The island province of Palawan that stretches from Mindoro to Borneo is perhaps one of the most important locations in the Philippines for marine life. With two UNESCO World heritage sites located nearby, coral reefs, fresh water lagoons, white beaches and lakes, there is a plethora of water-related activities and stunning natural beauty to keep your senses busy.
Snake Island in Puerto Princesa Palawan
A very popular destination for divers, people come to dive the reefs, swim in the wrecks and see the wonderful selection of marine species in the clear waters. If you are looking for a more relaxed holiday then you can also enjoy this island paradise by snorkeling, island hopping and kayaking or simply take it easy by laying back on one of the white sandy beaches.
Palawan is easily accessible from Manila and a number of other main cities in the Philippines. You can arrive by boat or just hop on a plane. There is an international airport in the capital city, Puerto Princesa, and a number of smaller airports including one in El Nido to the north. There are many 4-star resorts and hotels to choose from around the island and, for the budget traveler, a great selection of private rooms, guest houses and ranch-style properties available on websites like wimdu.com.
The bustling capital city of Puerto Princesa is an excellent base by which to explore the rest of the island but probably not what you are looking for if you want a quiet break in paradise. From here you can take a tour to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park which features the longest navigable underground river in the world. The forest park itself is a significant ecosystem which blossoms with biodiversity.
El Nido Palawan
The Tubbataha Reef Marine Park in the middle of the Sulu Sea is a must for divers and a great example of a pristine coral reef covering an area of roughly 10,000 hectares. Tubbataha is home to over 600 species of fish and 360 species of corals as well as many sharks, dolphins, whales, turtles and birds. With such a high density of varied marine life it has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage site. The reef features spectacular sloping reefs, extensive lagoons and two coral atolls.
The diving season is from March to early June and the water clarity is usually excellent due to its remote location. Visits are only possible via liveaboards (where you stay the night on the boat) and there are many companies who offer dive trips. Expect to see walls of basket corals, colourful sponges, and a myriad of small and large fish species including Whale Sharks, the largest living fish species on earth.
If exploring wrecks is more your thing, head up to north Palawan to Coron for some of the best wreck diving in the world. The bay has so many famous World War II Japanese sunken shipwrecks to explore including Okikawa Maru Wreck,The Akitsushima Wreck and Kagyu Maru Wreck. Many dive operators offer PADI courses ranging from beginners to more advanced speciality courses. Coron also has some great fresh water lagoons and lakes for nature lovers.
Island hopping is very popular in Palawan and you can choose from a variety of different itineraries with the most popular tours leaving from Puerto Princesa, Coron and El Nido. The spectacular scenery of Palawan will take your breath away. What more could you ask from a holiday in paradise?