Hop from island to island in the cradle of the Philippine archipelago, where miles of beaches provide the setting for resorts, colorful festivals and folk tales.
The Visayan Islands encompass most of the central Philippines, infused with rich folklore and cultural diversity. Pick from nine major island groups and explore hundreds of islands fringed with white-sand beaches and coral reefs. Discover the distinctive character of each group while learning about the region’s heritage and joining lively fiestas.
In the Central Visayas, explore the major island province of Cebu. Investigate sprawling Cebu City’s Magellan’s Cross, honoring the explorer who claimed the archipelago for Spain in 1521, or see the colonial Carcar City. Find beautiful beaches on the northern and western shores of Cebu. Scuba dive off neighboring island Siquijor or discover the captivating Chocolate Hills on Bohol.
The island of Negros is home to the Visayan Islands’ tallest peak, the volcanic Mount Kanlaon. Trek up rugged mountain ranges and look out over the island’s vast sugar plantations. The Western Visayas also contain the adjoining islands of Panay and Guimaras, which entice visitors with laidback resorts, unspoiled islands and forested mountains. The popular resort island of Boracay is famed for its beaches, watersports and energetic nightlife. Go on a diving tour to nearby Carabao Island in the province of Romblon.
Travel farther afield to the Eastern Visayas’ magnificent Samar Island, which rewards intrepid travelers with the cave-riddled wilderness of Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park. The island is also a popular stopover for surfers looking for barreling Pacific swell. Trace World War II history on Leyte or visit the Limisawa Island off Leyte’s southern tip to see where Magellan is believed to have conducted the country’s first Catholic Mass.
Reach the major hubs of the Visayan Islands easily by plane from Manila or Cebu City. Ferries conveniently interlink hundreds of Visayan Islands. Rustic bangka outrigger canoes make offshore exploration easy. Catch public buses or flag motorized tricycles to get around most islands. The peak season runs between November and February, but the Visayan Islands have four distinct climactic regions. Check local weather forecasts when planning outings.