The Philippines may be a relatively small country in terms of land area, but interestingly, it has the fourth longest coastline in the world. In this archipelago of 7,107 islands with more than 36,000 kilometers of coastline, you can explore hundreds of warm tropical spots for various activities. You can practically do anything you dream of doing underwater or over it with its countless of options of pristine beaches and reefs.
In the case of the province of Palawan located on the central-western part of the Philippine archipelago, tourists are bound to find themselves in awe as they immerse themselves in the province’s natural beauty.
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park
Spanning 97,030 hectares, the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Cagayancillo, Palawan is a protected marine and bird sanctuary declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Visitors can enjoy the bounds of a spectacular 100-meter perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands in Tubbataha. This jaw-dropping diving destination is best visited from March to June when the waters are at their warmest.
Supporting an unparalleled variety of marine life, it is recognized as a center of marine biodiversity and is home to some of the most beautiful, pristine coral reefs in the world. A number of scientific researches since the 1980s have revealed that the park contains thousands of marine, coral and bird species.
El Nido is a first-class municipality and protected area in Palawan. It is often referred to as “The Philippines’ Last Frontier.” As one of the most diverse ecosystems in the country, it hosts an interesting stretch of flora and fauna and geologic formations. The extraordinary natural splendor of its ecosystem features towering limestone cliffs, prehistoric caves and waterfalls, enchanting lagoons, white sandy beaches, virgin forests, lowland evergreen forests, semi-deciduous forests, beach forests and mangrove forests. It is also home to a number of endemic and threatened species of birds, marine mammals, marine turtles, fishes and corals.
The best time for diving in El Nido is from March to May when water visibility typically ranges from 10 to 30 meters. Generally, divers, snorkelers and swimmers can move around without difficulty with the manageable current that remains slight to moderate throughout the year.
Puerto Princesa Underground River
The Puerto Princesa Underground River is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is recognized as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. This protected area north of the city center of Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s capital, features an underground river that winds through limestone cliffs. Its rock formations and river channels are sights to behold.
In 2010, a group of environmentalists and geologists discovered a second floor and a cave dome above this underground river, which suggests the presence of small waterfalls inside the cave. They also found more marine creatures including large bats, a deep water hole in the river and deeper areas that are almost impossible to explore due to lack of oxygen.
Coron World War II Wrecks
The municipality of Coron situated north of Palawan comprises the eastern half of Busuanga Island, all of Coron Island, as well as about 50 other islets. It is a premier scuba diving destination best known for its wreck diving sites.
The wrecks in Coron Bay and surrounding shores of Busuanga are often described as the best-preserved World War II wrecks in Asia. As a bonus during their visit, divers can treat themselves with some history lessons about the wrecks they find underwater.