Palawan is one of over 7,000 islands that collectively make up The Philippines. It's located off the country's west coast and stretches some 1,200 miles from the South China Sea at its north to the Sulu Sea to its south. Much of the southern part of the island is virtually uninhabited and vastly underdeveloped. (*SEE PHOTOS BELOW*)
I thought I'd seen South East Asia. Many fellow travelers was raving about Thailand when I first arrived in South Korea eight years ago. It was the place to go for the Lunar New Year holiday.
True, some parts of Thailand are pretty spectacular - case in point the Similan Islands. I logged four dives there. Four hours off the coast of Phang Nga Province in the Andaman Sea, there's manta rays, some of the most pristine waters in the world and the occasional shark.
Thailand's trails are a little too trodden for me. I'm not a fan of crowds. So when I was researching new destinations, Palawan's tourism, or lack thereof really appealed to me.
And it delivered. Ten fold. The journey to Palawan brings new meaning to the phrase 'roughing it'. The rickety 45min propeller-driven plane ride over from Manila and the strip of dirt it landed on a few miles from the port-side town of El Nido. Even the drive from the 'tarmac' was an experience of sorts - the car ended up getting stuck forcing the driver and I to get out and push. Stranded in the jungle among gazing water buffaloes and thatched huts is something I'll never forget.
And all small sacrifices for what was in store. Because thirty minutes off the coast are some of the most pristine, under-populated islands in the world. The Bacuit Archipelago is paradise. No hordes to fight through here.
Miniloc Island Resort is especially beautiful. Little pricey but worth its weight in gold. They rent out kayaks and scuba gear, and drop by your table in the morning over a buffet breakfast and plan out your itinerary - which involves choosing any one of the many nearby islands to get lost on.
Another option on the mainland is Dolarog Beach Resort. Run and renovated by an Italian carpenter, this place is high on my list. Rates are more than reasonable for what you're getting - a complete detachment from civilization.
The time to go is between March and May. It's much warmer during these months. It gets a little cooler from December to February. Avoid going altogether between July and August during monsoon season.
Giovanni over at Boracay.com and Palwan.com is the one to get in touch with. He looked after my brother and I. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.