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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Palawan Islands the undiscovered islands

Palawan is one of the Last Unexplored Islands in the Pacific, as well as the location of the 1997 James Bond thriller "Tomorrow Never Dies." Jacques Cousteau remarked that Palawan was the most beautiful place he ever explored. Renowned underwater explorer Jacques Costeau has described Palawan as having one of the most Beautiful Seascapes in the world. Sprawled beneath the seas are nearly 11,000 square kilometers of coral reefs. Myriads of fish swim in these underwater gardens.

Home of Lofty Mountains, Rainforests, and the World's Longest Underground River, Palawan is nestled between Mindoro island and North Borneo. Palawan is nestled between Mindoro island and North Borneo. Miles upon miles of White Sandy Beaches...Crystal clear water that Abound with Multi-Colored fish and Corals in its sea floor.. Awe-Inspiring natural Scenic Wonders.. Palawan Historical and Archeological Treasures. Its Thousands of Islands and Islets are the home of various Tropical Flora, Fauna, Various Palawan Orchid species and Palawan Cherry Blossoms. Palawan is the home of Palawan Monkeys, Palawan Parrots, Palawan Bear cats, Palawan Peacock, Mongoose, Scaly AntEater, Porcupine, and mouse deer. The presence of Palawan 323 species of Wild Life in Palawan, gained the Province the title "HAVEN of the PHILIPPINE WILDLIFE".

Known the world over as the Philippines last ecological frontier, the province of Palawan harbor vast tracts of tropical rainforest and a huge expanse of marine wilderness. Thick canopies of trees carpet mountain ranges running the length of the mainland. Fringing reefs and coral atolls open a new realm to discover under the clear waters sorrounding this archipelago of more than 1,700 plus Tropical Islands. Ribbons of meandering streams and rivers wind through the mountains, nurturing robust stands of mangrove in the lowlands before flowing out to the sea.

Rocky coves and sandy beaches lie in primordial splendor along Palawan’s almost 2,000-Kilometer coastline. Renowned underwater explorer Jacques Costeau has described Palawan as having one of the most beautiful seascapes in the world. Sprawled beneath the seas are nearly 11,000 square kilometers of coral reefs. Myriads of fish swim in these underwater gardens.

Outstanding geographical features dot Palawan’s landscape. On the west coast, an array of limestome cliffs extends from Tabon Caves in the south all the way to Coron Reefs in the northern Calamianes islands. Challenging peaks with mystical names like Matalingahanan, Cleopatra’s needle, and Capuas attract dozens of climbers yearly.

Tourism sites

Archeological Exploration

The activity can be fun and endlessly appealing to both new and perennial visitors to Palawan. Visit the Tabon Caves and be enthralled by the chambers which yield knowledge about life 50,000 years ago.

Palawan Sea Kayaking

The islands scattered north of Palawan offer one of the world’s most spectacular marine environments. Towering limestone cliffs rear straight up from seas teeming with marine life, and hidden bays offer deserted beaches for camping. The coral reefs here are amongst the most extensive in the country, so be sure to bring your snorkeling gear. Many islands are also covered in jungle, the habitat of rare bird species. If you are willing to carry your boat, you can explore some of the lakes on Coron Island, home of the reclusive Tagbanua Tribe. Internationally known tour operators run regular sea kayaking tours among the islands around northern Palawan.

Tubbattaha Reefs

It is a marine sanctuary located in the Middle Central Sulu Sea, 98 nautical miles southeast of Puerto Princesa City. Declared a World Natural Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization {UNESCO) on December 1993, it is under protective management by the Department of National Defense {DND). It is under technical supervision by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) & the Department of Environment & Natural Resources {DENR). It is located in Cagayancillo town, Palawan. Trips to Tubbattaha from mid-March to mid-June are all vessel-based and require planning for a minimum of six weeks prior to departure. To reach the place, take a 70-minute flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa City. From the airport, a shuttle bus takes you to the dive boat. Boat ride from Puerto Princesa City takes approximately 12 hours.

Baragatan sa Palawan

A grand celebration of the founding of the civil government of Palawan is celebrated every third week of June in Puerto Princesa City. Highlights of the Baragatan are the LGU Trade and Food Fair, and colorful parade with participation from the different municipalities and private sectors, featuring the ethnic groups and the coronation of Ms. Palawan.

Coron Reefs

Seven enchanting lakes surrounded by craggy limestone cliffs attract hundreds of nature lovers to this island in northern Palawan, near the town of Coron.

El Nido Marine Reserve

Occupying an area of 96,000 hectares, this popular nature spot boasts of diverse ecosystems such as rainforest, mangroves, white sand beaches, coral reefs, and limestone cliffs. It is now one of the country's premier tourist destinations. Blessed with extraordinary natural scenery, El Nido is, the sanctuary of various forms of wildlife. Countless varieties of fish are also found here. Manta rays are a common sight; when in season, divers may see one of the world's rarest marine mammal, the sea cow, known locally as "dugong". Accommodations are available at El Nido Res

orts on the Miniloc and Pangulasian Islands. El Nido Resorts are noted for their hidden lagoons, palm forests, orchids, and offshore cruise points. Apart from the cozy accommodations, recreational facilities and aqua sports equipment are also available for tourists. Tours to the resort are possible through Ten Knots Corporation. The reserve is located in Miniloc Island, El Nido. From the Manila Domestic Airport, a charter plane flies to mainland El Nido, from where a pumpboat is taken for a trip to Miniloc Island where the resort is situated. Travel time is two hours by plane from Manila, 45 minutes by pumpboat to the resort area.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.

A world heritage site, this natural wonder features an 8.2 kilometer navigable underground river, reputed to be the world's longest, that winds through a spectacular cave before emptying out in to the South China Sea. This river flows within a deep cavern under rugged limestone and marble cliffs, special features of the park. Known as one of the world's wonders, this river stretches eight kilometers deep into an underground lagoon with crystalline waters. Within the hallowed recesses, one winds through the tunnel aboard a paddle boat with outriggers to be enthralled at every turn which reveals stalactite pillars, rock formations, and domed amphitheaters. The park is located in Bahile, Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Located 81 kilometers from the city proper, the place can be reached through Barangay Cabayugan to Sabang, from where one could take a pumpboat ride to the Underground River, or hike through a monkey trail. An alternative way to reach the river is through a hired pumpboat ride from Bahile wharf. Travel time through Barangay Cabayugan is 1 1/2 hours' jeepney ride and 10 to 15 minutes’ pumpboat ride or 1 1/2 hours’ hike.

Honda Bay

The bay consists of several islets with shallow reefs bordering fabulous beaches which have become the favorite swimming, snorkelling, and diving destinations of local residents and tourists. These islets are the Cannon (Cowrie) Island, Bat Island, Lu-Ii Island (derived from the word ""lulubog-lilitaw"", meaning floating and sinking island, is visible only during low tide), Meara Marina, Starfish Island (known for its fine white sand and clear water that teems with starfish), Snake Island (an island with a long stretch of fine white sand shaped like a snake), Pandan Island, and Senorita Island (the breeding site of lapu-lapu fish). Lodging facilities are available for overnight stays in the islands of Meara Marina and Starfish (Sandbar Resort). The bay is located in Sta. Lourdes Tagbanua, Puerto Princesa City. About 12 kilometers east of Puerto Princesa City is Sta. Lourdes wharf where pumpboats could be hired to take tourists to the island of their choice. Some islands require an entrance fee; others are privately owned, thus, permits from the owners are necessary. Sta. Lourdes wharf is 25 minutes away by hired tricycle or jeepney. A pumpboat ride from the wharf to the different islands is from 15 to 50 minutes.

Tabon Caves

Known as the ""Cradle of Philippine Civilization,"" Tabon Caves consists of a series of chambers where anthropologists discovered the remains of crude man and his tools. Anthropological significance came to the fore with the discovery of the remains of the 22,000 year old Tabon Man in one of its interiors, along with other artifacts decades ago. The caves are located in Lipuua Point, Quezon, Palawan. About 155 kilometers south of Puerto Princesa City, the place can be reached by taking a bus or jeepney ride from the provincial capital to Quezon. It is followed by a pumpboat ride from Quezon wharf to the caves. Travel time is 3-4 hours by bus or jeepney to Quezon and 20-30 minutes’ boat ride from Quezon pier to the caves.

Ursula Island Game Refuge and Bird Sanctuary

This island is a haven for birds that converge here two hours before sunset, to take their rest after a day's long flight. It is located in Rio, Tuba Village, Bataraza, Palawan. About 236 kilometers from Puerto Princesa City, the town of Bataraza can be reached by bus or jeepney which departs daily from the city. From Bataraza, proceed to Rio Tuba and then take a pumpboat ride to Ursula Island. Bataraza is 5-6 hours’ drive from Puerto Princesa City. The bird sanctuary is about 2 hours’ pumpboat ride from Rio Tuba.


Palawan is home to the seacow, known locally as dugong, a unique animal, being the only herbivorous mammal in existence today. We probabl

y owe our childhood fantasies of the mythical mermaid to the dugong, which, because of its fish-like tail, smooth brownish skin, mammary glands, and woman-like genitalia, was often mistaken by sailors, weary from long voyages, as a mermaid. The dugong can grow to more than three meters in length and can weigh more than 400 kg. Its body is torpedo-shaped with small short flippers and whale-like flukes. Its lip is shaped like a disk with thick hair.



Palawan has become more accessible today than it was many years back. The main entry points are the Puerto Princesa City airport and seaport, but visitors may also fly directly to selected northern destinations. Small commercial aircrafts from Manila and Puerto Princesa can ferry tourist, traders and businessmen to northern tourism destinations using the Busuanga and El Nido airstrips. There are also direct flights from Manila to Taytay landing in the Judge Cesar Lim Rodriguez airport. With the plans of national agovernment to upgrade the capital city’s airport to conform with international standards as well as the expansion and improvement of airstrips in major tourist towns like Coron and El Nido, travel to Palawan will definitely become easier and faster. Three commercial airlines provide daily flights between Manila and Puerto Princesa namely Philippine Air Lines, Air Philippines and Cebu Pacific. Smaller airlines such as Sea Air, Inter- Island Trans Voyager and Asian Spirit provide chartered and commuter flights to Cuyo, Coron, El Nido, Taytay, and Culion from Manila or Puerto Princesa City.


The concreting of the Puerto Princesa- Langogan- Roxas road in northern Palawan has tremendously shortened travel time from the City proper to the northern City barangays and the Roxas municipality. The rehabilitation of the 60 km national road between Taytay and El Nido is a big boost to the tourism industry as well as business and trade. Accessibility has also improved tremendously within the municipalities with the increased farm to market road network. Gov. Reyes fast- tracked the opening of 314.024 kms. Of farm to market roads linking about 90,000 hectares of farmlands to centers of trade and benefiting 21,000 farmers. Existing provincial road length is 1,428.193 kms. and there are 2,366.86 linear meters of provincial bridges.


Two major domestic shipping lines ferry passengers and cargo regularly from Manila to Puerto Princesa City and vice versa. Both also ply the Manila- Coron- Puerto Princesa City route and vice- versa. Sea travel takes approximately 24 hours, and passengers may choose from economy to luxury accommodations. Another commercial cargo vessel operates in the province, responding to the cargo requirements of business traders from Puerto Princesa City to Manila and vice versa. An inter- island vessel plies the Puerto Princesa- Cuyo- Iloilo route twice a week while another vessel provides a once a week trip to Manila- Coron – Liminangcong and back and weekly trips from Manila to Cuyo and vice versa.

Modest seaports that cam accommodate small to medium- sized vessels serve the needs of island municipalities and coastal villages. All towns are accessible by sea; municipal and privately- owned seaports link island and coastal villages with the rest of mainland Palawan.


The east coast has 4 months of dry season with rain possibility during the other 8 months. At our place, November and December are the wettest months. The west coast has 6 months dry and 6 months wet season. The island of Palawan is mostly typhoon free, except for the northern part. The two most prevalent winds are the softer northeast monsoon which blows from October to April and the stronger northwest monsoon which blows from June to September. Sea travel between the islands is best between April to June. Then the ocean is calm and flat as a mirror.

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