The Best of Palawan, Philippines
With it’s aquamarine waters, limestone cliffs and picturesque lagoons it’s no wonder that Palawan was ranked The Most Beautiful Island in the World in 2016. Beautiful coral life and fascinating wrecks lie beneath the surface of the crystal clear water and provide great underwater exploring. On top of that, Palawan is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Nature, the Puerto Princesa Underground River. In short, a trip to Palawan will leave the adventure seekers breathless, and the holidaymakers invigorated. Here are our highlights that we think, shouldn’t be missed while you’re visiting Palawan.
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Although many will fly either into or out of Puerto Princesa when visiting Palawan, it is often overlooked and only used as a stop off point to the rest of the island. However, we recommend at least two days here so you can fit in the Puerto Princesa Underground River located just 80km north of the city.
This Wonder of Nature, formed by natural limestone formations overarching a flowing river shouldn’t be skipped in the rush to reach the beaches and island hopping found in the rest of Palawan. The combination of stalactites and stalagmites create breathtaking formations that, with a bit of imagination, look like a mushroom, a horse and even a naked lady.
Our tip: If you prefer to avoid the bustle of the city you can stay in the peaceful town of Sabang, where the river is just a short boat ride away.
Port Barton is a hidden paradise and it’s laid back feel and small town charm makes it the ultimate break from reality. While it is still largely untouched by mass tourism, the construction of a new road means this will not be for long so get there as possible. The limited electricity and unpredictable internet access means you can completely disconnect from the outside world, and spend your days lazing in hummocks, combing the pristine beaches and sipping beers in the local beach bars.
If you are up for some adventure you can visit the nearby waterfalls, kayak through a magical mangrove forest or island hop to the exotic surrounding islands. However you choose to spend your time in Port Barton it’s charm and laid back beauty will leave you feeling completely revitalized.
Our tip: There are NO ATMs in Port Barton so make sure you have enough cash with you to last the duration of your stay there.
El Nido is certainly not famous for its claustrophobic, noisy town or boat packed harbor. The breathtaking beauty of El Nido lies beyond the horizon in a sprawl of cascading limestone cliffs and turquoise water known as the Bacuit Archipelago. Island hopping tours from El Nido town will allow you to explore the white sandy beaches, jaw-dropping lagoons and mystical underwater world that makes up the archipelago.
There are four tours to choose from Tour A, B, C or D with A and C being the most popular. You can even maximize your time in this tropical paradise and avoid the crowds of tourists with some overnight camping (highly recommended if you aren’t so taken by the El Nido town itself).
When you aren’t out discovering it’s natural beauty, spend your evenings dining in the numerous restaurants on the shores of El Nido, watch a spectacular sunset at Las Cabanas beach or spend the day at gorgeous Nacpan beach.
Still not convinced to visit Palawan? If anything will convince you, it will be Coron. Although getting to Coron can be a bit of a pain (a 7 hour boat ride from El Nido or a pretty pricey flight), it is WELL worth it. Coron is the beauty of El Nido’s lagoons and beaches, minus the hordes of tourists. If you are planning on a trip to Palawan, make sure you don’t skip this slow-paced town and it’s surrounding tropical bliss. Not only does this town host incredible Island hopping tours to stunning lagoons and astonishingly clear lakes, but it is also famous for it’s remarkable wreck diving.
Spend your days exploring the cascading limestone cliffs ending in aquamarine lagoons and lakes, combing pristine white beaches and discovering old Japanese War ships sunk in WWII. End off your days soaking in hot spring pools or sipping sunset drinks on rooftop bars. For us, Coron is the Jewel of Palawan, offering all the natural beauty without the touristy feel.
Our tip: Find some friends and hire a private boat to do your Island hopping. It is not much more expensive (~200 pesos) and so worth being able to go where you want in your own time.
When it comes to Palawan, pictures speak a thousand words. It’s natural beauty is unparalleled and we cannot wait to go back for more.