Palawan Philippines Voted Best Island in the World

Updated: Mar 9

If you have been to Hawaii, seen Thailand and the Caribbean and are wondering where to go on your next tropical getaway, dig out your map and take a look at this. Palawan Philippines might be just what you have been looking for.

Why Was Palawan Philippines Voted Best Island in the World?

When I first read this I found it rather humorous. “Palawan Philippines voted the best ISLAND in the world” – Palawan is not an “Island”, it is an area that is part of the Visayas in the Philippines. You can call it a “group” of islands but not an island itself. But still, with that said. Palawan is a magical place worthy of this honour.

Not only has Palawan been featured “the Amazing Race” and other travel shows, but it was also recently voted, for the second time, the “Best Island in the World” by Travel Leisure magazine. In 2013 it also claimed the very same title. The readers of Travel Leisure magazine based their votes on the sights, natural attractions, activities, food, friendliness and overall value.

Aerial view of Malcapuya Island beach line

Palawan island is actually a string or group of islands on the western part of the Philippines. Due to its low-key nature and location, Palawan Philippines has become renowned for its serene and secluded beaches, undisturbed rainforests and breath-taking beauty. The Palawan islands are still relatively unknown to the tourist market making it still reasonably untouched and pristine compared to many other tropical destinations.

Pristine Palawan Islands Philippines

approaching the Twin Lagoons Coron

Here are a few more things you probably didn’t know about the best island in the world: Palawan island the Philippines

Amazing marine life

The  Palawan islands are an excellent place to snorkel or scuba dive. According to the Palawan Diver’s organization, the crystal clear waters are home to 120 different species of coral reef and 800 species of exotic fish. There are also many shipwrecks and hidden coves to explore making this an amazing and unique scuba diving destination.

Clear Water In The Bacuit Archipelago Palawan

If you are not into scuba diving but still love the water try kayaking or snorkelling. These activities are great fun thanks to the abundant marine and animal life that occupies the island and surrounding oceans.

Outrigger Boats in the Crystal Clear Water in the Bacuit Archipelago, Palawan, Philippines

Directly below the St. Paul mountains is a cathedral-like cave system which houses an 8.2 km long underground river. To be honest, it is hard to fully imagine or get a feel for the experience unless you actually experience it yourself.

Underground River Tour - Puerto Princesa Palawan

From Manila, you take an hour flight to Puerto Princesa. From there it is another 2-hour drive to Sabang Beach where you catch your outrigger. Yes, you access the cave by boat. 15 minutes on the Banca (outrigger) and you are at the beach entrance to the cave. Another 5 minutes walk through the rain forest takes you to the small paddle boat which takes you into the mountain. As a side note, the rain forest is full of semi-wild monkeys and other wildlife… There are plenty of monkeys and monkey do have the tendency to steal things so don’t leave gear sitting unattended for too long.

Once in the paddle boat, the boatman acts also as your guide explaining the formations found deep inside the cave. Be warned, the subterranean cave is pitch-black and only lit by small torches from the boatman. The tour takes about 45 minutes and is only allowed to travel 2 km up the river into the mountain (For 99% of people this is plenty). If you are a scientist or part of the media and wanted to explore deeper into the cave you will require a special permit giving you access to the inner portion of the cave and river system.

Kayangan Lake

Kayangan Lake Coron Palawan is definitely one of the most visited sites and highlights of our Coron holiday. Gorgeous emerald waters surrounded by towering karst formations – it’s certainly a treat to effortlessly float around in its crystal-clear brackish waters. According to Coron Tourism, it is the most photographed spot in Coron.

Cheche heading to Kayangan Lake

Malcapuya Island

The white sandbar and the clear sea view of Malcapuya Island Coron Palawan are not only beautiful but also relaxing. You will forget everything as you imagine yourself in paradise. Are you the type of person who loves the beach? 

Malcapuya Island Coron is sparsely populated and located off the south-western coast of Culion – offer a truly tranquil experience complete with long stretches of white sand beaches, forested knolls, and postcard-perfect waters. It is a really gorgeous island with a kilometre and a half long stretch of white sand beach.

Let the waves wash over you at Malcapuya Island

Maquinit Hotspring

If you are looking for a cool swimming hole then Maquinit Hot Spring is definitely not it. With the water from the hot spring hovering close to 40 degrees Celsius, it is a great place for cleansing.  You can connect yourself and nature in the company of others while enjoying the natural thermal mineral waters which flow from deep underground into pools just like at Maquinit Hot Spring Corin in Palawan. Why did they call it Maquinit? Simply because Maquinit means “mainit” in Filipino and hot in English. They say it’s one of a few saltwater hot springs in the world. Do you believe it?

Maquinit Hotspring At Night

Palawan Philippines is a big-screen favourite

Palawan has been featured in movies like The Bourne Ultimatum and James Bond and on reality shows like “The Amazing Race”. The Philippine News website also notes A-list visitors, such as Madonna and Brad Pitt.

Last scene of “The Bourne Ultimatum” in Palawan Philippines Islands

A sanctuary for wildlife

Calauit Safari Park, the Philippines’ answer to the African safari. Located on Calauit Island, Busuanga Palawan, the 3,700-hectare game reserve and wildlife sanctuary is home to giraffes, zebras, Calamian deer, porcupines, Palawan peacock pheasant, snakes, mouse deer, bearcat, sea turtles and the Philippine crocodile.

Calauit Safari Park is one of the least-known attractions of the Philippines, a haven for African wildlife that has operated for close to 40 years. Visitors are escorted around the park in an open-sided truck, stopping when animals are encountered. The guides keep guests at a safe distance from some animals, but even young children are welcome to feed the deer. While each tour tries to get a look at the main animal's people come to see, the guides can’t promise anything. “They’re free-ranging,” Mr Cruz said, “and sometimes they head into the hills.”

Discover Our Past

If you’re into anthropology, Palawan Philippines has it! Remains of the oldest Homo sapiens were discovered in the Tabon Cave, Puerto Princesa dating back approximately 47,000 years!

Tabon Caves is a very significant location, but, as to date, visitor numbers are low when compared with the extremely popular Puerto Princesa Underground River (mentioned above). There are two main reasons for this… Partly for their natural aesthetics… and the limestone formations certainly make for some great exploring and some stunning views. But it’s also because of the history.

It’s a nice mixture of nature and history. There’s even a bit of adventure thrown into the mix – although it’s nothing too difficult. It’s another example of the beauty and rich colours here on Palawan that is turning this into a popular destination within the Philippines.

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