The island province of Palawan is considered to be the last ecological frontier of the country. Teeming with splendid beaches, dive sites, cliffs, caves, and natural parks, the island is also among the most frequented places visited by tourists. Palawan is famous for the World Heritage Tubbataha Reefs, which is considered the country’s biggest marine habitat.
It offers a wide range of interesting natural attractions – especially around its main town, Puerto Princesa – and boasts abundant wildlife and fascinating ethnic communities. One of the best preserved and strictly protected areas in the Philippines, Palawan is also among the most unpolluted, ecologically aware and peaceful islands in the country.
The island province is the perfect hideaway for those looking for a tranquil place to vacation. In fact, celebrities from all over the world are rumored to vacation here, thanks to exclusive resorts that offer anonymity. For the average traveller, the island features a wide range of hotels, restaurants, and tourist essentials, not to mention a wealth of natural wonders and tourist spots.
Getting to the island is also easy with convenient connections by air from main urban area of Manila. Roaming the different parts of the island is also convenient, because local transport and hired vehicles are also available. From resort to resort, Palawan thrives in diving spots, natural landmarks and diverse enviroments for visitors to explore and enjoy. Different areas like Puerto Princesa, Sabang, El Nido and Port Barton are just some of the best locations to visit.
Palawan attractions and activities
Various locations around the island offer different activities and attractions. The island itself is divided into nine major tourist areas where the best resorts are concentrated.
Puerto Princesa City: The island capital, Puerto Princesa is probably the most visited place for tourists. The city is known for tours to the Underground River as well as its numerous wildlife reserves and nearby beaches. A great haven for nature lovers, Puerto Princesa boasts of different attractions like the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, Honda Bay and its beaches, as well as Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (underground river). The old church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is also worth visiting.
Quezon: The municipality of Quezon is one of the best places to visit on the island. It is famous for the Tabon Caves, 29 of which have been explored (the remaining 200 on Lipuun Point remain untouched). The cave complex was discovered to be the dwelling place of the ancient Tabon Man, which is one of the oldest known inhabitants of the Philippines.
Coron: Coron is a town in Busuanga which is well-known for its dive sites and charming lakes and lagoons. The Barracuda Lake is one of the great places to visit, featuring impressive gargantuan underwater rock formations.
El Nido: Being one of the most famous coastal towns in Palawan, El Nido boasts amazing limestone cliffs, beaches and natural landscapes. The area is known for its coves and springs, as well as its breathtaking waterfalls. The famous Bacuit Bay is a popular place for diving, hiking and snorkelling.
Port Barton: Port Barton is an ideal backpacker destination, offering cheap resorts on its stunning beach. A pretty small town, Port Barton is also an ideal base for exploring nearby islands and beaches as well as the surrounding rainforests.
Busuanga: The largest of all the Calamian Islands, Busuanga is located in Palawan’s northern area. The island is known for its breathtaking landscapes, beaches, and dive sites. Among the major attractions in the area are its Japanese ship wrecks. Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary is also well worth a visit, along with the Siete Pecados and the Maquinit Hot Spring. Jungle treks, horseback riding paths and mountain bike trails are also abundant on the island.
Sabang: A small town near Puerto Princesa, Sabang serves as a major gateway to the underground river. The area is also known for its nature trails, especially its monkey and jungle trail, which stretches about five kilometres through the forest. Sabang is also known for its mangrove river cruise.
Taytay: Located near El Nido, this town also served as the old capital for Palawan. The town is famous for its ancient fortress, Fort Isabel, dating back from the Spanish era. The area is ideal for bird watching and kayaking, especially along Lake Danao. Nearby is the famous Malampaya Sound, a famous dolphin watching spot, as well as the breathtaking Canique waterfall.
There are a wide range of dining options to choose from in the island, among the most famous of which is Ka Luie’s, located in Puerto Princesa’s Rizal Avenue. This restaurant boasts of its succulent seafood treats and specials. Also of note is Ditchay’s French Bistro, which can be found on the Manalo Exit. This eatery is famous for its Gallic fare and is open from 17:00 until midnight.
Getting to Palawan
There are a number of air gateways to Palawan, most of which have services to and from Manila. The main airport is in the capital, Puerto Princesa, with flights operated by major airlines like Air Philippines, Zest Air, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. El Nido Airport is also an ideal gateway, while the sea port makes way for ferries coming from Manila and other nearby islands. Island hopping through the different islands in the region is also possible through quick boat transfers, while getting around the different towns and villages is easy with public transport and vehicle hire.