The Philippines is home to an astonishing collection of over 7,600 islands, of which only 2,000 are permanently inhabited. While many of these islands aren’t considered much more than an idyllic atoll perfect for a day trip, some are still battling the world record as one of the largest on the planet.
Counting from the smallest to the largest by total area, here are the largest islands in the Philippines.
1. Lucon (109,965 km2)
Luzon Island has many claims. Not only is it the largest and most populous island in the Philippines, it is famous for being the 15th largest island on the planet in terms of area.
Located in the north of the Philippines, Luzon is the economic and political center of the country. At last count, it is home to more than 50 million inhabitants, or more than half of the total population of the Philippines, which gives it the definitive title of the fourth most populous island in the world.
2. Samar (13,429 km2)
Samar Island is the easternmost of the Visayan group, in the central Philippines, and is surrounded by the Sea of Samar, the Philippine Sea, and the San Bernardino Strait.
Made up of no less than three provinces and linked to Leyte by the San Juanico Strait, about a third of its territory is protected by Samar Island Nature Park, the largest connected section of ancient forest in the Philippines. While it lacks the iconic mountains the rest of the archipelago is known for, it is still a largely mountainous island dotted with scenic coastal plains and flood plains.
3. Mindanao (97,530 km2)
The unusually shaped island of Mindanao is a huge mountainous island in the southern Philippines. Stretching nearly 300 miles from north to south and surrounded by the Bohol, Celebes, Philippines and Sulu Seas, the island of Mindanao is a volcanic wonder.
It is home to Mount Apo – the highest peak in the country – and the highest concentration of different ethnic minorities in the Philippines, such as the Maranao, Maguindanao and Sangil, to name a few.
Nicknamed the “pioneer frontier” for its vast expanses of unspoiled fertile land, the island lives on agriculture. The main crops are corn, rice and various fruits, but coffee and cocoa are also cultivated.
4. Panay (12,011 km2)
The triangular island of Panay is the westernmost of the Visayas Islands, in the central Philippines. It is the fourth most populous island of the immense archipelago, home to nearly 4.5 million inhabitants at last count. To put it in perspective, this represents 4.4% of the population of the entire country.
Although beautiful in itself, with countless caves and mysterious rivers, the island of Panay is often used as a simple stepping stone to reach the most popular Boracay and its famous White Beach.
5. Leyte (7,368 km2)
Leyte Island, in the Visayas archipelago, is located in the Camotes Sea and is connected to Samar Island by a huge bridge. The island, which was home to 16th-century Spanish explorers known as Tandaya, is best known for the Battle of the Leyte Gulf, which lasted four days and was fought here against the Japanese. With over 200,000 combatants, it is considered the largest naval battle of WWII.
Today the island is a peaceful agricultural country where rice, corn, coconut and tobacco are among the most important trades, especially in the lush and fertile Leyte Valley.
6. Cebu (4,468 km2)
Affectionately known as the “Queen of the South”, Cebu Island is the largest in the Visayan region and the 126th largest island on the planet. Stretching 120 miles from top to bottom, this sunny island is a plethora of spectacular coastlines, gorgeous beaches, limestone hills and glorious coral atolls just off the coast.
With more than 3.5 million inhabitants, the island of Cebu is a tropical paradise. It consists of large pockets of developed areas, particularly around the city of Cebu, with its interesting mix of Spanish colonial history, leaving the rest of the island largely untouched. Once the country’s capital in the 17th century, Cebu Island, along with hundreds of other smaller islands, makes up the bustling province of Cebu.
7. Palawan (12,189 km2)
Palawan is the largest island in the province of Palawan. With the South China Sea on one side and the Sulu Sea on the other, the island remains largely – and thankfully – underdeveloped by tourism, by most standards.
Instead, visitors descend to appreciate the breathtaking jungle landscapes, gorgeous white sand beaches, and epic wildlife. In fact, it is even known as the Philippines’ “last ecological frontier” for its commitment to conserving nature. In 2016, the island of Palawan was voted “the most beautiful island in the world” by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure.
8. Mindoro (10,572 km2)
Mindoro is a large island located southwest of Luzon and northeast of Palawan. It has over a million inhabitants and is divided into two provinces: Mindoro Occidental and Mindoro Oriental.
The island, which stretches for over 100 miles, is famous for its deep valleys and for the tamarind water buffalo, which cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. Mindoro is the perfect getaway for a vacation on the fly – outside of the monsoon season, of course – with spectacular white sand beaches and meandering rivers and lakes.
9. Blacks (13,310 km2)
The boot-shaped island of Negros is part of the Visayan group of islands. Bordered by the Visayan Sea to the north and the Sulu Sea to the south, it has over 160 km of coastline to explore.
The island is famous for its agricultural and mineral resources, which have made it one of the richest regions of the Philippines. Most of the land is made up of sugar cane plantations, sugar mills, copper or coal mines, and corn fields, but rice, coconuts and other fruits are also grown here. At sea, the island’s underwater reefs and coral gardens make it undoubtedly one of the best diving destinations in the Philippines.
10. Bohol (3,821 km2)
Located in the province of the same name, the oval-shaped island of Bohol is a picturesque island characterized by picturesque coral reefs, quaint stone churches, native (and playful) tarsier monkeys, and thousands of collectively known brown limestone formations. under the name of Chocolate Hills. .
On the main island itself, there are over 162 miles of coastline, dotted with everything from waterfalls to natural caves. As if that wasn’t enough in one location, there are also over 70 easily accessible satellite islands.