If you’re looking for untouched tropical paradise, then it doesn’t get much better than Palawan, one of Southeast Asia’s most under visited gems. The westernmost island and largest province in the Philippines is commonly considered the top destination by both foreigners and locals, but its remote location has kept it under the radar until it was voted 2015’s best island in the world. You won’t be surprised that it is getting more busy every year, so the time to go is now!
Puerto Princesa City
Palawan can be reached by boat or plane, most commonly in or out of Puerto Princesa, the island’s capital located on the central coast. Puerto doesn’t offer much in the way of attractions, so aside from enjoying local life, you’ll want to move on quickly. If you have a day or two in the city, some destinations worth checking out are Nagtabon Beach, a pristine, undeveloped beach about 45 minutes away by bike, or Baker’s Hill, a sculpture playground full of creative photo opportunities. For the animal lovers, you can swim with whalesharks in the open sea, which is a great alternative to the overly commercial experience you’ll get in Cebu (Oslob). If you have an extra day to spare then other places of interest include Iwahig Prison, an open air jail that takes a unique approach to inmate reformation, and City Baywalk, a night market at the waterfront.
The most popular destination on the island and arguably one of the best in the country, El Nido is a natural first stop for travelers. A four hour van ride up the coast from Puerto Princesa will bring you to this tiny town nestled between the beach and some impressive limestone cliffs, offering all sorts of outdoor adventures and stunning scenery.
A series of island tours are on most tourists’ to-do lists here and you can enjoy overnight camping on white sandy beaches and a traditional Filipino buffet featuring freshly caught fish. The beach front nightlife is reliable, but it gets quieter in low season, along with the rest of the island, so make sure that you factor this in.
Surrounding beaches that are worth checking out include Corong Corong which is five minutes away by bike and offers some of the best sunsets. Another option is Nacpan, a long, wide double sided beach flanking a small peninsula which is about 30-60 min away by bike, depending on the weather. If you want to go even further afield then Duli is a nearly untouched, quiet surf beach that is 45 minutes away by bike.
If you have time to fit in a trip to Coron, it’s worth the effort, especially if you’re a diver. A 4-8 hour (slow or fast) boat ride will take you from El Nido to this small island with more beautiful landscapes and island hopping opportunities. Coron is also the spot for wreck diving, thanks to a fleet of sunken Japanese World War II ships just off the coast. Many people begin or end their Palawan tour in Coron, since it’s the northernmost destination with flights in and out of Manila as well as Puerto Princesa.
Do you like videos? Then click here to see our Coron VLOG!
A small detour on your way from Puerto Princesa to El Nido will drop you in Port Barton, a sleepy beach town that resembles a less developed version of El Nido. This is a great location if you are a solo traveler looking for some peace and quiet, or for a group of friends bringing their own entertainment as there isn’t much in the way of nightlife or activities here. Like the rest of the island, however, the landscapes are gorgeous and the beaches are pristine.
Do you like videos? Then click here to see our Port Barton VLOG!
Although Palawan will likely develop even more in the years to come, its relatively secluded location keeps it mostly under visited and unspoilt. There are few places left in the world where you can find such natural beauty without a resort around the corner, so if you’re in the area, splurge on the extra flights to see this remarkable island. You’ll be glad you did.