Perhaps the highlight of any trip to northern Palawan is a multiday bangka trip zigzagging through the Bacuit Archipelago and the Linapacan and Calamian Islands with Tao Philippines. Such a trip offers a rare opportunity to experience and interact with people and communities in the area, unmediated by the mass tourism industry. A socially conscious company that runs education and nutrition programs near its bases, Tao operates its classic five-day, four-night open-group trips between El Nido and Coron year-round except for September.

The all-inclusive trips cost P25,000 per person. You'll sleep on one of Tao's exclusive island bases in a beautifully designed beachfront 'tuka' hut. The food, often consisting of freshly caught fish, is superb. You can also opt for a paraw trip on a uniquely constructed traditional outrigger sail boat (P28,500 for five days, October to June only). The minimum age for both trips is 14.

Tao also runs three-day/two-night open group or private trips around El Nido and the Linapacan Islands that are open to children, and it continues to introduce new products. Tao has a beautiful headquarters in El Nido, a small office in Coron, a huge fleet of boats, and numerous island bases. The high season might see a half-dozen Tao bangkas on the water at one time. Despite that, the enormously popular trips book out fast.