Dos Palmas, Palawan © denAsuncioner
The island of Palawan is an elongated stretch of thickly forested landscape bordered by coves, beaches, lagoons and limestone cliffs, stretching from the southwest of Luzon towards Malaysia. The island is staggeringly beautiful, with irresistibly clear, gem-coloured water, lush jungle, and a coastline that is a maze of rocky islets and hidden coves.
Puerto Princesa, which is centrally located, is the primary gateway to the island and from the city most travellers head north, where the most picturesque scenery can be found. The main attraction out of Puerto Princesa is the underground river, St Paul's Subterranean Cave near Sabang, about two hours by road from Puerto Princesa; however, there are plenty of hiking and spelunking opportunities as well.
In the north of the island, travellers will find El Nido, Palawan's most popular destination: a small, lively beach town geared towards island hopping (there are innumerable options on this front), but with plenty of places to eat out, party and buy local handicrafts.
From El Nido, travellers can choose to take a boat to the neighbouring island of Busuanga and the town of Coron. Here, visitors will find fewer niceties than on Palawan's main island, but will be richly rewarded by the aquamarine lakes on Coron Island, some of the best scuba diving in the region, and arguably one of the Philippines best beaches, Malcapuya.
The island's Tubbataha Reef is extremely ecologically important to the Philippines as a feeding ground and nursery for marine life, and the area is archaeologically important too, as palaeolithic remains have been discovered on the island dating back approximately 22,000 years.
Palawan can entered by flying into Puerto Princesa from Manila (or Cebu, for that matter), or by taking an overnight ferry from Manila to Coron, which is generally more cost effective.