In your face, Bali! Boracay, Cebu, Palawan make Conde Nast’s ‘Best Islands in Asia’ list

Photo: ABS-CBN" width="100%" />
Boracay in 2018 before its 6-month rehabilitation closure. Photo: ABS-CBN

Boracay’s six-month closure for environmental rehabilitation in 2018 may have brought the beloved tourist spot’s sanitation concerns into the international spotlight, but if this year’s “Best Islands In Asia” rankings by Conde Nast are any indication, those issues are a thing of the past.

Conde Nast Traveler‘s The Best Islands in the World: 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards named Boracay as having the best beaches in Asia. Two other Philippine island chains also joined the top five — Cebu and Visayas Islands placed second, and Palawan came in fourth.

Rounding out the top five was Penang, in Malaysia, in third place, and perennial beach bum destination Bali creeping into fifth place. The 32-year-old annual travel survey lists the 30 best islands in the world, and according to Conde Nast, a record-breaking 600,000 registered voters participated in the survey.

Traveler noted Boracay’s rehabilitation had been a tourism problem, and that work is still ongoing despite the beach’s reopening. But it still coasted to the top of the heap on the strength of its “gentle coastlines and made-for-Instagram sunsets,” folded in with its thriving nightlife scene. The list also plays up the fact that the quaint “itty-bitty island (just under four square miles) in the Western Philippines is as close to a tropical idyll as you’ll find in Southeast Asia.”

Cebu and Visayas Islands, meanwhile, are praised for their swimming holes, waterfalls, and peaceful spots, which draw in nearly 2 million travelers annually. Palawan was recognized for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its otherworldly subterranean caves, underground rivers, and blue lagoons.

In July of this year, all three islands were also featured in  Travel + Leisure‘s Best Places to Travel in 2019. The Tourism Department welcomed the addition, with Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat in a July press statement saying the inclusion “validates our efforts towards attaining a sustainable tourism industry.”

She added that it encouraged their department to “work even harder on this advocacy, creating a tourism environment that is recognized and lauded not only today but for the generations to come.”

Find all episodes of The Coconuts Podcast


Support local news and join a community of like-minded
“Coconauts” across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Join Now
Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on