The Philippine’s Palawan Island was voted no.1 island in the world twice in a row (Bora Bora being second place). The northern part is characterized by incredible clear waters, white beaches, and many species of flora and fauna.
Where we stayed: Homestay in El Nido
How long to stay in Palawan: from 4 days
How to get there: by plane (from Cebu or Manila)
Price level: affordable
When you get to Palawan, you will probably fly into Puerto Princessa. Most of the people -including us- head up north to El Nido. You can get to El Nido by bus or van. I strongly recommend you to take the van unless you want to travel really cheap. It is a 4 hour drive (with the van) on a very bumpy and winding road. I fell a sleep during the drive and woke up with a bump on my head. Just sayin‘.
When you get to El Nido, you have a lot of options where to stay. We stayed at a very simple homestay and paid around 7€ a night. You can of course pay more and get a bit more luxury if you want to.
Things you can do
– Island Hopping Tours
– Scuba Diving
– Beach Hopping
– Zip lining
– Rock climbing
An Island Hopping Tour is a must do when you come to El Nido. There are four popular tours: A,B,C and D. We did tour A and C (most popular tours) with „Northern Hope Tours“. They make sure you are a small group and get to the places just before or after all the tourists. We paid 22€ per tour although you can even get it cheaper if you buy a whole package. Everything you need during the trip is provided (mask & snorkel, life vest, lunch, etc.). If you want to take photos I would recommend to take a waterproof bag or some kind of underwater camera as you either have to swim or walk through the water to get to a lot of places you visit.
Island Hopping Tour A
We were really lucky because it was our first stop and we were the first ones to be there. Thus we had this wonderful place to ourselves. You swim through a hole and get to a shallow lagoon surrounded by huge rock walls.
The water is insane! It is so clear you wouldn’t believe it if you hadn’t seen it. Get out the boat and discover the lagoon with a kayak, there is a hidden cave if you turn left on the first „junction“. It is also an ideal spot for snorkeling.
Again you have to swim through a narrow gap leading to a lagoon with beautiful rock formation surroundings. To save ourselves from the little territorial fish that kept biting us, we got a kayak. And there were even more caves to discover in this lagoon.
This is a popular snorkeling spot. While we snorkeled the crew prepared the lunch which we ate on a small, shaded beach. The lunch was amazing! They served crabs, fish, pork, rice, fruit and salads.
7 Commando Beach
This was our last stop and we got some time to relax on the beach before we headed back. The beach is nice (not spectacular though).
Island Hopping Tour C
Do be honest I was a bit disappointed when I got to Hidden Beach. I had high expectations since „Bourne Legacy“ and „Survivors“ were filmed here but when we arrived there it was low tide and a bit cloudy so the beach didn’t look as stunning as it could have.
Sometimes this stop is cancelled due to the tide of the water being too high. We were lucky enough and were allowed to swim through the hole. The beach is truly amazing, even though it can be quite crowded with people.
This is one of the best snorkeling spots I have ever been to. White sandy beach, crystal clear water and a reef right in front of you. It is also the spot where lunch is served.
Matinloc is a local term for beautiful and the island is indeed more than just beautiful! You can climb up some stairs to get a great view of the sea and the shore. On the island itself is an abandoned monastery and a gazebo which are awesome to explore.
You can see from a distance why it is called helicopter island. This beach was truly amazing because there were almost no people besides us and the water was just so blue. When you hop into the water, it feels more like a pool though because the water is so clear.
If you are into Scuba diving, Palawan is also a great place to do so. My friend went on a day tour and was amazed by everything she saw that day.
If you like a bit of an adventure, you might like the zipline at Las Cabanas. You can literally fly above the paradise. It is even more beautiful if it is high tide. Afterwards you can hang out at beautiful Marimegmeg Beach and take a dip in the ocean.
There are also a lot of other beach that are worth a day trip. We went to Nacpan Beach. To get there you can either hire a tricycle driver or you can rent a scooter. We did the last and regretted it. The roads are very bumpy and thus we ended up with a flat tire and a few scratches. Nacpan beach is absolutely stunning! It is one of the beaches I will never forget. We felt like stranded on a remote island. If you stay long enough in Palawan, definitely try to spend a night in a bungalow at Nacpan beach.
If you have even more time in Palawan, there is a lot more to explore. Head up further North to the Coron Islands or visit the Subterranean River National Park.
– Try some seafood
– Try to also visit hidden spots
– Do as many island tours as you can
– Stay in a beach bungalow at Nacpan Beach