Palawan: a name that makes you dream!
Palawan is located in the southwestern part of the Philippines. Very long, the island is 450km and 50 km wide. It is known thanks to El Nido, the starting point for Bacuit Archipelago, an earthly paradise that your eyes will never forget. So, what can we do during a trip on Palawan island? Here are my “must-see” places!
Puerto Princesa: the arrival place you’d better avoid
It will certainly be the arrival place of your trip to Palawan Island. There, you can visit the limestone caves or the Underground River. Personally, I don’t think that it is worth it. True, the underground river is the longest in the world and is listed at Unesco world heritage. Moreover, the site is quite far from Puerto Princesa and is crowded with tourists. You’ll have to be ready and wait in a long line for finally navigating for a short time on the river. You can see rocky stalactites and bats. If I could, I would have preferred doing one more activity in Bacuit Archipelago.
El Nido: a very touristic paradise!
This place is known for its long paradise beaches and most of all because it’s the entry point of Bacuit Archipelago. It’s also an inescapable place when you go on a trip to Palawan island. With its long Karstic rocks going out of the bluest water, Bacuit Archipelago is unique. El Nido is 4h by bus from Puerto Princesa and there are buses going there from the airport. Once there, you’ll certainly do some island-hopping tours. The 4 more successful tours have a letter (A, B, C, D). Each tour lasts a whole day and is about 25 euros (meal included). If you can do the four of them, good for you! For those who don’t, I advise you the tours A and C as I did the four ones myself. The tour A is based on the amazing lagoons and the tour C explores the secret beaches hidden in and between the cliffs. The prices are more or less the same no matter what company you choose. There are two beaches near El Nido that are worth seeing: Nacpan Beach, 45min ride and Las Cabanas Beach where the atmosphere is very cool and where the sunsets are amazing. I advise you to rent a room there as the accommodations and restaurants are cheaper. Be careful of the sandflies that are often present on Nacpan Beach!
Port Barton: peace and paradise landscape
That place on Palawan island is more and more famous and more and more people go on trips there. I found a lovely village, beautiful beaches, amazing islands all around and most of all very few tourists. Port Barton is also more affordable than El Nido even though everything seems more affordable in the Philippines than in France or Belgium. If you decide to go for an island-hopping tour, I advise you the Tour A. you’ll find all the details here. You can also visit the beautiful waterfall of Bigaho which is a 30 min-ride from there but is only accessible by boat. If you intend to go to Coron from El Nido, I advise you to start first by Port Barton. There are two buses a day that go to El Nido, one at 8am and the other one at 1pm for 11 euros.
Coron: an inescapable island.
From El Nido on Palawan island, you can go for a 3 or 4-day trip on Coron island which is also part of the province of Palawan. You can get there by banka (long boat) for 20 euros, it’s a kind of ferryboat, by fast boat for 35 euros or by plane via Busuanga airport. The ride by banka is not very pleasant and quite long (6h), but fortunately the landscapes cheer you up. If you decide to take the fast boat (3 hours), you can find all the info here. You’ll get then to Coron City, don’t confuse it with Coron Island. Coron City is part of Busuanga Island and this is from there that the tours are organized for Coron Island.
The first look on Coron City is not very pleasant; the city is charmless. Whatever, you’ll be there to discover paradise on the island across the sea, whose name is the same.
- Among the must-see places, Barracuda Lake is inescapable. Behind the vertical walls of the island, are hidden many lakes mixing fresh and salt water. Some of them are very deep and have the particularity of having water layers with different temperatures. What’s incredible is that it’s hotter at the bottom! Those who will dive in Barracuda Lake will live a quite strange feeling. That phenomenon is due to the layers of salt and fresh waters that don’t mix.
- Most of the pictures taken about Coron are actually taken at the fabulous Kayangan Lake. This amazing lake is surrounded by karstic rocks with a clearly spectacular view. It is the most visited site on Coron Island.
- There are also beautiful lagoons like the Twin and the Green Lagoons. They are really extraordinary landscapes that are as beautiful as the Bacuit Archipelago. If you can do both, go for it!
My tips :
- If you can go on a tour in Bacuit Archipelago in El Nido, don’t hesitate!
- If you visit several islands, try to take only one piece of luggage that you can bring in the plane (10 kg max), you’ll spare much money as the luggage are not free.
- There are risks of malaria in the Philippines, get informed on the website “Pasteur”
- Smile! Filipinos people are really friendly, they’ll answer with smile which will give you good vibes.
- Avoid the typhoons between October and December.
- Try to book your ferry to Coron as soon as you arrive in El Nido.
- Watch the sunset at Las Cabanas Beach in El Nido.
- For both islands, book your accommodation in advance.
If you have time, both islands are inescapable. If you have to choose, I’d say that Palawan island is more complete but don’t forget that the trips by van are quite long and exhausting. The advantage of Coron is that there is an airport nearby thanks to which you’ll earn some time with the transport, especially if your time is limited. Concerning the beauty, both islands have a lot to offer with landscapes deserving the most beautiful postcards. Have a nice trip!