The Philippines is a beautiful archipelago in Southeast Asia that should be on everyone’s bucket list. With this four-week Philippines itinerary, you’ll see many of the country’s highlights and get plenty of Philippines island-hopping in too. You’ll spot amazing marine wildlife and beautiful corals, visit pristine beaches and landscapes dotted with limestone cliffs, that will take your breath away.
Figuring out how to plan a four-week Philippines itinerary is intimidating when first looking at a map. There are over 7000 islands open for a Philippines island-hopping itinerary after all! This makes 30 days in the Philippines (on the free visa) seem like a dismally short period of time.
My four-week Philippines island hopping itinerary creates a logical itinerary to see many highlights of the country. Going counter-clockwise after arrival in Manila, the most popular islands you should visit are as follows: Cebu, Siquijor, Bohol, Boracay, Palawan, and Coron.
Philippines Four Week Island-Hopping Itinerary
Return home – 1 day (don’t overstay your free visa!)
Total: 30 Days Island-Hopping the Philippines
Keep in mind that to go island-hopping in the Philippines, you need to take several domestic flights. These will set you back about $50-$80 USD per flight depending on check-in luggage. If you want to travel more sustainably, you’ll have to stick to 24+ hour ferries to get around or just visit one region in the Philippines.
Order a SIM Card/WiFi for your Philippines Itinerary
I purchased a Globe SIM card for my Philippines 4-week itinerary, which is available for purchase and pick-up at the airport. Reserve a SIM card hassle-free, online ahead of your arrival in the Philippines through Klook.
If you’re traveling with a group, instead of buying multiple SIM cards, consider reserving a portable WiFi device. Connect up to 5 devices and select from a range of data options, including “truly unlimited.”
Navigating Manila International Airport
When booking a connecting flight through Manila during your Philippines itinerary, be sure to give yourself at least 3-4 hours between flights. The international arrivals terminal in Manila is crowded, and it may take a while for your bags to come out.
The domestic terminal in Manila is a free airport shuttle bus-ride away from the international one. But the shuttle bus only comes about once every 30 mins! It makes stops at other terminals while navigating through Manila traffic, so you could be on the bus for 15-20 minutes as well.
If you’re short on time transferring in Manila while island-hopping in the Philippines, of course you can pay extra to have a taxi take you straight to your terminal. It’s a faster option, but you’ll be paying quite a bit for it.
Tip: When taking transportation to Manila City Center from the airport, be sure to take a Grab ($5) or the bus ($1.90) instead of the airport taxi ($34!). If you’re traveling in a group, book an airport transfer ahead of time.
Philippines Island Hopping Itinerary
Moalboal - 3 days
A nice introduction to island-hopping in the Philippines is Moalboal, a 3-4 hour bus ride away from Cebu City. Moalboal is a town on the west coast of Cebu island, and neighboring Pangsama Beach, which is where the tourists flock to. It’s about a 10-minute, 150 peso ($2.90 USD) tuk tuk ride from Moalboal center to Pangsama beach. Moalboal is famous for beautiful beaches, the “sardine run” where you can dive down and be surrounded by a massive school of sardine fish, and for waterfalls.
Stopover in Cebu City
Depending on arrival time in Cebu City airport, you may need to spend a night in Cebu City before heading to Moalboal. The last bus service to Moalboal from Cebu City is around 7pm.
In Cebu City, I stayed in a capsule hostel, Shejoje Poshtel. It’s close to the Southern Bus Station where the busses to the rest of the island depart from. For one night, it’s a great hostel with a small common area, water boiler, large capsules, and three shower/toilets. It’s also two buildings away from a 7-Eleven!
Find other Cebu City accommodation here.
Things to Do in Moalboal:
In Moalboal, hire a tricycle to take you to White Beach (or rent a scooter and drive). White Beach is a couple kilometers north of Pangsama beach, and has lots of space to lay out and tan or splash around in the shallow, crystal-clear water. There are not many amenities there aside from a few restaurant shacks and locals who come walking by selling coconuts and snorkeling tours.
Snorkeling and diving is popular here, especially around tiny Pescador Island. To get to the island you’ll have to join a tour, which usually will include snorkeling at other locations around Moalboal also. For divers, join a tour to see the Sardine Run, where you’ll be surrounded by a school of sardine fish! There are many dive shops along Pangsama beach, where you can even get PADI certified.
A famous landmark here is Kawasan Falls, massive, icy-blue waters cascading down from the mountains to the network of rivers below. Kawasan Falls is a bucket-list item for your four week island-hopping in the Philippines itinerary!
It’s possible to take a tour here from Pangsama, but it was easy to just rent a scooter and drive 30 minutes to the waterfall entrance. There’s no entry fee, but there’s a fee to park your scooter, and fees to use the facilities at the falls. There are a few restaurants and some lodging at the falls too!
It’s popular to do a full-day Canyoneering Tour booked from Pangsama. Almost all accommodations offer this tour, as do the snorkeling and dive shops. You spend the day jumping off of waterfalls (with a lifejacket and helmet) and trekking through canyons and rivers, ultimately leading you to Kawasan Falls.
Where To Eat In Moalboal:
For a beautiful sunset view and an extensive menu, go to Veranda Kitchen n’ Bar at the end of Pangsama road. I came here almost every day for lunch or dinner, since they have many options for both western and Philippine food. They also have outlets between tables, reliable wifi, and great service for a good price.
Taco Bar was also a nice fast-food stop near the intersection of Pangsama Road and C. Schmitz Road. There are yummy vegetarian options, and you can customize tacos, mini burritos, and mini quesadillas to include only what you like in them! They even deliver 🙂
My favorite food was Ven’s Kitchen, an incredible homey restaurant with just a couple of tables that’s always packed to the brim. It’s no mystery why this restaurant is so popular because of its amazing quality of food for really great price tags. Ven’s Kitchen serves mostly local food and shakes, and has vegetarian options for many of the meals.
Where To Stay in Moalboal:
For hostels in Moalboal I recommend Chief Mau Moalboal Hostel, which is a colorful, social hostel close to Ven’s Kitchen and the coast.
For a private room, I stayed at Maya’s Native Garden (on Agoda only), which has beautiful bamboo huts with attached bathrooms. There is a large common area/restaurant that serves amazing breakfast and has Mexican fusion specials.
Oslob - 1 day
Oslob is famous for swimming with whale sharks, another bucket list item for four weeks island hopping in the Philippines. Tourists are taken out by boat to where whale sharks are fed krill year round. You can float around and dive down with these amazing creatures as they come and go to have their breakfast.
Things To Do In Oslob:
Plan your trip to Oslob and make sure you get the best experience swimming with whale sharks. Check out my post that includes everything to know before you go! Although it’s not the most ethical activity because it disrupts the whale sharks’ natural migration patterns, they are free to come and go as they please and tourists are banned from touching or getting too close to them.
Where To Stay In Oslob, Philippines:
Sharky Hostel is the closest hostel you can get to where the whale shark-watching boats depart from. They have dorms as well as private cabanas to stay in, with shared bathrooms, common room, and small kitchen for guests. The owners do an amazing job organizing everyone who wants to go swimming with whale sharks, at 5am. They help to make sure that Sharky Hostel guests are on the first boat out to see the whale sharks.
If you’re coming to Oslob for the whale sharks, you MUST stay at Sharky’s!
Siquijor - 4 days
An island that’s still somewhat off the beaten track is Siquijor, a ferry ride away from Cebu and Bohol Islands. Siqiujor known for being an island of witchcraft and voodoo, but also has amazing waterfalls, history, and sunsets! If you’re looking for a less touristy island for your Philippines island-hopping itinerary, Siquijor is a great island for you.
Things To Do In Siquijor:
Siquijor is a prime place to relax on the shore and take in some sun, with a variety of beaches and resorts lining the coast. There are plenty of tricycles that circle the main road to take you to beaches – Salagdoong Beach being the most famous one on the east side of the island.
There are snorkeling and diving tours leaving from Siquijor as well. Most of these will take you to Apo Island, which is closer to the coast of Negros Island just next to Cebu.
Don’t miss renting a scooter or tricycle for a day or two to tour around the island’s many waterfalls and villages! Famous sights include Lugnason Falls, Cambugahay Falls, the Century-Old Balete Tree, and the San Isidro Labrador Convent and Church.
To Eat and Stay In Siquijor:
Talisay Inn and connecting Marco Polo Pizzeria was an amazing place to spend several nights in Siquijor. It’s close to San Juan town, one of the larger towns on the island with a gas station, a small local market, and a few shops and pharmacies (but no ATM for foreigners). Talisay Inn is right on the coast line, so all throughout the day there’s an amazing view of the ocean and the most epic sunsets in the evenings. The pizza and pasta at the restaurant were also incredible!
Panglao, Bohol - 5 days
For a busier look at island life on your Philippines island hopping itinerary, head to Bohol. It’s only a ferry ride away from both Cebu and Siquijor. Tourists usually stay on Panglao, a small island to the southwest of larger Bohol island. Panglao has some of the most famous beaches in the Philippines, as well as great snorkeling and tours.
Things To Do On Panglao:
Alona Beach on Panglao is where things are happening all day – there are amazing restaurants, large souvenir shops, endless dive shops, and some nice hotels and bars. It’s one of the most tourist places on this Philippines 4-week itinerary. The beach here is clean and the water is beautiful and warm, so it’s a great place to pop in the water for a swim before grabbing some lunch and doing some shopping. At night, Alona Beach Road lights up as the restaurants turn to semi-clubs and hookah bars.
Bohol’s Chocolate Hills are a natural wonder that most people go to check out while on the island. You can either rent a scooter and drive yourself to the center of Bohol (3-4 hours each way) or just join a Bohol Countryside Tour that leaves from Panglao. The Chocolate Hills tour includes a van ride to the hills, time to explore them, then a stop at the Tarsier sanctuary. Tarsiers are tiny monkey-like mammals that are native to this area, and are protected in this nature reserve.
I highly recommend taking a tour to go snorkeling in Bohol. The water in this area is pristine, making it a popular snorkeling and diving island. Tours leave Alona Beach at 6am and 9am, the only difference being the 6am tour has a chance to see some dolphins. The tours all go via catamaran to Balicasag marine sanctuary, which has a huge variety of colorful fish and is even home to many sea turtles!
To Eat and Stay in Panglao:
Bohol Coco Farm was an amazing hostel and guesthouse located a short drive away from Alona Beach on Panglao. Dorm rooms and small private huts are scattered across a large farm property. A big central common area and restaurant on site serves up food made with all natural ingredients, a lot of which are grown right on the farm. Try the amazing banana blossom veggie burgers for only $1!! They offer free healthy breakfast and have scooters to rent as well. Coco Farm provided modest accommodation, but was one of my favorite places to “rough it” and stay during my four week Philippines itinerary.
Boracay - 5 days
“You haven’t seen the Philippines until you’ve seen Boracay”, a tuk tuk driver told me on Siquijor. Although I didn’t make it to Boracay, it’s a must-visit for four weeks in the Philippines itinerary.
Boracay was an immensely popular tourist destination, known for its beautiful beaches and wild party scene. It was on every backpacker, honeymooner, and holidayer’s Philippines island-hopping itinerary. Unfortunately this led to a severe degradation of the small island, with many environmental issues and illegal hotel building. Boracay was closed to tourists for 6 months in order to do trash cleanups and a sewage system overhaul, among many other fixes.
Starting October, 2018 Boracay has been under a “soft re-opening”, allowing only a few tourists to visit who can prove they have a hotel reservation at a hotel registered with the Philippines tourism department. In the future there will continue to be restrictions on the number of tourists who are allowed to come to Boracay, and tougher environmental protection and hotel regulations.
The newly regulated island will no doubt have pristine beaches and beautiful accommodations once again.
Things to Do on Boracay
Get your bearings around Boracay by joining a Boracay Island Tour, which takes you to hidden beaches and nearby secluded islands for a day of snorkeling and chilling.
You can opt to see the island from above, with its clear waters and white sand beaches by Parasailing over Boracay, a popular activity for tourists.
Try something new to get close to the colorful marine life of the Philippines: helmet diving! It doesn’t require any swimming skills or complicated equipment, just walk on the bottom of the ocean with an air-helmet to enjoy the water!
Where to Stay on Boracay
Boracay is home to one of the infamous Mad Monkey party hostels, which always offer great accommodation, social vibes, and great food. For a quieter hostel option, check out the highly-rated Shore Time Dormitel. Want to live in luxury while Philippines island hopping? Boracay offers many high-end hotel options, including Feliz Hotel Boracay and Henann Crystal Sands Resort.
El Nido - 5 days
Next during your four weeks Philippines itinerary: El Nido. Getting to El Nido requires flying to Puerto Princesa on Palawan island, plus a 5-6 hour transfer on a speedy van. This small town is surrounded by limestone cliffs and a small bay where dozens of catamarans are anchored. I thought it was one of the most picturesque towns in all of the Philippines!
Things To Do In El Nido:
Similar to the rest of the country, the main activities here revolve around joining a boat tour to go island-hopping. The tours from El Nido are conveniently named Tours A, B, C, and D. There are also some booze cruise tours, Tour K (for Kraken), and Tour Z.
All of these tours are advertised heavily around El Nido, and it’s not necessary to book any in advance except for Tour A. Recently because of overcrowding, Tour A has been limited down to 100 people per day. Book El Nido’s Tour A ahead of time here!
Many people recommend Tour C and Tour A as being the best. I didn’t meet anyone who did Tour K or Tour Z, but they look super fun!
If you’d rather take to the skies during your time in El Nido, check out this canopy walk and hike into the limestone cliffs surrounding El Nido.
Where To Eat On El Nido:
Because of the large tourist population in El Nido, there are a variety of excellent restaurants and cafes that make you feel like you’re in the middle of a city, not in a tiny beach town! During my whole four week Philippines itinerary, I thought El Nido had the best food options.
My favorite cafe to hang out at use wifi and hang out in some AC was Botanica. They have the classic assortment of coffees as well as some with a Philippines twist, and some great pizza, pasta, and cakes as well. Taste El Nido Vegan Cafe also had wifi, AC, and is a great place to get coffees, smoothie bowls, and yummy vegan lunch!
The second-story Art Cafe Restaurant has a patio with a partial ocean view and a great, natural ambiance. All drinks served here come with bamboo straws, which you can purchase in their store on the first floor!
My favorite restaurant was Trattoria Altrove, a pizza and pasta restaurant that transports you straight to Italy. Though pricier than most restaurants in El Nido, there’s always a line of people waiting in line in the evenings to get a table here. The food is phenomenal, and the restaurant offers house wines as well.
Coron - 4 days
A paradise island that’s fairly isolated and has maintained its local charm is little Coron, a ferry ride away from El Nido. There’s a small airport a short drive away as well, but beware when booking flights to/from here, since on small propellor planes you can’t check more than 10 kgs and there’s no option to pay for extra luggage.
Boat tours here are plentiful, as well as great restaurants with rooftop views.
Things To Do On Coron:
The Coron Ultimate Tour takes you to on an ultimate Philippines island-hopping adventure. The all-day tour takes you to great snorkeling spots including coral reefs and a shipwreck, to some pristine islands, freshwater lakes, and beaches, and includes a freshly cooked meal of grilled fish and vegetables. If your Philippines 4-week itinerary overlaps with the high tourist season, I recommend booking the tour ahead of time.
Other Philippines island-hopping tours from Coron include Island Hopping (for the hangover days) and Coron Town Tour that takes you to Coron’s Safari Park and to historical locations around the town.
Where To Eat On Coron:
Rooftop restaurants that are great for the view include Levine’s Restaurant and The View Deck Grill House. Both are great places to grab a beer or cocktail while enjoying the sunset over the water. The food however, especially the vegetarian food and options left more to be desired.
Brujita Restobar, although I didn’t make it there, is always packed with people and rated highly for its international and vegetarian food.
Manila - 2 days
It’s worth spending time in Manila, for a day or two before flying out of the airport. Experience the rush of the city, the fast food chain Jolibee on every corner, eat some exotic street food of the Philippines, and see the colorful Jeepney busses barreling through congested roadways.
There are several Christian churches and cathedrals, museums, and parks to explore in Manila, as well as your typical massive Asian capital city malls! There are several local markets in the Metro Manila area worth checking out for clothing, shoes, and electronics shopping (though they’re not ideal for souvenir shopping). Both Quiapo Market and Quinta Market are walking distance from the Carriedo Light Rail Station.
Consider taking a Manila City Tour to see all of the city’s highlights to finish off your Philippines 4-week itinerary.
From the airport to Manila city center and back to the airport, take a Grab car for 250-300 pesos ($5), or the bus for 100 pesos ($1.90) per person. The expensive airport taxis cost around 1800 pesos ($34) to cover the same distance! If you’re traveling in a large group, book an airport transfer ahead of time.
Pin this Philippines Itinerary for later!
Are You Prepared For Your Philippines Island-Hopping Itinerary?
- Book Your Flights – To find the cheapest flights, flexibility is key. I use both Google Flights and their low fare calendar, and Skiplagged, which uses airfare loopholes to get the lowest prices.
- Book Your Accommodation – Check out Booking.com for the largest selection of accommodation around the world. For backpackers, Hostelworld.com is also a favorite.
- Buy Travel Insurance – It’s better to protect yourself from mishaps when traveling. Get a quote from World Nomads to see how much it’ll cost to get you covered!
- Stay Connected with a SIM card/WiFi device – I used a Globe brand SIM card for my Philippines itinerary to stay connected. If traveling with a group, consider getting portable WiFi that lets you connect 5 devices at once.
- Check Visa Requirements – From E-Visas to Visas-on-Arrival, iVisa has all the info on country visa requirements. If one is required, you can order one hassle-free through their site.
- Book Local Excursions – Don’t miss out on world-class experiences by booking tours and tickets online, ahead of your arrival. GetYourGuide and Klook both have fun experiences from around the Philippines like Island-Hopping in El Nido, a Boracay Island Tour, and the Coron Ultimate Tour.
- Pack Your Essentials – Check out my posts about Long Term Travel Gear, and Carry-On Luggage Packing Essentials.