travel and tourism

Palawan’s mysterious Black Island

Isagani de Castro Jr.

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Palawan’s mysterious Black Island

ANCESTRAL. Malajon Island, popularly known as Black Island, is part of the ancestral domain of the Calamianes Tagbanua tribe in northern Palawan.

Isagani de Castro, Jr./Rappler

Although it's said to look like a pirate island, there are no pirates on Black Island – but it has white sand beaches, clear waters, cave pools, and a shipwreck
Palawan’s mysterious Black Island

PALAWAN, Philippines – If you want to experience the beauty of Philippine islands and islets adjacent to the West Philippine Sea, one of the islands you can visit is Malajon (also Malajem) Island, popularly known as Black Island, which is part of the town of Busuanga, Palawan province. 

WHITE. Black Island’s main white beach area has around 10 picnic huts. Isagani de Castro, Jr../Rappler

The 77.8-hectare island got its popular name from its dominant black and gray landscape since Malajon is karst or land made of limestone. 

Black Island is one of the ancestral domains of the Tagbanua (also Tagbanwa) tribe in the Calamianes Group of Islands. Commercial development is thus not allowed on the island.

Most tour operators in the tourist town of Coron or in Coron Island offer it as part of a package tour (around P2,500 per head) with the Calauit Safari Park on Calauit Island.

Must Watch

WATCH: Why the Calauit Safari Park is a rare experience 

WATCH: Why the Calauit Safari Park is a rare experience 

However, Black Island can also be accessed via a 30 to 40 minute boat ride from Calauit Island Port or from Salvacion town.

ACCESS. Black Island is around 30-40 minutes by boat from Calauit Island, and some tour operators offer both in one tour. Isagani de Castro, Jr./Rappler

Black Island has around 10 picnic huts on its main white beach area, two basic toilets for females with one dressing room, and two toilets for males. Like in most of the small islands and islets, Black Island charges an environmental fee of P200 per head. 

BASIC. The toilets and dressing room in Black Island. Isagani de Castro, Jr./Rappler

Black Island reportedly has three caves. The nearest one to the main beach area is just a 5-minute walk from the shore and has a small pool you can swim in. 

ENTRY. The entrance to one of the caves of Black Island. Isagani de Castro, Jr./Rappler

LIMESTONE. One of the caves in Black Island is just a 5-minute walk from the main beach. Isagani de Castro, Jr./Rappler

Illegal harvesting of bird’s nests – dried saliva made by Balinsasayaw (swiftlet) birds – in caves in the islands and islets of Busuanga had been cited as a concern in the Municipality of Busuanga Environmentally Critical Areas Network (ECAN) Resource Management Plan 2017-2022. The bird’s nests are allegedly sold to Chinese traders and used to make the expensive Chinese delicacy, bird’s nest soup. 

DIP. One of the cave pools in Black Island where visitors can swim. Isagani de Castro Jr./Rappler

Near the white beach area is a shallow shipwreck of the Nanshin Maru, a Japanese cargo ship that reportedly ran aground in 1943, according to, which claims to be the world’s largest online wreck database. Dive operators recommend it for beginning scuba divers since the wreck is just 20 to 30 meters under water. Scuba divers have the chance to see lots of beautiful fish in and around the wreck. Watch in this video below by US-based diving group Whole Other World Scuba:

Palawan’s mysterious Black Island

The islands and islets of Busuanga are rich in marine species, and some are home to dugongs and sea turtles.

In 2011, a survey found that over 30% Busuanga’s mangroves were classified as in good to excellent condition, 42% were generally fair, and 25% in poor condition.

Northern Palawan has dry weather from December to May, and is rainy from June to November. – 

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Avatar photo


Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.