Named after the most important of its 1,780 islands, biodiversity hotspot Palawan is the “final ecological frontier” of the Philippines. The emerald archipelago is strung throughout turquoise waters, making island-hopping one of the simplest ways to expertise signature Palawan experiences like floating by means of an underground river, swimming in hidden lagoons, and diving amongst World Struggle II shipwrecks.
“New regular” protocols, equivalent to carrying face masks and sustaining bodily distancing, are in place all through Palawan; all guests are required to have a unfavorable COVID-19 take a look at previous to arrival. As a result of enhanced well being and security measures and wealth of actions, Palawan is price contemplating while you’re able to take that long-awaited island getaway.
Start your journey in Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s provincial capital and foremost arrival hub. Positioned close to the midpoint of Palawan Island, town is the launch pad for banca (conventional outrigger boat) island-hopping excursions in close by Honda Bay, a globally vital habitat for the endangered whale shark, the most important fish within the sea, reaching lengths of as much as 32 ft. Protected within the Philippines since 1998, the colossal whale sharks go to Honda Bay seasonally to feed on Philippine anchovy, shrimp-like krill, and small fish.
To preserve, defend, and handle Honda Bay’s pure assets, the bay was designated a Marine Key Biodiversity Space. Sustainable tourism actions, such because the banca excursions, help native conservation efforts. Sometimes, banca journeys cease at three islands in Honda Bay and permit ample time for snorkeling, swimming, and recognizing marine life. Together with whale sharks, you can see bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, and gentle-giant dugongs, a detailed cousin of the manatee. Within the azure waters surrounding Starfish Island, search for staghorn corals and orange sea stars.
Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River
From Honda Bay, head north to Ugong Rock Adventures, a community-based sustainable tourism challenge managed and run by an area indigenous cooperative. The challenge’s point of interest is a free-standing, limestone karst tower laced with caves and named for the haunting hum (ugong in Tagalog) produced when cave explorers faucet a stalactite with a rubber mallet. Hear the buzzing sound on a spelunking (caving) tour and hike up the tower for big-thrill actions like zip-biking and ziplining. On the way in which to Ugong Rock, cease on the Buenavista Viewdeck for Instagram-worthy views of glimmering Ulugan Bay.
Subsequent up is a nationwide treasure: Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River Nationwide Park, a World Heritage website voted one of many New 7 Wonders of Nature. To guard the park’s mountain-to-sea ecosystem, a allow is required to go to. E book a guided boat tour (allow included) to glide by means of cathedral-like caverns on one of many world’s longest navigable underground rivers. Bodily distancing is enforced all through the tour and boats are sanitized between rides to guard the well being of friends and guides.
Proceed north to El Nido, situated on the tip of the Palawan mainland, for island-hopping in a mesmerizing dreamscape: Bacuit Bay archipelago. A part of the practically 350-square-mile El Nido-Taytay Managed Useful resource Protected Space, the most important marine sanctuary within the Philippines, the Bacuit Bay’s 45 jungle-cloaked islands and towering karst islets dot impossibly-clear blue waters.
On day excursions, eco-friendly outrigger boats leapfrog between islands like Miniloc, house to cliff-lined lagoons and a secret seashore reached by means of an underwater passage, and Vigan, nicknamed ‘Snake’ for its serpentine sandbar.
E book a dive journey to swim by means of the kaleidoscope of colours created by the estimated 800 species of fish and 120 species of coral discovered right here. Among the many most vibrant Bacuit Bay sea creatures are the clownfish, parrotfish, and seahorses. For a extra personal Bacuit Bay expertise, ebook a keep on the El Nido Resorts sustainable retreat on Miniloc Island or Pangulasian Island. To assist create a secure setting, each luxurious properties are limiting occupancy and have applied enhanced well being protocols, equivalent to foot baths, misting, hand sanitizing, and thermal scanning upon arrival.
The island-hopping grand finale is Coron, a part of the Calamian Archipelago north of Palawan Island. Coron City, situated on the principle island, Busanga, is the start line for boat excursions to jagged limestone islets, shallow-water coral reefs, and engaging shipwreck websites—together with remnants of seven Japanese World Struggle II vessels sunk in September, 1944.
A finest guess for newbie scuba divers is the wreck of the Okikawa Maru. The well-preserved oil tanker sits at comparatively shallow depths (32 to 85 ft below the floor), is roofed with laborious and delicate corals, and is surrounded by swirling tropical fish.
For a less-technical underwater journey, hop on a ship to neighboring Coron Island and expertise the mind-boggling fantastic thing about Kayangan Lake. Dubbed “the blue lagoon,” the world-famous lake is tucked amongst surreal rock formations seen above and beneath the floor of the water. A volcanic sizzling spring feeds the lake, which means the water temperature goes up as you dive down. As with all Palawan locations the place guests are returning slowly however absolutely, the out of doors setting is nature made for bodily distancing and enhanced security requirements are in place to assist curb the unfold of COVID-19.
For extra journey pointers and updates go to www.philippines.journey/safetrip for data.