Planning your first trip to the world-class island destination of Palawan, but you don’t even know where to start? This is—at any rate—a pleasant problem to have, and it’s worth noting that Palawan, the largest province in the Philippines by land mass, is diverse enough to appeal to any kind of traveler!
Excitement awaits would-be visitors to Palawan, as the island group covers everything from sea-based adventures to treks into pristine, unspoiled interiors. To help you decide where exactly to go, what to do, and how to make the best out of a memorable first visit to the island, here’s our rundown of must-see Palawan destinations.
It’s almost expected that we start this list with Puerto Princesa, which oversees a sizeable chunk of the tourists touching down on the island. Puerto Princesa—the provincial capital—is widely recognized as the Philippines’ eco-tourism center, as the city lends itself well to communing with nature. First-time tourists here will be spellbound by its foremost attraction, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, or more commonly known among the locals as “the underground river.” Around the city’s environs, you can also engage in firefly watching, whale shark watching, and cruises along the San Carlos River and Talaudyong River.
One particularly beautiful Palawan destination—located off Honda Bay and a little over thirty minutes past Puerto Princesa’s Sta. Lourdes Wharf—is Isla Pandan. Isla Pandan boasts pristine ocean waters, photogenic white beaches, and natural sandbars. Key to enjoying the best that this place has to offer is finding a reputable tour provider that specializes in Palawan tours. For example, Legendary Tours offers Isla Pandan day tour packages that include stays in quaint nipa cottages, massage services, paddle boat and kayak rentals, snorkeling and diving gear rentals, and volleyball nets, for starters. This is the kind of assortment that any casual tourist or new adventurer would actively look for.
The El Nido islands in Palawan, located northeast of Puerto Princesa, are best known for their picturesque rock peaks, lagoons, coves, and posh accommodations for celebrity clientele. Nevertheless, some of the big highlights in El Nido that are open to everyone are its lagoon tours and the organized cove and cave explorations on Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island, and Entatula Island, among others.
The municipality of Coron is a nature lover’s paradise. Here, an eager traveler can embark on a host of excursions that truly showcase Palawan’s natural resources and culture. Just a few among these are the peak of Mount Tapyas, which will take around 700 steps to conquer; the Centennial Shrine; the Maquinit hot springs; the Calauit Island Safari; and the shipwrecks of the Sangat and Lusong Gunboats.
The municipality of Taytay, on the other hand, is regarded as Palawan’s “Star of the North,” and was the island province’s very first capital. One good way to explore this historic spot is to visit Fort Isabel, where Spanish soldiers once defended Philippine territory from pirate invaders. Also consider snorkeling or having a picnic on the Bata and Malutamban Islands, as well as visiting the Baras Farm, which serves to highlight Taytay as an agri-eco hub in Palawan.
The municipality of Narra, situated on the main island, is called the “Rice Granary of Palawan” because it produces a large portion of the island’s rice. The providence of the municipality is celebrated yearly at its Palay Festival. It’s a given that you visit Narra for the fresh produce and seafood available in its markets, as well as to explore its local gems like the Estrella Falls.
Last but definitely not least—especially for those who stray off the beaten path of commercial tourism—is the rustic town of San Vicente. Less than 200 kilometers from Puerto Princesa City, it is often passed over for the island’s more popular destinations. But San Vicente nonetheless showcases its own quiet beauty through attractions like Long Beach, which, as the name suggests, is the longest white beach in the Philippines, as well as the pleasant and untouched shoreline of Irawan Beach.
Palawan is one of the country’s biggest tourism hubs for a reason. If this list feels like too much to squeeze into just one visit, you should look forward to booking a return trip! Bon voyage, and happy travels!v