Bali and Thailand have been considered the pinnacle of tropical travel for the past few decades, but those who seek something new will find the Philippines’ Boracay and Palawan islands are overlooked alternatives.
Although islands like Boracay and Palawan may not differentiate themselves much in terms of air travel expense, they lead in overall value when you consider the cost of accommodations, sightseeing, and activities as one collective purchase when compared to Bali and Thailand.
Of all the islands in the world, Travel+Leisure Magazine chose Boracay as its "Best Overall Island" in 2012. It is the crown jewel of Philippine beaches, popular as a party hub but also offering respite and relaxation, as well as the excitement of parasailing and kite surfing.
Located in Malay, Aklan, Western Visayas, Boracay is just seven kilometers long, and less than a kilometer wide at its narrowest point – a postcard-sized tropical paradise.
Most photos of Boracay picture White Beach — four kilometers of sugar-colored, powdery sand dotted along the edges with resorts, shops, and restaurants.
Another favorite area is Bulabog Beach, on the eastern side of the island, opposite White Beach. Bulabog has large waves and strong winds year-round. This makes it a hotspot for windsurfing and kite-boarding. In fact, Bulabog Beach is considered Asia’s top kitesurfing destination.
The Huffington Post points to Palawan as a hidden piece of paradise -- it was recently named “Top Island in the World“ by Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader Choice Awards.
There, beautiful blue water mixes with emerald green, jungle-filled mountains that appear to rise from the ocean like a mirage, punctuated by tiny fishing villages that hug the coast. Together with its neighboring islands, it creates the Palawan province, a paradise for visitors.
High points include island-hopping around the Bacuit archipelago to view magnificent cliffs, venturing to Puerto Princesa for its culinary delights, and letting go of life's complications in one of Coron’s simple hotels.
Incredible (and rare) wildlife can be found on these islands, from purple crabs and shy mouse-deer to Philippine pangolin and beautiful butterflies.
Even after all the biking, swimming and exploring you’ll do have exhausted you — you’ll never want to leave.