When most people think of Palawan, their thoughts naturally gravitate toward El Nido and Coron. Skipping a visit to these two northern gems in Palawan would be quite a missed opportunity. However, this island offers an abundance of wildlife, island-hopping adventures, wreck-diving opportunities, and culinary delights waiting to be explored.
Venturing off the beaten path is highly encouraged, as you can uncover hidden treasures in places like Tay Tay and Port Barton. In these locales, you’ll find affordable food, cold beer, and less-crowded beaches, offering an experience reminiscent of El Nido. You can also take a detour into mid-sized cities such as Roxas or Brooke’s Point, which are teeming with authentic Filipino cuisine, tranquil waterfalls, serene wildlife sanctuaries, and remarkable local encounters. Often, it is the unassuming areas that yield the most unforgettable experiences. So, find something on this list that resonates with you, pack your bags, and embark on your adventure!
Island Hop in Honda Bay
Just a short distance from the bustling capital of Palawan lies Honda Bay, a paradise waiting to be explored. Embark on an unforgettable island-hopping tour that will fulfill all of your vacation fantasies.
Discover the wonders of Pandan Island, Cowrie Island, Luli Island, Starfish Island, and Verde Island, home to the renowned Dos Palmas resort. These islands boast breathtaking white sand beaches and stunning turquoise waters that may leave you feeling overwhelmed with awe.
Experience a full day of adventure in Honda Bay, where you can indulge in snorkeling, discover the hidden gems of the islands, and enjoy the refreshing waters. These tours usually include a delicious lunch and snacks for your journey.
Puerto Princesa City Tour
Experience a whirlwind tour of multiple attractions in just a single day! That might seem less than ideal and hectic, but it is actually quite enjoyable! It’s a remarkably efficient way to explore the city with the expertise of a knowledgeable local tour guide.
During the Puerto Princesa City Tour, you will have the opportunity to explore the city’s rich history and visit various landmarks. You will be transported in a comfortable tricycle taxi as you make your way to sites such as the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, the WWI Plaza Cuartel, Baker’s Hill for some delicious treats, Mitra’s Ranch to see the horses, the Crocodile Farm, and many more fascinating places. Feel free to request stops for food, snacks, and shopping whenever you’d like!
Ugong Rock Adventures
Ugong Rock is a stunning natural formation located north of Puerto Princesa. It exudes a sense of untamed beauty and offers a unique auditory experience when tapped. Ugong Rock Adventures is a tour company that has created an exciting and thrilling experience centered around this formation, which is highly popular among travelers.
Embark on thrilling adventures as you explore hidden rock caves, soar through the lush jungle on a zipline, and navigate through carefully crafted trails that offer breathtaking vistas.
Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center
Located just a short distance from Puerto Princesa, the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center serves as a safe haven for animals that are endangered, injured, or left behind. The center is committed to the education and advancement of the animal species flourishing here.
One example is the Crocodile Farm, where they raise dozens of young crocodiles until they reach adulthood. The species may face challenges in their survival beyond their early stages in their natural habitat. Witness the awe-inspiring Palawan Crocodiles in their natural habitat, and if fortune smiles upon you, you may even witness their feeding time.
Discover a wide variety of bird species, from majestic eagles and hawks to colorful hornbills. Immerse yourself in the wonders of an educational museum that will ignite your curiosity.
Nestled at the far end of a sprawling peninsula in the southern region of Palawan, lies the enchanting Tabon Caves. The Tabon Caves hold great importance for the Philippines due to their status as one of the earliest known sites of human habitation. Discoveries at this site include the remains of the Tabon man, as well as a collection of his artifacts. Therefore, the Tabon Caves are also considered a National Museum.
During your visit, you will have the opportunity to explore two magnificent caves, known as the Diwata Cave and Liyang Cave. Engage the services of a boat to transport you and provide guidance. Prepare to be amazed when you discover the caves. The limestone formations nestled into the lush greenery appear otherworldly. As you explore, you’ll come across small signs that provide fascinating historical details, enhancing the overall experience.
Scuba Diving in El Nido
Prepare to be amazed by what lies beneath the surface in Bacuit Bay.
It’s no wonder that the dive sites around El Nido are teeming with vibrant marine life and captivating landscapes, such as a 50-meter underwater cliff and a 12-meter underwater tunnel. Get ready to witness incredible creatures like spotted Manta Rays and fully-grown green sea turtles. Experience the wonders of a night dive and witness the captivating presence of elusive creatures like seahorses, shrimp, and cat sharks.
Here, you have the opportunity to enroll in various diving courses at affordable rates.
San Jose Market
Renting an AirBnb with a kitchen? How about indulging in some culinary adventures? Embark on a journey to San Jose Market in Puerto Princesa, where you’ll discover an abundance of freshly caught seafood like fish, shrimp, clams, and squid, ready to be savored in the comfort of your own home. You will discover a wide variety of poultry, pork, and beef, all expertly prepared and conveniently available. There are also whole pigs, but I do not believe those will fit in your oven. Side dishes can be effortlessly created using a variety of fresh, vibrant produce that you may not be familiar with, but are worth trying out.
Don’t feel like cooking? At San Jose Market, you’ll find an abundance of stands where you can enjoy freshly grilled fish right on the spot.
Explore the charming town of Port Barton, nestled on the tranquil Northwest coast of Palawan. Consider Port Barton as a more laid-back and peaceful alternative to El Nido, offering similar attractions at a more affordable cost.
Experience the thrill of kayaking on the sea, discover the breathtaking beauty of rocky cliffsides, and bask in the sun’s warmth as you relax on a sandy beach- you can easily imagine the incredible adventure that awaits. Experience the authentic daily life of the locals as they engage in fishing, take leisurely strolls with their buffalo, or make their way to school.
There are numerous affordable lodging options available here, although electricity may be limited. Unfortunately, there is unavailable. Many guesthouses in Port Barton rely on generators that are switched off during the night. No air conditioning and no cash machines, either.
Beaches of El Nido
Discover breathtaking beaches in the northern part of Palawan, specifically in the province of El Nido. Each beach is more stunning than the next, boasting white powdery sand, crystal-clear turquoise water, and some even framed by majestic limestone cliffs.
Discover the wonders of Secret Beach, a secluded gem nestled in a hidden cove. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Nacpan Beach, a stretch of pristine sand and swaying coconut trees that span 4 kilometers. Indulge in the breathtaking views of Pangalusian Beach, a picture-perfect paradise that will leave you in awe.
Dive into the inviting waters of Las Cabanas Beach, where you can enjoy a refreshing swim. And this is just the beginning of the incredible beaches waiting to be explored.
Estrella Falls boasts a plunging pool that is perfect for swimmers, making it one of the most inviting waterfalls on the island. Descending from Victoria Peak, these impressive 20-foot waterfalls cascade over a rugged ledge, dividing into two streams before gracefully pouring into a pristine, azure basin. As the crystal-clear water cascades from one pool to the next, it creates a serene and tranquil scene. There is ample room for recreation and water activities.
Estrella Falls is located approximately 95 kilometers south of Puerto Princesa in a charming town called Narra. Consider hiring a private car to conveniently cover the 2.5-hour distance, or you could also plan a stopover at Estrella Falls while heading towards the southern tip of Palawan.
After a day filled with thrilling adventure tours, why not make a pit stop at Baker’s Hill for a delectable chocolate milkshake, a refreshing coffee, or even a hearty dinner? Their menu boasts a variety of seafood dishes, featuring delectable options like rock lobster, fish, crab, shrimp, and more. If you happen to arrive around lunchtime, you’re in luck because they offer a scrumptious seafood lunch buffet.
Beyond the fantastic cuisine, Baker’s Hill also offers a charming and picturesque setting. Here, you’ll encounter graceful peacocks proudly displaying their feathers, adorable life-size Disney statues that locals adore, and a scenic garden that’s perfect for a leisurely afternoon in the gentle breeze.
Nagkalit-kalit Waterfall Hike
If you find yourself in the El Nido area, the Nagkalit-kalit waterfall hike is an absolute must! It’s often combined with a visit to the nearby Nacpan Beach, offering another compelling reason to go.
The hike takes you along leisurely dirt paths, across a couple of riverbeds, and through the forest (and it is easy enough to do even in flip-flops). As you meander through the natural surroundings on this roughly 20-minute journey, you will start to hear the soothing sounds of rushing water. Upon your arrival, you will discover it’s a two-for-one deal! In other words, there are two waterfalls working in harmony to create inviting pools of sparkling water, providing a wonderfully refreshing experience after your warm hike.
El Nido offers a variety of island-hopping tours, and one must-visit destination is Simizu Island. Make sure to include it in your itinerary! Exploring Simizu Island offers an exhilarating adventure, allowing you to immerse yourself in the vibrant marine life by simply stepping off the boat. Our tour guides provide fish food for you to feed them, and before you know it, you will find yourself surrounded!
Experience breathtaking vistas of the majestic limestone cliffs embracing a serene beach from the water. Many people believe that this island resembles a magnificent, tropical fortress. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of the surroundings as you take a refreshing swim ashore, capturing unforgettable moments with your camera.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Palawan: Best Areas & Hotels
Q: When is the best time to visit Palawan?
A: The best time to visit Palawan is during the dry season, from November to April. This period offers ideal weather for outdoor activities and exploring the natural wonders of the island.
Q: Is Palawan suitable for families with children?
A: Yes, Palawan is family friendly. There are plenty of activities suitable for children, such as easy nature walks, snorkeling, and island-hopping tours.
Q: How do I get to Palawan?
A: You can reach Palawan by flying into Puerto Princesa International Airport or El Nido Airport, depending on your destination. There are direct flights from major cities in the Philippines.
Q: Are there luxury resorts in Palawan?
A: Yes, Palawan offers a range of luxury resorts and accommodations, ensuring a comfortable and indulgent stay.
Q: Do I need a visa to visit Palawan as a tourist?
A: If you’re a citizen of a visa-exempt country, you can stay in the Philippines, including Palawan, for up to 30 days without a visa for tourism purposes. Make sure to check the current visa requirements before your trip.