Palawan – The Last Ecological Frontier? 1780 islands in the Philippines

Palawan, one of the most beautiful tropical islands in Southeast Asia

Palawan is one of the largest of the Philippine islands and offers unlimited possibilities for any kind of tropical vacation, including a superb diving holiday. Let´s sketch a portrait of Palawan, which is an island in a province with more than 1780 islands. About half of the island consists of untouched areas, truly nature of beauty. In this tropical paradise, you can enjoy the pristine rainforests, the captivating mountains, and of course, the white sandy beaches, which offer a myriad of scuba diving and snorkeling adventures. An amazing underwater world is just one of the main attractions in Palawan. In 2007, National Geographic Traveler Magazine awarded Palawan Best Island Destination in the Southeast Asian region, while landing a 13th place worldwide title. See the beautiful introductory video below.

Facts about Palawan

The island has an area of 14,896.3 km² with a population of 755,412. The capital of the island is Puerto Princesa City. The island stretches from Mindoro to Borneo in the southwest. The island lies between the South China Sea in the northwest and the Sulu Sea in the southeast. See the map of Palawan, below.

Palawan province has no less than 1.780 islands

Besides the main island, the Palawan province consists of no less than 1.780 tropical islands in the western part of The Philippines.  Calling it the last ecological bastion in the Philippines is not too far-fetched. The biodiversity is immense and you find untouched landscapes, islands and rainforests, and desert-like areas of great beauty. It is a big island and a big province indeed.

Diving is very popular. The sea is just as amazing. We will get back to that later in this post.

Palawan Fillipinerne Peacock-Pheasant

This is a very rare bird: A  Peacock-Pheasant flashing the feathers in almost regal style

The north part of the island is characterized by landscapes with pure and clear water in a number of large lakes and an abundance of animals and plants found nowhere else.  You may want to visit the nature reservations El Nido (also an eco-resort) and Taytay.  There is an abundance of corals, tropical fish and no less than 5 endangered kinds of sea turtles.

Puerto Princesa Palawan with underground river in Philippines

Puerto Princesa Palawan with an underground river in the Philippines

In the jungle in these 2 areas, there are more than 100 rare birds, one being the peacock-pheasant seen above.

Want to start your diving vacation in Palawan

“Palawan Paradise bay”  is where you may well start your diving vacation in Palawan. Near Puerto Princesa City, which is the capital of Palawan with a medium-sized population of 170.000. Here you may also visit crocodile farms and very spectacular underground rivers.

Coral-head-and-schooling-fish in Palawan

Coral-head-and-schooling-fish in Palawan

Diving holidays in Palawan!

It is a worldwide recognized top diving site. You will find a number of diving opportunities including world-renowned PADI centers. Find more about diving in Palawan in this link from Lets dive Palawan.  Find diving sites and diving courses and good diving advice.

Places to dive in Palawan

On your diving trip to Palawan, here are a few tips. There are so many places to choose from, så use the link above to Lets Dive Palawan. Allow enough time for this trip. It takes time to go to Palawan and from island to island, to settle in, unwind and start diving courses or diving adventures.
Top diving sports are Puerto Princesa, El Nido, Coron Island, and Tubbataha Reef to name 4 from a long list. In  Palawan, you will experience very near-to-perfect water temperatures of   26-30˚C and almost “endless” visibility.  You can also try a liveaboard trip to  Tubbataha Reef with a local provider of diving excursions.

Most likely the diving will happen from a so-called outrigger named a Bangka,  mostly resembling a canoe or motorboat with 2 outriggers
Palawan’s rainy season is from June to December, it does not mean rain all the time and you may well also visit then.

 Palawan Front beach with longtail boats in El Nido

Ready for today´s dive? “Old style”? Palawan beach with  longtail boats,  El Nido

Diving near Puerto Princesa and El Nido

Puerto Princesa (See the map in this post) and El Nido are shielded in beautiful bays and perfect for the new and learning divers. Best time of year is possible May to November with astounding visibility of ca 20 meters or 65 feet. Near El Nido, you will access the Bacuit Archipelago and with beaches to die for. For the adventurous and experienced diver, the 40 meters or 130 feet long undersea tunnel is a must. The final diving tip, for now, is: Go to the Nearby island Miniloc as well.

Palawan, Philippines

Diving boat with a pirate flag in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

Go to Coron Island north Palawan for some amazing wreckage diving

Some divers or most divers are fascinated by shipwrecks. You can do a beeline just outside Coron Island at the northern tip of Palawan island. You will find many Japanese wrecks from World War II. You will need a diver´s certificate for most of the dives here, but a few are actually for beginners. The best months are from December to March. Another option is Barracuda lake, it is a volcanic crater and there are caves under the sea level as well. Amazing diving. Tech diving as well with the right certificate.

Puerto Princesa, Palawan underjordisk flod og grotte Puerto Princesa, a river in a grotto, is perfect for honing your diving skills or simply taking a boat trip

Tubbataha Reef Natural Park on the  UNESCO World Heritage list and top diving site

The Tubbataha Reef Natural Park is protected by a UNESCO World Heritage status, and you can dive here, but only within a 3 months time window a year from March to June. Tubbataha Reef Natural Park was declared a  UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. You find  Tubbataha Reef,  81 km (130 miles)  fra Palawan.
Tip: This diving opportunity is best lived out on a live-aboard ship. They go regularly to the reefs consisting of the 2 atolls and Jessie Beazley Reef. World-class diving with steep undersea drop-offs, coral gardens, and a great variety of fishes and sea animals. Visibility up to 40 meters on a good day.

Palawan: Manta ray ved Koral reef El Nido

Palawan: Manta ray near a coral reef  near  El Nido

PADI, the diving organization, is represented in Palawan. A safe place to start or continue your diving experience. Imagine getting your diving license in such a paradise.

El Nido resorts, Apulit-Island-Water-Cottages Palawan

El Nido resorts, Apulit-Island-Water-Cottages Palawan

Where to stay in Palawan

Two eco resorts come to mind. The first one is the El Nido Resort. Here you live right in nature in great comfort and beauty.  El Nido Resorts is a group of  4 sustainable island resorts in the El Nido and Taytay municipalities in Palawan, Philippines. The resorts offer genuine, local hospitality, and unique and enriching experiences amidst the beautiful natural landscapes.

The other excellent choice of stay is Club Paradise Palawan, kind of says it all right? This place offers everything you may desire in a tropical island destination. Club Paradise is an exclusive island resort in Coron, Palawan dotted along UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Club Paradise Palawan, Glow-Spa-Coron-Palawan

Club Paradise Palawan, Glow-Spa

It is a tropical paradise strategically located amid Coron’s tourist attractions and exhilarating dive sites. Pristine white sand beaches, rustic and charming accommodations, colorful flora and fauna, and a myriad of outdoor activities and lounging options assure the most indulgent stay.

More vacation in the Philippines diving options

Another top destination in the Philippines is Boracay which underwent an extensive cleaning-up operation in 2018, and now perhaps is more attractive than for many years. A very popular place with many things to do besides enjoying sundowners on the beach. Read more about Boracay, which is more easily accessible than Palawan as well.

Biggest islands in the Philippines

Paradise Islands with Traveltalk

Biggest islands in the Philippines

Boracay, the Shangri-La of the Philippines

Say hi to a sea turtle in the Maldives

Seychelles, what to see, what to do and where to stay

Book tours to the Philippines

Package tours

Map overview

Latest travel articles