NAMED the world’s best island by Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader Choice Awards for 2014 and 2015, Palawan is considered “the last ecological frontier” of the Philippines. The Palawan Biosphere Reserve is a cluster of islands composed of one long main island and smaller groups of islands around it. The 1,150,800 hectares of the biosphere reserve include the entire province of Palawan Island, which is the westernmost province of the Philippines.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Palawan is an archipelago composed of the main island and more than 1,700 islands endowed with rich natural resources and highly diverse flora and fauna found in both land and sea.
A spectacular untamed region found on the western fringes of the Philippine archipelago, Palawan has two intriguing, dynamic, and diverse habitats—reefs and tropical rainforests.
Rich in teeming jungles, tousled mangrove, swamps, and vibrant coral reefs, Palawan is indeed endowed with species-rich, biologically diverse ecosystem. The island is home to 232 endemic species, one of the highest densities of the unique species in the world.
This hidden piece of paradise is accessible by either land, sea, or air transportation—it’s about an hour and a half by air from Manila. Home to many attractions, Palawan is filled with lots of beautiful blue water combined with emerald green mountains. Among its attractions are the following.
World-renowned Puerto Princesa Underground River
One of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and one of the most popular attractions in Palawan, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park features a karst mountain landscape with 8.2-kilometer long underground river that flows directly to the South China Sea. About 50 kilometers north of the city of Puerto Princesa, this underground river showcases major formations of stalactites and stalagmites and several large chambers. Reputed to be the world’s longest, the mouth of the cave, a clear lagoon is framed with ancient trees growing right to the water’s edge. Monkeys, large monitor lizards, and squirrels find their niche on the beach near the cave.
Picturesque El Nido Marine Reserve Park
Located in Bacuit Bay and an hour travel from El Nido City, El Nido Marine Reserve Park occupies a total of 96,000 hectares with incomparable rain forest, mangroves, white sand beaches, coral reefs and limestone cliffs. It is a haven of various forms of wildlife like Manta rays, sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, and sea cows called dugong.
Breathtaking Tubbataha Reef Marine Park
Covering 130,028 hectares, including the North and South Reefs, Tubbataha Reef Marine Park is a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species, according to UNESCO. Its North Islet serves as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles. The site is a pristine coral reef with a spectacular 100-meter perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands.
Unusual Diving Barracuda Lake in Coron Bay
Barracuda Lake is considered one of the world’s natural and beautiful sanctuaries and popularly known as the “craziest dive site in the Philippines.” Located at the top of a volcano, one has to climb up a limestone mountain in full gear for about 15 to 20 minutes, then there’s a 33-meter dive to a cave with 30-meter of penetration. The site here is breathtaking but recommended only to diving professionals.
Adventurous Caluit Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in Calauit Island , the Caluit Island Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a variety of exotic, indigenous, and marine animals. Among them are bushbucks, elands, giraffes, impalas, calamian deer, mouse deer, Palawan peacock pheasant, dugong, sea turtles and giant clam. It is a game reserve and wildlife sanctuary with a 3,700 hectare island in the Calamian Islands chain that lies off the coast of Palawan. It was created by former President Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s.
White sand of Entalula Island
Known as the best beach in the whole Bacuit Bay in El Nido, this private beach is where guests from Lagen and Miniloc can reserve for private lunch or dinner. It has white sands with coconut trees and rugged cliffs.
Pristine beach of Honda Bay
Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa is one of Palawan’s beautiful tourist destinations. It is surrounded with several islets with shallow reefs and wonderful beaches. Just 45 minutes north of the city proper, one can ride a boat and go island hopping at Honda Bay located in the mid-eastern coast of the city. Each island at Honda Bay offers different thrills but Luli Island, Starfish Island, Panden Island, and Cowrie Island are all great for swimming and snorkeling.
Amazing Lake Kayangan
Nestled on top of a mountain, it takes a 10-minute steep climb to reach it. But the reward is a breathtaking view and crystal-clear waters. Lake Kayangan has been awarded as the cleanest lake in Asia.
Palawan Crocodile Farm
Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, formerly known as Crocodile Farm, serves as the sanctuary of the Philippine crocodile that is endemic to the country. The Philippine crocodile is currently included in the endangered species list and the conservation center is making ways to increase the number of the species. One effort is providing guests with interesting and educational experience.