It’s little known fact that the Province of Palawan in Philippines could easily be the most beautiful place in the world. Comprising a main island and a host of smaller surrounding islands, Palawan was recently named the Best Island in The World by Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader Choice Awards – and rightfully so.
The natural, unspoiled views afforded on all the islands are nothing short of breathtaking, and you’ll soon find that azure, crystal-clear waters are a stunning common factor. This year, take a break from Boracay and venture into this untainted slice of nature.
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El Nido takes the cake for most beautiful island destination in Palawan. Aside from being a first class municipality, El Nido has incredible natural geologic formations that remain pristine to this day, thanks to dedicated protection from the country. Rent a boat to paddle through the limestone cliff lagoons, where you’ll find that the waters are unrealistically clear; or just take the day off to relax on the white sand beaches. For the intrepid diver, or anyone keen on getting a good look at El Nido’s diverse marine life, head out to nearby Bacuit Bay – with over 30 dive sites and home to dugongs, coral reefs, turtles and manta rays, the bay is sure to be an unforgettable addition to your holiday.
Fair warning that El Nido’s natural beauty has not gone unappreciated – the island has since become a popular tourist attraction, and you will be fighting photobombers in capturing your favourite holiday pics.
Hailed the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines, the City of Puerto Princesa serves as the provincial seat of government for Palawan, and is popular for its many beach resorts and island attractions. Honda Bay and it’s sparkling blue waters are perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving, but if you’re on a tight itinerary, give all else a miss and make a trip to the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the river is the longest navigable underground river in the world.
It is only accessible by canoe, so be prepared to spend a full day at the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which features a movie-worthy adventure through the limestone karst cave and stalagmite formations. Recently in 2010, it was even discovered that the river has a second floor – playing host to more rock formations, marine animals, and even small waterfalls inside the cave.
This middle-sized country town is a little off the radar, but is home to some beautiful waters and the occasional sandbar that makes for quite the photo op. Roxas runs conveniently between Puerto Princesa and El Nido, but actually works best as a jump-off point for its crown jewel of attractions – Port Barton.
A largely unspoiled village 23km north-west of Roxas, Port Barton offers a taste of rural serenity for holidaymakers looking for a quieter destination. Away from tourists, take time to unwind and revel in the natural rawness of the beaches, which have even been lauded as on par with those of El Nido. The village is located on the edge of the rainforest so, while secluded, you can bet that your only companions are natural wildlife.
If you’re in for a little something extra, be sure to stay a night in Roxas; one curious thing that sets this island apart is that it is home to thousands of giant fruit bats. To watch their nightly flight across the sky, head down to the pier or near the waterfront just before sunset – and maybe pack a flashlight.
Perhaps the most breathtaking of the Calamian Islands, Coron has made its mark as one of the top visited destinations for wreck diving in the Philippines – thanks to the fact that underwater visibility extends up to an impressive 80 feet! More interestingly, Coron is the site of several Japanese shipwrecks from the Second World War. If hardcore historical diving isn’t your cup of tea, opt for a leisurely snorkel around Coron Cove instead – a definite out-of-this-world island experience.
Visit Agoda if you are looking for affordable places to stay in Palawan.