With just under 1800 islands, Palawan is the proud
owner of 2000 kilometers of coastline. Next to this, it is
the most sparsely populated region in the entire Republic
of the Philippines. Combine this with its natural beauty,
its friendly people and the superb seafood and you might
Arriving & Leaving
There are daily flights from Manila to Puerto Princesa and 4 flights a week from/
to Cebu. There are also 2 times a week ferry boats going from Manila to Puerto
Princesa. Another opportunity is to fly from Manila to El Nido.
Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan and it lies in the heart of the archipelagic
province. It is said, that Puerto Princesa is the largest city in the Philippines (in terms
of land). You can easily organize tours from here to every place in the Island. It is
acually worth it, to hang around one day and visit some of the close by beaches
or visit the crocodile farm or the
Iwahig Prison and Penal Parm
The town itself is nothing more than any small village in the Philippines, with mostly
fi shermen and farmers who are generally warm and friendly. It is the surroundings of El
Nido with towering karst limestone cliffs surrounded with white pristine beaches and blue
seas that make it the perfect place to visit. The islands around El Nido can be reached by
sea kayak on nice daytrips or even multiple day trips with overnight stays on the beaches.
If you are not so active after the bike rides, plenty of boat trips with snorkling are offered
to several islands. A good place to inquire for this is the Art café. This is also the place for
kayak and windsurf rental and superb rye bread sandwiches after the activities. Islands
being visited at some of these trips are Helicopter island (wait till you see the shape),
Matinloc Island with a hidden beach, Miniloc Island with several lagoons and Snake
Island named after the shape of the long, few metres wide stretch of beach at low tide.
Right in front of El Nido lies Cadlaon island, which is the biggest of all islands and has
more than 10 beaches, with 609m the highest peak of all islands and the northern beach
was used as the setting for the Scandinavian TV show Robinson Expedisjonen.
El Nido is derived from the Spanish word (Nido) for nest, after the edible nests made by
swiftlets high up the steep limestone cliffs. These nests are harvested and sold at almost
EUR 3,000/kg! Once you have seen the steep drops you can imagine where this high price
comes from. And then there is the taste that is supposed to be very special because the
nest was put together with the birds saliva.
World Heritage Sites
Palawan has two World Heritage Sites to offer: The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (aka The Underground River at Sabang) and
the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park
in the Sulu Sea. The first is a definite must while
the other option would be more something for a scuba diver.
The Underground River of Sabang
Being with 8.2 km the longest navigable underground river in the world, this place has
been attracting visitors since the mid 1800’s. And it is not only the river itself. The whole
area consists of mountains covered with rainforest on the side of the South China Sea,
and offers several things varying from jungle hiking to boating through mangroves and
relaxing on white sand beaches.
The park is home to around 65 % of all the bird species in Palawan and all 15 endemic
species for Palawan can be seen in the park. Among these are the Palawan Hornbill, white breasted Sea Eagle and the Philippine Cockatoo.
A well known mammal in the park is the long-tailed Macaque and
is often seen on the shores at the entrance of the river. As well as the Monitor Lizards
that can reach the size of a crocodile.
While the best time to visit is the dry season from December to May, the Park is open the
year round. Every visitor needs to obtain an entry permit for which the entry fee can be
paid at the market at a Park ‘booth’ right on the coast. For those willing to enter the park
by boat instead of taking a hiking trail, boats can be rented at the same place as where
entry are sold.
The Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park
The marine park lies at 150 kilometers southeast of Puerto Princesa right in the centre
between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines; the area that offers the highest marine diversity in the world. Tubbataha is the largest coral reef atoll in the country and is well
known as the most productive spawning ground in the region.
Where illegal destructive fi shing was increasing in the 80’s, this came to a halt when the
whole of Tubbataha became a national Park in 1988. Though the scars of the past can still
be seen what makes up for it is the abundance of big pelagic fi sh. In the 90’s management
and protection efforts started to work and at that time the area was managed by an NGO consisting mainly of recreational scuba divers, dive operators and other concerned individuals. At present management is in hands of Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board and is assisted fi nancially and technically by World Wildlife Fund, Philippines.
If scuba-diving is your way to relax after a superb bike tour, this might be it. Even for snorkelers manta rays, sharks and turtles are not a rare thing to see here. An overnight trip on a live aboard ship will have you waking up in the center of these two atolls. In Puerto
Princesa there are tour operators and dive shops caterinng for a trip to Tubbataha.