Written by the wonderful Sam Tatro of Undiscovered Path Home

Cystal clear lagoons in the Philippines

Palm trees, empty white sand beaches, crystal clear water, tiny islands in the middle of the ocean… If you’re picturing yourself eloping in some of the most beautiful places in the world, you need to consider eloping in the Philippines. With more than 7,000 islands on offer, I know my couples will find the perfect little corner of the world for their special ceremony when they plan a Philippines elopement. 

Planning an Philippines elopement isn’t easy: this off-the-beaten-path destination still has a reputation for being dangerous (in most parts of the country, it’s not dangerous at all) and underdeveloped. But the same reasons people avoid the Philippines are what make it so beautiful and so unique for a special and intimate ceremony. This country has some of the kindest people, most stunning landscapes, and most laid-back vibes. Is there anything more perfect and more adventurous for your Philippines elopement? Here’s my complete guide to planning a magical Philippines elopement wedding. 

Where to elope in the Philippines

A rocky features on the beach surrounded by clear water and mountans in the Philippines

If you want an elopement with the perfect vendors, high-end hotels and clear-cut destinations, the Philippines may not be for you (instead, check out Mauritius for similar vibes). Eloping in the Philippines means trekking off the beaten path, going with the flow, and exploring the unknown. What could be more fun?! 

Every island in the Philippines holds its own unique touch and every island is slightly different. It’s really just impossible to pick ONE island…so I made a list for couples considering eloping in the Philippines. I’ll narrow down some of the most breathtaking islands for your elopement, but keep in mind, the Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands. If you want a beach wedding in the middle of nowhere, the world (and by world, I mean the Philippines) is your oyster!

Siargao

Siargao is one of the easternmost islands in the Philippines, and this tropical paradise is perfect for couples looking for the perfect mix of wellness, beaches, and laid-back vibes. Unlike other islands, Siargao is quite well developed because of its dominant surfing culture. This spot may be most famous for its surfing (it’s called the surfing capital of the Philippines!), but Siargao Island offers island hopping, wellness retreats (yoga, anyone?), and snorkeling, all with such a chill vibe. Plus, the palm trees dotting Siargao will make this a special and tropical Philippines elopement destination. 

Coron

Crystal clear lagoons in the middle of foresty mountains in Coron, the Philippines
The lagoons and islands surrounding Coron are beautiful!

If you’ve seen El Nido online, skip that overly tourist spot and instead opt for Coron. Coron is a big island, but they’re known for the uninhabited islands off their coast, which are amazing dive and snorkeling spots. Coron first came to people’s attention because of their World War II wreck diving spots and beautiful rock formations. The gorgeous waters, stunning scenery, and endless island adventures make this place a beautiful place to plan a Philippines elopement. 

Siquijor

Siquijor is truly one of the most special places in the Philippines. Many tourists don’t visit an island as far out as Siquijor, but the extra time is completely worth the effort. Located under Cebu, Siquijor is the place to visit if you want that authentic Philippines experience. White beaches, crystal clear waters, unbelievable waterfalls, super friendly locals, stunning drives…what’s not to love? Everyone who visits the Philippines and stops in Siquijor frequently says that this island is one of their all-time favorites, and they all say they wish they had spent more time in Siquijor. If you want a relaxed, adventurous Philippines elopement, consider this beautiful spot. 

Cebu

A man wearing a red shirt stands on a fallen tree looking in front of a waterfall in the Philippines

Looking for more of a jungle adventure? The islands of the Philippines are all worth visiting, but Cebu is especially perfect for those looking for adventures both in the water and the sea. The island of Cebu, Philippines, is known for its white, sandy beaches, clear waters, coral reefs, canyoneering, and more. Once you venture away from the main city, Cebu City, you’ll find endless activities and adventures! 

Palawan

Palawan is known as the Philippines’ “Last ecological frontier.” That’s because the forests and seas in Palawan offer the type of biodiversity and natural beauty you just don’t see much anymore. The best way to explore Palawan is by renting a boat and cruising through the crystal clear waters, passing endless white, sandy beaches. The tropical climate and year-round sunshine make this spot absolutely beautiful for couples planning a Philippines elopement. One of the coolest spots to visit? Puerto Princesa, Palawan island, Philippines, hands down – just look up their underground river!

Balabec

Balabec is truly a bucket-list destination! Not many people have heard of this region in the Philippines, which comprises 31 different islands. Most of these islands are completely uninhabited, making for the most unreal adventures. Because Balabec is so far off the tourist path, most people don’t venture this far. If you plan to elope in Balabec, expect the Maldives but much cheaper and far more beautiful: gorgeous coral reefs, pink sand beaches, insane marine life, and very welcoming locals. The locals here are among the kindest.

Leyte

Skip the mega-touristy spots like Boracay and instead opt for something much more adventurous and off-the-beaten path. The island of Leyte, located just north of Cebu, is an often univisited island that has so much beauty with more isolation than you might expect. If you plan to elope in Leyte, expect white powdery sand beaches, long sandbars, lots of diving and waterfalls. Leyte is one of the places in the Philippines where you can ethically see whale sharks, too. 

If none of these islands sound like you, but you still want to elope in the Philippines, then get in touch….because, with 7,000 islands to explore, I guarantee there’s something for you in the Philippines. 

What to do on your elopement day in the Philippines

Boats docked in a crystal clear lagoon surrounded by mountains in the Philippines

The best part about eloping in the Philippines? It’s impossible not to plan the most epic and unbelievable day. If you feel like you want your wedding day to be one big adventure, we can totally make that happen! 

  • Rent a boat: You need to rent a boat in the Philippines, hands down. The Philippines has so many beautiful beaches, coves, and inaccessible areas that can only be seen by boat. You should 100% plan to rent a boat to reach some of the most unique and untouched places in the Philippines. This is THE best way to beat the crowds and see some truly unbelievable places. 
  • Relax on the beach: Have you ever dreamed of a relaxing wedding day, with no troubles in mind? The Philippines is one of the most laid-back destinations…so why not just kick back and relax during your wedding day? 
  • Swim with whale sharks: The Philippines is home to the second-largest population of whale sharks in the world, and it’s one of the best places to swim with whale sharks! This can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but ensure that you pick a sustainable way to see whale sharks. Unfortunately, this may mean you might not see whale sharks. 
  • See the Philippines by air: Is there any better way to see such a beautiful country than by air? If you happen to start your journey in Manilla, or another major city, you can plan a helicopter tour to kick off your Philippines elopement wedding trip!
  • Chill out with some yoga: Planning to elope in Siargao? Get into the hippy, eco-friendly atmosphere and start your morning with some yoga. Siargao is known for its wellness and sustainability, and some of the hotels on Siargao have some beautiful yoga spaces. 

No matter what you envision for your day, don’t worry – we can make it happen! 

The best time to elope in the Philippines

A boat floats down a turquoise river surrounded by palm trees

The best time to visit the Philippines is from November to April, during the country’s dry season. During this time, the many islands and more remote areas are fully accessible to visitors. You can also plan to visit during the shoulder season (May and November), where many popular areas are less crowded. However, if you plan to visit remote areas regardless, visiting during peak season likely will not be an issue. 

You should keep in mind that every island in the Philippines has its own weather patterns which differ ever so slightly from each other. Don’t forget to research the specific weather for the island you plan to visit.

Where to eat & drink in the Philippines

Unlike other Southeastern Asian dishes, Filipino food is often overlooked and misunderstood. But it’s a mistake to think Filipino food isn’t just as delicious as Thai food or Vietnamese food. It’s just different, and there’s a good chance you haven’t yet come across it yet. You can find Chinese, Native and Spanish influences in just about every dish. 

These are some of the most common Filipino dishes you should try during your Philippines elopement: 

  • Lumpia: These deep-fried spring rolls are stuffed with minced meat and vegetables, and there’s about a 99.8% chance you will fall in love with these tasty treats. 
  • Pancit: Pancit, or pansit, are glass noodles mixed with whatever meat or vegetables on tap. 
  • Adobo: Adobo might be the most iconic dish on this list. This dish’s distinct flavor comes from the slow cooking with plenty of vinegar, crushed garlic, soy sauce and black pepper. It’s freaking unbelievable!
  • Sisig: Spicy, fatty meat dish with pig head and liver is marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, chili peppers and calamansi. 

And here are some of my favorite little spots all over the Philippines: 

But let’s be honest: some of the best places in the Philippines won’t be on Google Maps or TripAdvisor. You’ll have to venture out and find them yourself! 

Where to stay in the Philippines

Small islands surrounded by blue water in the Philippines

The Philippines has some of the world’s most beautiful, tucked-away resorts…The perfect romantic getaways! Here are some of my absolute favorite spots in the Philippines:

Vendors I recommend in the area

It can be tricky to find traditional wedding vendors in the Philippines, but don’t worry, we can work together to find someone to help with hair, make-up, and any other needs you may have for your wedding! I’ve found that in places like the Philippines, it’s best to get on the ground and look by word-of-mouth. Not every business can afford to build their own website or navigate Google Maps for businesses.

Mountains full of green trees loom over blue beaches in the Philippines

How to get to the Philippines

Most visitors will need to fly to one of the two main airports in the Philippines: Mactan-Cebu Airport or Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport. From one of these two international hubs, you can plan trips to smaller islands. 

You can reach the smaller islands with regional flights (like Cebu Pacific, for example) or by boat or ferry. For example, you can take a ferry from Cebu to Siquijor or Cebu to Leyte, but you would need to take a regional plane from Cebu or Manila to reach Coron or Siargao. 

To reach some of the off-the-beaten-path destinations, you should expect to take local buses. Don’t worry – most regions in the Philippines, and especially the ones I have recommended here, are very safe for tourists. The locals are known to be genuinely very friendly and kind, as well. You may end up feeling safer in the Philippines than you do in the U.S.! 

How to legally elope in the Philippines

An aerial view of waves crashing on a shore with green trees and palm trees in the Philippines

I’d personally recommend getting legally married in the U.S. to make it easier on you both and then have the symbolic ceremony in the Philippines

But if you want to legally get married in the Philippines as a foreigner, you have a number of civil wedding requirements Philippines and will be required to submit a variety of different documents, including: 

  • Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage from your Embassy or Consulate in the Philippines
  • Valid passport or citizenship document
  • Original or certified true copy of divorce decree or death certificate of deceased spouse, if applicable.
  • Original or certified true copy of birth certificate

Once you have these documents, you can apply for a marriage license at the Office of the Civil Registrar. For further information, you should contact the Embassy or Consulate or read here

My tips for exploring the Philippines

Why travel halfway across the world without exploring the Philippines? This incredible country has thousands of islands to discover, many of which have their own unique landscapes and quirks. If you plan to spend an extended amount of time in the Philippines, my number one travel tip for you is to explore other islands! The Philippines is one of the most diverse countries in the world, and you can truly spend a lot of time getting off the beaten path. 

A man wearing a straw hat looks over rice fields in the Philippines

Closing Statements

If you’re looking for the most fearless, fun, and all-around fantastic elopement, don’t overlook the Philippines. There’s nothing like trekking through the jungle to a magical canyoneering adventure or walking along a white sands sandbar, completely alone, surrounded by nothing but clear, crystal waters. 

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