My top 3 places to visit in Palawan, Philippines
Travel April 22, 2018 Wilko van de Kamp
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At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun. (unknown)
Here’s my top 3 of places to visit on to Palawan, another beautiful Philippine island.
1. Pandan Island Beach
I have always loved the beach. The smell of the salty water, the wind in my face, the gentle roar of the waves all combine to create a sense of peace and calm. Palawan offers all of those ingredients, and if you’re willing to venture out a bit with an island hopping tour you’ll find the beaches you’ve only dreamed of. For less than 200 dollars I chartered a private van, boat (with crew), tour guide (to deal with harbour formalities, hut and equipment rentals), snorkel guide, and more than enough food for the entire day. The idea was initially to go island hopping, but the first beach was so spectacular I decided to just relax, stay and spend the day right there, soaking in all the beauty (and amazing fresh seafood) the island had to offer.
2. Underground river
When traveling I’m not the tour bus type person. Generally speaking, whenever the conditions aren’t of any extreme or dangerous nature, I’d much rather explore on my own and take a side road here and there to soak in everything a destination has to offer. One time when organized tourism came in handy, I had to embark on a multi-hour shuttle van ride, and then transfer to a tiny boat to get to a particular destination on Palawan in the Philippines. At every embarkation and disembarkation point the group was swarmed with extremely pushy street vendors who had no sense of personal space or setting a reasonably fair price for their products.
The objective of that day however made up for it: to go and explore an underground river, one of the 7 wonders of nature. This fact does depend on which list you choose to use for the “7 wonders”, as there are a couple of variations of this list available. I’ll admit it was a very impressive experience. Just picture the surroundings – you’re in pitch black, thick humid air. Other than a battery operated lamp on front of the boat, which attracts the most interesting flying creatures, there’s no light whatsoever. Numerous poisonous snakes and spiders inhabit the caves, and trying to avoid those is key to a successful return out the complete darkness. I sure was happy hearing the reassuring chatter of the talkative tour guide from the back of the boat. He explained we were only allowed to go into the underground river for a certain distance, as beyond those boundaries special gear and certifications were required to deal with the poisonous spiders and snakes. I could only hope those creatures would abide by the same certification requirements and stick to their side of the river.
Exploring one of the seven world wonders was an experience not to be missed, and definitely worth being hassled a bit on the way there. It was also something not to be attempted on my own, and I’m happy I didn’t. A rule of thumb for me is to limit these types of excursions. There’s no need to have a jam-packed itinerary and have an activity pre-booked and scheduled for every single hour in the day.
3. El Nido beach
The third in my list of places not to miss is one place I did miss. It’s believed to be the best beach destination in the Philippines, and maybe even the world. From the towering marble cliffs and magical lagoons to its 100 white sandy beaches, El Nido is one of the top tourist destinations in Palawan. Because of its scenic landscapes and high bio-diversity, Palawan is known as “The Last Ecological Frontier of the Philippines”. I’m sad to have missed it, but sometimes it’s great to not see everything on your list, as it gives a great excuse to return to this beautiful island sometime in the near future. See you soon, Palawan!
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