby Talicud Island. Locals are mainly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, with major products including copra, corn, fruits, vegetables, and fish.
Talicud Island's white sand beach (Photo by wayph.com via Flickr Creative Commons)
Small as it is, Samal is not short on natural attractions, which include the Monfort Bat Sanctuary, Hagimit Falls, the popular dive site Mansud Wall, Baga Cave, and Mount Puting Bato. For extreme adventures, people flock to the 130-meter slides of Bluejaz Beach Resort and Water Park, as well as the tree canopy tours and tarpaulin slide of Maxima Aqua Fun.
Main photo via Shutterstock