Island Hopping in Tawi-Tawi


Island hopping in Tawi-Tawi is like a whole new world of exploring islands. Top reasons includes being the farthest and Southern most province in the Philippines, longest sandbar in the Philippines and first ever Mosque in the country. Yes! This is why island hopping in Tawi-Tawi is extra special above other island hopping I have ever tried.

Before anything else, I’d like to thank Ate Nursida for assisting me and my friends all throughout our Tawi-Tawi trip. She even prepared for our lunch during the island hopping trip. Ate Nursida is a local from Tawi-Tawi and we stayed with her family in her house for 3 days and 2 nights.

Tawi-Tawi is the last province to complete our ZAMBASULTA trip. Reaching the bottom of the Philippines is truly a one of a kind experience. As a result, my friends and I had a wonderful time exploring the islands in the province of Tawi-Tawi. In this travel guide, I’ll introduce to you the places to visit for an island hopping trip in Tawi-Tawi. For complete DIY itinerary including land tour, Read Here.

How to go to Tawi-Tawi

Zamboanga to Tawi-Tawi

From Manila, book a flight going to Zamboanga (ZAM) since there are no direct flights from Manila to Tawi-Tawi. After arriving in Zamboanga, you have 2 options to get to Tawi-Tawi. Option 1: via air and option 2: via sea travel. From Zamboanga Airport, book a flight to Tawi-Tawi (TWT) aka Sanga-Sanga airport. The only airlines catering this route is Cebu Pacific. Alternatively, you can take the ferry from Zamboanga to Bongao in Tawi-Tawi and the travel time is about 18 hours. I highly suggest taking the plane since it will be more convenient especially if you’re traveling in a time-sensitive manner.

Island Hopping in Tawi-Tawi

There is something you should know about island hopping in Tawi-Tawi aside from the excitement of visiting the southern most islands in the Philippines. And that is, the island hopping is a whole day trip and the islands are really far from each other which is the main reason why (A) it’s expensive and (B) the travel time can get really boring and frustrating. Nonetheless, the island hopping is still worth it especially when you get to Panampangan Island which is my favorite of the 3. So there are 3 islands to explore during a whole day island hopping trip in Tawi and those are (1) Simunol Island, (2) Panampangan Island and (3) Sangay Siapo Island.


Island Hopping in Tawi-Tawi

Panampangan Island – Longest Sandbar in the Philippines

The first destination during our island hopping trip in Tawi-Tawi was Panampangan Island since it’s the farthest of all 3. Dubbed as the longest sandbar in the Philippines, Panampangan Island boast off a stretch of long white sand beach and turquoise blue water.

To share with you our experience, getting to this island includes a 4-hour boat ride. YES. It’s really far so I highly suggest to start the island hopping early in the morning by 6 or 7. Although the travel is too long and far, the prize is worth it. You can enjoy the island to yourselves like a private island for your group because there are no other visitors that goes here except the few people who goes to Tawi-Tawi. And we all know that Tawi is not like the touristy destinations in Siargao or Palawan.

panampangan island tawi-tawi
Island Hopping in Tawi-Tawi

Simunol Island – First Mosque in the Philippines

Simunol Island is another 2 – 3 hours boat ride from Panapangan and it’s one of the municipalities in Tawi-Tawi. The island municipality is famous for having built in its very own land the first ever Mosque in the Philippines.

When you get to see the Mosque, it has already been rebuilt and renovated. Still, the original foundations of the Mosque were not removed and it remains inside the Muslim Church.

Sangay Siapo Island

The last island for our island hopping trip is the closest back to Bongao in Tawi-Tawi. You will pass by the island as you go back to Bongao. During our trip, we were not able to get any coser to the island because of the huge waves countering our boat. Still, we saw the island from afar and as expected it was also beautiful.

Island Hopping in Tawi-Tawi

Important Reminders/Rates/Contacts:

  • To reserve an island hopping trip, contact Ate Nursida. She’s a local in Tawi-Tawi and I highly recommend her if you’re also looking for a place to stay in Tawi-Tawi. Her house is just outside the airport, literally walking distance from the airport and plus she cooks really good! Like overreacting really good! Contact her through Facebook: Nursida Diamson
  • The rate of an island hopping trip is from PHP9,000.00 – PHP12,000.00 depending on how many you are in a group. Mind you, yes it’s a bit expensive for a whole day island hopping trip. BUT, if you read my travel guide above I mentioned earlier that the 3 islands are really far from each other. This is why the island hopping in Tawi-Tawi is expensive.
  • Majority of the religion in Tawi is Islam. Please dress up properly and NO NUDITY in the islands.
  • Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, shawl, extra batteries/power-bank, rash-guard and snacks for the whole day trip.

Other Places to Visit – Sitangkai

Although Sitangkai is not part of the island hopping trip in Tawi-Tawi, Sitangkai is a separate trip you should visit and allot at least 2 days in this municipality. Tawi-Tawi is the Southern most part of the Philippines. But, Sitangkai is the municipality in Tawi-Tawi located at the bottom. If you really want to get any closer to Malaysia, you should visit Sitangkai.

Take note that Sitangkai is another 4 hours boat ride from Bongao. One of the most famous thing to expect here is the floating market where you can observe barter system of different goods from the neighboring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.

Read Here: Sitangkai Travel Guide and How to Get There

Island Hopping in Tawi-Tawi
Photo by Kapampangan Traveler

For Complete Itinerary with land tour, Read Here.

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