MANILA, Philippines - Palawan, considered the country’s last frontier, was definitely on a roll this year.
After being hailed by online travel magazine Smart Travel Asia as one of the top 10 holiday destinations in the world, more tourists are expected to troop to the island in 2013.
Popular travel guide Lonely Planet also included Palawan in its highly-anticipated best in travel 2013 list. The island was recognized as one of the 10 best regions to see in 2013, dubbed “the ultimate archipelago for adventurers.”
Palawan is truly deserving of these accolades. It does not only boast of beautiful beaches and towering limestone karsts; it is also home to some of the country’s happiest and most hospitable people — that unique factor that makes traveling “more fun in the Philippines” for foreign and local tourists alike.
I understand why people keep coming back to Palawan sooner than they hope to. I am one of those travelers who have been charmed by the province’s carefree lifestyle and sweeping land and seascape.
It is — to put it subtly — hard to resist Palawan’s call.
Here are 5 reasons why I think Palawan should be on your must-experience list in the coming holidays or in summer next year:
Coron Island is found north of mainland Palawan.
It should not be mistaken for the larger Busuanga Island, where Coron town is located.
If you have been to El Nido (also in Palawan), you might think that Coron pales in comparison. However, if you keep an open mind as you go from one lagoon to another, you will see that Coron has its own exquisite allure.
Coron’s lagoons are postcard-perfect spots that remain unspoiled to this day, with stunning limestone karsts in the background. If you're part of a group that's on a tour, try to find time and ask some locals to take you on their paddle boats, too.
This way, you can visit areas that are not covered by the usual tours. (You will see that the Tagbanuas probably have the country’s best homes with stunning views.)
Cuyo holds sweet surprises for those who brave the rough ride to the island.
Nestled between the islands of mainland Palawan and Panay, Cuyo is not your usual destination.
The trip to the island tests a traveler’s patience and enthusiasm, but you'll see that there is a "reward" waiting at the end of it.
By "reward," I mean the island’s greatest asset: its people. In Cuyo, everyone seems to understand and hold deep respect for the simple life.
3) El Nido
This little town’s beauty is sublime and grand at the same time.
With its dramatic limestone karsts, amazing white sand beaches, impressive lagoons and intriguing caves, anyone who has visited El Nido will attest to its jaw-dropping beauty (and maybe even fall in love with the place at first sight).
Cadlao Island, for example, is a sight to behold. The rest of the 45 islands and islets that comprise the Bacuit Archipelago need to be seen and experienced as well.
The location manager of The Bourne Legacy that filmed in the Philippines this year called El Nido "a paradise on earth" (Check out the movie's fantastic last scene! #PinoyPride!)
4) Port Barton
Although not totally undiscovered, Port Barton is still relatively unknown to local tourists.
It’s a shame, really, especially when the quaint coastal community easily provides the solitude one hopes for after two hours of bumpy ride from the national highway that cuts through a well-preserved forest. (The forest is actually a destination in itself!)
Port Barton's powder-white sand will remind you of Boracay; the town's simplicity and its people’s hospitality will move you, too.
5) Puerto Princesa
This is Palawan’s capital that serves as your gateway around the province — a very fitting starting point for a Palawan adventure.
The city’s character is charming. You can enjoy leisurely walks. Restaurants have a carefree ambiance (visit Ka Lui). They should not be missed.
The "star" of Puerto Princesa is the Underground River. If you want to visit this place that has been named as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, plan your tour ahead. The crowd it attracts gets crazier by the minute.
Good thing the city tries to limit the Underground River visitors at 900 per day. - Rappler.com
Follow the author’s travels as Juanderkid at www.ameramor.com. He is a college instructor, freelance writer, travel blogger and a whale shark conservation advocate.