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10 reasons why you need to visit Palawan right now

Published August 24th, 2017

If you've done Potato Head Beach Club more times than you can remember, and you can pretty much get around Phuket with your eyes closed, then Palawan in the Philippines is the answer to your holiday needs. This unsung holiday gem is paradise personified in high-def natural beauty. Here's why you need to visit now. 

1. It keeps winning travel awards

Voted the world’s best island two years in a row by Travel + Leisure magazine (among many other as-voted-by-reader awards), Palawan is a slice of heaven in the Philippines that really has to be seen to be believed. Within its 1,780 islands and inlets, the area is home to some of the world’s best diving and even a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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kayangan lake palawan
This view was worth the 300-step return trip: Kayangan Lake, Coron (image: Alastair Emmett)

2. ... Because it's crazy beautiful, see?

The best way to see Palawan’s beauty is by booking an island hopping tour from El Nido or Coron, depending where you are basing yourself. You can book affordable tours with your hotel or off the street. Alternatively, if you’re a low-key baller like me, you can take a private speedboat tour of the islands and lagoons for the day with four of your mates. We only paid around AU$100 each for a full day of sightseeing! 

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kayangan lake palawan
Found the clearest water EVER in Kayangan Lake, Coron (image: Alastair Emmett)

3. There are next-to-no tourists

Get here quick before it’s as boomin’ as Bali! We visited in low season, which meant we got secluded beaches all to ourselves. Did it rain? Yes, but it totally cooled us down after long days exploring in the baking summer heat. The best part is you escape winter back home, too!

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entalula island el nido
Approaching paradise: Entalula Island, El Nido (image: Alastair Emmett)

4. You can live like a king (or queen)

Food, hotels and tours are incredibly affordable. A meal will set you back about AU$5-15 depending how classy you are. Beers are as cheap as AU$1.

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san miguel beer
Mmmm... beer (image: Alastair Emmett)

5. It’s sweet as

Literally. Filipinos love their sugar... A famous Filipino dessert is halo halo, and it’s like next-level shave ice topped with syrupy fruit, jelly, condensed milk, beans, and often, a scoop of ube ice cream (bright purple yam) and dulce de leche (like a crème caramel) as well! Some form of tropical fruit accompanies most main meals too, and if it isn’t in your meal, it will be brought out after. If you like pina coladas… then get your sweet-AF self here right now.

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street stalls el nido
Street stalls in El Nido (image: Alastair Emmett)

6. What lies below the surface is just as beautiful as above

Palawan is home to some serious sea life, especially in Coron. On our visit, we swam with turtles, sea horses, crabs (mind out of the gutter, please), endless coral and bucket loads of Nemos. You can even dive shipwrecks. It’s actually insane!

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finding nemo
BRB, heart exploding: Snorkelling at CYC beach, Coron (image: Getty)

7. It’s easy to get to

Only a couple of years ago, getting to El Nido on the tip of Palawan meant a flight from Manila to Palawan town, then a four- to six-hour bus ride – it was a mission. Today, El Nido is an easy one-hour direct from the capital to the palm-tree paradise.

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el nido
I'll never get over the colour of this water (image: Alastair Emmett)

8. It really is unspoiled

Where limestone cliffs meet unbelievably clear turquoise water, everywhere you turn in Palawan will leave you in awe. There are so many picture-perfect moments you won’t know what to post to Instagram.

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banul beach coron
Traditional huts at Banul Beach, Coron (image: Alastair Emmett)

9. You can legit chill

Palawan is home to so many lagoons, beaches, lake and pools it’s not funny. The water is unbelievably clear, wherever you may find yourself.

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small lagoon el nido
Floating on a dream in El Nido's Small Lagoon (image: Alastair Emmett)

10. It’s full of secret spots

Palawan is like a babushka doll of hidden gems. Beyond the secluded beaches are a heap of off-the-beaten-path pockets to discover on your own. Without giving them all away, we visited the amazing Cudugnon Cave and the Maquinit Hot Springs in Coron.

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cudugnon cave el nido
Crawled through a hole and found this (image: Alastair Emmett)
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Alastair Emmett

Designer by trade, adventurer at heart. Travel inspires Alastair to create. Whether he's at a dive bar in New York City or a remote tropical island, you’ll find him ticking off his bucket list one cocktail at a time. Follow his journey on Instagram at @alastairemmett.