Discovering Souther Palawan: A Comprehensive Travel Guide
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If you’re seeking a change of scenery from the more touristy northern regions of El Nido and Coron, then the southern part of Palawan offers an exciting frontier for adventurous travelers. With its natural beauty largely untouched by development, this region of the island is a must-visit for intrepid explorers.
Boasting a rich biodiversity and a diverse array of wildlife species, the southern part of Palawan is a veritable tropical paradise. From its pristine islands to its undisturbed rainforests, this region is a true feast for the senses.
The municipalities of Aborlan, Narra, Quezon, Sofronio Española, Brooke’s Point, Rizal, Bataraza, and Balabac comprise southern Palawan, offering a wide variety of destinations to explore and discover.
Exploring the Charming Southern Municipalities of Palawan
The municipality of Balabac, located in the southernmost part of Palawan, remains one of the province’s best-kept secrets. Comprising of 36 islands, including the eponymous Balabac Island, the area boasts vast marine, forest, and mangrove ecosystems that have earned its recognition as a global biodiversity hotspot.
Home to a diverse array of wildlife, from colourful fish to majestic turtles, dugongs, and sawfish, Balabac’s islands offer a unique and unforgettable experience for nature lovers. Unfortunately, due to the lack of tourism infrastructure, Balabac remains one of the least-visited destinations in Palawan, making it the perfect destination for those seeking a peaceful and off-the-beaten-path experience.
Nestled between the Sulu Sea and the South China Sea lies the idyllic rural area of Aborlan, a hidden gem that remains undiscovered by most tourists. With no major hotels in the area except for a few family-run beach resorts, Aborlan is the perfect destination for those seeking a laid-back vacation far from the crowds.
For an unforgettable cultural experience, plan your visit around the Tarek festival, where you can witness Palawan’s indigenous groups, including the Tagbanua, Batak, and Pagdiwata tribes, showcase their unique traditions and customs.
While the municipality of Quezon may lack major tourist infrastructure, it remains a fascinating destination for history and nature enthusiasts alike. At the heart of Quezon lies the Tabon Caves, where the oldest human bones in Asia were discovered alongside primitive tools and other artifacts. This site offers a unique glimpse into the lives of our ancient ancestors and their ways of living.
Aside from the Tabon Caves, Quezon is also home to a number of secluded tropical islands that are definitely worth a visit. Explore their crystal-clear waters, pristine beaches, and thriving marine life, and discover the unspoiled beauty of this hidden corner of Palawan.
As Palawan’s newest municipality, Sofronio Española remains largely unknown to most tourists, making it the perfect destination for adventurous travelers seeking to explore uncharted territory. Unlike other destinations that are all about sightseeing, Sofronio Española is more about the physical experience of being there.
With a plethora of pristine islands and a dozen white sandbars waiting to be explored, island hopping is a must-do activity for any visitor. From swimming and snorkeling in crystal-clear waters to trekking through lush forests and camping under the stars, Sofronio Española offers a wealth of unforgettable experiences for adventure seekers.
Named after Sir James Brooke, the first white Rajah of Sarawak, the municipality of Brooke’s Point is a destination steeped in history. Legend has it that during one of his voyages, Brooke landed here and established trade with the indigenous people. Today, while its strategic location near Borneo remains, the lack of infrastructure has prevented Brooke’s Point from becoming a major trading hub.
While it may not have the white, pristine beaches that draw tourists to other parts of Palawan, Brooke’s Point has something equally valuable: a thriving agriculture industry. The municipality is renowned for its production of rice, copra, corn, and palm oil, making it a vital contributor to the region’s economy. Visitors can witness this firsthand by touring the farms and seeing the farmers at work.
The municipality of Narra in Palawan is a hidden gem, treasured for its pristine natural landscapes and incredible biodiversity. This eco-destination offers stunning mountains, exotic flora, and secluded beaches that have yet to be discovered by the masses. Among the highlights of Narra are Mount Victoria, one of the most scenic peaks in Palawan, Rasa Island, which is home to the endangered Katala Cockatoo, and Arena Island, a nesting ground for Green and Hawksbill turtles.
Rizal is a municipality in Palawan that is primarily known for its agriculture, with rice, coconut, corn, and fish being the major products. However, the municipality also has a unique cultural offering in the form of the Tau’t Bato Festival, which is a vibrant celebration featuring street dancing, a float parade, and other fun activities. This festival is a wonderful opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture and learn more about the indigenous Tau’t Bato people.
Bataraza is a destination for adventure seekers who enjoy challenging hikes and exploring untouched nature. Located on the southernmost tip of Palawan Island, it offers breathtaking mountain views and access to two seas, the Sulu and the South China. Mount Mantalingahan is one of the most difficult climbs in the Philippines, providing hikers with encounters with the Tau’t Bato tribe and a chance to see rare species of native plants and wildlife. Meanwhile, Rio Tuba, one of Bataraza’s barangays, is known for its nickel mineral reserves.
What to see in Souther Palawan:
If you’re planning a trip to Southern Palawan, be sure to visit some of these must-see destinations:
Located in the Balabac archipelago, this small but stunning island boasts crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
This island is home to the endangered Katala, or Philippine Red-Vented Cockatoo, as well as over 100 other species of birds. Birdwatchers will love exploring the island and observing its diverse avian population.
Considered the Cradle of Civilization in the Philippines, the Tabon Caves in Quezon are a group of caves where some of the oldest Homo sapiens sapiens fossil evidence in Southeast Asia has been found. A fascinating destination for history buffs and adventure seekers alike.
Standing at 1,726 meters above sea level, Mount Victoria is one of Palawan’s most scenic mountains. It’s home to a unique array of biodiversity, including some rare species of pitcher plants. The trek to the summit is a challenging but rewarding experience.
Also known as the “Pink Island of Balabac,” this pristine island is famous for its pink sand. During nesting season, it’s also a vital habitat for endangered marine turtles. Watching the sunset on the island’s pink beach is a truly unforgettable experience.
Public vans and buses are available for direct transportation between Puerto Princesa and the Southern municipalities. However, for a safe and comfortable journey, we recommend hiring a private van.
The Balabac Island Hopping Tour Package, starting from Puerto Princesa, is an excellent choice for those who want to explore the municipality of Balabac, home to some of Palawan’s most stunning islands.
For those who seek to connect with nature, we recommend exploring Estrella Falls or climbing Mt. Victoria in Narra.
If you wish to see other attractions in Southern Palawan Island that are not included in our ready-made tours, don’t worry. Simply request a Tailor Made Tour that will be customized according to your preferences and interests.
Where to stay:
With few exceptions such as Crystal Paradise Resort & Winery and Arena Island in Narra, budget accommodations are the norm in the southern part of Palawan.
In Balabac, the only options available are family-run pensions or guesthouses, while other municipalities offer simple resorts or hotels.
Crystal Paradise Resort & Winery is a 3-star accommodation in the Southern part of Palawan Island. It offers a comfortable stay in a serene setting amidst the unspoiled natural beauty of Palawan.
Discover Palawan’s hidden gem – Arena Island, a serene four-hectare island that strikes the perfect balance of rustic charm and modern comforts. The Casita is Arena Island’s top accommodation, perfect for couples or small families. It features a cozy, native-themed wooden interior, an air-conditioned bedroom with a mini-bar and private bathroom.