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.

If you spend the night in Sabang, you practically have the place to yourself.
If you spend the night in Sabang, you practically have the place to yourself.

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.

Exploring Coron island by boat.
Exploring Coron island by boat.

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 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.

LetsPalawan has offered a $30 discount off their Palawan tours if you use the coupon code terrytreksC016. Check out their roundup of the top three places to visit in Palawan!

I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.


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