Whenever foreign friends ask for my recommendations regarding their Philippine visit, I always tell them to make sure they visit Palawan.
Palawan has over 1,700 islands and islets, and with a coastline spanning 2,000 kilometers, it is everything a water and beach lover can ever ask for. Stuck here at the moment in land-locked and cold Bolivia, I can only look back with longing at my time spent in Coron, Puerto Princesa, and El Nido.
Just how spectacular is Palawan? And what makes it such a must-visit destination? Take a look at these seven reasons why I highly recommend that you go there at least once in your life.
Kayangan Lake in Coron is among the cleanest and clearest in Asia. It’s roughly a 100-step climb up, then down, so taking a dip there is a must to refresh yourself. Make sure to bring your life jacket; you won’t be as buoyant since it’s fresh water.
Don’t rush to go to the lake though. When you reach the midpoint of your climb, your guide will most likely show you where you can take pictures of the gorgeous lagoon (in photo above). It is said to be the most photographed site in Coron.
What I love most about Palawan is that it’s friendly to solo travelers. You can join other travelers in island hopping or snorkeling, unlike in other islands where you have to hire the whole boat yourself.
Whether in El Nido or Coron, you can appreciate the best of marine life by joining their island hopping tours. In Coron, choose the package that goes to Siete Picados, famed for its diverse and abundant marine life (including pretty massive corals), and Twin Peaks, which shelters colorful fish and coral reefs.
If you don’t mind swimming into a small underwater cave to reach a hidden lagoon, also add the Twin Lagoons to your list. The hidden lagoon has brackish water (mix of fresh and salt water). You can feel the difference in the temperature, and oftentimes, you can see it, too. (Read: Things to Do in Coron, Palawan)
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River
Palawan is also home to one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, which also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site—the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River.
Nestled under a mountain range and winding through a cave system filled with karsts (natural rock formations), it is one of the world’s longest and most unique underground rivers. Guided tours navigate part of its waterway, so expect the boat ride of a lifetime.
Dive Spots Galore
Palawan’s underwater scenery, which is exceptionally diverse, makes for some of the best dive spots. If you’re looking for a training ground, seek out the calm seas of El Nido.
If you’re up for an adventure, the shipwrecks of Coron Bay will leave you in awe. Choose from over 10 World War II wrecks of Japanese Imperial Navy vessels, ranging from 5 to 40 meters in depth.
Got money and want an even more epic dive? Head out to the legendary Tubbataha Reef, brave its treacherous currents, watch barracudas, jacks, box fish and tunas, and swim by manta rays, hammerheads, white and black-tip reef sharks, whale sharks and leopard sharks.
Towering Limestone Cliffs
The majestic limestone cliffs of Palawan are not just a sight to behold. Some of them are actually perfect (and safe) for cliff jumping.
A boat ride will take you to the jump sites, which range in height between 8 and 20 meters. A local expert will also accompany you as you scale the cliffs and prep for the most exciting free-fall of your life. To pump up the experience, avail of the group sessions.
Palawan is a haven for various animal species. There’s Arena Island, a sanctuary for turtles, and Rasa Island, which is mainly for birds. Then there’s Calauit, a two-and-a-half-hour ride from the Coron town proper.
The Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary hosts zebras, giraffes, impalas, waterbucks and gazelles from Africa, and you can watch them roaming free alongside the Calamian deer, bear cat and Palawan peacock pheasant, among other endemic Philippine species. Don’t miss out on a chance to feed the giraffes simply by holding out twigs with their favorite leaves!
The Backyard Scene
Even Palawan’s backyard is worth exploring. Just drop by one of the shops in town that rent out motorcycles or mountain bikes. Most of them post suggested routes, but you can always chart your own course. While you may need to brace for plenty of dirt roads, most of these lead to lovely beaches, waterfalls, rivers and mangrove forests.
This list definitely doesn’t cover all that the province has to offer. Palawan, with its natural treasures and cultural gems, never ceases to amaze.
So when you have a few days to spare, visit Palawan. You certainly won’t regret the chance to discover just how amazing this place is.
Have you been to Palawan? What’s your favorite there?
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Thanks for the great info 🙂
I’m landing in Puerto Princessa in April and only have 5 days in Palawan… which way should i go?
North towards El Nido or South towards Bugsuk Island?
I’m looking for rustic accommodation, good snorkelling and minimal crowds. I love the look of El Nido but don’t like the sound of the crowds.
Can i get similar scenery and clean water if i go south towards Bugsuk?
Thanks in advance for any info that will help with my decision.
Great post Aleah! 😉 I love Palawan too…
Palawan is the PH’s last frontier. I would personally go there for the island hopping.
One of my favorite stuff to do (although traveling to El Nido can be really far)
Palawan is indeed mother nature’s gift to the Philippines.
Were going to puerto prinsesa this May 2016, yey! I stumbled on your post coz i’m looking for tips for first-timer in palawan
Yes, I always tell people Palawan as well. It’s a long time since we were there and we didn’t go to Coron or do any diving. But we did go to a beautiful, quiet beach and stay in a bungalow and visit the subterranean river. On the other side of the island, we also visited a prison, which was a very interesting experience. That was in 2006 when recent pirate attacks had made parts of it less safe. Not sure if the prison is still an option or if pirates are still an issue.
We’ve been to Puerto Princesa and El Nido during our 1st and 2nd-year anniversaries, respectively. Palawan is truly a magnificent island, and the Philippine’s last frontier. We’re definitely going back there again and again and again. There’s just so much to do and see in Palawan. 🙂
Wow, the Twin Lagoon photo looks amazing. Palawan is definitely on my wish list now!
My husband, 11-year-old daughter and I loved Palawan. We headed to Puerto Princesa and visited Honda Bay, Dos Palmas and also the Subterranean River. We wanted to visit Coron but had other commitments. From what I see here, we definitely have to go back. Thank you for these great pictures!
Coron should really be in your plan next time. El Nido is beautiful but I prefer Coron more.
Oh the Philipines – from ex-relationships to freinds who have just come back I want to go so bad. I will have to add Palawan to the list of things to see there. Inspirational post as always – now I just need another lifetime to visit the rest of the worl 😉
The world is so big eh? Too many places, too little (money and) time!
I love Kayangan Lake! I love Palawan! I went to Coron last year and though it wasn’t my favorite trip (because of unfortunate circumstances with my travel buddy), I was definitely charmed by Coron’s beauty. I also heard that Taytay Palawan is worth visiting.
Never been to Taytay yet. Maybe it´s time for you to revisit Coron. 🙂
I have never been to the Philipines but the first time I go there, I’ll start with Palawan. The pictures look just amazing! What a color of the water! It looks much less touristy than other places I read about so this might actually work for me, as I hate crowds. Until this morning I have never heard about this place before so thank you for sharing the review.
Hi Agata. Lots of tourists do go there. After all, it´s one of Philippines´best places to go:) But it´s not as bad as, say, Boracay!
Ahhh… this looks so beautiful Aleah! I was JUST writing up my travel wish list for 2016 and the Philippines is right up there!
Your family will definitely love Palawan!
Yes, this is my top 1 (and only) must see in the Philippines for now.
Yeah, Palawan should be in every Philippine visitor´s list of place to go!
Your first photo Aleah is just enough to visit Palawan. Sometimes I felt awkward when farangs asks us where to go in Palawan, as we’re never been there. Haist! Coron, When can we visit you?
Joey I can´t believe you haven´t been there yet! Go na!
Thanks for this post! Palawan is an incredible places and there are a million reasons to visit haha! We ended up spending about 2 weeks there mainly in El Nido as we got stuck looking for properties for potential investments and maybe a place to have our future hotel!
Since you started off your post saying you’re in Bolivia I don’t feel bad that you have to deal with the cold weather. We ended our trip in Ecuador to go back to the states and the Philippines to try to get a work visa for a job we are now not taking haha. We we’re so excited to go to Bolivia 🙁
We traded that for the Philippines and are now exploring our backyard!
The wildlife was a huge draw for us. We’ve gotten into birding recently (while in Costa Rica) and Palawan has so many endemic species here. The limestone cliffs, the water, the beaches it’s all incredible. What’s under it all is even more special. It’s been some of the best snorkeling ever.
So glad I stumbled across your blog! Enjoy South America!
Love from Manila,
Mark, I so miss the ocean right now. I wonder when I can swim there again. You should definitely come here in Bolivia. I´ve seen most of it in the first month that I´ve been here, so I´m just taking my time now, just slow traveling.