Most Filipinos can easily tell that the Philippines is an archipelago consisting of 7,107 islands. Philippine islands come in all sizes and shapes. Some even disappear during high tide. In this blog post, let us share with you a brief introduction about the Philippines by showcasing our country's ten largest islands through photos. If you are ready, let the island hopping begin!
#01 Island of Luzon -- With an area of 104,688 km², Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines and the 17th largest island in the world. It is located on the northern part of the archipelago and is the main island of the Luzon group of islands. Luzon is home to 30 of the provinces of the Philippines. The country's capital city of Manila is also located here.
One of the most majestic icons of the island is the Mayon Volcano (see image below), located in the province of Albay, an active volcano renowned for its perfect cone shape. Other famous destinations in Luzon include two UNESCO World Hertitage Sites, the Hispanic Town of Vigan in the province of Ilocos Sur and the Rice Terraces in Batad and Bangaan located in the province of Ifugao; as well as the Walled City of Intramuros in the capital Manila and the town of Donsol in the province of Sorsogon, known as the best spot to experience swimming with the whale sharks.
#02 Island of Mindanao -- The main island of Mindanao has a total area of 97, 530 km² which makes it the second largest island in the Philippines and 19th in the world. It is the main island of the Mindanao group of islands located on the southern area of the archipelago. 21 provinces of the Philippines are located on this island.
Among the natural wonders of the island is the Maria Cristina Falls located in the province of Lanao del Norte. It powers a hydroelectric power plant that serves as the main supplier of electricity in Mindanao. Another popular destination in Mindanao, especially for mountain climbers, is Mount Apo. This is the highest mountain in the Philippines located between Davao City and the provinces of Davaol del Sur and Cotabato. Mindanao is also a major producer of world-class quality pineapples (in the provinces of Bukidnon and South Cotabato) and bananas (in the province of Davao del Norte).
|Maria Cristina Falls|
#03 Island of Negros -- We now take you to the Visayas group of islands starting off with Negros. It is the largest among the islands in the Visayas region, in central Philippines. It ranks third in the country and 62nd in the world. This 13,328 km² island is divided into two provinces, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. The name of the island came from the Spanish word negros (the black ones) referring to the black natives who inhabited the island.
The island is the main producer of sugar in the Philippines. A famous destination in Negros is the ruins of a mansion owned by a barón del azúcar (sugar baron) located in the province of Negros Occidental. Other notable spots in Negros is the City of Silay (in the province of Negros Occidental) where Spanish colonial era houses line the streets of the city, and the City of Bais (in the province of Negros Oriental) which offers the best dolphin watching experience in the country.
#04 Island of Samar -- Samar is another island located in the Visayas region, on the eastern side of the Philippines. The surface area of the island measures 12,849 km² making it the fourth largest island in the Philippines and 63rd in the world. In 1965, the island was separated into three provinces, Western Samar, Northern Samar and Eastern Samar, with Western Samar subsequently renamed to Samar.
In 1901, during the Philippine-American Way, the US Army took three church bells from the Balangiga Church (see photo below) as trophies of war. Up to the present time, those bells are still in the possession of the US Army despite efforts by the Philippine government to recover the bells and return them to their home in the town of Balangiga, in the province of Eastern Samar. The province of Samar is also gaining popularity among caving entusiasts from Europe, US and Canada.
#05 Island of Palawan -- Between the West Philippine Sea and the Sulu Sea lies the elongated island of Palawan. It is the main island of the province of Palawan. The island has an area of 12,189 km² which makes the province of Palawan the largest in the country, but only places the island on spot number five in the Philippines and 64th in the world.
Palawan is the site of the world famous Puerto Princesa Underground River (see photo below), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and proclaimed as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2012. On the northern end of the island is the town of El Nido famous for its white sand beaches, lagoons and marble and limestone cliffs. It is known as the Philippines' Last Frontier.
|Puerto Princesa Underground River|
#06 Island of Panay -- Right at the center of the Philippine archipelago lies a triangular shaped island called Panay. The 12,011 km² island is the sixth largest island in the Philippines and 65th in the world. Four Philippine provinces share this island: Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Iloilo.
In the town of Miao-ao in the province of Iloilo stands an 18th century Baroque church built by the Augustinian missionaries. Officially called Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva, it was included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in 1993 as one of the four Baroque Churches of the Philippines. Roxas City, the capital of the province of Capiz, is a favorite destination for seafood lovers. The abundance of marine life earned the city its nickname Seafood Capital of the Philippines.
#07 Island of Mindoro -- Located between the islands of Luzon and Palawan is the seventh largest island in the Philippines, the island of Mindoro. With an area of 10,572 km², it also ranks 74th among the largest islands of the world. The island is divided into two provinces, Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro.
White Beach, located in the town of Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, is a favorite weekend destination to many Filipinos from Metro Manila due to its close proximity to Luzon. Mindoro is also know for the tamaraw, an endemic species of the island related to the water buffalo. It is now considered an endangered species.
|White Beach of Puerto Galera|
#08 Island of Leyte -- Another island in the Visayas region located south of the island of Samar and north of the island of Mindanao is Leyte. Two provinces, Leyte and Southern Leyte, share this 7,368 km² island which ranks eighth among the largest islands in the Philippines and 94th in the world.
Leyte played an important role in the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese forces in 1944 where General Douglas MacArthur of the US Army landed in the Philippines to fulfill his promise. Life-size statues of Gen. MacArthur and his fleet stand in the town of Palo, Leyte, marking the spot where they landed. Other famous destinations in Leyte are Lake Danao located in Ormoc City, Leyte and the tallest bridge in the Philippines, the Agas-Agas Bridge in the town of Sogod, Southern Leyte.
|Landing Site of Gen. MacArthur and his fleet|
#09 Island of Cebu -- It was on this island where the Spaniards established their first settlement in the Philippines that later made the entire archipelago part of the Spanish Empire. The island of Cebu, measuring 4,468 km² in area, is located in central Visayas and ranks ninth among the largest islands in the Philippines and 125th in the world. The island is where the province and the city of Cebu got their names.
A shrine was built in Cebu City to house Magellan's Cross, the cross planted by Magellan on their arrival in Cebu in 1521. Another important Catholic religious image is to be found in Cebu, the image of Santo Niño de Cebú (the Holy Child of Cebu), said to be the oldest Catholic image in the Philippines. The wooden image was a baptism gift given by Ferdinand Magellan to the principal wife of the local rajah. Festivals are celebrated around the Philippines in honor of Santo Niño de Cebú.
|Magellan's Cross Shrine|
#10 Island of Bohol -- Located in the southern portion of the Visayas region, the island is the main island of the province of Bohol. The island of Bohol, with an area of 3,269 km², is the tenth largest island in the Philippines and 142nd in the world.
The island is famous for its unique geological formation, the Chocolate Hills. Considered as a National Geological Monument, this natural wonder attracts tourists from within and outside the country. Another attraction in Bohol is the Philippine Tarsier, a tiny primate endemic to the Philippines.
Following a weekend trip to Puerto Galera last January 5-6, 2013, Pinas Muna is proud to announce that it has finally visited the Top 10 Largest Islands of the Philippines. If you are planning to discover and learn more about the Philippines, why not start with these ten islands.
Done with the top 10 largest islands? Then here are the next 10 islands for your itinerary:
Top 11-20 Largest Islands of the Philippines
11. Masbate Island (3,268 km²)
12. Catanduanes Island (1,523 km²)
13. Basilan Island (1,265 km²)
14. Marinduque Island (920 km²)
15. Busuanga Island (890 km²)
16. Jolo Island (869 km²)
17. Dinagat Island (769 km²)
18. Polilio Island (629 km²)
19. Tawi-Tawi Island (581 km²)
20. Guimaras Island (560 km²)