Words and photos by Gloria Hernandez Grejalde
Dubbed as the country’s last frontier because of its diverse marine diversity and well-preserved natural resources, the island of Palawan is paradise to those who are looking for exotic adventures; under the sun, deep in the water, and over the mountains.
The island can be reached in two ways, by plane which takes an hour and 20 minutes from
Manila or by boat for 13 hours. November to May is the best period to visit the elongated island where both ends offer exciting and awesome experiences.
Anyone who looks forward to leisure walk in the beach will have a great time going to El Nido. Step on its long stretches of fine, white sandy beaches in Nacpan and Bacuit Bay and catch the sun under the shades of palm trees that dot the shorelines. Ardent swimmers will enjoy the cool, clear, and turquoise waters dotted with the majestic formations of limestone cliffs where greeneries peeked on their crevices. Island-hopping on board a rigged boat with lunch of local dishes prepared by the boat operators, will take you to some private beaches and coves.
To more adventurous travellers, enjoy a day of kayaking in the small and big lagoons and dive through secret caves and coves. Guides are on hand to assist you in your exploration and island- hopping. Night in El Nido is lounging in various bars and restaurants singing karaoke or listening to live bands. El Nido has its own airport, it can also be reached by charting a flight from Manila.
Off the tip of the Palawan archipelago is the island of Coron and some of its islets.
Accessible by air from the capital city of Manila, it is paradise to those who love diving, and snorkeling. And you will know you are in Coron when you see its name spelled out on top of a mountain visible around the sloping town. Famous in the area is the Kayangan Lake. It can be reached through climbing a steep wooden ladder built amidst forest trees.
Going up is tedious yet magical, you will be mesmerized once you set your eyes on the serene atmosphere and the crystal-clear water of the lake. You will also have a glimpse of the bay between Coron and its neighboring island of Busuanga. The lake is believed to be protected by the local natives Tagbanwa that maintain its natural beauty and cleanliness. They are referred to as the guardians of Coron. Motorized banca with rigs will take you to neighboring island of Busuanga where you will dive back to the past. Buried under its clear emerald waters are ruins of shipwrecks fallen during the World War II. Here you will swim with the fishes and glide through portholes and keels of wrecked ships sunken during the American and the Japanese conflict in 1944.
More adventures await you as the sun sets on the waters of Coron when you embark on a night cruise to the fireflies and jellyfish sanctuaries capped by a dinner in a floating restaurant. And there is nothing more relaxing that capping your day activities and stay in Coron by soaking in a hot water spring in Sitio Maquinit.
The capital and the economic center of Palawan, it is the major gateway to the many interesting places in the island like Coron and El Nido. It also ushers you to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. Located some 80 kilometers from the city, it is reached by car that will take you to the river where the journey to the underwater terrain begins. Boat-ride to the underground river takes around 45 minutes. Stalactites and stalagmites dominate the sceneries where clicking sounds of bats hanging on the cave walls break the silence and serenity of the place.
Other interesting places to explore from the city is the Iwahig Penal Colony, the Baker’s Hill, the African Safari at Calauit Island, the Taytay Fort, the among others.