Tropical islands abound the Philippines. There is one for every type of preference and need, from bare slicks of sand surrounded by turquoise waters to beautiful enclaves concealed by amazing rock formations, to sprawling scapes fronted by white-sand beaches that are dotted by palm trees. However, if there is one that continuously captivate crowds from around the world, it is none other than the island of Palawan.
Situated in the region of MIMAROPA and one of the largest provinces in the country, Palawan has always been renowned for its natural wonders made up of powdery white sand beaches, pristine blue waters, towering limestone formations, cool lagoons, and impressive cave systems. Add to that are the friendly and hospitable locals who are always willing to provide a helping hand to tourists. No wonder, this archipelagic province always makes it to the lists of the most beautiful islands in the world.
Targeting Palawan for your next trip? You’ve just made an excellent choice! Why not plan your itinerary as early as now for a hassle-free escapade? To help you out, we have put together a list of Palawan tourist spots where you will have the most fun.
Subterranean River National Park
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park - Image Credit: Puerto Princesa City Tourism Department Website
The underground river in Puerto Princesa tops our list of must-visit Palawan tourist spots for good reasons. Officially recognized in 2012 as one of the new seven wonders of nature and also conferred as a World Heritage UNESCO site, this underground river has one of the most impressive cave systems in the world where you can see amazing limestone karst landscapes and distinct wildlife. The 8.2 km long subterranean river itself is equally remarkable, as it flows directly to the sea and opens up to a mountain-to-sea view that is sure to keep you in awe.
Explore this underground river system aboard a small boat together with other tourists and a local tour guide. You will also have to pay for an audio device that you will be wearing throughout the tour. This will help in the conservation efforts of the park and at the same time reduce the noise levels in the caves that may disturb the bats residing there.
Ugong Rock - Image Credit: Puerto Princesa City Tourism Department Website
While in Puerto Princesa, you might also want to go ziplining and spelunking, and the best place to do these is at Ugong Rock. This natural rock formation is near the Subterranean River National Park and sits in the middle of a rice field. It got its name from the reverberating sound produced by tapping hollow rock formations inside the cave.
Ascend to the summit of Ugong Rock, which stands at 75-feet, by walking and climbing and squeezing and crawling through its tight caverns. Once you get to the top, you will be rewarded with an awesome view of emerald rice fields, while light breeze brushes your face. After that, you can take on the zipline challenge to get back to the ground. The zipline here is 350 meters long and operates at high speeds. You can ride it either in a plank or sitting position and enjoy a 30-second ride high above the fields.
Honday Bay and Pambato Reef - Image Credit: Puerto Princesa City Tourism Department Website
Also just a few minutes away from the city proper is Honda Bay, a jump off point for an exciting island hopping adventure. Hop on to a boat and explore a couple of islands in one day, while also enjoying the pristine waters and powdery white sand beaches Palawan has to offer. Take your pick from the islands of Pandan, Araceffi, Bat, Cowrie, Luli, and Verde. While at it, don’t miss out snorkeling at Pambato Reef, a marine sanctuary that’s home to a wide variety of fishes and clams and well-preserved corals. Before you snorkel, you will be given a short lecture on marine and reef ecology at the turtle-shaped platform that sits in the middle of the ocean.
Tubattaha Reefs Natural Park
Tubbataha Reef Diving - Image Credit: Philippine Department of Tourism USA Website
If snorkeling at Pambato Reef is not enough to satisfy your desire to get a clearer and closer look at Palawan’s underwater spectacle, try diving at at Tubattaha Reef. Considered as one of the best and most extraordinary diving spots in the world, Tubattaha Reef is a protected area that covers about 100,000 hectares of marine habitats. It is home to 600 species of fish, 11 species of sharks, 13 species of dolphins and whales, and 360 species of corals or about half of the world’s coral species.
Take note that the diving season in Tubbataha lasts for only three months, commencing in March and ending in mid-June. During the said times, conditions are optimum as seen from clear blue skies, calm seas, and visibility of up to 45 meters. Time your visit right and you can enjoy having close encounters with a diverse range of marine life and viewing the reef’s picture-perfect underwater terrain.
View of El Nido Palawan - Image Credit: Philippine Fly Boy on Wikipedia
Some of the best landscapes and waterscapes in Palawan can be found in El Nido. Seated at the northern tip of the province, it boasts an extraordinary ecosystem defined by dramatic rock formations, white sand beaches, hidden lagoons, and coral reefs. Because of these diverse natural wonders, this is one of the best Palawan tourist spots out there where you will never run out of attractions to visit and activities to do.
Of course, one of the best ways to explore El Nido is to charter a boat and go on an island hopping tour. You can choose from tours A, B, C, and D to find the best combinations of islands and lagoons to visit. However, if you want to try something different, you can make an arrangement with a boatman to follow through on your desired itinerary. Be sure to include Secret Lagoon, Secret Beach, and Snake Island in your list. You should also do an inland tour, which cover popular spots like Nacpan Beach, Makinit Hot Springs, Nagkalit-kalit Falls, just to name few. And if you are the adventurous type, consider climbing El Nido’s highest peak that is Taraw Peak.
Kayangan Lake - Image Credit: H.abanil on Wikipedia
Like its neighbor El Nido, Coron is one the best Palawan tourist spots where you can find slices of paradise that are straight out of the travel magazines you read. Because of its location at the southeast part of Busuanga, Coron makes for the perfect gateway to many of the beautiful spots in the Calamian Group of Islands.
Once you are in here, take a 10-minute climb to a fortress-like terrain to view and access the clear waters of Kayangan Lake. It’s best to schedule your visit here early in the morning, as the lagoons where bangkas(boats) unload passengers tend to be crowded by eager tourists who are as excited as you to explore and swim in the country’s cleanest lake. You can also plunge into the brackish water of Barracuda Lake, enjoy the picturesque view of Twin Lagoon, or take a panoramic climb at Mt. Tapyas while in Coron.
Entrance to Tabon Cave - Image Credit: Jimaggro on Wikipedia
It’s not just the northern part of Palawan where you can find natural wonders waiting to be explored. In the south western part of the province at Lipuun Point lies a group of approximately 215 caves collectively known as Tabon Caves. This particular destination is of great archaeological and anthropological importance to the Philippines as it is the site where the earliest evidence of human inhabitant (Tabon Man) in the country was found. The layer from where the fossils were found was carbon dated from 22 to 23 thousand years ago. Due to this, the entire place has been declared as a National Cultural Treasure.
Before heading to Tabon Caves, it’s a good idea to drop by at the museum first to learn about the caves and view some of the original artifacts found there. From the museum, a tourist guide will accompany you to the cave complex, but you will have to rent a boat to get there. Once in the area, visitors are permitted to explore only 2 caves—Diwata and Liyang—where you can find historical information about the discoveries made there as well as beautiful limestone formations.
Palawan is a land apart from the main lands of the Philippines. This is not only due to its geographical location, but also because of its captivating natural wonders that are unavailable elsewhere. Be sure to schedule your trip in this province as soon as now and consider some of our recommended Palawan tourist spots for a fun-filled vacation.