About Palawan

Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa Underground River

Palawan is an exquisite destination in the southwestern part of the Philippine archipelago. It is a long, narrow island pointing to Borneo. It is known as the "Last Frontier" and is now being promoted as an ecotourist destination, attracting a steady stream of visitors. It is, in fact, one of the most visited tourist spots in the Philippines.

There are daily flights to Puerto Princesa-Palawan's capital-from Manila, Cebu, and Iloilo. There are also boat trips and round trips that take you directly to El Nido and Busuanga.

Here, you will find diverse and rare species of flora and fauna. There is the fish-eating Palawan Eagle, the Scaly Anteater, Giant Turtles, Palawan Peacock Pheasant, Palawan Bear Cat, Mouse Deer, and the Tabon Bird. But Palawan's beautiful beaches, islands, reefs, resorts, forests, and underground rivers are what really lure visitors to it.

Beneath the waters of Palawan lies a stunning display of underwater life - an ideal destination for snorkelers and scuba divers. If you want to go diving, you will find one of the best diving spots in the world here - the Tubbataha Reef. Some of the spots in the northern islands are delightfully unspoiled.

In the capital town of Puerto Princesa, you can stroll along the waterfront, where picturesque houses are built over the water. Visit the Palawan Museum, which has a display of archaeological artifacts and fossil remains; and the Palawan State University, which has a smaller museum with displays of archaeological finds, artifacts, butterfly and shell collections.

For those who wish to enjoy Palawan's resplendent natural sights, there is a 30-minute bus ride to Honda Bay where boatmen will readily cruise you along the shores of Palawan and further down to the islands of Cowrie, Pandan, Snake, and Bat Island. Full or half-day cruises, snorkeling, island explorations, and accommodations are available in these islands.

For those who are interested in longer treks, there is a 3-day 2-night safari that will take you camping out in coves during the evening and exploring the beaches and waterfalls by day. Go to St. Paul's Underground River-Palawan's best known attraction. The river exits from a cave into a beautiful pool near the beach in the Puerto Princesa Subterranean Park (formerly St. Paul's National Park).

How to get there?

The Province of Palawan being an island is accessible by Air & Boat from Manila, Iloilo & Cebu. Its is approximately 55 min by air from Manila, 1 hr. & 15 mins from Cebu. Ferries leaving from Manila travel 24 hours and 36 hours from Iloilo.


Philippine Airlines - www.philippineairlines.com
MNL - PPC - MNL - Twice daily except Tuesday & Friday
Cebu - PPC - Cebu - Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday

Air Philippines - www.airphils.com
MNL - PPC - MNL - Daily
Cebu - PPC - Cebu - Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday

Cebu Pacific - www.cebupacificair.com
MNL - PPC - MNL - Thrice daily
PPC - Cebu - PPC - Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday
MNL-Busuanga-MNL - Daily

SeAir - www.flyseair.com
Boracay - PPC - Tuesday & Friday
PPC - Kota Kinabalu - Friday

Inter-Island Trans Voyager (Soriano Aviation) - www.aircharterguide.com
MNL - El Nido - MNL - Thrice daily

Zest Air (formerly Asian Spirit) - www.zestair.com.ph
MNL - Busuanga - MNL - Daily
MNL - PPC - MNL - Daily

Getting Around Palawan

Public transport within the islands consist of buses, vans and tricycles. There is a big well-organized transport terminal at the capital Puerto Princesa City, from where travelers can take off to other parts of Palawan. Private vehicles may also be hired from car rental companies. Traditional bancas - motorized outrigger boats - can also be easily hired for hopping around the islands.


The history of Palawan may be traced back 22,000 years ago, as confirmed by the discovery of bone fragments of the Tabon Man in the municipality of Quezon. Although the origin of the cave dwellers is not yet established, anthropologists believe they came from Borneo. Known as the Cradle of Philippine Civilization, the Tabon Caves consist of a series of chambers where scholars and anthropologists discovered the remains of the Tabon Man along with his tools and a number of artifacts

Ancient times

Waves of migrants arrived in the Philippines by way of land bridges between Borneo and Palawan. From 220 up to 263 AD, during the period of the Three Kingdoms, "Little, dark people" living in Anwei province in South China were driven South by Han People. Some settled in Thailand, others went farther south to Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo. They were known as Aetas and Negritos from whom Palawan's Batak tribe descended. Other tribes known to inhabit the islands such as the Palawano and Tagbanwa, are also descendants of the early settlers, who came via ice-age land bridges. They had a form of indigenous political structure developed in the island, wherein the natives had their non-formal form of government, an alphabet, and a system of trading with sea-borne merchants.

In AD 982, ancient Chinese traders regularly visit the islands. A Chinese author referred to these islands as Kla-ma-yan (Calamian), Palau-ye (Palawan), and Paki-nung (Busuanga). Pottery, china and other artifacts recovered from caves and waters of Palawan attest to trade relations that existed between Chinese and Malay merchants.

Pre-colonial era

In the 12th century, Malay settlers, who came on boats, began to populate the island. Most of the settlements were ruled by Malay chieftains. These people grew rice, ginger, coconuts, sweet potatoes, sugarcane and bananas. They also raised pigs, goats and chickens. Most of their economic activities were fishing, farming, and hunting by the use of bamboo traps and blowguns. The local people had a dialect consisting of 18 syllables. They were followed by the Indonesians of the Majapahit Empire in the 13th century, and they brought with them Buddhism and Hinduism.

Because of Palawan's proximity to Borneo, southern portions of the island was under the control of the Sultanate of Brunei for more than two centuries, and Islam was introduced. During the same period, trade relations flourished, and intermarriages among the natives and the Chinese, Japanese, Arab, Hindu. The inter-mixing of blood resulted to a distinct breed of Palaweños, both in physical stature and features.

Spanish period

Taytay, the capital of Province of Calamianes, in 1818; (Spanish Palawan) from Wikipedia Website

After Ferdinand Magellan's death, remnants of his fleet landed in Palawan where the bounty of the land saved them from starvation. Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan's chronicler named the place "Land of Promise."

The northern Calamianes Islands were the first to come under Spanish authority, and were later declared a province separate from the Palawan mainland. In the early 17th century, Spanish friars sent out missions in Cuyo, Agutaya, Taytay and Cagayancillo but they met resistance from Moro communities. Before 18th century, Spain began to build churches enclosed by garrisons for protection against Moro raids in the town of Cuyo, Taytay, Linapacan and Balabac. In 1749, the Sultanate of Borneo ceded southern Palawan to Spain.

In 1818, the entire island of Palawan, or Paragua as it was called, was organized as a single province named Calamianes, with its capital in Taytay. By 1858, the province was divided into two provinces, namely, Castilla, covering the northern section with Taytay as capital and Asturias in the southern mainland with Puerto Princesa as capital. It was later then divided into three districts, Calamianes, Paragua and Balabac, with Principe Alfonso town as its capital.

American rule

In 1902, after the Philippine-American War, the Americans established civil rule in northern Palawan, calling it the province of Paragua. In 1903, pursuant to Philippine Commission Act No. 1363, the province was reorganized to include the southern portions and renamed Palawan, and Puerto Princesa declared as its capital.

Many reforms and projects were later introduced in the province. Construction of school buildings, promotion of agriculture, and bringing people closer to the government were among the priority plans during this era.