Palawan, an island district of the Philippines, is one of the fastest-growing vacation destinations of the 2010s. Along with the long, narrow main island, the district is made up a number of small islands and islets, roughly 1,780 in all.
Along with 1,200 miles of coastline, Palawan is also home to a number of mountain ranges, with hills averaging 3,500 feet in altitude. The highest peak, Mount Mountalingahan, sits at 6,843 feet.
The varying terrain found on the Palawan islands is the main factor contributing to the beauty of the region. Just on the islands alone, you can find craggy mountain peaks, valley deltas, coastal plains, and dense forests.
1. Palawan Underground River
Included on the list of “New Wonders of Nature 2012”, the Palawan Underground River cannot be missed. Stretching five miles, this river is the longest navigable underground river in the world. Caves filled with stalagmites and stalactites can be found along the Palawan Underground River.
Visiting the Palawan Underground River is best done through a tour. Expect the tours to be all-day affairs. Life vests and hats with lights are provided on the tours.
2. Tubbataha Reef
A deep blue lagoon, Tubbataha Reef in Palawan is one of the greatest diving sites in the world. Tubbataha Reef has the honor of being listed as one of the world’s Heritage Sites. Giant turtles, a variety of tropical fish, and beautiful corals fill the reef.
Trips to Tubbataha Reef are reserved months in advance. There is also a steep fine for vomiting in the reef, so only reserve the trip if you are sure you do not get seasick.
3. El Nido Marine Reserve
The El Nido Marine Reserve is home to a multitude of diverse ecosystems including a rainforest, mangroves, coral reefs, limestone cliffs, and mangroves. El Nido is a sanctuary for wildlife of all kinds. One of the more common animals in the reserve is the manta ray. If you are lucky, you’ll be able to spot a sea cow, also known as a dugong. The dugong is one of the most rare marine mammals on earth.
Remote resorts provide visitors to El Nido Marine Reserve with luxurious accommodations. During their stay, visitors can explore the palm forests, swim in hidden lagoons, and appreciate the wild orchids.
4. Honda Bay
Several islets and shallow reefs with fabulous beaches make up Honda Bay and have become a local and tourist favorite for swimmers, snorkelers, and divers. The islets that form Honda Bay include:
- Cannon (Cowrie) Island
- Bat Island
- Lu-Ii Island – this island is only visible during low tide. Its name comes from lulubog-lilitaw, meaning floating and sinking island
- Starfish Island – known for its fine white sand, clear water, and starfish, of course!
- Meara Marina
- Snake Island – long stretch of white sand shaped like a snake
- Senorita Island – lapu-lapu fish breed here
- Pandan Island
Overnight lodging facilities are available on Starfish Island and Meara Marina. If you would like to visit the different islands, pumpboats are available for hire.
5. Coron Island
This extremely breathtaking area of Palawan is a snorkeler’s paradise with several Japanese shipwrecks to explore in additional to the beautiful marine life. During World War II, several Japanese ships sank in the Coron Island, including the Irako, the Okikawa Maru, and Akitsushima wreck, among others.
Aside from exploring wreck sites, divers can also swim into Cathedral Cave, also known as Gunter’s Cave where it is possible to surface in the hole due to a flow of fresh air.
6. Nature’s Paradise
Palawan is one of the most beautiful places in the world to visit for a nature-filled vacation. The tall limestone cliffs, pristine beaches, and protected reefs provide vacationers with a wondrous world to experience.
Although it is possible to visit Palawan year-round, the best times to go are November through May. The temperatures are just perfect and the climate is not too humid. If you visit in March, you will be able to see the Balayong trees at their finest, as they paint the islands red.