Plenty, it turns out. With the country's over 7,000 islands, it's hard to run out of places to have a cool, tropical vacation in the Philippines. Even if you're a Filipino born and raised, it's pretty likely that you haven't heard of:
If you know how to get to Bohol or Cebu, it's easy to get to Pandanon Island. Located between the two aforementioned provinces, and southeast of Mactan Island, the island is easily recognizable by its white beach house that stands out amongst the palm trees and pale sand.
Admittedly, there's not much to do on Pandanon. You can go sunbathing, swimming, and jet skiing on the island, and that's about it. But if doing nothing all day is your idea of relaxation, Pandanon Island may be the sanctuary you're looking for.
Originally, Biliran was part of Leyte province, until it separated from the latter around 20 years ago. It's only a couple of rides away from Tacloban, and is worth a visit if you're looking for a hidden paradise.
A trip up Biliran's mountains, for example, can lead you to the sweetest, cleanest tap water you've ever tasted. Biliran also has dozens of waterfalls, sandbars that change shape and color depending on the weather, and habal-habals (motorbike) that can be used to explore the island.
Another island off the coast of Leyte is Kalanggaman, located northwest of the province. The island gained some attention in 2013 when the MV Europa Cruise Line landed on it with 400 passengers, but Kalanggaman's practically been forgotten since then.
Still, Kalanggaman has its charms. If you walk along its sandbars barefoot, you can get pricked by the dozens of empty shells lining the sandbar, so wearing slippers while walking along Kalanggaman's shores is strongly recommended. You can also go kayaking, scuba diving, and other activities that you'd normally do on a beachy island.
Sta. Cruz Island
Near the southernmost tip of Zamboanga lies Sta. Cruz Island, the only place in the Philippines with pink beaches. This unusual color comes from the local red coral getting pulverized over time and mixing with the white sand.
Unfortunately, the island's coral reefs have since been decimated by unscrupulous miners, leaving only a few traces of marine life along its shores. However, you can still go bird-watching, visit the local Sama-Bangingi community, and ride a vinta (a traditional Muslim boat with sails in distinct patterns and colors).
Situated northeast of Quezon Province, and southeast of the Polillo Islands, Jomalig is one of those places that can easily slip past your radar unless you're actively looking for it. Once you find it, however, you'll smack yourself for not going there earlier!
Aside from the usual beach activities (like swimming and snorkeling), Jomalig also has Sitio Landing, where you can see firsthand how mangroves maintain the delicate balance of nature. You can also go camping and picnicking, and be assisted by the gracious locals if you need anything.
Seco Island is so tiny, that if you look it up on Google Maps, you'll see only a speck marking the spot off the west coast of Panay Island. If you manage to find it, though, it's worth the trip.
You can easily spot Seco's distinctive elbow-shaped outline (hence the name "seco," which means "elbow"), which is surrounded by thriving coral reefs. Also, the island is a great jump-off point for kite surfing, due to its combination of strong winds and flat waters.
With Php1,000, you can already enjoy the sights and sounds of Camiguin, an island near the northernmost tip of Misamis Oriental and southeast of Bohol.
You can "ooh" and "aah" at the gigantic bivalves of the Giant Clam Sanctuary, soak in the Mt. Hibok-Hibok hot springs (or the Sto. Niño cold springs), walk the Stations of the Cross towards the Old Volcano, or have a taste of history at the Old Spanish Church.
Travel to the northernmost part of the Philippines, and you'll find a mini-archipelago collectively known as the Batanes Group of Islands. When it's not being hit by typhoons, Batanes is a destination for tourists of all kinds.
History buffs, for example, will appreciate the monument of Aman Dangat, an Ivatan leader who led a fierce — if unsuccessful — revolt against the Spaniards in 1791. Caffeine lovers will want to drop by the Honesty Coffee Shop, while artists will want to meet renowned painter Pacita Abad.
These are just 0.11 percent of the island paradises the Philippines has to offer. Can you imagine what else you can find in the other 99.89 percent? We sure can't — and that's why it's more fun in the Philippines!