El Nido, Palawan island, Philippines. Photo by Fly-Boy2
Despite its outstanding natural beauty, Palawan’s 1, 770 islands including the spectacular Bacuit Archipelago, have been one of the least developed holiday destinations in Southeast Asia, apart from the famous El Nido resorts in the north of the island.
So far the lack of commercialism has kept Palawan special, but this long, skinny ‘Island of Gods’ is becoming more popular with scuba divers and adventurers and can be crowded in places.
– The ideal place for sun seekers and snorkellers is Honda Bay located in the centre-east of the island, with several gorgeous islets including Cannon Island, Bat Island and Starfish Island, with coral reefs breaking crystal clear water onto deserted, fine white sand beaches.
The best way to explore these coral delights is to island-hop the bay by banca.
– Arreceffi Island contains the luxury Dos Palmas Resort. Lesser accommodation can be found on other islands, or stay in the capital city of Puerto Princesa, 12km away from Honda Bay, and take a half hour boat trip to your favourite deserted beach.
– Palawan also offers the Philippines’ best dive spot at the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, a UNESCO’s Natural World Heritage Site. Dive boats operate from March to June and can be arranged at Puerto Princesa. It’s 182 kms into the Sulu Sea.
– Puerto Princesa also offers all sorts of jungle eco-hikes and a must-do 8. 2 km underground river trip from the village of Sabang.
– If you feel like a splurge, try the country’s, if not Asia’s most elite and exclusive beach hotel, the Amanpulo Resort on Pamalican Island in the archipelago of the Cuyo Islands.
– Looking for new Palawan resorts? Try Busuanga Island and the nearby Coron Island, known for wreck diving as well as white beaches in the north.
Best Palawan weather: December-May. Possible heavy rains June- November, but not necessarily.
Getting there: Direct flights or over-night ferry from Manila are available.