The region of Palawan feels like its own world. It has remained relatively untouched or affected by development, making it one of the most rural and sparsely populated regions in the Philippines.
Although Palawan lacks many modern-day attractions, it makes up for that with unsurpassed natural beauty. It’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, with lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and pristine beaches. Not to mention, it’s one of the best diving destinations in the world.
Home to hundreds of islands, Palawan is considered the ultimate tropical destination for many travelers. With so many things to do in Palawan, it might be hard to decide where and how to spend your time in the Philippines. No matter what Palawan activities you choose to do, you’ll have an unforgettable time in this tropical paradise.
*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels in the Philippines check prices on Booking.com, we’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.*
1. Puerta Princessa Underground River
With only the light of a lantern guiding you, an underground river tour in Puerto Princesa is one of the most spectacular ways to see Palawan. As you gently make your way through miles of limestone caves, you’ll see dark caverns and sprawling chambers that were carved millions of years ago.
Stretching almost three miles and emptying into the West Philippine Sea, the Puerto Princesa underground river is one of the longest navigable underground rivers in the world. Tours can be done by boat or kayak. Once you enter the cave, you’ll see giant stalactites and stalagmites all around you.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, the underground river is also home to a variety of wildlife. On your tours, you’ll see birds, bats, and even macaque monkeys! As one of the most biologically diverse things to do in Palawan, you can’t miss a ride through the jaw-dropping underground river.
Make sure to book your Underground River tour in advance, they limit the number of tickets to 1,000 per day. Spot fill up fast and weeks in advance. You can book online before traveling to the Philippines, click here for all tour options.
*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels in the Palawan check prices on Booking.com, we’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.*
2. Island hopping in El Nido
Home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, El Nido is a slice of tropical paradise in the Philippines. It’s comprised of 45 different islands and islets, each one more beautiful than the last. A few of El Nido’s most popular destinations include Seven Commandos Beach, Simizu Island, and Bacuit Bay.
If you want to make the most of your trip to El Nido, consider renting a boat or joining a tour for a day of island hopping. Most tours include a visit to three or four of El Nido’s most popular destinations.
As you make your way from island to island, you’ll see white sand beaches, clear turquoise lagoons, and rugged limestone cliffs. You might even get the chance to dive or snorkel through the emerald lagoons.
In El Nido, there are preset island day trips: Island Hopping Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, and D. If you only have time for one we’d say go on Tour A, it’s the best one and our second pick would be Tour C. Tour B does visit Snake Island, which is picture-perfect.
We have gone on group trips, rented a private boat, and taken the same route. If you are traveling as a couple or a group, we highly suggest going with the private boat option. This way, you can set your own schedule, stay as long as you want in places, avoid other boats, and be with your group only.
On our last trip, we rented a private boat (up to 18 passengers) for the entire day 8+ hours for $80. The price is not set, so you’ll have to do some negotiating.
Best El Nido Island Hopping Tours
- Tour A – Book Online Now Only $32
- Tour B – Book Online Now Only $30
- Tour C – Book Online Now $28
- Tour D – Book Online Now Only $24
3. Diving in Coron
Coron is known for having some of the best dive sites in the world, and it’s easy to see why. With enticingly clear waters and vibrant sea life, scuba diving in Coron is one of the coolest things to do in Palawan.
There are a variety of places and tours to choose from, but some of the most popular dive spots in Coron are the shipwreck dives. Submerged deep below the surface of the ocean are 12 well-preserved World War II boats, aircraft carriers, and planes. The biggest Japanese wrecks to dive are Akitsushima, Irako Maru, Kogyuo Maru, and Kyokuzan Maru.
If you are interested in a more traditional diving experience, then Coron has something for you as well. Seven Islands Reef, Kalambuyan Reef, and Barracuda Lake are just a few spots teeming with bright corals and fish.
Related Article: Siargao – The Philippines’ Best Kept Secret
4. Kayangan Lake Coron
Whether you’re staying in Coron Town or simply visiting Coron for the day, don’t forget to visit the famous Kayangan Lake. As one of the most popular things to do in Palawan, this lake is said to have the cleanest and clearest water in the Philippines. Click here for all tours that visit Kayangan Lake.
The easiest way to reach Kayangan Lake is by boat. You can choose to join a tour or rent a private boat that allows you to explore the unparalleled beauty of the lake and Coron Bay. Swim in the turquoise lagoons, explore the Awuyuk Kayangan Caves, and take photos of the stunning cliffs and lush green surroundings.
If you ever thought about getting a drone, DO IT. The Palawan is the ideal place to fly and get amazing footage. If you aren’t sure which one to get, check out my travel drone guide. New to the market is the DJI Mavic Mini, which is a game-changer for only $399.
5. Snake Island El Nido
On your island tour B in El Nido, stop by Snake Island, one of the most underrated islands in the Philippines. Located far away from the crowds and masses of tourists, Snake Island is a tranquil spot where you can admire nature at its finest. Island hopping tour B can be booked online for $35.
Known to the locals as Vigan Island, Snake Island got its name from is winding, curved shaped. It’s connected to mainland Palawan by a thin strip of land; however, the sandbar can be visible or hidden depending on the movement of the tide.
On Snake Island, there are a variety of activities to keep you entertained. You can swim, dive, or sunbathe on the vast stretch of sandy beach. For the best view of the surrounding area, climb up the small mountain to the sundeck for sweeping 360-degree panoramas of Palawan.
6. Sunset at Nacpan Beach
Nacpan Beach is also located in El Nido and boasts some of the most stunning sunsets in Palawan. Lined with hundreds of swaying palm trees, Nacpan Beach can be reached by car, bike, or scooter. Tucked away down a long dirt path, you’ll suddenly emerge into the vast stretch of coastline.
As the sun starts to set over the horizon, you’ll see the colors in the sky change from a bright blue to a warm orange. There are a few restaurants and bars in the area where you can grab a cocktail or dinner and admire the vibrant sunset in front of you.
7. Expedition Cruise from Coron to El Nido
For one of the best off the beaten path experiences, take an expedition cruise from Coron to El Nido. Head past the tip of Palawan and through the Linapacan Islands for some of the clearest waters and diving conditions.
Often not included in other tours, the Linapacan Islands can’t be missed during your visit to Palawan. Located halfway between Coron and El Nido, this cluster of islands is the ultimate tropical paradise and one of our favorite things to do in Palawan.
Not to mention, you’ll have the opportunity to visit tropical beaches, hidden islands, and deserted lagoons. Depending on the type of cruise you choose, it usually lasts for several days and includes accommodation, meals, and any equipment required for your activities. You’ll visit some of the best places in the Philippines!
We recommend booking an expedition cruise with El Nido Paradise. They have several different expedition cruises to choose from. All the cruises include meals, water, rum & coke, snorkel equipment, tents & bedding, and amazing scenery. Prices vary based on the dates and length of the expedition cruise. Click here to book online.
8. Visit Taytay
Palawan is home to hundreds of beautiful, untouched islands, and Taytay is no exception. However, Taytay is more than just a tropical escape: in the early 1800s, it was also the first capital of the Calamianes province.
There are plenty of things to do and places to visit during your trip to Taytay. For outdoor water sports, you can snorkel through schools of fish and colorful corals on Elephant Island and Isla Blanca.
You can also explore Taytay’s rich heritage by visiting the For Santa Isabel fortress. Built in 1667, this towering fortress once defended the waters from intruding pirates. This historic landmark is now a museum.
9. Island-hopping Honda Bay
Located on the Eastern shore of Palawan, the small islands of Honda Bay are just 30 minutes away from the Puerto Princesa underground river. With a guided tour or private boat, you can spend the day hopping between several of these pristine islands. Click here to view all tour options, tours are as cheap as $29.
Your first stop should be to Starfish Island, where you can find colorful starfish lining the shores and floating in the ocean. Then, make your way to Luli Island, where you can enjoy a nice lunch and cold beer in the sun. Finally, head to Cowrie Island for some fun water activities, like kayaking, swimming, and jet skiing.
If you are interested in diving or snorkeling, you might want to look elsewhere. Honda Bay isn’t known for its visibility or marine life.
10. Tabon Caves
Situated on the tip of Lipuun Point, the Tabon Caves are an archeological site where the oldest human fossils were discovered! This complex is home to 215 caves, 38 of which have archeological significance.
Within the cave excavation site, you’ll find numerous artifacts, with some objects dating back 50,000 years. Along with burial jars, jade jewelry, and stone tools, the Tabon Caves are known for their ancient human remains.
Besides the museum, you can also take a boat ride and hike through the caves. On this adventurous tour, you’ll trek through the illuminated caves that were once inhabited by humans thousands of years ago.
11. Secret Beach El Nido
Another spot on your island-hopping tour of El Nido should be Secret Beach. Located on Matinloc Island, this hidden gem is concealed by black cliffs and can only be accessed via the water through a small crevice in the rocks. To visit Secret Beach, make sure to book El Nido Tour C.
With your snorkel and life vest, you’ll make your way through a small keyhole opening. Once you’re on the other side, you’ll be rewarded with a visit to the stunning Secret Beach. This beach may be relatively small, but it’s a mini paradise complete with white sand and inviting turquoise waters.
Since you have to swim to enter Secret Beach, you won’t be able to take your camera or phone unless they’re packed in a securely waterproof bag. If you have a Go-Pro, you can take a few photos to remember this stunning slice of paradise in Palawan! We highly suggest getting a Go Pro dome for awesome over-under water shots, click here for examples and how to use a Go Pro dome.
12. Bakbakan Falls
One of the most exciting things to do in Palawan is pay a visit to the flowing waterfalls of Bakbakan Falls. Located in Barangay Mainit near Brooke’s Point, this waterfall cascades 200 feet into a river pool. Nicknamed the “Mother of Waterfalls,” Bakbakan Falls is the 7th and final waterfall on Brooke’s Point Nature Park Reserve.
The 10-minute hike to the top of the falls is relatively easy for beginners and intermediate hikers. However, the trail can be narrow and steep, so make sure to wear comfortable clothing and sturdy hiking shoes.
13. Big & Small Lagoon El Nido
El Nido is teeming with fascinating islands. However, the Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon are two destinations that can’t be skipped during your trip to Palawan. To visit them both make sure to book El Nido Tour A, this tour circuit visits both.
The emerald waters of the Big Lagoon are surrounded by dark limestone cliffs, making it the perfect spot for kayaking, snorkeling, or swimming. Even if you don’t jump into the water, you can still marvel at the astounding beauty of Big Lagoon’s landscape.
Unlike the open channel of the Big Lagoon, the Small Lagoon can only be accessed through a small slit in the cave. Since boats are too big to enter, you must swim or kayak to enter the Small Lagoon.
14. Take a Coron Island Day Trip
To make the most of your time in Palawan, we recommend taking a day trip to Coron Island. No matter what type of tour or boat cruise you choose, you’ll have an unforgettable time exploring the tropical beauty of this paradise.
There are many must-see destinations in the Palawan to visit during your day trip. If you are interested in an island-hopping tour, you can hop aboard a cruise around Coron Harbor and Coron Bay. On this tour, you’ll likely stop at Balinsayaw Reef, Kayangan Lake, and many other tropical lagoons and inlets.
Other tours might take you to Twin Lagoon, where you can relax in the warm, shallow waters. If you’re interested in something more adventurous, you can also snorkel or dive in Coron. The underwater shipwrecks in Coron are considered some of the best dive spots and are one of the best things to do in Palawan.
Related Article: Everything you NEED to know about Coron
15. Port Baron
Port Baron is often referred to as the smaller, more tranquil version of El Nido. Due to its laidback atmosphere, this off the beaten path village attracts a variety of international travelers, most notably backpackers.
Located on the northwest coast of Palawan, Port Baron is relatively untouched and unspoiled, especially when compared to other islands in the Philippines. Don’t expect any high-end resorts, gourmet restaurants, or ATMs.
However, a trip to Port Baron can be gratifying. There are pristine beaches, flowing waterfalls, and lush surroundings everywhere you look. Some of Port Baron’s highlights include Pamuayan Waterfall, Bigaho Waterfall, and White Beach.