7 Great Things to Do in Palawan That You Shouldn’t Miss, Philippines

Palawan is one of the largest provinces in the Philippines and one of the most beautiful places in the world. It consists of a few large islands and hundreds of small islands, full of stunning white sand beaches and hidden lagoons.

Both Travel & Leisure and Condé Nast, two of the most famous travel magazines, have chosen Palawan as one of the best islands in the world. This is not only thanks to the beautiful nature and wildlife but also the island’s diversity and unique atmosphere.

There are many astonishing tourist spots in Palawan you can easily stay here for a month and still not have time to see and do everything.

Most people usually spend a week travelling around and seeing all the beautiful destinations. But if you only have a short time and want to make the most out of your trip to Palawan, you should book one of these Palawan packages. This is useful sometimes because transfers in the Philippines are very prone to delays so you need someone to organise and take care of everything.

I’ve been to Palawan and loved it! El Nido instantly became one of my favourite places on earth.

Below you find seven great things to do in Palawan that you shouldn’t miss.

Blue Lagoon, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
The unbelievable beauty of the Big Lagoon, El Nido.

7 Best Things to Do in Palawan

1. Take the Puerto Princesa Firefly Tour

Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan and the most accessible location on the island. For that reason, many people choose to start their trip there and then make their way up north.

The town offers decent nightlife and there are plenty of nice hotels there – good diversity from hostels to 5-star resorts.

The main problem with Puerto Princesa is that it’s very hard to get to a good beach. If you stay in town you will need to drive for at least 40 minutes until you can find one. For that reason, it’s better to shorten your stay there or even skip it altogether.

My recommendation would be to spend only 1 night there so you can see the main points of interest and then go straight to El Nido.

The Firefly Tour works well with that plan. It’s a nighttime tour so you can do it on the same day you arrive, and it even includes a BBQ dinner.

The tour is quite short and too demanding, but it’s a pretty nice experience. You’ll kayak through the mangroves and watch the beautiful lightship presented by the fireflies.

2. Visit the Underground River National Park

The underground river is the main reason people stop by Puerto Princesa. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new 7 wonders of nature.

This cave complex is huge and stretches for more than 8km – making it the 2nd largest subterranean river known to man.

The tour itself only takes around an hour, as you make your way in a kayak and explore the depths of the cave. You’ll have a licensed guide with you and the commentary is quite interesting, so overall, it’s a nice and very educational experience. This tour is usually combined with lunch at the nearby village and the zipline on Sabang Beach.

You should be done by around 2 PM, so it’s certainly possible to head directly to El Nido right after. Taking the van from Puerto Princesa will mean between a 4 and 5-hour drive, but the view along the way is quite nice. The vans are modern and comfortable so it’s also easy to fall asleep while on the road.

Visiting the underground river national park, Philippines
Inside the underground river. Photo credit: Jam A, FlickR under CC license.

3. Take a Quick Stop at Port Barton

Port Barton is a sleepy little beach town on the way between Puerto Princesa and El Nido. Most tourists choose to skip it and head directly to El Nido instead – but this is exactly why this place is so great.

If you are looking for a place to relax and enjoy nature with full privacy, then this is a must-stop on your Palawan trip.

There aren’t many things to do in Port Barton; island hopping is the main attraction.

The beaches are wonderful and it’s your best chance to find an empty one all to yourself. Considering the fact this place is so remote, there are quite a few good resorts there.

Most accommodations available are guesthouses and hostels, but you can easily find some 3 and 4-star beachfront resorts as well.

White Beach, Port Barton, Philippines
White Beach, Port Barton, White Beach, Port Barton, Photo credit: Fabio Achilli, FlickR CC license

4. El Nido Island Hopping Tour

El Nido is the pinnacle of every Palawan vacation, and that’s mostly thanks to the beautiful islands surrounding it.

It’s one of the most magical places on earth and the best honeymoon destinations in Asia. You won’t be bored for a second as you make your way between beautiful beaches and lagoons.

There are four different island hopping tours available in El Nido with tours A and C being the most popular ones. These are the tours which take you to the most special places, the ones you see in all the pictures and postcards. For that reason, though they are quite crowded and it makes it harder to enjoy the nature around you when there are so many tourists nearby.

If you want a more private experience there are 2 options. You can take tours B and D and enjoy the less crowded areas of El Nido. But that means you will miss out on the most famous destinations, which would be a real shame.

So, what you could do with you’re travelling with friends is rent a private speedboat and build your itinerary for the tour. You’ll be able to beat everyone else to the nicest places and enjoy them all to yourself.

I think that Tour A is the best in El Nido and definitely one of the top things to do in Palawan.

Sailing into the Big Lagoon, El Nido
Big Lagoon, one of the places visited during Tour A.

5. Overnight Camping on Private Islands

While in El Nido, it’s also possible to spend a night or 2 on a private island. You can sleep in a tent and cook your food – a real camping experience in paradise. This adventure is regulated so it is not possible to just do it yourself – you need to book it through a licensed tour operator.

You’ll have a guide with you the whole time so the whole experience is very safe. During the day, they’ll take you to see the same places as you do during the island hopping tours, so skip those tours if plan on going camping.

Food, drinks and snacks are already included in the tour so you don’t really need to bring anything with you before heading out into the wilderness.

Helicopter Island, Palawan, Philippines
Imagine camping on a deserted beach in Palawan.

6. Rent a Motorbike and Explore

No matter where you go in Palawan, this always turns out to be the best adventure.

Sure, guided tours are fun and it helps you see places you can’t reach on your own, but there is nothing as exciting as exploring this tropical paradise on your own.

Take a motorbike and just drive for as long as you can. This is one of the best things to do in Palawan and you will experience this island from a totally different perspective.

You can find a bike for as low as 300 pesos per day (6 USD) but it might be better to pay a bit extra and rent it through your hotel.

There’s nothing like the feeling of independence and freedom as you roam the island on your own and stop at any place you like. You’ll be able to discover Palawan’s true secrets and make extra special memories.

Since the locals are super friendly and they all speak English, you don’t have to worry about getting lost. Actually, it’s a big part of the fun! No matter where you go you will find someone to help you out. This also allows you to interact with the locals and opens up opportunities you will not experience otherwise.

Pericles Rosa driving a motorbike to Nacpan Beach, El Nido, The Phippines
On the way to Nacpan Beach, El Nido.

7. Go Wreck Diving in Coron

Coron is just as beautiful as El Nido and the island-hopping tours there are amazing. It is a much less developed area of Palawan and is still unknown to many tourists, but this is bound to change very soon.

Still, it’s quite hard to find a decent resort there and you’ll probably even have a hard time getting a Wi-Fi connection or even finding a place with electricity.

It’s all worth it for the breathtaking nature and amazing underwater adventures. Diving in the Philippines is amazing, but Coron is on a whole different level. This area was the stage for a major marine battle between the U.S. and Japan during WW2 and the waters are now filled with sunken vessels. This makes Coron one of the most interesting and unique diving spots in the world.

Wreck diving in Coron is one of the greatest things to do in Palawan and you can’t miss it!

Jagged mountains covered with vegetation and surrounded by crystal-clear turquoise water in Coron, the Philippines.
Coron, is another enchanting place in Palawan and one of the best places for scuba diving in the Philippines. Photo credit: Ray in Manila, Flick R under CC license

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7 Great Things to Do in Palawan That You Shouldn't Miss, Philippines 1
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7 thoughts on “7 Great Things to Do in Palawan That You Shouldn’t Miss, Philippines”

  1. Palawan is really such a beautiful island, and I am planning to go there this year. I am glad I have read this blog, I am really looking forward to trying out these exciting activities in there. Thank you for sharing the beauty of Palawan.


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