The hidden paradise of Palawan, Philippines

Not many people know about the province of Palawan in the Mimarop region, and despite being the largest province in the Philippines, it is still unspoiled and suitable for exploration.

The best way is to work with local Filipino companies like Tao to promote ecotourism and sustainable development while educating tourists about the local way of life in these islands.

I would spend three days with a group in one of Tao’s boats and do some island hopping. We started our adventure on Busuanga Island, which is connected by air to the capital, Manila.

Before we set sail, we had to go through quite a bit of training. First a quick geography lesson showing us our bearings, followed by packaging instructions and emphasising the importance of our “dry bags”. This is pretty self explanatory especially when we got off the boat and used the kayak to reach some of the islands.

The accommodation is a log cabin.

This experience showed me many of the basic cultural elements of basic life on these remote islands. It also tested whether I could live in a small thatched hut under a bamboo hut and deal with sharing time and space with strangers. So I was about to find out.

The cruise itinerary is not set as it adjusts to tide changes, weather and passenger requirements. The next day, we set off on a bonga boat.

Bangladeshi boat on the high seas

Bangladeshi boat on the high seas

This craft is a favorite mode of transportation for Filipinos living in coastal or wetland areas. We have a kitchen, seawater cleaned toilets and a large storage area for our kits. It has large outriggers for stability and glides gracefully through the water.

dongat i.

We quickly found ourselves in the open sea, but could only make out Cologne’s hilly landscape. We are on our way to our first stop – Tangat Island – famous for its clear water diving and marine life. Here, on the seabed, there is a sunken ship that attracts fish and other marine life. Great for divers. Even snorkeling, I could see many apparitions beneath the wreck.



The sand of Lusong is crystal clear

After the event, we enjoyed a relaxing lunch on board, all food was organic and sourced from local farms. Then, after lunch, we headed to the nearby Coral Gardens of Lusong Island, where we briefly stopped to enjoy the soft creamy sand and crystal clear waters.

Patsy Island

Sunset on Patsy Island

Sunset on Patsy Island

The third island of the day was Patsy Island, where we stayed overnight. We swam ashore while our belongings traveled gracefully in kayaks. We took the opportunity to marvel at the stunning sunset before we started our dinner. You may have seen them in the photos, but it’s real, and it’s gorgeous.

Dinner includes local fruit and vegetable, fish and egg dishes. Because the island’s only power source was on for four hours at night, we all rushed to charge our phones after dinner.



Rocks shoot out of the water, great for climbing and diving

We slept well and woke up early as the sun rose. It was a busy schedule, so we hurried to finish our breakfast on board before we headed to the top of Curion where there is a rock wall emerging from the water. Some of our group went ashore and climbed the rocks, then dived from the top into the clear blue waters.

heat island

Our voyage between the Culion and Linapacan Islands meant venturing into open water. A bit rough this time around, and even with the stabilizing effect of the outriggers, my stomach was happy when we reached the sheltered sea around Kulalayan Island.

Here and the Cagdanao Islands are the next islands we sail through. It seems the water here is clearer and has more marine life. Yes, the temptation was irresistible, I dived in and snorkeled to my heart’s content.

Tabayan base in Kampen

On the last night of this adventure, we camped at the Tabayan base in Kampen. It’s an uninhabited island, but the crew and guide made a grilled fish bbq that we saw caught during the day. No one wants the day to end, so we sit and sing memories until we fall asleep.

My last day started with a cold shower behind a wooden bamboo curtain in the woods. We stopped at El Nido and from there it took us about an hour to reach Pangaraycayan. It’s a long stretch of white sand, shaded by tall palm trees. Sadly, it’s time to return to Manila.

Back in my hotel room in Manila, the good days of the past few days seemed like a dream.

Fact file:

travel: Tao Philippines offers expeditions in Palawan. Prices start at $400.00.

reach there: Qatar Airways, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Etihad Airways and Turkish Airlines offer indirect flights from Gatwick Airport,
Heathrow and Stansted to Manila.There are domestic flights from Manila to Cologne
Or Puerto Princesa to Palawan Island.

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