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Most travelers know Panay as the jumping-off point for the white-sand, turquoise-water beaches in Boracay. But if you’ve got a few extra days to explore, you’ll find a whole lot more to the Filipino island—from the rugged mountains and rivers of Antique to the history and architecture of Iloilo City. It’s also a food-lover’s dream: Dig into the best seafood in the country (some travelers say) at Baybay Beach or hop over to Guimaras Island to try some of the sweetest mangoes in the world.
From the cosmopolitan metropolis of Cebu City and the white-sand beaches of Mactan to the electric-blue waters of Kawasan Falls and the whale sharks of Oslob, it’s easy to see why Cebu Island is one of the Philippines’ top destinations.
Why settle for a beachfront hotel when you can stay right over the ocean in a cottage on stilts? And why settle for any old dive site when you can snorkel in an orchid-walled lagoon? El Nido is known as the Philippines' last frontier, and if you're looking for magnificent beaches in an unspoiled setting, it's a perfect place for you to vacation.
The biggest island in the Philippines, Luzon is also one of the most diverse—it’s where mountain peaks and volcanoes meet miles of coastline, and indigenous culture melds with Spanish colonial history. You can relax at the beach in Pagudpud, hike with locals up the Batad Rice Terraces, ride in a horse-drawn carriage in Vigan, and snack on street food and dance the night away in Manila. You’ll need a few days and a bus pass, but you’ll be glad you stayed.