The Philippines is a nation of sound east Asia made up of completely of islands. It’s a growing tourism destination and somewhere that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. One of the first searches I made after booking a crazy cheap airfare was “how many islands in the Philippines”.
Travelers familiar with the area will be quick to tell you there are 7107 islands in the archipelago and the locals here joke that the number of islands in the Philippines depends a lot on the tide.
Recently however, some more concrete, scientific answers, have come to light.
So? How many islands Are There In the Philippines Then??
The simple answer is 7100+. The number thrown around was usually that there were 7107 unique islands in the Philippines but that’s now changed!
…the addition of these islands & islets bring the number of islands in the Philippines to a staggering 7641…Per: Islands Measurements Project
The Filipino National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) though it’s aptly named “Philippine Islands Measurements Project” located ‘new’ uncharted islands in the country. The addition of these ‘new’ (read: previously un-mapped) islands brings the number of islands in the Philippines to over 7600!
Though they announced these findings in late 2016 the news is only now gaining traction within the travel world.
But how’d They do it?
How Did They Find New Islands?
Islands Measurements Project team used a technology known as synthetic aperture radar by satellite to completely re-map the Philippine islands. SAR is widely used for environmental monitoring, earth-resource mapping, and mapping systems that require large-area imaging at fine resolutions.
With this new data from space Filipino earth scientists and cartographers got to work scrutinizing every pixel. In the end they’d located more than 500 previously un-mapped islands that they would have to verify in person. Following their extensive efforts a new map including the “new” islands and islets was released.
Environment Secretary at the time, Ramon Paje, credited the discovery and mapping of 534 new Philippine islands to the hard work of his teams and advances in high-resolution satellite imaging technology.
Main/Best Islands In The Philippines
It would be nearly impossible to name all the islands in the Philippines, even for the researchers and geotechnical types that worked on the Islands Measurements Project. The main islands in the Philippines as far as tourists are concerned consist of:
The largest of the Filipino islands Luzon claims the country’s largest city and capital, Manila. Without much doubt you’ll be flying in or out from Luzon at either Manila (MNL) or Clark (CRK) Airports so you’ll have the opporuntiy to see what the island has to offer before jetting off to put some exotic sand under your feet. Check out the Banaue Rice Terraces, sometimes referred to as the 8th wonder of the world, in northern Luzon if you can make time!
Palawan was my first destination after leaving the hustle and bustle of Manila. This Island is an adventure tourist’s wet dream. With over 1400 of the country’s 7641 islands belonging to this province and sitting of the coast of Palawan island It’s tourist hotspot, El Nido, is famous for it’s island hopping which I wrote about here. If that wasn’t enough, the capital Puerto Princesa is a UNESCO World Heritage site too!
Coron, sitting off the north end of Palawan is a gem that hearkens back to a time before Palawan and El Nido hit the world stage. It’s not the easiest to access, getting here takes a 5 hour ferry from El Nido, but paradise never is. It’s easy to claim that any/every island is the most stunning, the most memorable or most pristine but Coron actually takes the cake. It’s magical.
Situated at the northeastern tip of Mindanao, 800 kilometers south of Manila, is a dream-come-true island called Siargao. This small slice of heaven still feels somewhat undiscovered and unmolested. Check out the small village of General Luna and it’s epic beaches.
Cebu may best be known for its underwater attractions. Here swimming with whale sharks and diving are big draws for the local economy. But don’t be fooled, Cebu has some amazing beaches and waterfalls that will keep even the most discriminating travelers happy.
Bohol is a sleepy little island who’s major claims to fame are the Chocolate Hills—an area of Hershey kiss shaped mountains—and a jungle that harbors Tarsiers—a fist sized primate, the smallest in the world. Renting a scooter/motorbike and getting away from the tourist centers will reward the daring traveler, the island is full of hidden nature trails, secret waterfalls and off the beaten path gems.
When you picture endless, palm lined, white sand beaches this is the island. Voted “worlds best island” Borocay was too popular for its own good and was closed to tourists in early 2018. After 6 months of cleanup, new legislation protecting the ecosystem and a hard reboot tourists are returning to Boracay.
The Take Away
I hope this helped answer your questions about how many island there are in the Philippines. While we may still make some jokes at the Philippines expense about the number of islands being counted at low tide vs high tide it’s interesting to see what new technology is doing to expand our minds.
In the end, I’m simply happy to say there are now at least 534 new beaches to add to my bucket list!