Palawan

Palawan is one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines, and perhaps even the world. Its raw natural setting evokes images of paradise, from its limestone karst islands, hidden lagoons, white-sand beaches and world-class dive sites. There are dense forests and valley deltas amid the diverse topography. Best of all, most of it remains undeveloped.

This mini-archipelago begins just southwest of Manila and touches almost all the way down to Borneo, and its collective coastline spans almost 1,200 miles. Its location between the Sulu Sea in the southeast and the South China Sea in the northeast, both large bodies of water, means many of its islands are remote and uninhabited. There are many beautiful beaches in this province, as well as two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park and the Puerto Prinsesa Subterranean River.

Since the province is so spread out, it's best to pick a starting point, either in the north or the south. The capital, Puerto Princesa, is the entryway to the south, where El Nido's lush islands and lagoons are, while Busuanga provides access to the small island resorts and wreck diving in the north. Fishing villages, mountains, jungles, trekking, hiking, island-hopping and diving are on offer in both locations.

Palawan is one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines, and perhaps even the world. Its raw natural setting evokes images of paradise, from its limestone karst islands, hidden lagoons, white-sand beaches and world-class dive sites. There are dense forests and valley deltas amid the diverse topography. Best of all, most of it remains undeveloped.

This mini-archipelago begins just southwest of Manila and touches almost all the way down to Borneo, and its collective coastline spans almost 1,200 miles. Its location between the Sulu Sea in the southeast and the South China Sea in the northeast, both large bodies of water, means many of its islands are remote and uninhabited. There are many beautiful beaches in this province, as well as two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park and the Puerto Prinsesa Subterranean River.

Since the province is so spread out, it's best to pick a starting point, either in the north or the south. The capital, Puerto Princesa, is the entryway to the south, where El Nido's lush islands and lagoons are, while Busuanga provides access to the small island resorts and wreck diving in the north. Fishing villages, mountains, jungles, trekking, hiking, island-hopping and diving are on offer in both locations.

Experiences

Batak Tribal Excursion

Embark on a journey deep into the Filipino jungle to meet members of one of the Philippines’ few remaining indigenous tribes: the Batak. While the Batak were originally nomads, the encroachment of modern culture has gradually led them into forming settlements throughout the Palawan Province. After a two hour trek into the jungle, members of the tribe will greet your party and lead you on a tour of the village. In some ways, the Batak are fairly modern—many wear western clothing, and teens play basketball. However they continue to live in the lifestyle of hunter-gatherers, always a few steps removed from contemporary society. The total excursion lasts approximately 5-7 hours.

Diving & Snorkeling

Palawan is arguably one of the best dive and snorkel destinations in the world. The 1,200 islands in this mini-archipelago are home to marine sanctuaries with healthy coral reefs, large fish, sharks, manta rays, dugongs, sea turtles and giant clams. Tubattaha Reef, accessible only by private yacht, contains one of the largest concentrations of marine biodiversity worldwide.

Hidden Lagoons

The turquoise lagoons of Palawan are truly a slice of paradise. Come by local outrigger to the island, go on a short hike to the hidden lagoons and enjoy a picnic in this serene setting. These saltwater lakes --a rarity-- can be found in the northern part of Palawan, in Coron, as well as in the south, at El Nido.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River

Board a raft and cruise to one of the world's great natural wonders (and UNESCO World Heritage site), the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. While the true length and breadth of the river is still being explored, it seems likely that it is the longest underground river in the world, with depths that can only be reached with the aid of an oxygen tank and a second level, accessible by underground waterfalls (discovered in 2010). Your tour will take you along the safer stretches of the cave, past stunning karst formations as well as hundreds of species of flora and fauna, still being studied.

Tabon Caves

This is the cradle of Philippine civilization. The Tabon Caves are a series of chambers housing various tools and artifacts.Tabon Man is believed to be 22,000 years old. Archaeologists believe he came to the Philippines from Borneo.

Ugong Rock Hike

Enjoy an easy hike up the subtler inclines of Ugong Rock, a beautifully forested karst cliff face at the base of a 300-foot mountain, estimated to be 23 million years old. Your hike will take you over brush, among twisting trees and through man-sized rock crevices. For your descent, you will have the option of a thrilling zip-line ride to the base of the hill.

Wreck Diving

Divers should head to Coron for spectacular wreck diving. Explore over a dozen vessels ranging from gun boats to container ships, mostly sunk around WW2 when these vessels tried to navigate Coron's dense cluster of karst islands.

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