island hopping the Philippines

7 Top Tips For Island Hopping in The Philippines

There’s a huge 7,107 islands in the Philippines, so naturally, even thinking about island hopping in the Philippines can be overwhelming. Where do you go? How to get there? What to do?

Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. From how to book ferries in advance to what to pack in your suitcase, we’ve got the essential tips you need to know. So you can spend less time planning and more time getting excited for the trip of a lifetime.

Tips For Island Hopping in The PhilippinesHow do these rankings work?

1. You’ll Cover More Ground with Local Airlines

The Philippines is an archipelago, so getting around here isn’t as simple as driving from the capital Manila to El Nido.

Three major airlines (AirAsia Philippines, Cebu Pacific, and PAL Express) use Manila and Cebu city to connect to smaller airports, so check out airport locations when planning your route. Sure, there are ferries between the main islands, but flying is almost always the faster option.

best places to visit in the Philippines

2. Choose Which Islands To Visit In Advance

Do you want to hit up party spots, go diving or simply chill on the beach? The good news is there’s the perfect island for all tastes. Our advice is to plan out your route as much as possible in advance. As for the best islands? Palawan is a great place to start island hopping in the Philippines, with stops in El Nido, Boracay, and Moalboal a must.

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3. Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Out Smaller Islands

Philippines is a popular tourist destination with plenty of up-and-coming smaller islands that are well worth a visit. Love snorkelling but can’t handle the crowds of Boracay? Try Cabilao for some of the best snorkel and diving sites in the region. You’ll just have to be flexible with your schedule as many of the transport options for small islands can be subject to delays.

We suggest flying to Dumaguete from either El Nido or Manila for a ferry bound for Siquijor, a small island that will feel like it’s yours alone.

4. What You Should Pack For Island Hopping in the Philippines

  • Reusable water containers and utensils to reduce plastic waste
  • Toilet paper!
  • A Dry Bag for transporting any valuables on boats
  • Waterproof phone cover
  • A reliable PowerBank
  • An underwater/waterproof camera
  • Travel Insurance

Philippines on a Budget

5. When’s The Best Time to Visit?

Generally, the best time for island hopping in the Philippines is between November and April. There’s mainly two seasons here – Dry (November – April) and Wet (May– October). The wet season falls between May and October, but it’s not so bad: there will still be plenty of sunshine.

6. Make Sure You Carry Cash

In more remote places away from the main tourist areas and mainland, you’ll struggle to find ATMs. Often, ATMs will break down for a few days and when they are repaired, the lines are very long. Keep plenty of small notes for local markets and bartering with!


7. Plan Your Route Around Your Scuba Dives

Did you know that the U.S. Air Force says you should wait 24 hours after scuba diving before flying on an airplane? This is to avoid getting the bends. You should space out any planned flights (even at lower altitudes) with a day between the last dive and the flight departure.

Sarah Clayton-Lea

Co-founder of Big 7 Travel, Sarah created the company through her passion for championing the world's best food and travel experiences. Before her career in digital media, where she previously held roles such as Editor of Food&Wine Ireland, Sarah worked in the hospitality industry in Dublin and New York.

Contact [email protected]

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