In spite of the fact that multiple travel publications have dubbed Palawan the world’s best or most beautiful island, many people would still be hard-pressed to point to it on a map.
That’s too bad, as Palawan — which, for the record, is located southwest of the largest cluster of Philippine islands, near Brunei — has a lot to recommend it. Here, you’ll find limestone cliffs that overlook aquamarine seas, deep lagoons ringed by colorful coral reefs, and white-sand beaches where sea turtles nest and dolphins can be seen skipping across the waves.
Activities range from boating the underground Cabayugan River, one of the world’s longest subterranean rivers, to (yes) going on safari — in the 1970s, former Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos convinced the Kenyan government to send giraffes, zebras and antelopes to Palawan, and the descendents of those animals still roam freely today.
All that, and the area is surprisingly affordable too. Even rooms at four-star hotels can sometimes be found for under $50 a night. And a day-long tour of the island’s underground cave system, complete with lunch, costs about as much.