Boracay, Cebu and Palawan were named the world’s best islands in the 2017 Readers Choice Awards of Conde Nast Traveller.
That's culled by award-winning international travel magazine from the votes of 300,000 travellers worldwide.
Located in the Philippines, these trio of islands are the top draws for visitors.
The Asian country has seen a spike in tourist arrivals from the Middle East, on the back of rising interest in its top destinations. The archipelagic nation has so much more to offer as it is actually comprised of more than 7,100 islands.
In the first half of 2017, 60,000 visitors from the region flew to the Philippines, according to Manila's Department of Tourism, a number expected to rise during the holidays.
One reason for the rising tourist arrivals from the Gulf is the wide availability of flights between the region and the Philippines.
Emirates operates 18 weekly flights between Dubai and the Philippines, while Etihad flies daily to the Philippine capital from Abu Dhabi. Philippine-based Cebu Pacific operates daily flights to Dubai while the Philippine Airlines (PAL) also operates daily flights between Dubai and Manila and thrice weekly flights on the Abu Dhabi route.
In March 2016, the Dubai-based Emirates started flying to Cebu's Mactan International Airport and Clark in central Luzon, north of Manila, in a "circular" flight — from Dubai it stops over in Cebu in the Visayas and flies to Clark in Luzon before returning to Dubai.
Surge Charo Logarta Lagamon, Director for Corporate Communications of Cebu Pacific Air, said: “We’ve seen surge of visitors to the Philippines and growing interest to visit the country from UAE. There’s something for everyone in the Philippines to suit a wide variety of preferences and lifestyles.
In the island-destinations, there's a wide choice of accomodations — from backpackers' rooms to high-end resorts with luxurious amenities.
But every visit offers access to fine-white sand beaches, the country's rich cultural heritage sites and some great shopping too.
"The Philippines is a great vacation destination with something to suit even discriminating luxury travellers," said Lagamon. "But what makes the Philippine experience complete is the warm hospitality of the people.”
For domestic flights, Cebu Pacific, PAL, SkyJet Airlines (mostly charter flights) and Air Asia Philippines connect more than 36 other destinations within the Philippines.
From the capital Manila, there's easy access to these three islands: Located around 315 kilometres south of Manila, the capital of Philippines, Boracay’s popularity among tourists as the world’s most popular islands is credited to its four-kilometer stretch of the finest white sand beach in the world; tranquil, gentle coastline; and a thriving nightlife scene.
The centre of attraction is White Beach, with powdery white sand and shallow azure water ideal for swimming and sunbathing.
A short, relaxing walk to other beaches takes visitors to some great snorkelling through colourful coral reefs teeming with fish.
From Manila, caught direct flights to Caticlan, the gateway to Boracay Island. Before reaching Caticlan, for example, Cebu Pacific offers cebtransfers, a complementary transfer service that takes travellers straight from the airport to Boracay Island. This allows fast, easy and seamless transfer to the island-desination.
2. Cebu The long and narrow island in the Visayas region of the Philippines, Cebu is the most densely populated island in the country and attracts tourists for its beaches on the mainland as well as across many of its surrounding islands.
Conde Nast described Cebu and its outlying islands as “more personal, with plenty of up-and-coming restaurants and shopping experiences”.
One of the oldest Spanish settlements in the Philippines, Cebu also boasts of historical and cultural sites that gives visitors a glimpse of its colonial past.
Camotes, Bantayan, Malapascua, Mactan, Moalboal, Badian and Oslob are amongst the islands off the mainland of Cebu, luring visitors for their crystal clear blue waters, white beaches and natural forests, with numerous activities including swimming, scuba diving, and great food experiences to offer.
From Manila, you can catch direct flights to and from Cebu — available from sunrise until the midnight, giving visitors a wider array of options to make the most of their vacation.
3. Palawan The largest island in the Palawan province has been ranked third in the list of the world’s best islands. It is known as “The Last Frontier” because nature still rules in almost all its 780 islands and islets that are sparsely populated.
Home to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, one of the newly crowned seven natural wonders of the world, Palawan also boasts of beautiful diving points, striking lakes and islands and fine, white sand beaches.
Cebu Pacific flies straight from Manila to Puerto Princesa — the capital of Palawan, ad provides transfer connections from the airport straight to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, making it easier to reach the world's longest navigable 'Underground River'.
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