Boracay often steals the limelight when it comes to Philippine beaches, but the Palawan archipelago, comprising 1,780 islands in the western Philippines, is equally spectacular for its exotic wildlife, quaint fishing villages, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites (and its swathes of unspoilt sand, of course!). Ready to dive right in? Here's how to enjoy the best that this breathtaking oasis has to offer…
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Coron is a fantastic base for an adventure (just off the coast of Palawan), especially for underwater explorers wanting to dive amid the Japanese shipwrecks of the 1940s (ranked among the best dive sites in the world!). There's plenty of local groups that will take you to the wrecks – don't miss discovering the impressive Akitsushima, Morazan and Sangat dive sites if you get the chance.
Something you have to see while in postcard-ready Coron is Kayangan Lake. Arguably the region's most photographed spot (and for good reason), this magnificent natural gem is blessed with some of the Philippines' clearest water. Unsurprisingly, swimming, rafting and diving are popular here, promising a fantastic experience you won't soon forget.
Back on the main island, there's also plenty to enjoy. Another must-do is taking a guided boat tour along the eight-kilometre Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. The world's longest navigable underground river, it flows to the South China Sea through a nearly 24-kilometre cave – amazing.
Or, keep things simple (but still incredible) and soak up the sunshine in the El Nido region. Here, golden-sand beaches sit amongst colourful villages. There's also a growing culinary scene to enjoy in El Nido, with everything from tiny cafes and laid-back beach clubs to wonderful seafood restaurants on offer.
If you haven't yet had your fill of adventure, you'll also find plenty of thrills in El Nido. Just a scenic boat trip from the region's main township (Corong Corong Beach), the aptly named Big Lagoon doesn't disappoint. Beloved for its giant limestone cliffs and crystalline shallow waters, this sensational spot is great for sailing and kayaking (join one of the local boat tours) and just marvelling at the beauty of Mother Nature.
One last experience to add to your Palawan itinerary? Make your way to El Nido's Tapiutan Island on an island-hopping tour and hit the water at Star Beach (feature image). A tiny pocket of paradise with pristine waters and more grand limestone formations, it's a winner for snorkelling – keep an eye out for colourful fish and gorgeous coral gardens. Just between us, it's also a top spot for that all-important Palawan holiday snap (no judgement!).
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