What’s So Special About Palawan Island Anyway?

There’s the well advertised beach paradise of Boracay, the rugged beauty of Luzon, or the tourist hotspots of Cebu and Coron… But see why I choose Palawan Island!

Featured Image Credit: Charterworld
Thanks to our guest blogger Stephen Bailey for submitting this article! (United Kingdom)

The Philippines archipelago has thousands of islands, ranging from deserted sandbanks to strips of land that dwarf many European countries.

So how do you pick one?

There’s the well advertised beach paradise of Boracay, the rugged beauty of Luzon, or the tourist hotspots of Cebu and Coron.

Palawan Islands, Philippine Islands, Philippine vacation resortsAerial view of the Palawan archipelago. Photograph: Alamy

But I choose the up and coming destination of Palawan Island! An island the size of the UK and with miles of empty space.

Check out what makes Palawan Island so special and daydream away!

Palawan island boat tours, Palawan Island trip, Palawan Island tourism infoPhoto Credit: Tourism Philippines

A Rustic Local Experience or Resort Vacation? You choose! 

The local experience is why Palawan is so intriguing to me personally. You’re experiencing a beach paradise in traditional style, having to balance the beauty with not getting any special treatment for being a tourist.

Of course the toilet seat is broken, the road has been overrun by jungle, and you won’t get an uninterrupted nights sleep if you travel on the cheap:

If that doesn’t appeal to you, then definitely go with one of the beautiful beach resorts!

Palawan Island where to stay, Hotels on Palawan Island, Beach resort Palawan Island

Welcome to travel in Palawan Island!

Apart from parts of the national highway that run the 400 mile length of this slender island, there are no paved roads. The island simply has roads that have never been roads, just clearings in the trees or sections of uneven stone that have been carved into a motorbike path.

Renting a Motorbike when you Travel to Palawan Island

Once you get off the main road the public transport system is virtually non-existent, just a handful of battered vans that get stuck in the mud with fifteen people squashed onto the roof, and however many more sweating away inside. Renting a motorbike is the way to go.

Palawan Island Tours, Palawan Island motorbike, getting around Palawan IslandPhoto Credit: getfoxy.com

Twist along mud roads, trying to maintain your balance as the path curls before descending sharply towards the South China Sea. Swerve your way to Nagtapon beach, a scene from a postcard picture you never want to leave, one of palm trees and soft sand and turquoise water that makes you smile.

There will be pretty much nothing and nobody there but you and a couple of fisherman repairing a boat and a whole pristine Palawan beach to enjoy!

Palawan Beach Vacation, Philippine beaches, Palawan IslandNagtabon Beach, Palawan Island (Photo Credit: Travelingbydefault )

Lounging Around in Port Barton

Port Barton has some tourist infrastructure. Along a narrow sandy cove there is a sprinkling of beach huts and an eager boatman taking people on a tour of the islets off the coast.

Port Parton, Palawan Island boat tours, Palawan Island tours, Palawan Island vacationsPhoto Credit: seniorita.net

Boisterous laughter comes from an outdoor pool hall, harmonic songs drift from the old stone built church, and children shriek as they play dodgeball in the puddles.

Palawan Island, Philippines Islands, Palawan tours

This is still just a little village, with electricity six hours a day, raucous roosters waking up at 4am, and no attempt at sanitization to placate fastidious tourists. Well… unless you are at one of the beautiful resorts on Palawan Island!

The Endless Charm of El Nido

El Nido, in the far north of Palawan, is a lesson in how to grow tourism organically.

El Nido, Palawan Island, Palawan Island vacations, Palawan Island guide

When you travel to Palawan Island, be sure to allow plenty of time for this sublime destination.

It’s quiet and relaxing, yet there is always something to do in the day; either explore the area by boat, or bike, listen to live music at a handful of bars, or take a canoe to deserted insets off the coast.

Most people go for a few days and stay for at least a week.

The locals here grin and wave; foreign money is staying amongst the boatmen, squid fisherman, tricycle drivers, and fruit sellers.

Palawan Island kids, Palawan Island vacations, Palawan Island localsLocal children fishing. Photograph: Jacob Maentz/Corbis

Seeing other tourists in El Nido doesn’t make it feel any less local. Even in a busy guesthouse you are just a few miles from authentic Filipino village life.

And that is Palawan’s drawcard.

Here is the ultimate beach paradise, perfectly blended with an intimate and authentic local experience.

Cebu Island Activities


  • Great ideas for travel in the Philippines, very interesting to me as I am going to be there for about 4 weeks at the end of the year! Palawan Island is definitely on my list :) - Reply

    • I hope you get to go there, Katie, and then I can read all about your perspective of the island. I'm sure you'll just love it. -g - Reply

  • Looks stunning. I hope to go there next year so I'll definitely bookmark this one! - Reply

    • I'd love to hear your perspective once you go there, Sarah. Whenever I hear of someone traveling to the Philippines, they always seem to have such grand adventures. I'm sure you'd love it too. -g - Reply

  • Gorgeous! I saw the picture first and thought, wow, I didn't realize Vancouver Island had such blue water! I haven't been to the Philippines but I have seen pictures from other friends who have and it really looks amazing. - Reply

    • Ha ha, Tamara. We just like to keep you guessing. :) Maybe one day you will get to go see the beautiful water for yourself. -g - Reply

  • I feel like everybody's talking about Palawan right now! It's soooo making me want to go there. Hopefully all of us visiting won't spoil it because it looks like absolute paradise! - Reply