Nothing defines Palawan more than the water around it. With seascapes the equal of any in Southeast Asia, and terrestrial and aquatic wildlife, the Philippines’ most sparsely populated region is also the most beguiling. Because of the silhouette of its main island – a long sliver stretching 650km all the way to Borneo – there’s a certain liberating logic to travel here.
Unspoiled, sugar-white beaches and world-class scuba diving draw travelers from around the globe to this far-flung island in the Philippines. One reader hailed it as the “single most beautiful place on Earth.”
Limestone rock formations add to the stunning picture. These otherworldly shapes rise out of the turquoise sea to create unbelievable seascapes. Visitors can see them on cruises through the archipelago.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, Travel + Leisure asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe—to share their opinions on the top cities, cruise ships, airlines, and more. Readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.
Palawan, for the second year in a row, impressed on all fronts. Travelers raved about the warm, convivial locals who celebrate Filipino culture with float parades and costumes during the annual Baragatan festival. They also loved the cuisine, which is heavy on fresh seafood and a veritable melting pot of international flavors.
Other reasons to love Palawan? It’s a bird-watchers paradise, with more than 600 species of birds (Palawan peacock pheasants, red-bellied Pittas) that call the island home. Visitors can also navigate one of the world’s longest subterranean rivers, the Puerto Princesa Underground River, while exploring the island.