Remote, far from Manila, and undeveloped, Palawan is said to be the last frontier of the Philippines.
Just how far is it from the capital? A ferry to the gateway city of Puerto Princesa takes 22 hours, and only runs once a week.
I normally prefer to take ground transportation, because it is more interesting and friendly to the environment. But in this case I decided to fly. I would take a ferry back to Manila from Coron.
Gateway To Palawan
Puerto Princesa, where most people enter Palawan, has an interesting small city feel to it, and I enjoyed wandering around its back streets in the morning. There’s a city tour available, but it’s better to rent a bike and see the sites on your own.
A nice place to visit near town is Honda Bay. The islands can be explored on boat tours. I didn’t do this, since I would be doing lots of island hopping later.
Where To Go From Puerto Princesa
The province of Paliwan consists of more than one island. Puerto is in the middle of the big island of Paliwan. From here there is a pretty well-trod tourist track going north.
The first destination is Sabang, famous for its underground river. It’s possible to day trip in from Puerto, which is what the hordes of Filipino tourists do.
But why not spend the night? There’s a nice, practically deserted beach, some pristine mangroves to raft through, and a jungle trek that climbs over karst rock formations.
The masses only visit the underground river, so you will have these sites to yourself. And I thought they were better than the underground river, which is just a big cave!
There’s both budget and swanky accommodation available in Sabang, and no need to book ahead. Time in Sabang is time well spent.
To The Beach?
The next possible stop in Paliwan is Port Barton, which most people do not visit. It’s a quiet beach town that is bypassed by the main road.
Guidebooks make it sound as if it’s difficult to get there, because they refer to having to change jeepneys at “the junction.” But the junction is quite obvious, and there’s a restaurant where you can wait.
Port Barton is said to be very peaceful and relaxing. That was actually my reason for not going. Traveling alone, I was worried about boredom and beach overdose.
Time For Some Island Hopping!
The next stop, El Nido, or The Nest, is a long six hour ride from Sabang. It’s a small town mostly dedicated to tourism nestled among karst rock cliffs on the northern end of the island of Paliwan.
This is a place to spend a few days island hopping in the beautiful Bacuit Archipelago and exploring the countryside and secret beaches on a motorbike. It’s possible to fly back to Manila from here.
But I would be moving on to Coron first, via an exciting ferry ride. This remote town has a frontier feel to it, and far fewer tourists than El Nido.
There’s good diving here, as well as boat tours to beautiful Coron Island. A day can also be spent exploring the undeveloped countryside of Busuanga Island by motorbike, which Coron town is on.
Back To Manila
There’s an airport near Coron town, but why fly when you can take the ferry? It only runs three days a week, so some planning and advance booking on the 2go.com website is necessary. It’s an overnight trip, and the ferry is big and nice, like a floating hotel. There’s even singers!
Palawan is a highlight of the Philippines. Exploring beaches, islands, and the undeveloped countryside is a lot of fun.
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