You’re ‘Backpacking Palawan’ eh? It’s full of adventure! But don’t fall into the trap of getting so worn out from the trip getting here, busing to your chosen starting points, getting a great bite to eat, and then enjoying those well-deserved cocktails that you then don’t have enough energy left over to do anything more than lay on the beach. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but let’s consider…
This one is actually ‘borderline adventurous’, but it counts as it’s often the only way to get out to islands beyond the tourist base shores and see more of the best nature Palawan has to offer. You get to ride in relative comfort and see truly amazing sights, swim, snorkel and more.
Some of the best island hopping tours launch from:
El Nido – these are the most popular and famous in Palawan (and among the Philippines) because the tours A,B,C, and D visit such uniquely gorgeous spots. Only drawback is they’re so popular, you’re sharing each amazing spot with many other people.
Port Barton – less known, but still popular, the tours from here visit very beautiful local islands and beaches.
Binga Beach – our own little tours, this takes you to completely unpopulated and rarely visited gorgeous and secret local beaches and islands. You’ll have them all to yourself!
Coron – a gorgeous island area with local tours, or can travel from El Nido area to Coron on Tao Adventures which is an amazing trip
There are so many ‘booking agents’ for tours, usually your hotel (or contact us) can make arrangements for you if you desire them in advance, or can point you around the street corner for the place to do it.
One of the most famous spots reachable via Puerto Princesa and a liveabord dive boat is the spectacular Tubbataha Reef 130km out in the Sulu Sea comprised of two huge coral atolls. Tubbataha is famous for hundreds of species of sharks, fish, coral, dolphins, turtles and whales.
Puerto Princesa and El Nido are both great bays with convenient land-based access to great dive sites for those with less time.
There are great shipwreck dives at Coron island featuring many sunken World War II ships. Also at Coron is Barracuda Lake, made from a volcanic crater and comprising both freshwater and saltwater.
Submariner Diving Center – https://www.submarinerdiving.com/ – PADI diving and courses, including ‘seafaris’ between EL Nido and Coron. One of the highest rated and comprehensive centers in the Palawan and the Philippines. Their courses span all abilities, including specialty and TecRec courses. Also offer retail sales.
Let’s Dive Palawan – http://letsdivepalawan.com/ – Puerto Princesa center offering dives, courses, retail gear shop and more. They dive in multiple sites around Puerto Princesa. They offer both PADI and SSI accredited diving courses. Their sister company Sakura Liveaboard https://www.sakuracharter.com/ operates a big boat to get out to Tubbataha Reef.
Deep Blue Safari – https://deepblueseafari.com/ – El Nido based, offering dive excursions, beginner ‘dive experiencs’ and full PADI courses.
Palawan is incredible for Kitesurfing, several areas are perfect for it. Classes, rentals and retail are available.
Kite Club Palawan – http://kiteclubpalawan.com/ – Lessons, rentals, ‘kite safaris’ and more at Emerald Playa Beach in Puerto Princesa. Really a great value.
El Nido Kiteboarding – https://www.elnidokiteboarding.com/ – They’re affiliated with Kite Club Palawan in Puerto Princesa.
Qi Palawan Resort Kiteboarding – www.palawankiteboarding.com/ – These are lessons and rentals at the small Qi Palawan resort, on the North Eastern side of Palawan 1 hour away from El Nido. Their opening season is from October to probably the beginning of rainy season.
We’re getting a native sailing paraw at Binga! But it isn’t completed yet 🙁
Until our paraw is launched you can get your fix via charters out of nearby El Nido via:
Palawan Sailing – http://www.palawan-sailing.com They offer a quite wide range of courses from beginner to advanced level Yachtmaster Ocean certification, and expeditions in the local Bacuit Bay and all the way out to Coron. They offer sailing on their 45 foot yacht. Their courses are geared towards intensive and complete more so than cursory exposure courses.
El Nido Sailing – https://www.elnido-sailing.com/ They offer beginner classes and crewed expeditions on small-sized Hobie-style catamarans. They have a fleet of 12 catamarans in El Nido. They even have overnight camping on their catamarans in little tents!
Serenite Yacht Charter – https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/16260466 – 36 foot crewed sailboat with skipper in the El Nido area with the boat moored in Corong-corong bay.
Tao Philippines – https://taophilippines.com/ Offers sailing expeditions between EL Nido and Coron. They also offer trips between El Nido and Coron on regular banca boats (not sailing) and other local cultural activities.
The most well known is the Underground River but there are many to explore, our favorites:
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park – Wikipedia page – This is a 5 MILE(!) underground river you can traverse under the ground. That’s kind of crazy. Located about 80km North of Puerto Princesa, so it’s not a day trip from there, do it on your way north, don’t backtrack as it’s a long trip there from the city. It’s amazing, and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tabon Caves – Wikipedia page – These are a Philippines National Cultural Treasure as designated by the National Museum, with 7 of the 215 caves there open to the public. These caves are so noteworthy because artifacts dating back 47,000 years were found there, among the oldest found in the Philippines, including earthenware, jade ornaments and jewelry, stone tools and even human fossils.
Hundred Caves – Wikipedia page – It’s 20km from Sabang Beach and the Underground River, so it’s worth a look if you’d like to do some caving with a less touristic feel than the Underground River tour.
Animal Wildlife Parks
Yep, there’s a big wildlife safari park in Palawan, wait, there’s two of them!
Calauit Safari Park – Wikipedia page – This puppy is really up north from the main Palawan island at Busuanga, but they have African animals giraffes, zebras, impalas, gazelles, waterbucks, common elands and more, for example and many local animals. It also has a zoo aspect to it, in a sense, not just the big open safari area. It’s actually been around since 1977, when it was founded to help preserve endangered species from Africa in case of calamity over there. More info at TripAdvisor
Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (well, it’s a Crocodile Farm) – TripAdvisor page – located outside of Puerto Princesa. They also have some other endangered animals. Tourists can pet baby crocodiles, and all the related crocodile activities you’d expect. (watch those fingers!)
We haven’t done it yet (it’s scary, no?) but you can jump out of a perfectly functional plane via Skydive Cebu Adventures (but their Palawan offering) which is apparently flying out of San Vicente’s airport: https://skydivecebu.com/product/tandem-skydive-palawan/ their Palawan phone #: +63 906 475 2250 They have great reviews on TripAdvisor.
Palawan isn’t known (yet!) for surfing, but the local culture is well tuned in to the changing weather patterns that make some spots good.
The most reliable spot for visitors is to head to Duli Beach, where there are not only good waves but surfboards for rent and some really cool basic bungalows right on the beach, one of our personal favorite spots on the island.
We’re good friends with mountaineering clubs who come to Binga Beach as their base to climb Mt. Capoas next door, the tallest mountain in Northern Palawan. They’re often exploring in the more central Palawan mountains cluster though, many of them which are quite exceptional and challenging. If you’re looking for guides and tours, they’re your best bet. Contact us for details.
We got ’em at Binga Beach, and the best part is we have multiple beaches within range of our main beach that are readily accessible and the bay is very calm, so it’s safe and adventurous at the same time.
What have we missed? If you want to do it we’ll help you seek it out. Let us know and we’ll ask around and check, and we just might join you as we’re always looking for something cool to do 🙂
We also offer many of these activities as tours of our own, can check out our Adventure page for more information and booking.