If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines, you might be struggling with where to go. The Philippines is home to over 7,000 islands and each one offers something different and exciting! So how do you choose? Are you looking for a beach getaway and want nothing more than to enjoy the sand and the surf while catching some rays? Or is it adventure that you’re after, exploring the land and sea as much as possible? No matter what your hopes might be, the island of Palawan in the Philippines caters to every type of traveller!
Palawan is home to some of the top tourist hotspots in all of the Philippines, and there are plenty of options for experiences that will give you a true taste of Filipino culture. This province is home to a diverse variety of islands, each bringing something unique to the table. It is home to some of the top places in the world for SCUBA diving and snorkeling, and it has plenty of options for exploring city streets and taking in the nightlife scene.
Palawan is a must visit on your trip to the Philippines, but if you need more convincing, or need idea’s on what to do in Palawan, check out these ten best things to do when you visit Palawan!
SCUBA dive in El Nido
El Nido has a lot to offer, I really enjoyed my time there a few years ago. El Nido is by far the best spot for diving in Palawan, and one of the best diving destinations in the world, El Nido is a must-see island for divers and ocean lovers alike. The corals are colorful and the fish are lively, and the waters here are also home to manta rays and green sea turtles. If you’re interested in becoming a PADI SCUBA diver, consider taking a course in El Nido.
Visit Tabon Caves
If you’re interested in archaeology or wondering about the anthropological history of the Philippines, you should head to Tabon Caves. Here the oldest discoveries of Filipino human inhabitants were found, so it is also considered a national museum and is a great place to learn about the Philippines of the past.
Explore the Underground River
Did you know you can visit one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature whilst in the Philippines and in Palawan?
For a unique adventure experience, head to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, one of the longest underground rivers in the world and one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature. You’ll start at a cave entrance and go by small boat or kayak, making your way through the tunnels and eventually coming out onto the ocean. I didn’t have time to do this on my trip to the Philippines but it’s on my list to do when I go back!
Take a tour through Puerto Princesa
You’ll probably end up having to pass through Puerto Princesa when flying into or out of Palawan so why not take some time to explore the City? You can fly directly into the Puerto Princesa International Airport and start taking a tour around the city right away. When you sign up for a tour, you’ll get the chance to see both local and tourist hotspots, as well as historical sites throughout the city. Some common stops are the WWI Plaza Cuartel, Baker’s Hill, and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.
Snorkel at Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park
If diving is not your cup of tea but you would still like to experience the wonders of the ocean, consider snorkeling at the protected Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park (although there are also plenty of diving opportunities here). It is located in the middle of the Sulu Sea and was not discovered until the 1970’s, but quickly became a protected World Heritage site since it has such a high density of marine life. So either spend a day snorkeling here, or sign up to dive from a liveaboard boat for several days out on the water.
Take a hike to Estrella Falls
There are tons of waterfalls within the Palawan province to choose from, but one of the best is Estella Falls. It is great for swimming, and features two 20-foot waterfalls that spill into the swimming area. Another waterfall to check out is Bakbakan Falls in Brooke’s Point. This one is not as ideal for swimming, but it is a great place to hike to and enjoy the picturesque scenery. If you are in El Nido at any point during your trip, take an outdoor adventure to Nagkalit-kalit Waterfall Hike. As you can see, there are organized tours in Palawan to suit whatever your interests are.
Island hop in Honda Bay
Island hopping is a top tourist activity all over the Philippines, and the best place in Palawan to do this is in Honda Bay. When you sign up for a tour, you’ll most likely hop between these islands: Cowrie Island, Pandan Island, Luli Island, Starfish Island, and Verde Island. Each one competes with each other when it comes to the most beautiful beaches of Palawan. Just about ever tour provides lunch, snacks, and water as well as quality snorkeling equipment.
Order a drink at Tiki Resto Bar
If you’re wanting to get out on the town and experience the best of Palawan nightlife during your time in Puerto Princesa, head to Tiki Resto Bar for drinks. There is live music just about every night, and it is a spot where locals and tourists come together to enjoy some good drinks, good food, and good music. So after a long day at the beach, unwind with a cocktail or two at Tiki Resto.
Visit Port Barton and go Island Hoping
Located between El Nido and Puerto Princesa is the village of Port Barton. When I went a few years ago it was very small and a lot less busy that El Nido and from what I have heard this is still true. A popular thing to do in Port Barton is to go Island Hoping. I went out on a smaller boat than on the boat trip I did in El Nido which really added to the experience. The locals were friendly, the vibe was chilled and relaxed, and Port Barton has a very authentic feel to it giving visitors great insight into Filipino life.
Eat local cuisine at San Jose Market
Markets are always a great place to visit even if you can’t buy anything from them because you don’t have anywhere to cook. In San Jose Market in Puerto Princesa you can find locals selling fresh produce like fruit and veg, and there are also plenty of street vendors selling grilled fish and veggies that you can enjoy while you are exploring the streets of the city.
I loved my time in Palawan a few years ago and it’s high on my list to visit again when I go back to the Philippines so I can do all of these things!
For more information on the Philippines see my other posts: