Live the Dream - Spend Your Next Holiday in Palawan, Philippines Paradise
After having an epic experience on the island of Palawan in the Philippines, I am beyond excited to share what to do and where to go on this gorgeous piece of paradise. Imagine a place that has an energy that smiles, waters that look painted by an infamous artist, and beauty that still seems untapped. This is Palawan.
Initially I planned to visit a few islands in the Philippines during my trip around the world, but after meeting several people of Philippine descent, I was encouraged to skip the other islands (more touristic and expensive) and spend time only on this one sub continental land.
And boy, were they right! I'm intensely glad I took the advice and spent my entire holiday on this otherworldly island. I can see why it has made so many top ten lists of best islands in the world.
Go now! And go for as long as you can! Palawan is not yet a Boracay, so best to hurry and take advantage of this gem of timeless harmony and delight.
Here are the ten best things to do on Palawan:
1. Plan to stay at the Bamboo Nest in Puerto Princesa and spend most of your time in Puerto Princesa. The owner and host, Jonathan is amazing. Extremely friendly, warm and caring, Jonathan will help you to take care of tours and arrangements if you need the planning assistance. He also helps plan transportation from and to the airport. He obviously gets a cut so you can do more research and arrange tours if you want something cheaper, but it was extremely helpful to have his access and insight. There was a warm community of people that also stayed at this accommodation. During early evening hours, Jonathan's friends would come over and play acoustic music and guests were encouraged to participate. It was a great way to meet new and friendly people from around the world.
The kitchen has delicious coffee available to make whenever you want it and the water at the Bamboo Nest is safe, so using it for coffee or brushing your teeth is all good.
Jonathan's sister, Joy is next door at the bakery and in addition to fresh pastry, produce and both soft and alcoholic drinks, she can help you top up and activate your SIM card (global).
Across the street from the bakery is Fay, who has a little local restaurant. She can cook you meals, but I recommend her pork and vegetables for dinner.
2. Island hopping in Honda Bay (Puerto Princesa)
This is a full day activity where you can hop on a boat and visit Starfish Island, Luli Island and Cowlie Island. Starfish island possess tons of beautiful star fish and fun for snorkling, Luli has a fun diving board and conditions for snorkling and you should get yourself a massage on Cowlie Island. A nice way to unwind from the day of traveling and swimming, and the ladies are talented at a great price.
3. Underground river (Puerto Princesa)
Another full day activity.
The Underground River a officially a national park and is protected. It is also one of the longest navigable underground rivers in the world, with a total length of 8.2 Kilometers. Note: there are bats in the cave!
4. Puerto Princesa City tour - if time permits
(Baker's Hill/Crocodile Sanctuary/Firefly Watching)
This 1/2 day activity is a way to get to know Puerto Princesa. You can either sign up for a tour or get around town on a tricycle and do it all on your own.
5. Visit BM Beach
This is a popular beach for locals, especially on the weekend, but you can spend time in a hut over the water and enjoy the views and breezes.
6. Try some Tubâ
Otherwise known as Palm Wine, tubâ is a fermented coconut drink that is coconut flavor, sweet and can give you a little buzz if it is further along in its fermentation process. You can pick some up near BM Beach and take it back to eat with some Jack Fruit.
7. Visit the Chinese Market
8. Eat at Kinabuchs Restaurant
... and order the crocodile. A full menu with lots of local dishes, cocktails and plenty of TVs and music for entertainment.
9. Nagtabon Beach
Spend all day here! Or as many days as you can. If you stick around after sunset you will see the fireflies come out at night. This beach is not as popular and still unknown. Take a tricyle 45 minutes out of Puerto Princesa to the beach and indulge! Check out my travel tale for one of my favorite days of all time.
10. A trip up to El Nido
I list this last for two reasons. It is a substantial drive up to El Nido from Puerto Princesa (about 6 hours), so you will want to go for 1 or 2 nights. It is becoming overly touristic, so if you're after a relaxing and peaceful getaway, unless you're at an upmarket resort, it will be harder to do so here. There are loads of people everywhere.
Jonathan helped arrange transportation and a night at a local accommodation of a contact of his at Bunakids, but I don't recommend it unless you have a very tight budget and only plan to stay for one night. It was 800 pesos ($8 US) per night. I don't recommend last minute planning in busier seasons because affordable accommodation sells out quickly. You might also consider resorts on Miniloc Island or accommodation on Las Cabanas Beach. In addition, when you arrive in El Nido plan to hop on Tour A or Tour C with a local company. The city in infamous for a variety of tours that can take you to beaches and lagoons. Depending on the weather conditions, trips to more hidden and remote lagoons can be cancelled, so if your trip is short opt for the closer ones like Tour A, which is also quite beautiful and has kayaking available in one of the lagoons. I don't recommend the company that Jonathan connected us with if you are staying with him in the Bamboo Nest. Beware of 3Bs tours and travel and transport. They started the tour one hour late, we had to wade in water almost up to our wastes to get on the boat at the start of the tour, the gentlemen had to hop off the boat and help push the boat out into the open water, and there wasn't enough food available at lunch for everyone to try everything.)
Wifi is very spotty in El Nido. Don't expect it to be sturdy. If you need to be in touch with the world, I recommend getting a SIM card (Global)
Fun Fact 1: Bourne Legacy was filmed in the Big Lagoon (which you will visit on Tour A)
Fun Fact 2: If you come to Palawan between April and October, it is whale shark season. In Puerto Bay you can swim with them for 1,800 pesos (about $35 USD)
Fun Fact 3: Hartman beach in Puerto Princesa has an amazing sandbar about 200 meters out and beyond it there are star fish here too. If you have the time, visit here as well.
I hope you love Palawan as much as I did. As always, let me know how it goes!
PS. Enjoy this Palawan overview video!