At the mention of Palawan, three specific destinations come to mind, Puerto Princesa, Coron and El Nido. These are the three most iconic tourist attractions in the beautiful archipelagic province of Palawan, and we all know why. They are filled with natural beauty, from lagoons, caves, to Palawan’s vibrant coral reefs. Palawan’s awe-inspiring nature keeps us coming back for more simply because these natural wonders can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Want to see the best of Palawan? We can give you the ultimate travel guide!
What to see & do
1. Explore the underground river
As you may already know, Palawan is home to the Underground River National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Puerto Princesa. This river is the second longest navigable subterranean river in the world. To enter the cave, you will ride a small boat with an assigned guide who will tell you more about the river and its striking stalagmite and stalactite formations. Audio guides are also available in different languages.
Klook Pro-Tip: If you book through Klook, they can offer you a package deal of a tour of the Underground River, plus they’ll take you on a trek to Sabang Waterfalls for you to admire the surrounding nature and swim in the clear pools of water.
2. Chase waterfalls and visit the west coast
Puerto Princesa has beautiful beaches, but it also has hidden gems that we often overlook. Pupunton Waterfalls in Bacungan is one of them. This waterfall is newly-discovered, and you’ll find it by walking through a secluded forest. It’s not a hard trek, but be sure to bring your swimming gear with you. You don’t just come here to see the beautiful cascading water, tourists are also allowed to take a dip in the cool natural pools that come from the fresh and clean waterfall. If you’ve never experienced bathing under a natural waterfall, then make the first time the best time in Pupunton Waterfalls!
After enjoying yourselves in Bacungan, it’s time for the long-awaited beach trip to the west coast. Talaudyong and Nagtabon beach are go-to beaches in Puerto Princesa because tourists can go surfing here aside from swimming and picnicking. These beaches are quiet than most and are good spots to see a breathtaking sunset. Everything about them is picturesque!
Klook Pro-Tip: To make things easy for you, Klook has a package tour of these attractions, and we recommend you check it out. This tour already includes hotel pick up and drop off, private tour guide, picnic lunch and entrance fee.
3. Dive and see the colourful marine life
In the mood to explore the underwater life? Dive in Puerto Princesa City Bay and Turtle Bay to witness the stunning marine species and vibrantly coloured corals. There are countless marine species you can encounter whether you snorkel or go deep underwater. These locations are friendly for beginner divers as well.
Booking with Klook will allow you to learn from a Professional PADI Instructor and borrow their diving equipment and gear. But after diving, don’t forget to spend some time at the beach as well to take in the majestic view of the white sand and vibrant green trees while you relax and rest your body. It’s the perfect finish to an afternoon full of physical activities.
1. Explore the famous islands
Island hopping is a must-do in El Nido! We recommend that you see Helicopter Island, which earned its name because its unique rock formations give the impression that the island is shaped like a helicopter. The limestone cliffs on this island are quite picturesque and are surrounded by dark green rainforests. Helicopter Island also features white sand and a tranquil environment, a perfect place to watch the waves and have a quick lunch.
Other islands to check out are Dilumacad and Matinloc. If you haven’t been here before, you might have seen them if you’ve watched the Bourne Legacy. This is where part of the movie was filmed! You’ll also find that Matinloc has more to offer than just the beach when you visit the Matinloc Shrine. Locals call this location a spiritual oasis; the shrine has a lot of local stories and history behind it so make sure you get a guide to explain more of the shrine’s significance.
Most of all, don’t forget to explore Talisay Beach! This is another spot where you can snorkel and observe the beautiful marine biodiversity in peace and quiet. Here, you’ll see sea urchins, starfish, coral reefs, turtles and many more colourful fish species. It’ll give your ocean experience a whole new meaning!
2. Visit the enchanting lagoons
Do you want to see picturesque or IG-worthy tropical scenery? Of course you do, and El Nido’s lagoons will give you exactly what you need! You’ll find what you’re looking for in Miniloc Island which is home to three beautiful lagoons that have the clearest water you’ve ever laid eyes on. These three lagoons are called Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, and Hidden Lagoon.
In these lagoons, you’ll find glimmering water, rock formations and peaceful spots where you can kayak or swim as you take in the inspiring backdrop of nature. The Hidden Lagoon will give you an other-worldly experience as you enter through a small passageway to reveal a secluded sanctuary of crystal clear water and interesting rock formations. It’s almost as if the lagoon came straight out of a fairytale.
Klook Pro-Tip: You can go island hopping and visit these lagoons in El Nido easily by getting on board Klook’s El Nido tours. El Nido Tour A, in particular, will not only tour you in El Nido’s lagoons but will also bring you to Shimizu Island’s white beaches and 7 Commando Beach where you’ll be able to take a refreshing dip in the cool water once more.
Klook also has shared van transfers between Puerto Princesa and El Nido, which is perfect to accommodate and make your ultimate Palawan trip an experience for the books.
1. Snorkel in different diving spots
One of the most famous places to snorkel in Coron is Siete Pecados Marine Park. This oasis is a protected area that is home to numerous species of local marine life. Swimming in Siete Pecados is like submerging yourself in a fancy aquarium decorated in vibrant colours and many schools of fish. It’s considered a “snorkelling haven” by many because few snorkelling sites in Palawan come to par with Siete Pecados. So if there’s one snorkelling spot you can’t miss in Coron, it’s this one.
After snorkelling, try swimming a bit deeper. The Skeleton Wreck is a fascinating thing to see underwater. It’s a Japanese shipwreck and remnant of WWII. Once you dive, you’ll immediately see a ship covered in barnacles and is inhabited by different species of fish.
Klook Pro-Tip: Aside from this shipwreck site, try going to the Malwawey Reef and the Coral Garden. These underwater destinations will let you see more variety of corals that Coron has to offer. Trust us, each of these spots has such rich marine life that no place is ever like the other.
2. Tour Coron’s isles
Once you tour Coron’s islands, you’ll understand why people keep wanting to return to Palawan. Coron is filled with picture-perfect bodies of water that surround islands of thick and lush greenery. A testament to this is Kayangan Lake. This lake is dubbed as the cleanest lake in the Philippines with 70% fresh water and 30% salt water. Kayangan Lake is cradled by beautiful limestone cliffs which are all maintained by the Tagbanue Tribesmen. This is truly a place where mother nature thrives, and we’re all fortunate that it’s open to tourists for snorkelling and swimming!
Klook Pro-Tip: We suggest you also visit the Twin Lagoons where you can experience blue-green waters. Add the rocky cliff sides and clear blue sky, you’ve got yourself a perfect backdrop for your family and group photos.
Travelling families and friends are also sure to enjoy the Coron Youth Club Beach. This is a tiny island where you can stop and take the most beautiful photos as it’s adorned with pristine white sand, rock formations, and even mangrove trees. It’s a great place to just chill and relax in the middle of your island hopping tour; some tourists even stay here long enough to sunbathe and get a tan. And of course, if you feel like swimming or snorkelling in the clear blue water, you can!
If you’d like to see all the awesome diving spots and islands in Coron in one day, then you should check out Klook’s Coron Ultimate Tour package. Booking this tour will cover hotel pick up and drop off, lunch, a private tour guide, as well as a set itinerary for all the Coron destinations mentioned above.
3. Take a day trip to Malcapuya Island
For groups of travellers who are looking for a simple but solid bonding experience, a whole day in Malcapuya Island will do the trick! Arguably the most beautiful island in Palawan, tourists are welcome to do all kinds of beach activities here like swimming, snorkelling, sunbathing, picnicking, playing games at the beach, etc. The beach is a long stretch of white sand, and in front of it, is the crystal clear and glistening blue water. A tranquil atmosphere like this will surely settle you and your friends into a relaxed and content disposition. Disconnect from the outside world, leave your worries and get lost in what this island has to offer.
Klook Pro-Tip: To make things more convenient, you can leave the reservations and other accommodations to Klook by booking their Malcapuya Island Day Trip activity.
Best time to visit
When you make plans, it’s best to take into consideration the season that will give you the maximum enjoyment in Palawan. In this case, Puerto Princesa’s best months are from April to June because it’s when the waves are usually calm. El Nido, on the other hand, is its most beautiful with a pleasant climate specifically in March, April, and May. Coron’s best time to visit is also in its dry season which runs from October to mid-June. Make sure to book your visit on these months in advance to avoid a rainy weather and grey clouds.
How to get there
Coming from Manila, you can book a flight either via Cebu Pacific, Philippines Air Asia, or Philippine Airlines. There are at least 12 flights going to Puerto Princesa City Airport from Manila per day, and the travel time is an estimate of one hour and 20 minutes. Domestic flights are also available from Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and other major cities of the Philippines.
From Puerto Princesa, you can actually take a bus going to El Nido, but be ready to spend six to eight hours of travelling. RoRo buses depart San Jose Terminal in Puerto Princesa with a fare ranging from ₱300-500 depending on the bus type.
If you’re coming from Manila, Airswift provides direct daily flights to El Nido with only an hour of travel time. You’ll be riding a 50-seater ATR aircraft. When you land in El Nido Lio Airport, you can take a jeep or a 20-minute tricycle ride going to El Nido town.
You may also book a shared van transfer between Puerto Princesa and El Nido on Klook if it makes your vacation more convenient.
Cebu Pacific has multiple and cheaper flights going to Coron from Manila and Cebu every day. Cebu Pac’s airfare usually varies between ₱1,200-5,000, plus the airport terminal fee which is ₱200. SkyJet also plies this route from Manila. If you want to travel in a ferry, the best shipping line going to Coron is 2GO Travels. It leaves Manila from Pier 4 on Fridays and arrives on a Saturday. The travel time usually takes almost 20 hours.
Where to stay
Puerto Princesa has a variety of accommodations. If you’re travelling on a budget, go for inns such as the Casa Milan Inn or Tropical Sun Inn. For mid-range accommodations, we recommend Canvas Boutique Hotel. What we love about this hotel is the locally made furniture and art murals, the 20-metre outdoor lap pool and that it’s only a two-minute drive from the Puerto Princesa International Airport. Another option for you if the Hue Hotels, which has an overlooking pool, free airport transfer and complimentary WiFi. If you have the budget for high-end accommodations, try Astoria Palawan. It has a 30-metre infinity pool, karaoke and game rooms, plus they serve local and international cuisines.
Budget-friendly accommodations in El Nido also consist of inns such as the Biolina Guest House. This particular inn has great hospitality and they serve free coffee and milo. It costs ₱2,000/night for four people. Good enough, right? As for mid-range hotels, you can try El Nido Beach Hotel which overlooks El Nido Bay, casual dining, and a relaxing beachfront. El Nido’s high-end resorts are its most famous accommodations of course. You can pick among the accommodations of Apulit Island, Miniloc Island, Lagen Island and Pangulasian Island. Their prices range from ₱18,000 to ₱40,000 or more per night.
Coron has a long list of traveller-friendly accommodations. You can browse Agoda or Booking.com to find the hotel or inn that suits you and your travelling group the best. The cheaper notable accommodations include Amphibiko, Apartelle Gabrielle, and Centro Coron Bed & Breakfast. A high-end hotel we would suggest is Club Paradise Palawan. This resort has a friendly staff, world-class dining experience, and a well-preserved and tranquil environment!
What to eat
Palawan is rich in seafood cuisine. Puerto Princesa is famous for its Crocodile Sisig, Danggit Lamayo, and Lato Seaweed. Other notable dishes from Puerto Princesa are Lechon Kawali, Chicken Inato, and for their dessert, Halo-Halo and Hopia Bread. You may hit up KaLui Restaurant and Badjao Seafront Restaurant, two notable restaurants that will let you have a wide range of gastronomic experience in Puerto Princesa.
El Nido is also famous for its seafood-driven restaurants. Try the Stuffed Squid and Seafood Platter in Squidos, or “catch of the day” and fish with butter and herbs in El Nido Corner. A must-try is the Crab in Sweet and Sour Sauce in Bacuit Grill and Bar Restaurant. This’ll surely keep your bellies full!
Like in Puerto Princesa, Danggit Lamayo is pretty famous in Coron, as well as their Cashew Nuts. Another dish you have to try in Coron is their lobster. We recommend the Lobster King restaurant where you get to decide how you want your lobster to be cooked. If you want grilled seafood, head to Sinugba sa Balay. Their food is always fresh and the menu changes depending on what’s available. Don’t skip this diner because it’s a tourist favourite!
No doubt that Palawan’s got a lot of natural beauty and majesty to offer. The question is, are you ready? Because this island paradise is waiting for you! Make your travels easier, better, and more fun by seeing what Klook has to give wanderlust travellers such as you!
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