Palawan is nothing if not varied and offers visitors a wealth of natural attractions and entertainment in addition to its famous beaches and dive sites. From isolated tropical islands to rugged mountains and caves, Palawan has become a haven for adventurous travellers and thrill seekers.
Palawan is a popular and relatively modernised tourist centre but still has large pockets of rarely visited terrain that is home to traditional tribal communities. There is plenty of accessible culture to explore and probably best experienced during one of the many island wide rituals and religious festivals that take place.
There are more protected natural habitats in Palawan than anywhere else in the Philippines archipelago and eco-tourism is very well developed in the region.
Younger travellers will also find lots of intriguing attractions, especially for those interested in exotic wildlife both in tourist-friendly parks and in the untamed wilderness.
Palawan doesn’t have the wealth of pre-colonial history as other islands in the Philippines, but there are a few interesting museums showcasing art, historic artifacts and fascinating prehistoric relics.
Recommended Palawan attractions
Irawan Crocodile Farm
A great kids’ favourite, this nature reserve and ‘croc hospital’ offers close encounters with fearsome crocodiles in a lush tropical setting. There are feeding sessions several times a week and an enlightening research and conservation centre to explore. Within the grounds is a mini zoo and reptile house with dozens of endemic mammal species and colourful birdlife. It makes for a fun day out and especially rewarding for older children with an interest in wildlife and conservation.
Calauit Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Another wildlife park that is definitely worth a day exploring, this is a large 4,000-hectare safari park-style reserve housing zebras, giraffes and gazelles along with endemic species such as the Palawan bearcat and mouse deer. It has a maze of forested trails for adventurous wildlife spotters to get well off the beaten track. It is worth taking advantage of the simple hut accommodation on site and going native for a day or two. Nature-loving photographers will have a field day with lots of accessible flora and fauna to see. website: www.calauitisland.com.
Palawan National Museum
This is one of the finest provincial museums in the Philippines and offers a comprehensive introduction to early Palawan life through historic artifacts, art, music and culture. The exhibition space is crammed with old textiles, weaponry and everyday utensils along with a detailed collection of early colonial Spanish art and treasures. The jewel in the crown is the Bronze Age relics recovered from the famous Taban Caves which are some of the earliest known artifacts in the Philippines.
St Paul Subterranean National Park
Regarded as one of the most spectacular natural attractions in the Philippines, this eight kilometre underground river is an essential part of any trip to Palawan. Visitors glide along an illuminated cavern by paddle boat glimpsing weird and wonderful rock formations and huge stalagmites and stalactites. Eerie and silent for the most part, it flows straight into the azure sea of the northwest coast and features cavernous chambers that can reach over 60 metres in height. website: www.puerto-undergroundriver.com.