Destinations

The Philippines: home to the best island in the world

Kate Webster

Philippines’ Palawan Island, which was officially named the ‘Best Island in the World’ by Condé Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2015*, is the gem in the crown of 7,500 islands.

Teeming with exotic wildlife, quaint fishing villages and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Palawan is one of the Philippines’ most sparsely populated regions and is part of a group of islands that stretches 650km from Mindoro in the northeast, to Borneo in the southwest.

Two additional islands from the Philippines also featured in Condé Nast’s highly acclaimed list (Boracay ranking at 15th and Cebu coming in at 19th), which goes a long way in describing the beauty that this extraordinary country has to offer.

 

El Nido, Palawan.

Set between the West Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the Philippines has been a mythical and largely undiscovered mystery for many Australian travellers, however Norjamin Delos Reyes, Tourism Attaché at Philippine Department of Tourism Australia and New Zealand, said that this is rapidly changing.

“When choosing the perfect island getaway in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is quickly emerging as the must-see destination for Australians. Palawan, and all of the islands in the Philippines, conjuring up images of everything travellers are seeking from an island getaway – far flung, unexplored and stunningly beautiful.”

Palawan is in the Southwest part of the Philippines, home to white sandy beaches, lagoons and coves, as well as hundreds of species of fish and coral. Guests who visit Palawan can expect to explore the most incredible beaches, swim in pristine, crystal-clear waters, and experience an abundance of wildlife – both on land and underwater.

“Palawan is not like any other scenic attraction. It gives you that certain vibe, a feel of bliss, no matter what you are seeking – relaxation, a romantic holiday or adventure. Do you know that certain happy memory you always want to replay in your mind? That’s Palawan.”

“Visitors can choose to stay in luxurious award winning resorts, or more novel accommodation such as their very own cottage on stilts above the ocean. For activities, guests can spend time snorkelling in unusual sites such as orchid-walled lagoons, diving in some of the best sites in the world or visiting a UNESCO listed World Heritage site,” said Norjamin.

Travellers to Palawan, can also visit the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature. Said to be the longest navigable underground river in the world, this natural marvel winds its way underneath a mountain range, through the St. Paul Underground River Cave and then goes out into the South China Sea.

puerto_princesa_underground_river

The journey through the cave system alone is 24 kilometres long. Travellers can explore the subterranean cave system via guided boat tours, which take visitors down a portion of the waterway to see the natural rock formation created by dissolving limestone.

El Nido is another top travel destination in Palawan and is known as the Philippines’s ‘last frontier’, boasting magnificent beaches in an unspoiled setting. It’s a little known fact that Alex Garland, the author of the novel-turned-film The Beach, lived and wrote his bestselling novel in El Nido, inspired by the secluded and unspoiled paradise.

Top five things to do whilst visiting Palawan:

  1. Hop on a boat to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River
  2. Hike up Ugong Rock
  3. Spot endangered wildlife at the Calauit Game Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary
  4. Bask in the Maquinit hot springs
  5. Scuba dive in the crystal clear waters of Tubbataha Reef and Coral Garden which are regarded as some of the best diving sites in the world.

How to get there:

From Manila, it is a one hour and 15 minute flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s main airport. Alternatively, ferries travel between Manila and the island several days a week.

For more information visit Tourism Philippines at https://www.tourismphilippines.com.au/.

*Condé Nast Traveler – Best Islands in the World: Readers’ Choice Award 2015 – More than 128,000 travellers participated in Condé Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2015 annual survey, which is now in its 28th year. The list of best hotels, islands, resorts and cities was compiled using the participants’ comments and ratings. Voted on by the travel magazine’s readers, was published in October 2015 and covered destinations from nearby Caribbean beaches to far-flung islands in Southeast Asia.


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