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Blog - The Queen of Ecotourism: Palawan

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Palawan has got to be the best of a tourist destination. This very long and narrow island, with many other surrounding small islands (we are in the Philippines, a 7000++island archipelago, do you remember?), could be one of your preferred stops in your journey. One could also never go wrong in choosing Palawan as your lone destination as it is the ideal place for people passionate about the so-called Ecotourism.

When we talk about ecotourism we always have to make a distinction, at least in two directions: on one hand, we talk about ecotourism as tourism in nature, while on the other, we emphasize the “sustainability” dimension, meaning a tourism with low impact (or even no impact) on environment and society. Both definitions are correct, but the fusion of the two perhaps is the best. And it is from this last idea that we can talk about the marvelous Palawan  province of the Philippines.

Palawan has a nature similar to the one of Borneo region. We could now start to list a long series of data about the incredible number of birds, fishes, corals and plants in the province, on the extraordinary geological history and the wild landscape, but for this, we have Wikipedia! But for this article, we want to talk about why this place is special for us.

Palawan is wild yet also a welcoming area, where you can very easily explore a majestic and heart-warming landscape, made of the typical astrodome-shaped islands and mountains, coconut palms, super-white beaches, small quiet towns and a lot of local colors and tastes.

There are 3 spots that are popular for the exploration of Palawan: as we go from the South and going up North, the first favorite Palawan destination  is Puerto Prinsesa, the capital of the province. Here, we find all that we would  need for a holiday with its clean and transparent seas, and of course, the Underground River, one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World by UNESCO, which flows for several kilometers in a very long cave which nests  many very rare species.

The second destination is El Nido, an amazing bay where you can have your own boat trip to take you snorkeling, surf, walks and of course a lot soft white sand island beaches scattered everywhere. It is a regular thing here to have your freshly caught fish or seafood for you picnic lunch by the shores, where there is no one else but you and your company, the boatman, and maybe some wild birds observing you atop some mangrove trees.  White sand beaches are bare and raw, you can even choose your own available island where you want to set up your hammock and read your favorite book while sipping refreshments from the freshly picked coconut shell.

The second destination is El Nido, an amazing bay where you can have your own boat trip to take you snorkeling, surf, walks and of course a lot soft white sand island beaches scattered everywhere. It is a regular thing here to have your freshly caught fish or seafood for you picnic lunch by the shores, where there is no one else but you and your company, the boatman, and maybe some wild birds observing you atop some mangrove trees.  White sand beaches are bare and raw, you can even choose your own available island where you want to set up your hammock and read your favorite book while sipping refreshments from the freshly picked coconut shell.

The third destination, at the very North, is Coron. From a town in a bay surrounded by mountains and small islands, small boats leave the port daily offering explorations that became one of the most requested attraction of the Philippines: they can take you in a lagoon enclosed in giant rocks, where you can lose yourself in the silence of nature. You can dive in the quiet and calm waters of a volcano. You can have a hot bath in natural volcanic springs. You can rest and daydream on white sands and , thanks to the many corals, you can just submerge your head a bit into the water and you may see the marine life with multi-colored fishes that – somewhere else – would be visible only to expert scuba divers. Well, there are numerous scuba diving spots that surround the bay, as professional scuba divers from all over the world would go far east to witness historic shipwrecks as well as to marvel on the unique beauty and color that the depth of the Coron seas offer.

Compared to other eco-tourist destinations that became popular but lost their originality and their natural peculiarities because of mass tourism, in Palawan sustainable tourism is not just idealistic theory.

Here, the attention to the environment is not just made of slogans, but is a fundamental part of the local culture, made of people that love to welcome tourist – which is very important for the local economy – but that love also their environment and don’t want to renounce to the uniqueness that it represents. Not only public actions pushed towards this far-sighted vision, but especially the inhabitants understood the importance of the beautiful heritage given by the Earth. They are careful in their everyday life about not breaking this balance and ready to remind the correct behaviors to the tourists.

(written on May 2013)