It is easy to get wrapped up in the laidback beach life of Palawan, but that doesn’t stop adventurous holidaymakers having a whale of a time.
Palawan’s stylish beach resorts are a great base for energetic fun on and below the ocean waves and is one of the Philippines’ most vibrant centres for water sports. There is plenty of variety to take your mind off basking in the sunshine with no shortage of fun activities such as kayaking and jet skiing.
Palawan is right up there with the very finest scuba diving and snorkelling spots in the Philippines and also offers more relaxing pursuits such as fishing and whale watching. Heading inland, Palawan stands head and shoulders above many other tourist hotspots in the Philippines for its spectacular biodiversity which makes for adventurous days out.
Mountain biking, caving and horse riding can be enjoyed in sublime tropical scenery while adventurous trekking and mountain climbing is sure to offer up a feast of unforgettable views and excitement.
Despite its enduring popularity, it is easy to escape the crowds and experience a touch of traditional island life in a number of sleepy traditional communities or spend a day browsing one of the island’s arty craft villages. There is a wealth of exotic flora and fauna just waiting to be discovered in numerous nature reserves and its family friendly wildlife parks are always a big favourite.
Scuba diving in Palawan
There are a number of world class dive spots dotted around the coast offering rewarding experiences for all levels. Tubbataba reef is widely regarded as one of the finest in the country and features challenging drop offs, wreck diving and abundant marine life such as mantas, reef sharks and turtles.
Novices are best suited based at the resorts of El Nido where there are numerous five star dive resorts offering a wealth of beginners’ and specialist courses. Palawan Divers (website: www.palawan-divers.org) has PADI open water courses starting at Php21,490, along with good value dive packages.
Palawan island hopping
Palawan province boasts a mini archipelago all its own with hundreds of small islets easily accessible by outrigger boat. Island hopping trips from Honda Bay are an extremely popular day out and you can really get away from it all on secluded beaches and pristine coral reefs. Explore beautiful Snake Island, a long sandbar shaped like a meandering serpent or get back to nature on tranquil Arrecife Island kayaking among mangroves or trekking through dense tropical forests. There are hidden lagoons, coral reefs and crystal water for all.
Arts and crafts at Ihawig
For a day out with a difference head to the famous penal colony of Ihawig. This is an ‘open’ prison set in lush tropical scenery and home to over 4,000 inmates who work the land and produce world famous mahogany woodcarvings and basketware. It is a popular tourist spot and an intriguing day out suitable for all ages.
It offers not only fabulous souvenir shopping opportunities but an enlightening look at Palawan social history and has a real community spirit far removed from the average prison. There are several interesting historic landmarks to explore and has a working farm that kids will find enchanting.
Water sports on Palawan
Palawan has a great variety of thrilling water based activities like jet skiing, kayaking, windsurfing in several popular beach resorts such as El Nido and at Bacuit Bay. Honda Bay is also a good base for all kinds of action on the ocean and some more relaxed activities such as big game fishing and island hopping cruises. SE Asia Kayak Tours (website: www.asiakayaktours.com) offers a great day out exploring secluded coves and tranquil offshore islands and is refreshing change of scenery for sun worshippers looking for a real castaway experience.