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Palawan, Philippines is every beachcomber’s dream destination. Going here, you’ll be greeted with the charming castaway vibe of the beaches as well as the stunning view of the mountains rising out of incredibly clear, turquoise waters–definitely a piece of heaven on Earth.
Palawan has three main destinations: Puerto Princesa, where you can check out the massive limestone caves and the underground river in the biodiverse Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park; the north-island village of El Nido, where you can do island hopping, snorkeling and diving adventures; and the little town of Coron, a launch point for local island hopping which is located on Busuanga Island (about an 8-hour boat ride from El Nido). Palaweños primarily speak Tagalog but there are also dialects used by some like Cuyunon, Agutaynon, and even Bisaya.
Palawan is easily accessible by air from Manila. There are direct flights going to Puerto Princesa, Busuanga Airport and El Nido from airlines like Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, and Seair. Flights usually take about one hour and the prices usually vary depending on where you want to land in Palawan. Flights from Cebu are also available.
If you have plenty of time to spare, going to Palawan by boat/ferry would be fun. There are many ferries that service this route like the 2GO Travel, which sails weekly from Manila to Coron. The ferry leaves from Pier 4 on Fridays at 5PM and arrives at Coron the next day at 7AM.
You can also take a more adventurous ride through taking one of the cargo vessels operated by San Nicholas Lines with a scheduled trip thrice a week, or take the Atienza Shipping Lines which runs the Manila-Coron-Liminangcong (El Nido) route weekly.
The easiest way to move around Palawan is by tricycles especially if it’s only a short trip to the suburbs. You can also take multicabs and jeepneys or rent a car or an air-conditioned van for a more comfortable travel. Most travel agencies in the city can arrange a car rental service going to and from the province’s tourist destinations and sea transport to islands is also easily accessible through motorized outrigger boats.
Palawan is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines–and for good reasons as the island boasts breathtaking natural beauty and plenty of attractions for every type of traveler. If you’re a diving enthusiast, make sure not to miss diving at the Tubbataha Reef National Park. This area is teeming with marine life so you’ll be treated to some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world.
For beach lovers, hop onto a boat and go island hopping at Honda Bay. There are several islands like the Snake Island (a long sandbar that slithers on the surface of the sea), the Starfish Island (where you can find different sizes and colors of starfishes), Pandan Island (a great spot for snorkeling and diving), and Arreceffi Island (the island resort of Dos Palmas where you can enjoy mangrove kayaking, fishing, and snorkeling).
Of course, a visit to Palawan won’t be complete without seeing the Underground River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The 8.2-kilometer river has a lot of formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
Other main tourist attractions include the Kayangangan Lake in Coron (one of the cleanest lakes in Asia), Nacpan- Calitang twin beaches, and the Palawan Crocodile Farm.
Most of the activities in Palawan are all about swim-snorkel-sunbathe. When you’re done island hopping in Honda Bay, cruising through Puerto Princesa Underground River, taking a dip in Maquinit Hot Spring, and doing the island tours in Coron and El Nido, you can also visit the Maoyon Mangrove site and shop for handwoven products, or marvel at the beauty of fireflies on the Iwahig River.
One of the most famous food spots in Palawan is the Kalui Restaurant which is located in Puerto Princesa. The chill vibe and the native interiors are very homey. Everything on the menu is seafood like baked mussel, tempura, shellfish soup, and more.
Another one is called Kinabuchs Bar & Grill where you can try the tamilok (a woodworm which tastes like an oyster). Take note that this place is always full even on weekdays so make sure to make a reservation.
For an open air restaurant experience, head to Badjao Seafront. Since it’s located on a cluster of mangroves right on the water, you can enjoy the changing colors of the sea and sky while you dine. Their specialties include fresh seafood cooked Filipino style.
The province remains quaint and rustic in so many ways so the parties and nightlife aren’t as big as Boracay’s or Cebu’s. But if you’re up for a bottle of drink to cap off the night, you can visit La Plage Sunset Bar & Restaurant, Palaweno Brewery, and Balay Tubay Bistro asta Galeri in El Nido. In Puerto Princesa, Kinabuchs Bar & Grill is still one of the go-to places for drinks.
Palawan has several luxurious island resorts if you want the ultimate privacy, such as Miniloc Island Resort, Two Seasons Coron Palawan, and Huma Island Resort and Spa. But there are also budget-friendly hotels and small guesthouses for those who are looking for the lowest rates and the most convenient location to suit their itinerary.
Puerto Princesa is the main gateway to and from Palawan Island. From here, you can easily find land and sea transportation to take you to the rest of Palawan’s popular tourist spots.
If you’re traveling in a big group, you can hire a private tour for island hopping. Joiner tours are best for couples and solo travelers.
Bring your own snorkeling gears. Most tours exclude snorkels and aqua shoes and you have to rent it for PHP150 (breather) and PHP100 (aqua shoes)/day.