Instagrammable places in the Philippines
The Philippines are an Instagrammer’s dream, as soon as you get out of the cities the whole country is just beautiful. With hundreds of waterfalls with bright blue water, thousands of white sand beaches and lagoons fringed by towering limestone karsts, you really are spoilt for choice.
There are so many famous Instagram spots in the Philippines you could spend years seeking them out. Here are a few of our favourites to get you started.
Instagrammable places in Cebu
We’re going to start with Cebu - an island known for its thousands of stunning waterfalls. Cebu is home to some of the Philippines’ most famous Instagram spots, but if you go early enough you’ll still be able to get a great shot without people getting in the way. Get ready for spending the majority of your time in the water!
Kawasan is probably the most famous Instagram spot in the whole country and actually has two instagrammable spots (the raft and the dam). The falls are on three levels and each one is incredibly photogenic but the most popular spot is definitely the bamboo raft on the bottom level. It has been moved around over the years but wherever it is it looks amazing in photos.
It’s best to visit early morning for this shot, not just because a queue forms later in the day but because the pool itself will be full of people swimming, some of whom will be wearing rather un-photogenic orange life jackets.
The falls on level three are also a great spot but only if there has been a reasonable amount of rain fall. On our visit there wasn’t much at all.
Here’s a full guide on how to experience Kawasan Falls without the crowds.
The Raft - Level 1
The raft is easy to find as it is on the first level. This is the place you should shoot first as this is the busiest instagrammable spot of them all. Simply climb down and balance on the wobbly raft!
The Dam - Level 3
The dam on level three is a beautiful spot and one that has become incredibly popular on Instagram. Unfortunately we went to Cebu during a really dry spell, so we didn’t get the water cascading over the top like many others have. It’s also best to photograph them early morning before the light creates a dappled effect that you can see in the photo below which detracts from the shot.
This is probably the second most popular spot and it’s easy to see why. It’s breathtakingly beautiful even when there is virtually no flow. The setting is absolutely majestic and has you feeling like you’ve stepped on to the set of Avatar.
They aren’t the best place to go swimming, it’s too shallow for that but taking a cooling dip or a waterfall shower was a magical way to spend an hour.
Visiting early or late in the day is a must here, the falls get incredibly busy and it’s virtually impossible to get a clear shot with no one in it otherwise.
There is a small hill to sit on and get a great angle, taking in the whole scene without having to faff with a drone.
Here’s a few more tips for visiting Tumalog Falls.
Inambakan Falls reminded us a lot of Kawasan but without the crowds or commercialisation. They are a little more of a mission to get to but so worth it. From the motorbike parking area it’s just a five minute walk before you arrive at this stunning blue pool on the bottom level.
Sometimes there is a bamboo raft here which would look pretty in photos but it wasn’t around on our visit. We didn’t have any issues with crowds here despite visiting in the middle of the day so timing wise is more about good lighting. An overcast dull day is better for showing off the amazing water colour, as you can see we had a bit of patchy light.
Here are some more ideas for exploring the other four levels at Inambakan Falls.
This is another stunning waterfall we visited in Cebu that doesn’t see nearly as many crowds. The falls are small but the jungle pool itself is incredibly photogenic. If you get it to yourself (we had 8am-9am with no one else there at all) it has a really wild and. adventurous feel.
There are a couple of rocks and places that you can sit to make a nice shot or just simply swimming in the pool looks pretty epic. The ticklish should watch out for the little fish that nibble at your skin as you go for a dip! It should definitely be part of your Cebu itinerary.
Read next: Hiking up Aguinid Falls, Cebu
Instagrammable places in El Nido
El Nido is one of the most popular places in the Philippines for a reason. This town is the gateway to several incredible beaches, islands and lagoons that make you pinch yourself to check it is real.
Some of these places look particularly photogenic when shot with a drone to really take in the scale of the stunning landscape. To make sure you can use one without breaking any rules (or annoying other people) try to go as early as possible to places like the Big Lagoon. We’ve heard later in the day drone flying is banned but we were given the green light in the very early morning. Lapus Lapus is one where you should be ok at any time, but just be aware that people do go to this beach for a quiet break, so don’t fly if there are others around -considering hardly anyone visits this gorgeous spot you should be fine!
The not so secret lagoon now that El Nido is so wildly popular! It’s a gorgeous spot though, the lagoon is tiny and accessed via a hole in the cliff side (it’s easy to get in). It does get hugely busy and is so small that it can’t really take the crowds.
We visited early morning to avoid this which worked, although the trade off was that it was low tide and required quite a bit of walking over sharp coral and rocks to get from the boat to the lagoon - bring reef shoes. To get this spot to yourself I hate to say it again but it does require another private boat trip.
Otherwise queue up with everyone else and try and ask people to give you a moment to take a shot without anyone in it.
If you decide to suck up the cost here’s how to organise a private El Nido island hopping trip.
The Rope Swing at Papaya Beach
There’s good news and bad news with this Instagrammable spot. The good news is you don’t need an expensive tour to get to this one! The bad news is that it will require a 20 minute kayaking trip.
This incredible beach has a couple of rope swings at the northern end of the beach and offers a beautiful photo opportunity. If you go after 3-4pm you probably won’t see a tour in sight and you’ll be able to enjoy paradise all to yourself.
Although this does mean that part of the beach will be in shadow so if you can stomach another early morning we’d suggest opting for that.
It’s not hard to get a good shot at what has been rated the 10th best beach in the world! This huge beach is just half an hour away from El Nido town and is one of the many beaches you can reach without a tour.
Once you’ve made your way along the bumpy side road, all you need to do is walk a few steps from the coconut grove to the beautiful sand. At sunset this place looks even prettier!
Big Lagoon is one of the most popular places to visit in Palawan and when you see it for the first time you will understand why. This huge lagoon is stunning, with dramatic limestone cliffs lined with trees and dazzling blue water in an enclosed space.
The key is to go before 8.30am to ensure you miss rush hour. Before then you’ll have the feeling that you’ve found your own piece of paradise.
Although again visiting this early means that the lagoon is still in partial shadow, a few hours later would make more ideal photography conditions but then you get the crowds….. it’s a bit of a trade off.
Lapus Lapus Beach
Another stunning beach you can kayak to is Lapus Lapus. This paradise beach is ignored by the tour groups and this leaves it to those who are happy to grab a kayak and paddle themselves there.
This huge stretch of sand is just stunning and the lack of crowds makes it feel wild, it’s perfect for getting a shot with the drone or camera. The mixture of forest, white sand and clear water is just perfection.
Instagrammable places in Coron
Four hours north of El Nido you’ll find Coron - a beautiful island that is packed with incredible photo spots and places to explore. We actually preferred it to El Nido and would advise anyone making a trip to Palawan to factor it into your itinerary.
You’ll need a few days here and we can’t think of anywhere better to spend them than at the following spots.
Ah Banul, it was our favourite beach in Palawan. A true beauty. Just walking through the water here makes for a great shot, taken on either a camera or drone.
Banul beach is tiny so visiting here on a group tour will make taking shots difficult, tour groups visit at lunch time and the beach lines with bangkas. If you can stretch the budget stump up for a private boat and come in the morning. Our two hours here without another soul were some of the most memorable of our trip.
Here’s some more shots from our Banul Beach trip.
The derelict hut at Banul Beach
Just round the corner from the beach is a derelict hut on stilts that offers another great photo op. It is pretty decrepit but the ladder is still in decent working order. There is another hut right beside this one, which is even more decrepit, for the photographer to climb up to get this shot.
Coron is blessed with some beautiful lagoons and Twin Lagoon is no exception. It makes for the most incredible swimming or kayaking spot. The most famous Instagram shot is just past the first lagoon (you can swim under the archway at low tide or use the steps at high tide) and on the large rock in the water surrounded by towering limestone karsts.
Twin Lagoon is a tricky one to shoot though and we didn’t quite get it right. We wanted to visit when it wasn’t crowded so went for morning, this meant we got the whole lagoon to ourselves but because the sun wasn’t high in the sky the lagoon was in shadow. It’s a tricky dilemma but for better shots you’ll need to share the space and go later in the afternoon. If you visit on a private tour you can at least wait for gaps in the crowd.
Here’s how to organise a private Coron Island hopping trip.
Mount Tapyas Lookout
It’s a sweaty 700 step walk up to this lookout in the Coron humidity but it’s 100% worth it! The view from the top is absolutely magical. The best conditions for photography are at sunset as you can watch the sun set below the beautiful harbour surrounded by mountains.
It is likely to be busy when you visit but if you walk for a minute down the path on the left there is so much room on the grassy verge that it is easy to get your shot. It was one of our favourite things to do in Coron, especially as you can visit independently.
This island is a bit of a gem around two hours by boat from Coron Town. The sand is white, the water turquoise and backed by swaying palm trees. Pretty much everyone’s idea of paradise. That is if you visit before the huge crowds take over.
There are so many Instagrammble spots on this tiny island but we chose to experiment with the drone.
As with Banul Beach in order to avoid the crowds you need to visit in the morning with a private boat trip. It’s a bit more expensive but oh so worth it.
Ditaytayan Sand bar
This is one of the most amazing places we visited on our Coron Island hopping trip. This sweeping sand bar in the middle of the ocean juts out into the turquoise water and has to be seen to be believed.
Most people visit on a tour and therefore come in small groups. We got here around midday on our private trip and were able to wait the groups out as we had control of our own itinerary. If you come on a group tour we saw one couple hang back when they were called back to the boat to grab a couple of shots so you could always try that to avoid others in your photo.
Instagrammable places in Siquijor
This little island is blessed with a surprising amount of popular Instagram spots. One of our favourite things about Siquijor is that you won’t be sharing them with many other people. It’s pretty hard to beat paradise all to yourself!
The Rope Swing at Coral Cay Resort
There’s no 500 rupee fee or long queue here, yes we’re talking about you Sri Lanka! At Coral Cay Resort on Siquijor Island you’ll find just as epic a swing as this one in Sri Lanka but likely it will just be you swinging into the sunset.
The swing is on the grounds of a resort which just so happens to have a great happy hour at sunset which makes for a perfect combination.
Here are a few more reasons to visit Siquijor, one of our favourite islands in the Philippines.
Another Instagram favourite. Most of the shots from Cambugahay that I see are using the cool Tarzan rope swings. I went with the more sedate chilling on a bamboo raft version but almost any shot you take here will be pretty, the water colour is just amazing.
Visit in the early morning to make sure you don’t have anyone else in your shots, it was pretty quiet around 8am. Our shot is taken at the upper falls, the lower had even more beautiful water but we preferred the upper level overall.
Here are a few more tips to get the most out of your trip to Cambugahay Falls.
Sunset at Paliton Beach
Paliton Beach was our favourite on Siquijor Island. It has white sand, turquoise water and is lined by hundreds of palm trees. The most magical time of day to be here is undoubtedly sunset. If you walk for around five minutes to your right from the main motorcycle parking area you will come to this wide stretch of beach which has plenty of room for the small amount of people that are around at sunset.
Salagdoong Cliff Jump
This is another one for the brave. There are two jumps to choose from at Salagdoong, the highest pictured here is 10m. It makes for a great shot and also looks cool from above if you have a drone. If cliff jumping is not your thing, but you can’t take your eyes off that blue water and want to see it for yourself, then there are a few other great photo spots.
They rent out the huge unicorn floaties and also hammocks on a platform over the water.
If you’re ready for a break from all those early morning shots then this is the place for you, with the cliff jumping it obviously doesn’t matter anyway and for the floats and hammocks there is so much space in the water that it wouldn’t be difficult to find a spot. It isn’t an actual sunset spot but we found the light was lovely in the late afternoon.
You can see the price guide for the floats and hammocks in our Siquijor Island blog.
Our Camera Gear
Our brand of choice for camera gear has been Canon for many years and we love their L-Series lenses. Whilst they are heavier than some other brands, the image results are worth the additional weight. We’ve also used a few drones in our time (check out our guide to which drone to buy here) but currently own a DJI Mavic Pro.
You can check out the full description of our favourite travel camera and all our gear by clicking on this link.
Here’s the camera gear we use the most:
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Are you planning a trip to the Philippines? Are there any Instagrammable places you think we should visit? Let us know in the comments below!