Palawan - Tourist Attractions, How to Get There, and More

Palawan, Philippines

Palawan Island is located to the far west of the Philippine Islands, between the South China Sea to the northwest and the Sulu Sea to the southeast. The island is the largest of the province of Palawan, containing an abundance of wildlife and jungle mountains, and is mostly undeveloped. Palawan Island is 280 miles long and 31 miles wide. The capital city of the island is Puerto Princessa.


The first people to have landed on the island arrived in 220 to 263 A.D., followed by Chinese traders in 982 A.D. Malay settlers arrived in the 12th century, followed by Indonesians in the 13th century. The island came under Spanish rule in the 18th and 19th centuries and was freed by the Americans in 1902, followed by the establishment of government, education and agriculture on the island.

Many of the native inhabitants were killed by the Japanese during World War II to prevent them from becoming prisoners of war. It is known in history as the Palawan Massacre of 1944. The island was liberated from Japan in 1945. The population of Palawan Island in 2010 was 771,667.

The People

The people of Palawan are a mix of 87 different cultural groups, predominantly influenced by China, India and the Middle East. There are 52 languages and dialects spoken, with more than half speaking Tagalog, followed by Cuyonon, Palawano and Hiligaynon.

Climate and Nature

The climate on Palawan Island depends on location. On the far north, south and west coasts of the island, it rains for six months and the remaining six months stays dry. On the east coast, it rains 9 to 11 months out of the year. The temperature remains around 88 degrees year round. In 2007, National Geographic Traveler Magazine rated Palawan as the best island destination in East and Southeast Asia area because of it beautiful, natural sea and landscapes. It is surrounded by lakes, cliffs and coral reefs that appeal to more experienced scuba divers.


Some of the more popular tourist sites include the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park that has an underground river, and the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park that contains over 1000 species of animals including manta rays, lionfish, sea turtles, clownfish, and whitetip reef sharks.

Palawan Map
Most of the attractions on the island relate to the natural beauty of its surroundings, especially in places like El Nido located in the northern part of the island. In addition to enjoying the beaches, reefs and islands, visitors can tour wildlife sanctuaries, go diving for sunken Japanese ships, relax in hot springs, or visit the Palawan Special Battalion WW2 Memorial Museum.

Surrounding Areas

Flying from Palawan Island to any point in the Philippines takes no more than 1.5 hours. Because it's located to the far west of the country, Palawan is also very close to parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. A drive the main city of Puerto Princessa to El Nido (often referred to as the most beautiful part of the Philippines) can take up to 6 hours.


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