Island hopping in the Philippines: 2 weeks in Paradise

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Is there anything better than island hopping in the Philippines for 2 weeks? After reading this itinerary, you’ll be booking a one-way flight.

boats floating in aqua water near the islands of the Philippines

With nearly 8,000 islands, it’s hard to know where to start when planning an itinerary for island hopping in the Philippines. It’s tempting to try and pack in as many paradise islands as possible. 

But try that, and you’ll spend most of your time on flights, ferries and jeepneys (they’re an adventure). 

That’s not much of a holiday. So, we’ve made sure our epic two-week island hopping itinerary is the perfect balance of relaxation, adventure, and not having to pack your bags every other day. It ensures your time in the Phillippines will be two weeks that you’ll never forget.

And don’t forget, you can always come back! Let’s dive in…

Island hopping in the Philippines

There is never enough time, but you won’t regret taking two weeks to visit these islands.

Cebu City to Moalboal

Moalboal sardine run with snorkeler

Our two-week Philippines itinerary starts in Cebu Island. Here, you’ll find an international airport that receives cheap flights from all over Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. 

Think of Cebu as your central hub for this itinerary. It will be your jumping-off point for many of the islands, and somewhere you’ll keep returning to.

Start your time in the Philippines with an unforgettable adventure, so we recommend heading straight to Moalboal. While it’s not a different island, it’s home to an out-of-this-world experience…the sardine run. 

Never heard of it? Once you’ve learned a bit about this experience, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. 

All year round, thousands of glittering sardines create a pulsing tornado only 30 meters from Panagsama Beach in Moalboal. You don’t need a boat to get there, just some snorkeling equipment and power in your legs. 

When you’re not becoming one with the sardines, there are plenty of picturesque beaches, incredible snorkeling spots and canyons to explore. 

How long should you spend in Moalboal?

For those on a strict time frame, two days are enough to swim with the sardines and explore other magical sites in Moalboal.

How to get from Cebu City to Moalboal

Mactan-Cebu International Airport is located just outside of Cebu City. You can take a private van directly from the airport to Moalboal. This is the most convenient and comfortable way to get from Cebu to Moalboal, taking around 2.5-3 hours. 

If you’re traveling alone and can’t split the cost of a private car or you’re on a budget, you can head to Cebu City and, from there, take a direct bus or van to Moalboal. These take around 3-4 hours. 

Pro tip: If you have large or oversized luggage, the bus will likely be better. 

Moalboal to Bohol

white sand beach of Panglao Island Philippines

After a few days of adventure in Moalboal, head to Bohol. In particular, Panglao Island, a small island connected to Bohol by bridges. 

It’s home to the best beaches, delicious restaurants, and a laid-back vibe you’ll never want to leave. It’s the perfect base for exploring the rest of Bohol. 

Simply hire a moped or join a tour and let the adventures begin. 

You shouldn’t miss the magical Chocolate Hills, Napaling Reef, the Tarsier Sanctuary and Overgrown Cafe for their delicious smoothie bowls!

How long should you spend in Bohol?

Two to three days are sufficient to tick off the top things to do in Bohol. 

If you’re a diver, you might want to spend a bit longer here, as there are some great dive sites!

How to get from Moalboal to Bohol

To get from Moalboal to Bohol, you’ll first need to return to Cebu City. You can take the same transportation you used to get there or try something new. 

From Cebu City, hop on a ferry directly to Bohol. The journey takes around two hours and drops you off a short taxi or tuk-tuk ride from Panglao Island. 

Prepare for plenty more ferries in this Philippines island-hopping itinerary!

Bohol to Siquijor

aqua water surrounded by jungles in Siquijor

When you’re ready to move on, it’s time to visit one of the Philippines islands, which remarkably hasn’t managed to crawl onto every traveler’s radar…yet.

Siquijor is an island with an enchanting and mystical reputation. It’s famous for traditional healers, folk medicine practitioners and pristine beaches. 

It’s the perfect place to beach hop, chase waters, visit magical healers and simply relax. And the best part is that it’s not overrun with tourists!

How long should you spend on Siquijor?

This answer isn’t very helpful, but spend as long as possible in Siquijor. It’s a laidback island where you feel disconnected from the world, something that’s hard to find nowadays. 

If you are short on time, spending 3-5 days here is a reasonable amount of time.

How to get from Bohol to Siquijor

Getting from Bohol to Siquijor is super easy. There’s a 2-hour direct ferry. 

To get to or from your accommodations on either side, tricycles are your best friend. They are the cheapest way to get around and a lot of fun. 

Siquijor to Cebu

You’ll never feel like you’ve spent enough time in Siquijor. It feels like paradise on earth. 

But when it’s time to move on, you’ll need to head back to Cebu to ferry over to your final island in the Philippines.

How to get from Siquijor to Cebu

You can probably already guess how you will get from Siquijor to Cebu. By ferry! 

This one is a slightly longer ferry, taking 4.5 hours. 

Pro tip: Make sure to get the fast ferry, or you’ll spend 10 hours on a slow ferry instead. 

At this point, you have two options. 

  1. You can stay in Cebu for the night and go to your next destination the following day.
  2. Or we recommend hopping on the overnight ferry to Siargao. It will be a long day of traveling, but at least it gets it out of the way, and you have accommodation for the night on the ferry.

Cebu to Siargao

surfer at sunset in Siargao Island, Phillipines

It might be hard to top Siquijor, but Siargao steals the crown for many people, especially surfers. 

Every year, Siargao is getting increasingly popular as word spreads about it being the mecca for surfing. It’s known for the Cloud 9 surf break, one of the most famous waves in the world. Surfers from all around the globe visit Siargao just to ride its powerful waves. 

Don’t worry if you’re not a surfer. Siargao has so much more to offer. It’s quickly becoming a digital nomad hub with its Starlink internet, cozy cafes and quirky co-working spaces. 

Hire a moped and cruise along palm tree-lined streets, or spend your days lounging on its golden beaches. 

How long should you spend in Siargao?

Siargao is the kind of place that people fall in love with and never want to leave. Maybe that will be you?

We recommend setting aside the most time for Siargao. It’s a bit further to get to than the other islands, so you’ll want to make the journey worth it. 

And… it’s incredible!

How to get from Cebu to Siargao

The easiest and quickest way to get from Cebu to Siargao is to fly. The flight takes around 1 hour and takes you directly to Siargao Island. 

If you can’t find affordable flights, want to be considerate of the environment, or are up for an awesome adventure, consider getting the ferry from Cebu to Surigao City

First, take the overnight ferry from Cebu to Surigao City. It’s important to note that it isn’t located on Siargao Island, your final destination. 

The ferry takes around 10 hours, but you can opt for beds to make the journey more comfortable and actually get some sleep.

When you arrive in the morning, you’ll need to take another short ferry from Surigao to Siargao Island

Pro tip: If you have a few hours between the two ferries, head to Etheral Cafe. It’s beautiful and has excellent coffee and delicious food. 

Siargao to Cebu or Manila

We guarantee you’ll never want to leave the Philippines. The people are just too friendly and the beaches too picturesque. But as is life, all good things must come to an end. 

Getting back to one of the Philippine’s international airports is easy from Siargao. There’s an airport on the island with flights to Manila and Cebu

Weather in the Philippines 

riverboat in island hopping adventure of Philippines

The best time to visit the Philippines is during its dry season, from November to April. Temperatures are hot, ranging between 24°C (75°F) to 31°C (88°F). 

If you’re not a fan of tropical heat, consider visiting during January and February when temperatures are at their coolest but still plenty warm enough. 

May to October is the rainy season. It’s still possible to visit during these months. You’ll just have to prepare for some rain to accompany you on your adventures. 

You might want to avoid late June until the end of October, as this is typhoon season.

Packing essentials for the Philippines

girl about to dive into aqua water in the Philippines

The Philippines is more than just a beach destination. There’s also jungle, dense cities, volcanoes, and mountains, so knowing where your adventures will take you before packing is helpful. 

Regardless, here are some packing essentials to bring even if you haven’t decided where you’re going:

  • Swimming costume 
  • Sunhat 
  • Sunglasses 
  • Reef-friendly suncream 
  • A reusable water bottle — most accommodations offer free drinking water. 
  • Snorkel set if you have one. It’ll save you money not having to rent one.
  • Motion sickness pills – there are a lot of ferry journeys.
  • A GoPro 

Map of this island hopping itinerary in the Philippines

The majority of the islands in this 2-week itinerary are situated in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines, except for Siargao, which can be found in the Caraga region. Check out this map to put it all into perspective. 

How to get to islands in the Philippines

paddleboard island hopping adventure in the Philippines

There are eight international airports in the Philippines. Manila and Cebu are the two most popular and the main entry points to the country.

Once you’re in the country, your primary way of getting around is by boat. It’s made up of thousands of islands, after all! Ferries in the Philippines are fast, efficient and reasonably comfortable.

On the islands themselves, many people opt for renting a scooter to give them the freedom to explore. Other options include tricycles, tuk-tuks and jeepneys. 

Getting around the Philippines is actually pretty fun most of the time!

Will the Philippines be your next island-hopping destination?

waterfall in Siquijor, Philippines

With so many islands, you might think you need buckets of time to visit the Philippines. Indeed, you would to explore it all, but not to enjoy bite-sized pieces of this phenomenal country. 

And this 2-week itinerary is the perfect way to dip your toe in its dreamy turquoise waters. Prefer to get completely off the beaten track? Consider adding in some of these lesser-known islands in the Philippines. 

And if you can’t get all these in, here are some great day trips from Cebu City.

FAQ 

How many days do you need to travel the Philippines?

How many days have you got?

How do I plan a trip to the Philippines? 

Our 2-week island hopping itinerary is a great start! 

Which month is best to visit the Philippines? 

December to February are the ultimate months to visit the Philippines. The weather is cool, and the rain mainly stays away. 

Posted February 20, 2024
Kate Woodley
After a 2-year career break travelling the world, Kate quit her job as a Management Consultant and went all in on digital nomad life. She continues to travel, working as a freelance writer and inspiring others to travel through her Instagram, Maskedtravelsx. Kate also shares her love of travel by running group trips to unique destinations — Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan etc. Where life will take her next? She has no idea!