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How Many Islands are in the Philippines 2023?

Jun 28th, 2022

The infamous question that was asked to Filipino Miss Universe contestant, Charlene Gonzalez, in the 1994 Manila finals, the real answer is 7,641 islands in total.

One of the largest archipelagos in the world, the Philippines is renowned for consisting of thousands of small islands, though less than 2,000 are actually inhabited. And the most recent addition was a volcanic island that broke the surface in 1952, increasing the previous total number of islands.

There are Three Major Island Groups in the Philippines

1. Luzon

The largest and most heavily-populated of all the island groups, Luzon takes up the northernmost islands of the country, and consists mainly of the islands of the Batanes and Babuyan groups of islands to the north, Polillo Islands to the east, and the outlying islands of Catanduanes, Marinduque and Mindoro to the south, as well as the islands of Masbate, Palawan and Romblon.

Manila, the Philippine capital, is located in Southern Luzon on the main island, and forms part of Metro Manila, or the National Capital Region. Palawan is another famous island here, renowned for its tropical climate and stunning coral reefs, as well as the large number of sea turtles that can be found around its shores.

2. Visayas

Located in the central region of the Philippines, the Visayas, or “Kabisay-an” in the local dialect, are the smallest of the three groups of islands, but feature a rich culture that dates back to before Spanish colonization and a history of dangerous Datus and the death of Magellan.

The major islands of the Visayas are Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar, and the region also includes the island of Boracay, the tropical paradise getaway that rivals Bora Bora.

Boracay is one of the popular islands of the Philippines.

Split into Eastern, Western, and Central, the Visayan region is home to some of the most beautiful features, including the famous Chocolate Hills and the endangered Philippine Tarsier.

3. Mindanao

The southernmost region of the Philippines, Mindanao is a group of islands that consists of one large island and dozens of smaller outlying islands, and is the farming region of the Philippines, producing eight of the country’s top exported agricultural commodities, and the breadbasket of the country.

While it would appear that Mindanao is a Muslim region, Islam only accounts for around 24% of the people, with around 70% still being Catholic. But this mix of religions has only made for a more beautiful destination than you could imagine, with ancient Spanish churches lying alongside the beauty of the Islamic mosques.

What are the Best Islands to Visit in the Philippines?

With seven thousand islands to choose from, there are some that are always going to be a must-see destination, and we have the best of them right here.

1. Boracay Island

Located north of Panay Island in the Visayas, Boracay has long been a haven for holidaymakers from overseas. Popular with European and American tourists, it was touted as an island paradise for years. Famed for its white sandy beaches and awesome nightlife, Boracay is now more eco-friendly, which only adds to the attraction.

2. Cebu Island

Lying in the Visayas, Cebu is one of the major centers of population outside Metro Manila, and is conveniently located for travel. One of the main places to swim with whale sharks, known locally as “butanding”, the region has dozens of historical sites, is filled with natural beauty, and is one of the country’s top tourist destinations.

3. Bohol

Land of the Chocolate Hills, Bohol is an amazing island in the center of the Visayan group that has some unusual attractions. Not only does it have the Chocolate Hills, ancient karst mounds that dry up and go brown in the dry season, but it is home to the only wholly-carnivorous primate in Asia, the Philippine Tarsier. And alongside these natural wonders are some of the most stunning examples of Spanish architecture in the country.

The Philippine tarsier is found mainly on the island of Bohol.

4. El Nido, Palawan

Technically a municipality and not an island on its own, El Nido is renowned as being one of the best tourist destinations on Palawan, the Philippines own true tropical paradise. One of the most beautiful regions of Palawan, El Nido also has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the country, and is protected for its flora and fauna. And it has more than 50 white sane beaches, and some of the best coral reefs for those that like to dive.

5. Coron, Palawan

An actual island off the coast of Palawan, Coron is well-known for its World War II shipwrecks, which makes it a haven for wreck divers. Coron is also one of the top destinations for ecotourism, which has long beaten diving as the major draw of this stunning natural destination.

6. Moalboal

A municipality in the province of Cebu in the Visayas, MoalBoal may not be an island, but it does have a reputation as one of the best recreational diving locations in the country, and is another destination for spotting sea turtles or swimming with the butanding.

7. Dumaguete

A small component city located in Negros Occidental in the Visayas, Dumaguete is renowned more for its universities, as it is home to four of the region’s major colleges. It is also the only city in the country powered by a geothermal power plant. As well as being a major destination for dolphins and sea turtles, the area is also popular for its stunning waterfalls, and amazing festivals.

Dumaguete is the best destination for dolphins watching.

Tips on Visiting the Islands in the Philippines

1. When is best time to visit the islands?

While you can travel to the Philippines any time of the year, the dry season runs from November to April, and is the best time for travel. It is best to avoid the typhoon season, from July to October, and the hotter part of the year from April to June. For the very best time of the year, December to February is ideal, as the weather is pleasant and the temperatures are cooler.

2. How to get around the islands of the Philippines?

You have several options for travel in the Philippines. Air travel is one of the best, as it is fast and simple, and not very costly. And with airports on almost every major island, it is easy to get around.

Boats are another option, and ferries run between neighboring islands, as well as between major centers of population and popular tourist spots. Car ferries are also available, so if you hired a vehicle, you can take it with you to most islands.

If you join an organized tour with a reputable travel agency, you can be sure that you will have all your transport arrangements handled for you. And considering the roads in the Philippines can take some getting used to, having a driver and private car can make all the difference.


The Philippines may have more than 7,000 islands, but you don’t have to visit them all, you can get to see the best of the country by visiting the major centers of population, culture, and religion and making the most of the fact that Filipinos are inherently friendly and love to meet new people.

So whether you come to Luzon, Mindanao, or Kabisay-an for a Philippines tour, you will be guaranteed an amazing experience awaits you.

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