Saturday, 1 October 2011

Palawan's Must Visit...Must do....Palawan's Best...

Palawan...the Philippines' last frontier....lying between South China Sea and the Sulu Sea, the province is blessed with so much natural beauty...secluded islands and islets, remote historical towns, amazing marine life...

I have been to Palawan several times, in some places I know I have taken some photos but could not find them anymore, it is hands down one of the Philippines' gems...

Sharing with you reasons why I think it is...featuring places in Palawan I have been to, and planning to go to. No, this is not about luxurious resorts or complex that has dotted some of Palawan's islands. This is about Palawan's raw and sometimes mysterious natural beauty...

#1  St. Paul's Subterranean River National Park 
(Sabang, Palawan)

      A UNESCO World Heritage Park, it is located in the St. Paul mountain range and bordered by the St. Paul Bay. An 8.2km navigable underground river that showcases awesome stalagmites and stalactites and large chambers. The area also features unique flora and fauna as it has 8 of the most important forests in Asia.

      One can trek from the jump-off area via the 5.2km monkey trail to the site and marvel at the diverse flora, fauna, beach coves along the way. Watch out for the aggressive monkeys though, they grab at anything in a plastic bag. 

Update: If you wish to visit this place, book your trip at least a month ahead via a local travel agent or your hotel in Puerto Princesa. The local government is now limiting the number of visitors per day. Walking in may disappoint you as chances of seeing it may be slim since you have to wait for "no-shows" to get a slot.

      How to get there: From Puerto Princesa, most accommodations can arrange for a day trip to the underground river. Charges range from P1,500-P1,800 inclusive of lunch, transportation and entrance and boat ride inside the park. 

#2 Island hopping at Honda Bay
(Puerto Princesa, Palawan)

Snake Island
       A must do when in Puerto Princesa. Honda Bay has several islands to offer including the most popular and the longest, Snake Island. Secluded and uninhabited except for the caretakers. All white sand beaches, emerald green to blue seas and snorkelling haven.

      Starfish Island ...Pandan Island...Snake island....

      How to get there: Just a few minutes from Puerto Princesa, one can hire a tricycle or van to bring you to the jump-off pier at Bgy Sta. Lourdes, Tagbanua. Register and they will assign a banca (outrigger boat) for you. If I remember right, the boat hire was around P1,800-2,000 visiting 3-4 islands for 4-5 persons. Bring your own provision (i.e. food, water)

     Or most accommodations can make arrangements for a day trip to Honda Bay. Cost may vary from P1,200-1,500 inclusive of lunch, boat, and island hopping activities.

#3 El Nido Islands
(El Nido, Palawan)

      Just like the other group of islands, El Nido is best explored by boat. Island hopping galore. About 50 white sand islands to explore  along Bacuit Bay, you need at least a week in this place to fully appreciate it. I have been to this place several years ago and it has, hands down, won my heart vs. the more famous Boracay.  It is bordered by Linapacan Straits, Sulu Sea and South China Sea.

Intalula Island
      El Nido, having one of the country's diverse ecosystem, is protected for its unique flora and fauna, its pristine geologic formations---the limestone cliffs, its white sand beaches, its forests and marine habitats including several species of birds and marine mammals that are endangered.

      The boat association in El Nido town has several tours to choose from depending on the islands you want to explore.  All secluded..all unspoilt...all to yourself for several hours or for the whole day.

      In addition, there are other things to do in El Nido:  scuba diving, cliff climbing, cave exploration and visiting its many waterfalls.

       El Nido has several high-end resorts in its islands were access is exclusive to guests. Cheaper accommodations can be had at El Nido town.

       How to get there:  There are flights to El Nido from Manila. Check out Island Transvoyager (Island Transvoyager). Or you may take the flight to Puerto Princesa but will take you several hours by land to reach El Nido.

#4 Coron Island 
(Busuanga, Palawan)

Kayangan Lake
photo by Victor Villanueva
       I have been to Busuanga/Coron several years ago. But it was confined to Club Paradise and a visit to Caluit. A return trip is definitely a must do as this area in Palawan is equally blessed with natural beauty.

       Part of the Calamianes group of islands, north of Palawan, Coron is a fishing town and a popular tourism and diving destination, having the most sunken Japanese warships off its coastline.

       What to do? a lot!...trek..dive...snorkel...island hop...or just laze around....your call...But if you want to explore, here are spots you should not miss:

Sunset at Mt. Tapyas - if you are a photo-enthusiast, do not miss this. They say the view is breathtaking. Higantes Islands and the rest of the Calamianes islands. You've got to trek up though. 718 steps but the view is rewarding. Most people do it early in the morning or evening so it is cooler.

Check out this detailed blog of Mt. Tapyas with beautiful photos by  lantaw: