Nothing defines Palawan more than the water around it. With seascapes the equal of any in Southeast Asia, the Philippines’ most sparsely populated region is also the most beguiling. The 403-mile main island stretches all the way to Borneo.  

Despite becoming something of a travel media darling in recent years, Thailand–style tourists hordes have yet to arrive and the main island's Amazonian interior remains relatively pristine. That said, the northern towns of El Nido and Coron – base camps for adventures in the Bacuit Archipelago and Calamian Islands, respectively – are starting to attract big crowds in the high season.

Not to fear: plucky travelers who venture outside those two hubs have countless places to choose from in their quest for that perfect paradise.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Palawan.