A short guide through the beauty of Palawan

Story by: Johanna Cuijten     Date: 17 August 2020    Image by: Unsplash | Rona Lao

6 minutes reading time Philippines

With its beautiful seascape, marine life and beaches, Palawan is a popular tourist destination within the Philippines. Palawan is located in the south west of Manila and should most definitely be a part of you itinerary when visiting the Philippines.

Coron, Palawan, Philippines

Coron

Coron is well known for wreck diving. There are many WWII Japanese wrecks in the water waiting for you to explore them. The streets are filled with dive shops so it might be hard to choose from all of the options that are available. Be sure to ask fellow travelers of locals about their recommendations and check out the shop and their equipment so you’ll be comfortable with your choice. For some of the wrecks you’ll need an advanced diving level, however if you’re an open water diver there will be plenty option for you as well. Even when on a discovery dive, you will be able to see the wrecks. Next to the wrecks, Barracuda lake is also a popular diving spot. This dive is not about what you can see, but about what you will feel. With one kick of your fin you will go from 28 degrees Celsius into 38 degrees Celsius.

There is more to Coron than just diving. Make sure to visit The Maquinit Hot Spring when you need some time to relax. And don’t forget, you’re in the Philippines, so there are always beaches around to discover.

There are plenty bars around in Coron where you can meet some fellow travelers as well as locals. Make sure to check out the reggae bar where you’ll find some great live music. Next to bars there are plenty of restaurant choices. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, don’t worry, there are option for you here.

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

Expedition

A must do when visiting Palawan is an expedition from Coron to El Nido or vice versa. There are a couple of options when it comes to companies. Buhay Isla, Tao, El Nido Paradise and Abandon paradise are the most well-known. You can choose for an experience from 3 – 5 days. You’ll visit amazing snorkeling spots with beautiful marine life, you might even spot some sea turtles or a manatee. You’ll camp on beaches either in tents or huts and the food on the expedition is amazing.

If you’re lucky one of the great guides on these tours has a guitar and can play some tunes while you’re sitting at the campfire. This expedition is a great way to meet people and really experience since there will be almost no reception on this journey.

El Nido, Philippines

El Nido

El Nido is probably the most well-known destination in Palawan. El Nido is famous for its beautiful lagoons with crystal clear water. Definitely a must see when you come to this place. There are lots of tour operators in El Nido offering packages, so you can’t miss them. A popular destination means it will be more crowded, but this also gives El Nido an active night life.

You can find many bars on the beach as well as in town. Be sure to check out Pukka bar for life music, a great atmosphere and room to dance. Next to bars there are lots of restaurant choices, so again if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you’ll for sure find a place. There is a little falafel bar near the beach. Just pick up your food and sit on the beach to watch the sunset. Great way to have dinner, is it not?

Port Barton, Palawan

Port Barton

WARNING high probability of getting stuck.

Port Barton is a small town in between El Nido and Puerto Princesa. It is not as crowed as El Nido and still has a nice authentic feel. The locals here are very welcoming and approachable. You’ll find yourself joining a local party in no time.

Some of the sights in Port Barton are White Beach, Pamuayan beach, Bato ni Ningning view points and there are waterfalls in the area. I would highly recommend to not just go island hoping, but combine it with an island camping trip. There are a lot of beautiful and calm islands around Port Barton and a camping trip will make a great experience.

Even though Port Barton is small, there are some bars and “clubs” around. The reggae bar on the beach is highly recommendable with amazing live music and a great atmosphere with room for dancing. You can also find Tres Tequilas resto bar on the beach and Jungle bar near white beach. Looking for a cocktail night? Try Voodoo bar located in the town center.

Next to bars there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Mojito’s scores (rightfully) very high on TripAdvisor offering western food, local twists and great cocktails in a beautiful, romantic jungle setting. Reef café and Gorgonzolas are popular for dinner. For breakfast or lunch check out Bikini Café. Looking for something a little more local? Try Cagayan. Offering local food at a very low price.

As everywhere in the Philippines you’ll see street dogs roaming around. However, in Port Barton there is a program that takes care of street animals, proving free vaccines and spaying and neutering procedures. This was set up by the owners of before mentioned Mojito’s and they’re working towards setting up a sanctuary.

Tourism in Port Barton is growing and this means that there are ATM’s available now. Before it was hard to get cash, but no need to worry, there are 3 ATM’s available in town.

Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa will probably be your last or first stop in Palawan as this is where the airport is located. A lot of people (understandably) don’t spend a lot of time in Puerto Princesa as it is a city and it doesn’t offer as much beauty as the places mentioned before. However, a popular tourist attraction is the Underground River. So, if you’re coming here, this is worth checking out. Also make sure to try some of the street food as there are plenty of little stand throughout the city. You’ll probably recognize them by the group of locals that will be gathered there enjoying the Filipino snacks.

Balabac, Philippines

Off the beaten track

Got some extra time on your hands or you want to go beyond the beaten track, go further south to Balabac. Balabac is a hidden gem in Palawan. You can get there from Puerto Princesa but it will take you a day and it is not as easy to get to as other destinations mentioned before, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

Are you a scuba diver? Make sure to check out Tubbataha Reef and see if you can fit this into your itinerary. Tubbataha Reef is an isolated and protected marine park and the diving season only lasts for 3 to 4 months per year from March to June.

Hopefully this article offered you some help in planning your trip. Palawan is a beautiful destination and definitely worth visiting. It doesn’t matter if you’re a solo traveler, a family, a couple or friends, Palawan has something for everybody.

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