It’s time to discover Palawan attractions!
Our first stop in the Philippines was Manila – the capital. Before the trip, I read that in Manila, there is nothing to do and see. Only skyscrapers, contamination, and traffic jams. Many people recommend avoiding this city, so we did that. After arriving at the International Airport in Manila, we had the next flight to Puerto Princesa on Palawan Island..
It is considered that Palawan is an undiscovered pearl of the Philippines (that’s thanks to a small population counted 700 thousand people). Palawan is one of the most popular and visited islands. It offers pristine beaches with palm trees, hidden glaucous lagoons, and outstanding coral reefs. It is a paradise for sunbathing, snorkeling, and scuba diving lovers. A lot of tourists from all over the world, come to discover an underground river or admire crystal water of Bacuit Bay close to El Nido.
It is considered that Puerto Princesa is a gate to Palawan. With new open Puerto Princesa International Airport, hundreds of tourists are now flocking to the island to discover all its natural wonders. The main attractions of Puerto Princesa are Underground River in Sabang and Honda Bay Island Hopping.
The underground river is one of the 7 Wonders of Nature. It is located just 2 hours away from the city. I heard, that every day thousands of people visit this place, so we decided to scrub this idea.
Island Hopping in the Philippines means the boat cruise from one island to another. It is a very popular activity in the entire Palawan. Honda Bay is located 30 minutes away from Puerto Princesa. The van, which is included in the final price of your tour, takes you to the port. From the harbor, the boatman takes you to 3 islands: Luli Island, Starfish Island, and Cowrie Island. The tour price is 1 200 PHP per person + 150 PHP Puerto Princesa environmental fee. In the price, you have also a lunch. On every island, you have time to relax, sunbathe, snorkeling or everything you want. I think it was the best-organized group tour. I recommend this activity.
More useful information
Puerto Princesa is considered an ugly city, hence many people from the Airport go straight to El Nido – a showcase of Palawan Island. You can’t find many tourists there. I think this place gives a possibility to observe how Filipinos life looks like (from a non-touristic side). Go to the Baywalk, a Puerto Princesa promenade which is located along the sea. There you find many Filipinos spending free time.
If you are going to search for beautiful beaches in Puerto Princesa, unfortunately, you don’t find them. There is an only public beach named Pristine Beach, but it doesn’t have anynothing to do with word ‘pristine’. For entrance, you should pay, but I don’t remember how much, I guess less than 50 PHP per person.
Philippine cuisine for me is not tasty, but sometimes you can find some places with very delicious food. In Puerto Princesa, I recommend KaLui Restaurant. It is the most popular restaurant in the city thanks to its climate and interior design.
Address: 369, Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, the Philippines
Opening hours: every day from 11.00 am to 2.00 pm and from 6.00 pm to 10.30 pm. On Sundays, the restaurant is closed.
How to get there
The showcase of Palawan, El Nido, is located about 240 km away from Puerto Princesa. You can get there by bus or van. The first option is cheaper but slower. The approximate time of the journey by bus is between 6 to 9 hours, by van is 5 to 6 hours. We traveled both ways by van, and the travel time was 4 hours. If you knew this road, you can imagine how fast and crazy was a driver. Sometimes I was a little stressed of his drive.
There are several van companies which provide the transfer. The most popular is Eulen Joy and Lexus Shuttle. If you are going to El Nido from the Puerto Princesa Airport, you will be approached by van drivers asking you if you need transport. Another place, from which run vans to El Nido is San Jose Bus Terminal, located about 7 km away from the city center. You should remember that in Puerto Princesa there are traffic jams, so transfer there will take you more time (take a tricycle for about 120 PHP). For a journey by van, you should pay no more than 700 PHP. We paid 500 PHP for each person. I don’t know the van schedule. Most of the time, the van wait until it is full. Each time we were lucky because we were the last people others were waiting for.
The most popular bus companies are Roro Bus and Cherry Bus. Both operate from San Jose Bus Terminal. Buses run every one or two hours during the day. The bus fare ranges from 380 PHP to 480 PHP for an air-conditioned bus.
Notice that vans, as well as buses stop in Corong-Corong Bus Terminal, which is just a few minutes away from El Nido town. You can take a tricycle from there.
El Nido attractions
As I mentioned, El Nido is a showcase of Palawan. It offers pristine beaches, paradisal views, outstanding coral reefs, hidden lagoons and more. El Nido is a big village, which become a very famous seaside resort. The most popular attraction is the mesmerizing islands and islets of the Bacuit archipelago (they are compared to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam).
In El Nido, you can find a lot of hotels and guesthouses, which are full in a high season. As I said, it is a very popular place which attracts many tourists from all over the world. At lunchtime is a problem with finding a table in the restaurant. You have to book a hopping island tour in advance. Beaches are crowded. Nevertheless, I spent there a great time.
I mentioned earlier, that in Palawan, hopping island is the most popular activity. In comparison to Puerto Princesa, where only one type of boat trip is offered, in El Nido, you can choose between 4 different options uncannily called: tour A, B, C, and D.
Every option includes lunch. Additionally, you have to pay 200 PHP of the environmental fee. It is valid for 10 days, so you have not to pay for it when you go to another excursion.
The best and the most popular island hopping tour in El Nido is tour A. During almost all day, you will discover beautiful hidden lagoons. You will have also the opportunity to sunbathe, snorkeling, and swimming. We took only tour A.
Tour price per person: 1 200 PHP
Boat route: Big or Small Lagoon (interchangeably), Secret Lagoon, Simezu Island, 7 Commando Beach
Tour price per person: 1 200 PHP
Boat route: Cudugnon Cave, Pinagbuyutan Island, Cathedral Cave, Snake Island, Pupulkan Snorkeling
Tour price per person: 1 200 PHP
Boat route: Hidden Beach, Tapiutan Strait, Helicopter Island, Star Beach Snorkeling, Secret Beach
Tour price per person: 1 000 PHP
Boat route: Balinawood Beach, Paradise Beach, Cadlao Lagoon, Bucal Island, Pasandigan Beach
I suppose that every option affords an unforgettable experience and views.
Las Cabanas Beach
If you don’t have enough of beautiful sandy beaches and paradisal views, rent a scooter or take a tricycle and go to Las Cabanas Beach. Travel there takes you about 20 minutes. For tricycle from El Nido, you should pay no more than 150 PHP. We paid 100 PHP in one way, and 120 PHP in return.
Except for outstanding views, possibilities of sunbathing and swimming, there is also zipline, a very popular attraction of Las Cabanas. It allows you zipline on a 750-meter across the Maremegmeg Beach to the nearest islets named Depeldet Island. Depending on option the price ranges between 500 PHP to 1 100 PHP.
In many tourist agencies, you can find a tour named Canopy Walk. It is a possibility to look at El Nido from the top of the mountain, exactly from Tarav Cliffs, the highest peak in the town, and one of the best viewpoints in Palawan. Supposedly, you can expect an easy climb with spectacular views.
It is daily open from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm. The approximate time of a trip is 1 hour. It costs 400 PHP per person.
If you want to try local street food, I recommend a night market, where you can eat delicious fishes and seafood. It was my first time when I ate a squid.
The night market is daily open. It is located at the heart of the town.
More essential information
There is a problem to find any place in which you can pay by credit card. When you find, you will pay an extra fee. While being in El Nido, we had a problem with withdrawing money from ATMs. Remember to take enough money with you.
Supposedly, Palawan Island is a region of chiggers occurrence. Chiggers are the little larvae of mites. Most chigger bites occur in thin-skinned areas of the body like the ankles, waist, groin, armpits, and backs of knees. They cause intense itching and small reddish welts on the skin. Be aware of them.
For eating, I recommend Falafel Restaurant, which serves delicious falafel pita, and Pizzeria Altrove. You can’t miss these places because of the long queue at the door. Both are located on the same street.
Address: Calle Hamma (Hama), Barangay Buena Suerte, El Nido
Have you ever been to Palawan Island? What was the best on the island? Share with us!