Our list of the best things to do in Palawan comprises just a few of the must-visit places at hand in the largest province of the Philippines. Covering an area of 14,650 sq km and over 1,700 islands, Palawan Province marks the western border of the country. These huge territories feature so many stunning areas that it's a tough task to pick only 10 from the huge amount of stunning attractions on offer in Palawan.
Palawan has only recently been a popular spot for international tourists, thanks mainly to the scuba divers who were the first visitors from abroad to explore this area. Nowadays, names such as El Nido, Coron, and Puerto Princesa have started to be well-known among travellers, and many of the popular attractions in Palawan belong to these 3 prime destinations in the province.
El Nido Marine Reserve Park
El Nido Marine Reserve Park is popular for its limestone cliffs, 50 beaches, 3 major marine habitats, 5 types of forest, and an abundant fauna and flora including over 20 endemic species.
A municipality located toward the north-eastern tip of Palawan Island, this iconic reserve is some 240 km from Puerto Princesa, the capital city of the province. El Nido Marine Reserve Park is named after the fact sea turtles regularly come to nest on the beaches of this area.
- Location: El Nido Marine Reserve Park, Philippines
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a protected area located 80 km north of Palawan capital city. It is one of the world’s most complex cave systems, covering 220 sq km and featuring 8 km of underground rivers. The site has a full mountain-to-sea ecosystem which houses bountiful fauna and flora.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since1999, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park has a limestone karst landscape and features some of the largest cave rooms in the world. Tours to this unique site are readily available from Puerto Princesa. Read More...
- Location: Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
The shipwrecks of Coron Bay are among the most visited dive sites in the Philippines. There are 12 sunken wartime ships at the bottom of the ocean – the result of an attack on the Imperial Japanese Navy by US Navy aircraft during the Second World War in September 1944.
Encrusted with coral and home to abundant marine life, wreck diving is a thrilling activity that requires special certifications. The many dive centres at hand in Coron Town, and in the islands situated in the bay, offer a great range of day trips and courses for you to discover these fabulous remains. Read More...
- Location: Coron, Palawan, Philippines
Calauit Safari Park is a wildlife sanctuary that covers 37 sq km of Calauit Island, just north of Busuanga Island and Coron. Visiting the island, you have the chance of seeing the park’s waterbucks, deer, crocodiles, monkeys, zebras and other wildlife.
Despite being on the opposite side of the Indian Ocean from their country of origin, these animals can live in some comfort, thanks to the region’s climate being similar to Kenya’s. Day and overnight trips at Calauit Safari Park are available from Coron Town. Read More...
- Location: Busuanga, Palawan, Philippines
Barracuda Lake is a spectacular site with emerald green, brackish waters surrounded by an impressive limestone karst formation. Located on the northwest coast of Coron Island, it offers not only a splendid place to visit, but also one of the most original dive sites in the region.
Like many exceptional places, getting there requires some efforts: a 30-minute steep walk is necessary to reach the lake. If you take the strenuous effort needed to carry your diving equipment (including a tank) to get there, you’ll surely enjoy it.
- Location: Barracuda Lake, Coron, Palawan, Philippines
Honda Bay (Deep Bay, in Spanish) is a superb body of water dotted with small islands, located just northeast of Puerto Princesa on the eastern shore of Palawan Island. The bay is an important fishing area, yet has seen its recreational aspect developed according to the ever-growing number of visitors who come to Palawan.
Boats can be rented for the day or you can join a scheduled tour to hop from one island to the other, and enjoy excellent snorkelling.
- Location: Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa, Philippines
Tubbataha Reef National Park is a marine and bird sanctuary that covers a 97-sq-km area that includes 2 large atolls and the Jessie Beazley Reef. Located in the middle of the Sulu Sea, some 150 km southeast of Puerto Princesa, Tubbataha Reef is considered one of the best dive sites in the world.
You’ll find here no less than 360 coral species, hundreds of fish, sharks, dolphins and whale species, as well as many sea turtles that use this area as a nesting ground. Due to its isolated location, Tubbataha Reef National Park can only be visited on live-aboard boats. Read More...
- Location: Tabbataha Reefs, Cagayancillo, Philippines
El Nido’s Small and Big Lagoons
El Nido’s Small and Big Lagoons are both located next to each other on the northern coast of Miniloc Island. El Nido is famous for its limestone karst formations erecting from vivid turquoise waters, and these lagoons offersome of the best viewpoints in the Philippines.
Sea kayaking and snorkelling are the main activities at hand here. These 2 lagoons are part of the most popular island-hopping day trips, and it roughly takes 20 minutes to get there from El Nido main town.
- Location: El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
Nacpan and Calitang
Nacpan and Calitang (Twin Beaches) are located toward the northern end of El Nido Bay, some 15 km north by sea from El Nido's main town. Often included as part of day trips, you can also get there by tricycle or by renting a scooter. Note that the road is made of soil and can be pretty muddy after rainy days.
Nacpan is about 3 km long while Calitang spans around 500 metres. The twin Beaches join each other on a tiny cape forming a viewpoint from which you can see both beaches and the Bolog Islands, 2 tiny rocks jutting out from the sea a short distance from the cape.
- Location: El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
Tabon Caves are a group of over 200 caves. Only 29 of these caves have been explored, and several of them are open to the public. Called “Philippines' Cradle of Civilization”, the sites are the place where the oldest human bones – dating back 22,000 years - were found in the country.
Declared a National Cultural Treasure in 2011, the caves can be visited on scenic tours from Quezon, the closest municipality. The caves are located at the tip of a cape named Lipuun Point, between Nakoda and Malanut Bays in the southern part of Palawan Island,
- Location: Quezon, Palawan, Philippines