While truly seasoned adventurers tend to avoid labels like “worlds most beautiful island, 2014” with full knowledge of the fact that they’re typically ill-gotten titles, the proximity of Palawan to where we were staying in China definitely made the leap more appealing. Granted we did not know about the label given to the island until we had landed and walked through the two-room airport only to see a banner (half as wide as the building) hanging from the ceiling.
Night landing in Puerta Princesa
Palawan is a place that puts one’s desktop wallpaper sunset to shame. Honestly, every computer-screen dreamscape I’ve glanced at since my trip there has seemed, quaint? It is not about the not-too-prominent culture, or the food, both of which seeming to cater to the islands primary industry, tourism. You should go primarily for the outdoor life. Scuba diving, boating, snorkeling, among other exotic sports will take your breath away. Teeming with underwater life, the peripheral smaller islands, especially near to El Nido are the stuff of legends. Encompassed by crystalline waters for a radius of actual kilometers in distance, we here at Rarejaunt spent days kayaking to smaller islands with small picnic baskets in tow, only to arrive and imbibe the glory of our surroundings, sunlight…as well as the booze in our little watercraft.
When not engaging in amphibious activities we decided to attempt exploratory hikes, such as the one to Nafkalit-Kalit Falls, a waterfall located 30 minutes into the jungle by hike. We were lead there by affable locals, who offered light-hearted advice coupled with a charming surcharge. In all seriousness though, our guide went off into the distance and we barely saw him again. You’ll need the him however, regardless of your feelings toward toward the notion; the jungle is vast and thick. After a few weeks in the area, we can safely say we had a wonderful time. El Nido was a prime example of the boundaries of nature’s aesthetic capability. Endlessly beautiful, relaxing, and an all around good trip.
If you go during peak season, it will be warm-hot. This is not the best destination for those who are heat sensitive as functioning air-conditioning is not always a guarantee in developing countries and the oceans one would enjoy splashing around in will be warm as well.
Beach or Town?
It’s quite difficult to get away from the beach actually as the main town is no larger than three or four roads deep to begin with. Paying a little extra for beach-front stuff could be nice, and you’ll likely get one for a cost effective rate if you search diligently. Recommending a single place to stay would be a challenge, we’ve stayed in three places while in El Nido, all of them had perks and we enjoyed the time spent in them.
Many of Palawan’s cultural events and celebrations occur from November to May, which also happens to be the peak section of the year to go in order to avoid the famous inclement weather season of Southeast Asia.
Bring your camera:
Really, if anything is accomplished in this trip it should be a decent photography session between you and nature. Getting a bad shot should be a near impossibility. If you don’t have a good camera I would highly recommend getting a clip on lens for your smart phone to get some pretty good wide angle shots, they’re cheap and can be found online quite easily.