Ever wondered to take a trip of to the wild side of nature? Felt like experiencing the thrill of living off in dense jungles and hunting for your own meal and living off bare minimum resources. Maybe you need to kick in your survival skills. An archipelago off the coast of Philippine , lies Palawan. Originally a province of Philippine’s but more variable in terms of landmass, demography, history and culture, Palawan Island covers roughly an area of 420 kilometers extending from South China sea to the Sulu sea touching the borders of Borneo midway. The entire length is a massive 2000 kilometers of irregular coastline dotted with close to 1780 isles with dense tropical forests with white-sugar sand beaches and shimmering waters. Added to that is a jagged mountain range extending for a good part of the coastline. For the adventure enthusiasts and ‘nature’ lovers there exists an underwater river system which snakes it way through a good 25 odd kilometers before culminating in South China Sea
The Palawan islands are situated more towards the Western Pacific region characterized by its warm shallow waters in which a wide fauna of coral reefs and marine bio diversity thrive. Home to close to 2000 different species of fishes, dolphins and sea turtles in naturally preserved environments. Think tropical rain forests and images of lush foliage rush to mind and Voila, Palawan has dense jungles home to thousands of plant and animal species some of which are only inhabitants of this region. A visit there and one can’t help but fantasize about Tom Hanks’s famous movie, Cast away where he is left stranded in dense jungle island. Well a pure thrill seekers paradise. Many a travellers who have been here describe Jurassic landscapes of coves, lagoons, beaches and razor-sharp limestone cliffs which rise out of the waters like a majestic serpent. A trip through the sparsely populated jungles ensure sightings of some of the rarest species of animal kingdom, a very records also describe about a certain colorful butterfly the size of a grown up man’s hand. This wealth of flora and fauna found in their natural habitats attracts a flocks of likeminded tourists . Palawan is a haven for wildlife buffs , warm shallow waters perfect for snorkeling to see a glimpse of aquatic world to hiking through forests interspersed with creeks and diving spots or a hiring a local boat to explore the wide treasure of azure laying front.
The capital of Palawan islands is Puerto Princesa, the main entry point for the mangrove islands of Honda bay and the mind boggling underwater river system which snakes it way through 8 kilometers of navigable waters winding its way under mammoth caves and underneath a mountain belt. A UNESCO world heritage site for its grandeur since it also boasts of a wildlife sanctuary in it. A river takes one through the municipalities of San Vincente where one may have a problem in choosing between diving snorkeling or swinging to sleep on a hammock, tourists are spoiled for choice here given the plethora of options to choose from. Palawan was an active site during the World War 2 era in the Pacific Theatre, Calamian group of islands have a reputation of being the diving grounds of old ship wrecks and sunken vessels. Not a big diving fan , you can head towards other lagoons and backwater spots and try a hand at fishing and interacting with the locals , who are forever welcoming towards the incoming flock of tourists. The El Nido Marine Reserve Park , don’t let the name mislead you , apart from being a reserve for endangered species of marine animals (including the ever elusive ‘Sea Cow’ or Dugong) is a major crossroad of activities in Palawan. Hemmed with narrow lines of streets , it’s a junction for island hopping, beaches , water sports, hiking and sightseeing coupled with cheap accommodation in the hotels nearby. Time flies as one experiences a new way of life away from home, choices aplenty for recreation here. The beauty of this archipelago is surreal leaving one ridiculously happy for being in paradise.
Filipino cuisine is enticing all over the world and Palawan boasts of an authentic sea food safari , prawns marinated in vinegar and barbequed over charcoal, juicy lobsters caught fresh off the oceans and prepared front of your eyes. Stuffed squids with liberally sprinkled portions of baked mussels and made to perfection. Sit back and feast your senses on the plates offered. Each and every dish has a signature flavor which tells the story of its being ‘cooked to perfection’. No holiday goes without gastronomical delights and Palawan ensures you have a stomach full of its food. Every restaurant from the region , be it shacks on the beaches or star hotels in the mainland offering delightful cuisines throughout the year teamed with cheery hospitality and cozy ambience.
Palawan has a rich cultural history too , with Japanese and Spanish invasions during the colonial era, the memorabilia is still housed in museums in the islands reminding its visitors the legacy of Palawan. Many of the caves discovered accidently by curious tourists and hikers point to early civilizations dating back thousands of years back which has left it with a varied demography of people , each bringing their additions to the place with their culture, cuisine and habits making a culminating nation of variety. Like ‘Lonely Planet’ puts it for the sheer caliber of the region “ it would take several lifetimes to explore the 6000+ islands that make up this region”. Head your way here to captivate your senses with adventure and thrill and experiencing a post-apocalyptic fever.