Highlights of Palawan
Palawan is a long, sword-shaped island in the southwest of the Philippines. Unlike other islands, Palawan has no package tourists and is an independent traveler’s dream. The island offers amazing opportunities for exploration. Here are some of the highlights of Palawan.
Coron Island is the jewel of the Calamianes group of islands, just to the north of Palawan. Kayangan Lake and the adjoining sea lagoon are spectacular – truly unforgettable sights. You’ll recognize Kayangan lagoon from its iconic Instagram status.
Coron Island is also home to Barracuda Lake. This brackish lake also has incredibly clear water, with great visibility for snorkeling.
The main town of Palawan makes a great central base for exploring the island. Puerto Princesa has a laid-back vibe and feels like it’s part of the surrounding forest. Nearby Honda Bay is spectacular and breathtaking – and underrated. The coral and starfish here are amazing.
El Nido & Mount Taraw
El Nido is a picturesque town, squeezed in between limestone peaks. From here you can access the Bacuit Archipelago and Nacpan Beach, as well as take the ferry to Coron or the bus south to Port Barton and Sabang.
The best view in town is from Mount Taraw. You can reach one of the pinnacles on the rocky cliffs behind the town by taking the canopy walk, called Taraw via Ferrata. For 400 pesos you get an entry ticket, safety equipment of a harness and hardhat, and your own tour guide. The guide and safety equipment are now compulsory for climbing the mountain, but it’s good value and there’s no hassle and no touts.
The Taraw via Ferrata canopy walk is a lot of fun. You get to clamber up a series of ladders, cross an awesome rope-style bridge, and look out at the islands from a beautiful viewpoint.
The Underground River
Palawan’s wonderful subterranean river system lies near Sabang. You can explore the extensive natural caves by boat, through narrow passages and vast cathedral chambers.
The undeveloped and unspoiled beauty of Port Barton lies on the west side of the island. Its rugged natural beauty makes it feel a world away. Port Barton has offshore islands and coral reefs with excellent diving.
The mountainous islands of the Bacuit Archipelago have seemingly endless white sand beaches and coconut palms. Some of these islands boast astoundingly beautiful lagoons.
Big Lagoon, with its warm shallow sea, can be navigated all the way by larger boats, while the aptly-named Small Lagoon lies tucked behind a narrow gap that’s only accessible by kayak. There’s also Secret Lagoon, with access via a hole in the rocks, which is dependent on the tide and weather conditions. Hidden Lagoon has an entrance concealed from the sea.
The fine beaches of the Bacuit Archipelago include Seven Commandos’ Beach, with its soft white sand and backdrop of palms against a wall of rock.
The diving and snorkeling off Palawan are world class, but it’s not only the colorful fish that will keep you coming back for more. Japanese gunships sunk by the US air force during World War Two have formed artificial reefs that teem with color and life.
Mount Tapyas is the name of the hill behind Coron town. It’s visible from afar thanks to its giant cross and huge white letters spelling out “Coron”. You can climb up the hill from the town itself, via steps at the end of San Augustin Street. At the top you look out over a landscape that looks like the Chocolate Hills in Bohol (but isn’t). Mount Tapyas is a popular place to watch the sun set.
Highlights of Palawan