Island-hopping in Palawan Philippines

A slender rock formation separates the Twin Lagoons, well-liked swimming holes crammed with a freshwater-saltwater combine in Busuanga Island, Palawan.

Named soon after the premier of its 1,780 islands, biodiversity hotspot Palawan is the “last ecological frontier” of the Philippines. The emerald archipelago is strung across turquoise waters, building island-hopping the finest way to knowledge signature Palawan experiences like floating by an underground river, swimming in concealed lagoons, and diving amongst Entire world War II shipwrecks.

“New normal” protocols, this kind of as putting on deal with masks and retaining bodily distancing, are in location in the course of Palawan all guests are demanded to have a adverse COVID-19 examination prior to arrival. Owing to the enhanced well being and protection measures and prosperity of actions, Palawan is worth contemplating when you are ready to consider that extensive-awaited island getaway.

On Honda Bay eco-excursions, boat operators guard susceptible whale sharks by keeping a safe length away from the large fish, which can weigh much more than 20 tons.

Honda Bay

Commence your experience in Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s provincial cash and major arrival hub. Positioned close to the midpoint of Palawan Island, the metropolis is the launch pad for banca (traditional outrigger boat) island-hopping tours in close by Honda Bay, a globally critical habitat for the endangered whale shark, the biggest fish in the sea, achieving lengths of up to 32 feet. Protected in the Philippines since 1998, the colossal whale sharks stop by Honda Bay seasonally to feed on Philippine anchovy, shrimp-like krill, and small fish.

To preserve, defend, and manage Honda Bay’s pure assets, the bay was specified a Maritime Critical Biodiversity Place. Sustainable tourism routines, these kinds of as the banca tours, assist nearby conservation endeavours. Typically, banca trips cease at a few islands in Honda Bay and allow for ample time for snorkeling, swimming, and spotting maritime daily life. Together with whale sharks, you could see bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, and mild-giant dugongs, a near cousin of the manatee. In the azure waters encompassing Starfish Island, glance for staghorn corals and orange sea stars.

Karst limestone formations flank the entrance to the Cabayugan River, which flows through a cave and into the sea in Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River Park.

Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River

From Honda Bay, head north to Ugong Rock Adventures, a community-dependent sustainable tourism undertaking managed and operate by a local indigenous cooperative. The project’s focal level is a free-standing, limestone karst tower laced with caves and named for the haunting hum (ugong in Tagalog) manufactured when cave explorers tap a stalactite with a rubber mallet. Listen to the humming audio on a spelunking (caving) tour and hike up the tower for major-thrill functions like zip-biking and ziplining. On the way to Ugong Rock, stop at the Buenavista Viewdeck for Instagram-deserving sights of glimmering Ulugan Bay.

Subsequent up is a nationwide treasure: Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River Nationwide Park, a World Heritage website voted one particular of the New 7 Miracles of Mother nature. To safeguard the park’s mountain-to-sea ecosystem, a permit is necessary to take a look at. Book a guided boat tour (permit bundled) to glide as a result of cathedral-like caverns on a single of the world’s longest navigable underground rivers. Bodily distancing is enforced in the course of the tour and boats are sanitized between rides to shield the wellness of friends and guides.

A surreal limestone-tower forest shelters the aquamarine waters and white sands of Solution Lagoon Beach front in Miniloc Island, Palawan.

El Nido

Carry on north to El Nido, positioned at the suggestion of the Palawan mainland, for island-hopping in a mesmerizing dreamscape: Bacuit Bay archipelago. Element of the approximately 350-sq.-mile El Nido-Taytay Managed Useful resource Protected Area, the most significant maritime sanctuary in the Philippines, the Bacuit Bay’s 45 jungle-cloaked islands and towering karst islets dot impossibly-clear blue waters.

On day tours, eco-welcoming outrigger boats leapfrog in between islands like Miniloc, home to cliff-lined lagoons and a key seashore arrived at as a result of an underwater passage, and Vigan, nicknamed ‘Snake’ for its serpentine sandbar.

Book a dive trip to swim by way of the kaleidoscope of colors established by the approximated 800 species of fish and 120 species of coral located here. Amid the most lively Bacuit Bay sea creatures are the clownfish, parrotfish, and seahorses. For a extra non-public Bacuit Bay practical experience, book a keep at the El Nido Resorts sustainable retreat on Miniloc Island or Pangulasian Island. To aid make a protected atmosphere, equally luxury homes are restricting occupancy and have applied increased health and fitness protocols, these kinds of as foot baths, misting, hand sanitizing, and thermal scanning upon arrival.

Seen from a bird’s-eye point of view, the lagoons and limestone cliffs of Palawan’s Calamian Archipelago evoke an otherworldly come to feel.


The island-hopping grand finale is Coron, part of the Calamian Archipelago north of Palawan Island. Coron City, found on the major island, Busanga, is the starting point for boat tours to jagged limestone islets, shallow-water coral reefs, and intriguing shipwreck sites—including remnants of 7 Japanese Entire world War II vessels sunk in September, 1944.

A best wager for starter scuba divers is the wreck of the Okikawa Maru. The well-preserved oil tanker sits at reasonably shallow depths (32 to 85 ft below the surface), is protected with tough and smooth corals, and is surrounded by swirling tropical fish.

For a significantly less-technical underwater adventure, hop on a boat to neighboring Coron Island and experience the mind-boggling splendor of Kayangan Lake. Dubbed “the blue lagoon,” the environment-well known lake is tucked among the surreal rock formations visible earlier mentioned and below the area of the water. A volcanic hot spring feeds the lake, this means the h2o temperature goes up as you dive down. As with all Palawan destinations where by guests are returning gradually but definitely, the out of doors location is mother nature made for physical distancing and increased security criteria are in spot to aid curb the spread of COVID-19.

For extra journey recommendations and updates take a look at www.philippines.journey/safetrip for details.