Destination Island: Palawan, Philippines
Palawan Island lies slanted diagonally across the South China Sea on the west of the Philippine chain of islands. Of late, it has started to rank consistently in international lists of both the world’s most beautiful islands and its most beautiful beaches. You probably have seen pictures of it before without even realizing – tall grey cliff islands peppered with the greenest foliage, rising out of crystal clear waters that shimmer all shades of blue and green in the sun. Palawan’s coastline is almost exclusively powdery white sand, with little rocky coves thrown in for good measure. Large parts of the island are undeveloped, and there is virgin forest spread across mountains and flat plains.
Wildlife abounds, with dolphin tours, firefly watching, sea turtle expeditions very popular. Across the island, there are close to 100 species of birdlife. A lot of the tourism on Palawan is centered around the sea, and for good reason. Visitors are amazed by the lagoons filled with water so clear that it seems the catamarans are floating on air.
- El Nido is probably the premier destination here for water sports. From kayaking to snorkeling to scuba diving and rock diving, water babies will get their fill here. But fun is by no means limited to the water – Palawan’s beaches, coconut groves, mangroves, rice paddies and rivers are best explored by mountain bike.
- Puerto Princesa, the administrative center is a great destination – it has been named the cleanest and greenest city in the entire Philippines. It also offers some of the most thrilling nightlife. However, Puerto Princesa is an eclectic mix of attractions that may or may not appeal to you. Iwahig Penal Colony, where inmates live in farming communities with their families is one such example. You can buy inmate-created handicrafts there, too.
- Another example is the traditional cockfighting competitions. Long part of Filipino culture, cockfighting is conducted openly here.
- The Philippines was of strategic importance during the second World War and it bears many scars and reminders of that tumultuous period. The twelve Japanese ships sunk at Coron have become a magnet for scuba explorers and also the daredevil divers who leap off ship structures as high as 40 feet above the water.
- San Vincente boasts one of the most amazing coastlines in the world – clear waters washing upon pristine sand for almost 10 miles without a break. This gorgeous geography has inspired a very happening hotel and clubbing scene – you will never be wanting for a party in San Vincente.
Best time to go to Palawan
You will have to trade between cool and wet, or hot and dry to visit Palawan. The December period is just nice but there are occasions when a typhoon hits the area. Absolutely avoid the June to September period as that is the peak of the monsoon season.