The Voya guide to Palawan, pure paradise in the Philippines.
Nicknamed ‘The Philippines’ best island’, Palawan is the largest of the provinces and islands of The Philippines. Situated north of Malaysia, Palawan lies between two seas – the Sulu Sea to South of the island and the South China Sea to the North. In recent years Palawan has become a very popular tourist destination thanks to its unspoilt islands, vibrant coral reefs and diverse eco-system. The island is home to an abundance of wildlife such as sea turtles, dolphins, birds and butterflies and as such has many nature reserves to explore, both in land and at sea.
Palawan has 3 main tourist hotspots – the capital Puerto Princesa, El Nido in the north and Coron, a small island accessed from El Nido. Peurto Princesa is geared up for tourism and is a good base to explore the surrounding attractions. From here you can take a wide selection of day trips and activities and enjoy the many beach resorts and restaurants on offer. One of the main attractions to see while in Peurto Princesa is the Underground River, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the New 7 wonders of Nature. The river is about 50 miles from Peurto Princesa and is definitely worth a visit to see the breathtaking turquoise river and incredible cave formations. Palawan’s economy relies virtually entirely on tourism so you’ll find its really easy to get around, and all hotel transfers and day trips can be booked on arrival via your hotel, including the Underground River.
El Nido is at the very North of Palawan and takes around 6-8 hours to get here by road. It’s a very bustling backpacker destination bursting with bars and restaurants and is the ideal location to island hop and explore the stunning Bacuit Archipelago. The Bacuit Archipelago is made up of 45 paradise islands with stunning corals, limestone cliffs and azure waters and lagoons. From here you can take a ferry to the tropical island of Coron, which is around 120km away and is a much smaller and quieter island. Ferries to Coron run twice per day, the fast ferry takes around 4 hours and the slow ferry takes around 9 hours, so make sure you factor in the travel time and stay for at least a couple of nights to make the most of it. Coron is one of the most photographed places in the Philippines due to its crystal clear waters, amazing coral reefs and dive sites, including a handful of Japanese WW2 shipwrecks.
Palawan’s climate is mainly split into 2 seasons, the wet and dry season which each last for 6 months. The wet season runs from June to September, while October to May is the dry season, which makes this a very popular Winter getaway for many tourists. For the best weather and temperatures, February to March are the best months to visit where the chance of rain is lowest and temperatures are a little cooler. The average temperature during the dry season is around 27°C but can reach around 33°C during the wet season. One slight exception to the climate is the eastern side of the island, where the wet season lasts a bit longer, so be sure to do your research before you travel and plan your trip carefully depending on your month of travel.
The population of Palawan is made up of over 75 different cultural groups and races, so, as a result there are many different languages spoken across the island. The most popular language spoken is Tagalog. However, due to the fact tourism is the main income for Palawan, you’ll find most people in the hospitality industry speak basic English and are extremely friendly and helpful.
VOYA FAVOURITE PLACES TO VISIT INCLUDE
It’s fair to say that the island of Palawan is defined by the breathtaking sea and beaches that hug it, which is what attracts so many people here. Therefore you’ll find most of the top things to see and do involve the sea, such as scuba diving, kayaking, snorkelling and sealife spotting. (Whales, dolphins, turtles). Take a day trip to Honda Bay which isn’t too far from Peurto Princesa. It’s made up of loads of tiny islands and is one of the most popular destinations for snorkelling and island hopping, including starfish island which is home to the largest population of star fish in Palawan.
VOYA FAVOURITE PLACES TO STAY INCLUDE
If you’re looking for something totally unique (and highly instagram worthy) check out Nacpan beach glamping in El Nido. Don’t be put off by the fact this is glamping, this environmentally friendly site is located right on the beachfront, where you can stay in some of the most beautiful tents you can imagine! If you’re staying in Puerto Princesa, check out Princesa Garden Island resort and spa, a lovely resort which boasts a beautiful pool and very friendly staff, as well as a host of spa treatments for ultimate relaxation.
VOYA FAVOURITE DISHES TO TRY
Being an island, Palawan is blessed with an abundance of seafood, the availability of which will vary depending on the fresh catches of the day. Crab, lobster, squid, sea bass, tuna and prawns will feature heavily on most menus. Aside from seafood, Sisig is a very popular dish typically featuring marinated pork in a sour sauce, and Lechon is a term used for roasted meat (usually chicken or pork) which is served with a sweet and spicy sauce and can be found at the many street food stalls.