More than 300,000 of Condé Nast Traveler readers rated their favorite islands in the world (outside the U.S.) in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards. Is your favorite on the list?
I. Boracay Island, Aklan
Europe’s party central may be Ibiza, but Travel + Leisure magazine just voted Boracay as the “World’s Best Island,” beating Bali, Santorini, and the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef.
It’s really hard to match Boracay as a tropical paradise and a party island. Its main beach stretches seven kilometers with glistening powder-like sand, and the cool water is as clear as drinking water. The sandy bottom also slopes so gently that several meters away from the shore, the depth is just chest-high — and that’s throughout the entire shoreline!
All along this magnificent beach are resorts, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, retail outlets, and even masseurs that will give you a massage with local coconut oil right there on the beach. Imagine, getting a tan while having a massage!
To get you started, there’s a long list of things to do from banana boat rides to the latest craze in the island: kite surfing and cliff diving. One of the best thrills is simply riding a local sailboat called the paraw. It’s cheap, eco-friendly, and a fine way to escape from the crowds.
Aptly nicknamed “the city in a forest,” Puerto Princesa city’s attractions have much to do with its natural wonders and commitment to the environment. In fact, it’s been named the Philippines’ cleanest and greenest city, and has been internationally recognized for environmental excellence.
Puerto Princesa’s pride is easily the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River (or Underground River), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
The 8.2-kilometer river, said to be the longest navigable underground river in the world, winds its way underneath a mountain range, through the St. Paul Underground River Cave, and then goes out into the South China Sea. The journey through the cave system alone is 24 kilometers long.
The entire area where the Underground River is located is actually a national park and a model of biodiversity. More than 800 plant species, including almost 300 trees, 195 bird species, 30 mammals, 19 reptiles, and eight bat species call this area home.
Looking to swim? Island hopping is one of the biggest draws of Puerto Princesa. At Honda Bay, boats take tourists to nearby islands for lunch picnics, snorkeling and non-stop swimming. The calm water and sandy bottoms beat any hotel pool.
The city of Cebu is known as the “Queen City of the South” —and rightly so.
As the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines, it has some of the country’s most iconic heritage spots. As a major trading port and site for some of the nation’s fastest-growing industries, it reinforces its multiculturalism with progression. This heady mix of urban vibes and casual provincial airs makes it a favorite destination of those seeking a showcase of the harmonious co-existence of history, culture and modernity.
Explore the city’s rich past with a visit to its historical landmarks.
Magellan’s Cross commemorates the moment Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan planted a wooden cross on Cebu’s soil to mark converting its locals to Christianity.
The Basilica del Santo Niño houses one of the country’s oldest religious relics: a statue of the Child Jesus that dates back to 1521.
Fort San Pedro is the smallest Spanish outpost in the Philippines, while theCasa Gorordo and Yap-San Diego Ancestral House give a glimpse into residential life in Cebu during the Spanish era.
The Museo Sugbo showcases the province’s history. And if you can brave the cacophony, walk down Colon Street, the oldest street in the Philippines.
Not much of a history buff? Cebu still has a lot to offer. Head to Tops, a popular observation deck that offers romantic views of the city.
Visit the Philippines and see these precious island destinations. Bring the spirit of fun with your every trip because #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines.
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