What Should I Know About Palawan?

Wanda Albano

Palawan is a small archipelagic province located in the Philippines, and is one of the jewels of Southeast Asia. It is a nature preserve and a marine sanctuary, with virgin rainforests, stunning mountains, mysterious caves, limestone cliffs, awesome beaches, private islets, and incredible reefs. The rate of bio-diversity in the islands is extremely high.

Palawan contains beautiful beaches.
Palawan contains beautiful beaches.

As can be expected, Palawan's biggest draw is ecotourism. Northern Palawan is home to the Coron Islands, an awe-inspiring collection of pristine and tiny white-sand enclaves on a sapphire sea, each one prettier than the next. It is also the location of The Calauit Game Reserve, an unusual wildlife haven, which mixes exotic animals brought over from Africa in the 1970's with a few of Palawan's unique creatures, such as the Calamian deer, the Northern Palawan Tree Squirrel, and the Palawan Fruit Bat.

Palawan is home to sea turtles.
Palawan is home to sea turtles.

Southern Palawan boasts of the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, which features over a thousand species of flora and fauna, many of which are endangered and endemic to Palawan. It is home to hawksbill sea turtles, manta rays, giant jacks, and hammerheads, as well as terns, masked red-foot boobies, and frigate birds. The atoll, which is divided into the Northern and Southern Reefs, also boasts a breathtaking 100 meter perpendicular wall, lagoons, and two islands made entirely from coral. Tubbataha Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is under protective management. Tourism to the reef is permitted only three months out of the year and is solely vessel-based. There are no permanent housing structures on the reef.

Central Palawan takes pride in the Puerto Princesa Subterannean River National Park, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park features an underground limestone landscape and a river that flows directly to the sea, as well as a full "mountain-to-sea" ecosystem. It is yet another prime conservation area in Palawan.

Palawan is the Philippines' largest province in terms of land area and is made up of 1,780 islands and islets. The people of Palawan reflect the diversity of the area, as they form a mix of the Philippines' various cultural minority groups, come from all parts of the country, and speak over a dozen different languages and dialects.

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