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?