Perfect Palawan, the ‘world’s most beautiful island’
The Philippines is kind of like that kid in school you never really noticed until all of sudden someone pointed out that they are actually kind of hot…next thing you know, everyone’s falling over themselves to be them or be with them. As this stunning collection of islands in our little corner of the globe creeps its way up in the popularity stakes amongst travellers, the sexy white beaches of Boracay seem to be stealing the attention, but if it’s something a little more off the radar you are seeking in your wander… head for the perfection of Palawan. “The world’s most beautiful island” as proclaimed by Conde Nast last year.
Filled with coconut palms and kilometre after kilometre of stunning beaches, a coastline dotted with tiny islands, most as yet untouched, it’s not hard to see why this island paradise has claimed the title. So much so, that my recent week-long holiday lasted a month. Truly, stuck. Unable to pick up my feet and carry myself away from this paradise. There are countless reasons behind this claim, but as just a sample, here are my Top 5.
Days spent mermaiding yourself through the richest, brightest and deepest blues. Crystal, clear and gorgeously clean. A gypsea’s dream.
A 45 minutes trike ride out of El Nido, in the north of the island. Proclaimed by locals as ‘the Boracay of Palawan’, minus the hectic crowds. It’s highly likely you could snag most of the beach to yourself. Stretching for miles with nothing more than a beach shack or two to grab yourself a fruit shake or fresh fish for lunch. Spend the night in total darkness under the stars in a beachside hut or campsite.
Corong Corong Beach
Three minutes trike ride in the other direction, out of El Nido. If you’re a beach-going mermaid, as opposed to the diving kind. Stay out here. Step out your back door and straight into the blue.
Most popular town on the island for tourists, this is a scuba diving meccah. So if diving is your vice, there is nowhere else you’d rather be.
Recently added to the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, this one is a whole different shade of blue. This place is incredibly well managed and well worth a visit.
Accessible via Puerto Princessa (where you’ll land if you fly in), a day spent island hopping through here is a little touristy in parts, but nevertheless, oh-so-blue.
I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a good sunset over water. Living on the east coast, the novelty doesn’t seem to ever wear off. Palawan sunsets are up there with the best going. Skip El Nido town if you’re looking for a view, the stunning, yet huge, limestone rock will cut your sunset early. Head around to Corong Corong or Las Cabanas for the best vantage point. Or Nacapn Beach if you’re staying the night.
Still relatively untouched by large-scale tourism, the chill vibes stretch the length of the island, even in the more ‘touristy’ areas. Set to change with time, and soon no doubt, for now, the beach bars and resorts remain far enough part to leave the castaway-feeling in tact.
Think you’ve seen it all when it comes to tuk-tuk style wheels? Behold, the Trike. Essentially what seems like a backyard DIY version, these trikes will be iconic of your time in El Nido. Super cheap, easy to find when you need one…not to mention completely pimped.
Thanks to the growing troupe of European expats in El Nido, the lounge bar scene is growing. As is the number of bar owners keen to share with you’re their own secret infusions or rum inventions. With enough of these hangs to keep you happy for your stay, but few enough to keep El Nido feeling pretty undiscovered. Top picks – Hit La Plage on Corong Corong Beach for an amazing sunset cocktail session, feet in the sand. Spend a night sampling the twenty or so house made fruit infused rhums at La Salengani on the water’s edge in El Nido town.
Palawan is accessible via air, departing out of Manila. And with Manila being a short 7-ish hours from Australia, next time you’re planning a little salty-vacay, throw the Philippines in the mix, and get a taste of the World’s Most Beautiful Island… before the popularity goes to its head, and it becomes just like all of the other ‘cool kids’.
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