If it’s a beach, a water sports activity or a wild party you’re after, this sprawling archipelago of literally thousands of islands is the place to go

There’s a lot to explore in a country that’s often described as having spent “300 years in a convent and 50 years in Hollywood”. It’s a reference to the long Spanish colonisation followed by the American occupation that ended in the mid-1940s, a history that explains the strong Latin influence in the country as well as its Western inclinations. No doubt you’ve heard that fiesta-loving Filipinos like to break out into lively song-and-dance performances, will cook up a storm for gatherings and can hold their drink — all ingredients for a great party, which is what you can expect to find in the Philippines.

In the last couple of years, however, the archipelago of 7,107 islands on the western rim of the Pacific has been making waves in a particular niche: as the hot new destination for tropical beach getaways. North to south, across the three major island clusters of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, you’ll find stretches of sand each with its own personality, its own charm, and its own menu of things to do — swimming, snorkelling, surfing, scuba-diving, plain old sunning — on and offshore.