Itinerary to See the Most of Palawan
While getting around Palawan is not the easiest, it’s possible to hit more than one spot when you spend your vacation here. If you’ll be in Palawan for four or five days, you can spend half of it in Puerto Princesa and half in El Nido. A bit longer and you can drop by San Vicente.
If you’re spending at least a week in Palawan, here’s one way you can go through Puerto Princesa, San Vicente, El Nido and Coron in one big trip.
Day 1: Arrive at Puerto Princesa
From Manila, fly into Puerto Princesa and check-in at one of the hotels. Book a city tour (PHP 600 / USD 12 per person) at your hotel and go around the many places of interest. The tour usually includes several cathedrals, the Baywalk, Butterfly Garden and Tribal Village, Crocodile Farm, Mitra Ranch, Baker’s Hill, and the Binuatan Creations (weaving loom center). The tour ends in the afternoon, so you’ll have time to have a dinner cruise at the Iwahig Firefly Watching Tour (PHP 1,300 / USD 26 per person). It’s an ecotourism site where you can enjoy your dinner as you make your way down Iwahig River surrounded by thousands of fireflies lighting up your path.
Day 2: Underground River Tour
On the second day, wake up early and head to the Underground River tour. The tour will take all day, including the van ride and the boat transfer to the Underground River. By the time you get back, it will be around 5PM in the afternoon already, which will still give you time for an easy dinner and souvenir shopping.
Day 3: Honda Bay and Travel to San Vicente
While package tours for Honda Bay usually entail the whole day, you can head to Sta. Lourdes Wharf and book a boat for your own DIY Honda Bay tour. A boat costs PHP 1,300 / USD 26 good for 6 people. When you get to the wharf, register at the desk and ask for a private boat. The environment officer will help you choose which islands to visit depending on what time you want to get back to the city. Ideally, you arrive at the wharf at 7am and be back by 12pm.
Once back in the city, check-out of the hotel and get ready to travel to San Vicente. It’s a 4-hour trip via shuttle van from Puerto Princesa. There are several operators at the San Jose Terminal with specific departure schedules. The most ideal operator is Virus Shuttle Vans that have departure times at 1PM and 5PM. Board the van and head to San Vicente to settle in for the night.
Day 4: San Vicente
There’s not much to do in terms of activities in San Vicente, but the amazing Long Beach is worth the stopover. Spend the whole morning lounging around on fine white sand. It’s 14.7 kilometers long and you’re sure to find your own secluded spot for some peace and quiet. There are also 22 islands off its coast, and you can hire a boat for PHP 1,200 (USD 24) to go island-hopping.
Day 5-8: Island-hopping at El Nido
From San Vicente, you can hire a private van for direct pick-up and drop-off from San Vicente to El Nido. If you’re traveling in a group, the rate of PHP 7,000 (USD 135) might be worth taking. If you’re alone or you don’t want to pay that amount, there are public vans and buses that transport people between San Vicente and El Nido. Head to Roxas town and catch a bus or a shuttle van headed for El Nido.
Once in El Nido, your days are really up to you. There are various island hopping tours to choose from. All these tour packages are standardized by the local government, so it doesn’t really matter which operator you go with. There are five tour packages to choose from, each one highlighting different islands and landmarks around El Nido. Spend all day snorkeling in some of the clearest waters and richest reefs in the Philippines. At night, go bar-hopping in town for some cheap eats and local drinks.
Day 9-12: Shipwreck Diving in Coron
There are two ways to go to Coron from El Nido. The better and definitely safer way is via AirSwift, the only airline operator in El Nido. There are El Nido to Coron flights every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. One-way tickets are at approximately PHP 3,300 (USD 63).
The cheaper and less reliable way is via ferry. It costs half the amount but double the time, and it includes riding a ferry across most likely rough seas. The ferry leaves El Nido at noon everyday, so it in case your schedule doesn’t fit an AirSwift flight, then the ferry is a possibility. It’s not exactly dangerous, but it’s not 100% reliable either, so perhaps opt for the flight if you can spare a few more dollars for your safety.
There are fantastic tours around Coron as well, and the scenery is a bit different. While Puerto Princesa, San Vicente, and El Nido are all about lounging on amazing beaches, Coron is more about jumping into lagoons and hiking up cliffs. Most of the islands are surrounded by mangroves, so there aren’t as many beaches to lounge on. However, Coron’s limestone cliffs hide many waterscapes that visitors need to hike, swim, or jump to. It’s an adventure on its own.
But the best thing to do in Coron is definitely to go diving. Fantastic marine conservation efforts makes Coron’s marine life extremely beautiful and exciting. There are lots to see, including the shy sea cows that Coron is known for. There have also been dolphin sightings and many different kinds of fish. The best part about diving in Coron is definitely the Japanese shipwrecks sunk in WW2. All the shipwrecks are at a 30-meter depth, so make sure you have the proper certification.