There was an authenticity to the type of experience set up for us that made every city we visited special and gave us countless moments we will never forget.
Jessika and David, Los Angeles

Pristine Palawan

The Philippines is home to some of the world’s best snorkeling and diving, and this luxurious 12-day itinerary tours the best shallow coral reefs in Palawan. After seeing the sights in Manila, travelers head to Puerto Princesa, the site of breathtaking limestone caves and cliffs. In the protected waters of the El Nido area, you’ll see countless species of tropical fish and corals and enjoy calm, clear waters by boat and kayak. At the end of each day, fall asleep in the luxurious surrounds of your five-star resort.

Highlights   Pricing
  • A river cruise through the subterranean caves of Palawan.
  • The historic city sights of Manila
  • Leisurely snorkeling around the most abundant and diverse coral reefs  
  • Stay in luxurious overwater bungalows and beach villas in El Nido
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

Travelers begin this luxurious trip in the Philippines capital, with a tour of historic Intramuros, Fort Santiago, Rizal Park and Makati City. From 16th-century architectural relics to the modern business hub of Makati, Manila is a city with myriad faces and we have the entire day to explore a few of them. As part of the day’s activities, we enjoy an authentic Filipino meal in a local restaurant before retreating for the night to a five-star hotel. We recommend the Shangri-La Makati in the financial district, within walking distance of parks and shops.

Day 2
Puerto Princesa

As soon as we touch down in Palawan, we enjoy a lunch with local flavor at Badjao restaurant in the capital, Puerto Princesa. After that, take a bicycle tour of the city and take in the Plaza Cuartel and Mendoza Park and Museum. Browse the local markets, then it’s time for dinner meal at Ka Lui’s, the most famous restaurant in the city. Take a cruise on the Iwahig River to see fireflies and bioluminescent plankton, and gaze at the stars before checking into your luxurious hotel for the night. We suggest the modern Hotel Centro, located in the middle of the city.

Day 3
Puerto Princesa

Today is all about adventure. You’ll start by embarking on a river cruise through Palawan’s famous subterranean caves. This unforgettable tour showcases one of the Philippines’ most amazing national treasures. After that, it’s a hike up 150-meter high Ugong Rock with knowledgeable guides. This 23-million-year-old limestone karst formation is riddled with natural caves, and once you reach the summit, you can zipline down to your starting point. At night, recuperate at Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort.

Day 4
El Nido

Today it’s off to the tropical paradise of El Nido. This small, protected coastal municipality boasts teeming corals and crystal clear waters. The town proper features a long crescent beach with tall karst formations and a small village center. Offshore, a protected marine zone harbors a vast array of tropical fish species and corals, with diving a main attraction of the area. Check into your overwater bungalow at the luxurious Apulit Island Resort.

Day 5
El Nido

To experience some of the world’s best snorkeling, we head out to Imorigue Island in Shark Fin Bay. Snorkel amongst the coral reefs there and watch hundreds of different fish species in their natural habitat. After that, paddle through some of Palawan’s largest mangrove network on kayak and see snakes, birdlife and monkeys. Enjoy a five-star meal at Apulit Island Resort before turning in for the night.

Day 6
El Nido

There’s more to explore in the waters around Taytay, so today you’ll be brought to nearby reefs. Start the day with a hearty gourmet breakfast in the resort gardens, then snorkel around the clear waters of Nabat Island, then Lopez Reef where you might spot whales and seals. After a full day on snorkeling, enjoy your final night at Apulit Island Resort.

Day 7
El Nido

Pack your bags for Bacuit Bay, where the house reef sets the scene for the day’s snorkeling adventures. The luxurious El Nido resort hideaway is your home for two nights. Located on Pangulasian Island - the “Island of the Sun” - its spacious villas offer breathtaking forest and beach views. Pangulasian Island Resort offers various romantic settings for dinner, plus a wide range of imported wines.

Day 8
El Nido

Today, explore nearby Big Lagoon, paddle around shallow reefs flats and snorkel through coral gardens. Later on, swim in Small Lagoon, a picturesque snorkeling spot of turquoise-colored waters surrounded by immense limestone walls. For lunch, enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch on a small island then in the evening, return to Pangulasian Island Resort for an intimate dinner on the beach, or near the lagoons.

Day 9
El Nido

The itinerary today involves more island-hopping around the still, clear waters of El Nido. Visit Pinisil Island and explore the shallow reefs, full of a diverse array of fish and corals. After that, you’ll be transported to the other end of the island to a semi-collapsed cave you can enter by kayak. On nearby Lagen Island you can take a hike through forested limestone mountains before breaking for lunch. After lunch, snorkel around Lagen Island’s corals and caves, alongside soaring limestone cliffs before returning to Pangulasian Island Resort for the final nights of your Palawan adventure.

Day 10
El Nido

The waters surrounding Pangulasian Island are home to more than 20 different dive sites teeming with marine life, and you can spend the final few days of your stay here joining dive expeditions from the five-star PADI diving center at the resort.

Day 11
El Nido

Onshore, there are eco-treks through the caves and forests of the island, and to really unwind before heading back to Manila, there’s a spa onsite where you can try out traditional Filipino hilot massage.

Day 12

Take a final dip before your speedboat and plane ride back to Manila.


Suggested Accommodations

Raffles Makati, The Peninsula Manila

Raffles Makati

Raffles Makati Hotel lives up to the renowned Raffles repute. This luxurious hotel is located in central Manila, making it a prime base from which to explore the vibrant city. There are just 32 opulent suites that boast cityscape views. The hotel has plenty of amenities for the discerning guest including a spa, sauna, Jacuzzi, steam room and fitness center. The four dining options combine the best of local culture and cuisine, as well as plenty of international dishes. There is a lounge bar and a pool bar mixing up tasty cocktails alongside wines, beers and light snacks. The Writers Bar, serving afternoon tea, was created in tribute to the famous novelists who have stayed at or written about Raffles. The Raffles Makati is a 30-minute drive from the airport.


The Peninsula Manila

Strategically placed on the corners of Ayala and Makati Avenues, The Peninsula Manila is close to premier shopping facilities and within easy access of Manila's numerous attractions. The hotel is a nine kilometres drive from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) and just six kilometres from Manila's domestic airport. Elegantly furnished in classic style, the hotel's 469 rooms and suites provide modern, technologically advanced conveniences, including complimentary broadband Internet access. The Club has been designed with the needs of business travelers in mind and offers an exclusive Club Lounge, serving complimentary continental breakfast, afternoon tea, and cocktails, as well as a boardroom, business center, and butler service. Continental and Pan-Asian cuisine is served at The Peninsula's many restaurants, including Old Manila and Spices, which are two of the top restaurants in the city. Salon de Ning, the hotel's quirky lounge, features musical entertainment on most evenings.

Apulit Island, Hotel Centro

Apulit Island

Apulit Island Resort, located in Taytay, Northern Palawan, offers an idyllic getaway for those in search of a tropical paradise. The resort is set within a pristine cove with a wide expanse of white-sand beach lined with coconut palm trees. Apulit Island Resort’s 50 water cottages, built in traditional architecture mixed with contemporary design, invite guests to simply relax and bask in the serenity of the island. Guests can swim and snorkel at the resort’s house reef, which teems with marine life, or enjoy a dip in the newly built swimming pool. Another attraction is the 60m high limestone cliff for climbing, which boasts of a great view of the cove. Apulit Island offers al fresco dining at the Clubhouse restaurant. Facilities include a massage cabana, a marine sports center, game area, a boutique, a beach bar, and the Octagon Pier – a scenic platform used for private cocktails and even weddings. Complimentary wi-fi connection is available at the Clubhouse.


Hotel Centro

Located in the heart of Puerto Princesa, the main city of the secluded Palawan island in the western Philippines, the newly-built Hotel Centro exudes modern-classic elegance on a sprawling slab of landscaped property. The expansive honeymoon suite has its own private receiving lounge furnished with dining and entertainment amenities. The hotel’s Expressions Cafe serves up a tempting mix of Western and Filipino favorites, and an outdoor pool, complete with poolside loungers, is provided for guests’ enjoyment. Group holidays and events are easily catered-to with the hotel’s extensive meeting facilities, which include a grand ballroom, and more. Past guests have raved about the hotel’s friendly staff, who provide excellent service and exude that warm, Filipino hospitality.

El Nido Pangulasian

El Nido Pangulasian

Located on a private island with breathtaking scenery comparable to Vietnam's spectacular Halong Bay, Pangulasian Island is the first and only luxury accommodation available in this pristine hideaway setting. Known as the “Island of the Sun”, guests at Pangulasian can enjoy stunning views of the sunrise and sunset from the expansive white sandy beach stretching over 2400 foot. The resort has 42 select palm-thatched beach villas built with a contemporary Filipino flair. The high-end amenities include an infinity pool, restaurant, a private dining area, beach bar, poolside grill, boutique, library, gym, spa, hiking trail with viewing deck, five-star dive center and a marine sports center. The deluxe abodes rest either on stilts above the lush flora and fauna or beside the beach or pool, all just a stones throw from warm inviting water. The villas, decorated with a neutral palate and natural materials, are spacious with their own private balcony (some have private pools and bath tubs), complimentary Wi-Fi, international TV channels, iPod dock, tea and coffee making facilities and mini-bar.

Meet An Asia Expert
From Travelogues
Our co-founder Jay Tindall has been visiting the Philippines for over 20 years. His favourite places? The rice terraces of Banaue, Sagada, and the beaches of Palawan.
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