You might be of the opinion that the most beautiful place on earth is the Maldives, and it’s tough to argue with that, but there’s one particular island that’s giving it a run for its money.
Travel & Leisure magazine named it the world’s “best island” three years in a row, Instagrammers have been flocking to it in droves in recent months and the buzz around Palawan is only getting bigger.
Together with its smaller surrounding islands (which make up Palawan province), it feels untouched, with white sandy beaches and tropical jungle.
Here’s just some reasons why it’s so downright amazing…
El Nido is one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see
El Nido is a cluster of 45 islands just off the tip of Palawan, which is famous for its Secret Lagoon. Swim through a hole in the limestone rocks to enter a hidden bay. There’s also over 30 dive sites and sunset hiking routes.
Filipino culture is in full swing at the vibrant Baragatan festival
Each year, in the two weeks leading up to Palawan’s Foundation Day on June 23rd, all the municipalities of Palawan come together in Puerto Princesa for a huge festival that celebrates the best of the region. There’s colourful floats, craft markets and local foods.
There’s majestic lagoons with sparkling blue water
Go island hopping around Palawan to see the region’s clearest lagoons. From Twin Lagoon in Coron, which is actually two lagoons separated by karst sculptures, to Paguriran Lagoon in Sorsogon. Kayak through them and just soak up the peaceful atmosphere.
You can visit one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Take a boat trip to glide through the world’s longest underground tunnel.
UNESCO calls this subterranean river “one of the most unique” in the world, and we’d have to agree.
You’ll discover the sleepy fishing village of Port Barton
Just three hours north of the Palawan capital, Puerto Princesa, this lesser-known village is less crowded with quieter beaches. You can also book boats for trips to surrounding islands like German Island, Exotic Island, and Paradise Island.
You can scuba dive among amazing coral and sea life at Tubbataha Reefs
Since divers discovered Tubbataha in the late 1970s, it has become recognised as one of the most remarkable coral reefs on our planet. With 600 species of fish, 11 species of shark, and 13 species of dolphin and whale, it’s a superb diving spot.
Because of its isolated location, Tubbataha can only be visited on a liveaboard boat. Keep in mind that dive season is just three months long, running from mid-March until mid- June.
The fresh seafood in Puerto Princesa is out of this world
The culinary scene in this vibrant city is thriving, with seafood specialities and local dishes that will make you drool. Try delicious grilled skewers, fresh fish caught that day and other tasty snacks.
Resorts are just as luxurious as the Maldives – without the price tag
Those over-water villas everyone lusts over on Instagram? You can stay in villas just as beautiful right here in Palawan. El Nido Resorts for example, has private islands where you can spend a night for $300 – much more affordable then the upwards of $1,000 for a Maldives resort.