Palawan is located to the west of the main bulk of Philippine]] islands. Distinctive in being a long and narrow strip of an Island, there are also a number of other smaller islands surrounding it. Fabled for being one of the more untouched islands in the Philippines, it's popular with backpackers, honeymooners, divers and those that like to go off the beaten path. Not to mention the odd movie star.
Located to the west of the Western Visayas, Palawan is about 450 kilometres in length but only about 50 kilometres in width. It sports one of the most versatile landscapes in the Philippines. Rich white sand beaches dot the coastline, alone with pristine blue waters and coral reefs. Volcanic rock is everywhere along with a eco habitat unique to Asia.
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Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a protected area and UNESCO Heritage Site of the Philippines located about 80 kilometres north of the city centre of Puerto Princesa, Palawan. The river is also called Puerto Princesa Underground River. The national park is located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range on the western coast of the island. It is bordered by St. Paul Bay to the north and the Babuyan River to the east. The City Government of Puerto Princesa has managed the National Park since 1992. The entrance to the subterranean river is a short hike or boat ride from the town Sabang.
In 2010, a group of environmentalists and geologists discovered that the underground river has a second floor, which means that there are small waterfalls inside the cave. They also found a cave dome measuring 300 metres above the underground river, rock formations, large bats, a deep water hole in the river, more river channels, another deep cave, as well as marine creatures and more. Deeper areas of the underground river are almost impossible to explore due to oxygen deprivation.
On November 11, 2011, Puerto Princesa Underground River was provisionally chosen as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. This selection was officially confirmed on January 28, 2012.
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Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a protected area of the Philippines located in the middle of Sulu Sea. The marine and bird sanctuary consists of two huge atolls (named the North Atoll and South Atoll) and the smaller Jessie Beazley Reef covering a total area of 97,030 hectares. It is located 150 kilometres southeast of Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan province. The uninhabited islands and reefs are part of the island municipality of Cagayancillo, Palawan, located roughly 130 kilometres to the northeast of the reef.
In December 1993, the UNESCO declared the Tubbataha Reefs National Park as a World Heritage Site as a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species; the North Islet serving as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles. The site is an excellent example of a pristine coral reef with a spectacular 100-metre perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands.
The national park and the rest of the Philippine archipelago is part of the Coral Triangle, recognized as a center of marine biodiversity containing 75% of the described coral species and 40% of the world's reef fish. The area is under a grave threat due to overfishing and destructive fishing practices. Research of scientists visiting the reefs since the 1980s revealed that the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park contains no less than 600 fish species, 360 coral species, 11 shark species, 13 dolphin and whale species, and 100 bird species. The reefs also serve as a nesting ground for Hawksbill and Green sea turtles.
Around the start of March there is an annual festival, though being the Philippines there are many more throughout the year.
During festivals make sure to book your bus tickets way in advance, take names and numbers of the person you buy from and the owner of the company. There's a fair amount of overbooking taking place. Check back a few days a before you are due to leave.
The sun is a near year round treat on Palawan. But like the rest of the Philippines this is a tropical climate and monsoon season means rain. Keep a eye on the weather if you are planning to take a ferry to or from Palawan. Likewise when taking a banka from Sabang, Port Barton to El Nido or any other boat trip. The sea can get very rough in bad weather. Temperatures are mostly around 30 °C during the day and around or above 20 °C at night.
The Palawan island group is connected to other destinations through its main gateway in Puerto Princesa by the Puerto Princesa International Airport. North of the island group is served by the Busuanga Airport for connections to Coron. And a smaller airport in El Nido mostly is served by chartered flights. A new airport in the town of San Vicente near El Nido is also being planned.
There are multiple daily flights from the cities of Manila and Cebu with Cebu Pacific Air, Philippine Airlines and PAL Express. Philippine Airlines is also providing flights coming from Clark, north of Manila while Cebu Pacific also has connections to Iloilo. Another airline, Philippines AirAsia also offers connections from Manila, Cebu, and Davao to the city.
To the island of Coron in the north of the Palawan island, Philippine Airlines, operated by PAL Express, offers connections from Manila, Cebu, and Clark through the Busuanga Airport. Cebu Pacific Air also provide connection from Manila. AirSWIFT provides connections to El Nido from Manila and Cebu using smaller aircraft.
A car can be brought on a ferry, but it's not worth it and quite expensive. Better to rent a car locally.
There are multiple ferries linking Palawan to the rest of the Philippines via Puerto Princesa. Best to check in the region you are departing from for times etc., as they change frequently.
There are no trains on the Island.
You may rent or charter a car. The roads are not all paved though, however none are too off road.
There are plenty of bus and minivan services linking the cities of Palawan. You may reserve seats on minivans that are air conditioned, but its still prudent to show up early. Likewise with local buses which are half the price, take one third longer and have no air conditioning.
There are motorized boat (banka) services linking Puerto Princesa to Sabang, Port Barton and El Nido. However prices vary, and going in a group is much cheap than being solo. There is also a weekly service leaving El Nido for Coron, though it's not regular.
Food is very fresh all over Palawan due it's remote island status. Fresh seafood is easily available everywhere. In many of the resorts western food is available. Vietnamese food is popular in Puerto Princesa. Popular fast food restaurants like Jollibee and Chow King are in Puerto Princesa but not outside of the capital.
San Miguel Beer is once again King in this part of the Philippines.
|El Nido Four Seasons Resort||El Nido||Guesthouse||-|
|Summer Homes Beach Resort and Cottages||Purok Pag-asa Brgy. Port Barton||Guesthouse||-|
|Lally & Abet Beach Cottages||El Nido||Apartment||-|
|Monkey Family||Quezon St. Port Barton||Hostel||-|
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