Perfect Palawan.

Philippines

by Keven Osborne , 2011

I had two weeks in the Philippines early 2011; some school friends had been in 2002 and suggested I focus on Palawan, given I only had two weeks. I didn’t even make it to Boracay…!

The Philippines has the great fortune of not being one of the One World airline hubs – Manila isn’t a stop-off for the ubiquitous STA Travel or Trailfinders round-the-world packages. Subsequently it still has a long way to go to catch up with mainland SE Asia in terms of the gap year takeover, as it simply doesn’t have the same volume of foreign visitors. However, the Philippines is still very affordable and accessible to get to from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore on one of the new low-cost Asian carriers.

My journey took me from Peurto Princesa, the island’s capital, in the south to Coron on Busuanga Island in the north.

Peurto Princesa has a pleasant colonial feel about it with a small centre and busy, dusty backstreets randomly winding away from the Peurto Princesa Bay waterfront.

It’s further north however that the island becomes littered with picture-perfect tropical archipelagos, the most famous being El Nido’s Bacuit Archipelago. Further south, Taytay Bay and Port Barton offer beautiful, less-visited white sand island havens.

A dramatic 7-hour small boat trip between El Nido and Coron through the Linapacan Strait, if not for the weak-stomached, is a great way to see passing uninhabited islands and travel like a local.

There is world-class diving off Coron, renowned for deep and technical wreck dives. For the non-divers among us, there are plenty of fine swimming spots, isolated beaches, and lagoons just a short boat trip away.

Two weeks on the island of Palawan and stories from further afield left me gagging for more! I can’t wait to visit at least a few of the other islands that make up the Philippines, and to sip some more of that fine Tanduay Filipino rum…

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