If you peer through the window of a flight from Manila, Palawan Island looks almost like a scene straight out of Jurassic Park, with its virgin forests hugging jagged granite cliffs that seem to stab angrily at the sky. As the plane begins descend, you could almost hear the gentle surf of the clear blue waters softly breaking on the white sand beach. Then, in your mind’s eye, you half expect to hear the distant roar of a Tyrannosaurus Rex echo deep within the lush vegetation of this primeval, isolated island. As if awakened from a dream, you now remember that dinosaurs have long gone extinct; and that this pristine island is not the sanctuary of giant prehistoric reptiles cloned to life by a mad scientist, but the home of rare flora and gentle fauna that do not exist anywhere else on the planet. You have stepped ashore on Palawan Island, to begin your adventure in Nature’s last frontier in the Philippines—and perhaps, the whole world.
Province of Palawan
Palawan Island is the largest in the group of more than 1,700 islands and islets that comprise the Province of Palawan in Central Philippines. Located about 500 kilometers southwest of Manila, this island paradise opened to tourism only in the late seventies.
But for centuries before then, the abundant wildlife, amazing flora and spectacular landscapes of Palawan Island have been known only by the many indigenous peoples that thrive on the island, a few of which, are jungle and cave dwellers barely out of the Stone Age. The mountains of Pipuon Point hide in their bosom the Paleolithic Tabon Caves whose intricate maze yield evidence of human habitation in Palawan since the dawn of time. The vast tropical rainforest that hug the emerald mountains extends its cool canopy as far as the legendary white sand beaches of Palawan Island.
The various islands of the Province of Palawan have the most breath taking seascapes in the world--set against a backdrop of towering granite and limestone cliffs that provide sanctuary to the “balinsasayaw,” or swift that produce the main ingredient of the famous bird’s nest soup. In the cracks and crevices of the mountains of Palawan you will find wild flowering begonias, aged talisay and yucca trees gnarled by the wind. The Palawan peacock, porcupine, scaly anteater, Calamian deer, bear cat, Palawan mouse deer and tarsier are just some of the unique species endemic to Palawan Island.
The best dive spot in this part of the world can be found at the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park some 90 nautical miles off Palawan Island. Under the clear waters of the Sulu Sea, diving enthusiasts are treated to hundreds of reef fish species, sea turtles, giant manta rays, dugong, and spectacular coral reef formations teeming with marine life that have made it in the World Heritage List and a reason for the Province of Palawan to be declared a natural sanctuary.