Named as one of the prettiest islands in the world Palawan quickly became part of my ‘where I need to go’-list. Who would have thought that I could cross it off, just this month? I definitely didn’t expect that.
Situated west of the Philippines, Palawan is a bit out of course, but still close to the other islands of the country. With a flight that takes up a bit longer than one hour from out Manila, we arrive at the airport of Puerto Princesa, our first destination of what is going to be a week long trip to Palawan AND our first ‘actual’ impression of the Philippines.
For one week I am staying in this paradise-looking piece of earth. I will spend two days of the week in Puerto Princesa. Palawan is a long, thin island, with high hills, bright looking oceans, dense jungles and pearl white beaches. Palawan is a dream, a dream that definitely feels like a dream: my first encounter with a tropical paradise like this one. Shades of blue and green surround me, the sun burns in my face and my feet thankfully cool of in the waves. Palawan: you are great.
On the night we arrive they told us it was going to rain. High above the clouds, in our little airplane, I can’t notice much of that. The blue sky looks at me, and while I stare down, out of my airplanewindow, I can catch a glimpse of the islands and the surrounding oceans here and there.
The closer we get to Puerto Princesa and the lower we fly I can see the clouds getting darker. The weather forecast doesn’t lie, we arrive when it’s raining. It doesn’t bother me, the Philippines are still beautiful.
When we land the airport staff is already waiting for us, and as soon as the doors of the plane open I get the warm and welcoming comfort of the tropical weather and from an airport employee who quickly gives me an umbrella. I collect my backpack at the bagageclaim and get greeted by my taxi driver, who takes us to our resort. Our home for the next two days, a much needed hotel after the long flight we had to take to arrive in the Philippines.
I sleep at the Panya Resort. A hotel far above the city of Puerto Princesa, overlooking the mountains, the ocean and the city. Nice rooms, a beautiful pool, the sweetest staff and a gorgeous view. Together with my travel buddy I walk around in the hotel. It’s late already, and after a portion of noodles we decide to disappear under the thick blankets of our comfortable hotel beds.
I get woken up pretty early by the warm sun that shines through our curtains. Filled with enthusiasm to discover the Philippines I jump out of bed and get ready for the day. It’s hot outside. The clouds that hung above the island yesterday made space for the clear blue sky and the sun today. While I enjoy my breakfast at the terrace of our hotels’ restaurant I get surrounded by sounds of the jungle. Crickets, other insects, tropical birds and wind that blows through the dozen of trees describe what I am hearing right now. A small moment of realization: I am in the middle of nature.. in the Philippines.
Today is all about discovering the surrounding islands of Puerto Princesa. With a small boat we are going to three of them today, to do some snorkeling, to swim and to enjoy the sun. For the night we’ve booked a tour to see the fireflies of Puerto Princesa. Something that is extremely rare to see in the Netherlands, and something that seemed very special to us. Unfortunately with the heavy rain of the last few days we aren’t able to visit the underground river. But with the busy schedule of the day, it’s easy to forgive.
We head off to the first island of the day. For the first time since I got here I stand face to face with the ocean. Clear and blue. From of the boat I can already see a countless number of fish, and only a couple of minutes later I dive into the water to snorkel in between them. Island number one is known as Starfish Island, not quite a surprising name, seeing the number of starfishes you can find on the island. I snorkel around in between the fishes and soon enough stumble upon the first starfishes while I walk down the coastline. Way too quick and way too enthusiastic our local guide pushes them into my hands, making me pose with those strange animals.
Island two disappoints. Island number two isn’t an island, but more of a floating piece of wood, somewhere in the middle of all the other islands. From here on out we can go snorkeling for a rough half hour. Once I see the number of tourists, that try to chase fish in these small couple of square meters I decide to stay on the boat.
Island number three is fun. Island number three is bigger. With a long, white, sand beach, palmtrees and clear water it seems like the perfect place to unwind, to have a bit of a swim and to enjoy the view. I swim, I tan, I eat and I walk around the island until I get called back to get onto the boat. Back to Puerto Princesa.
At night I join the firefly tour. A tour that looks promising, showing beautiful photos of thousands of fireflies lighting up the trees in the jungle. Our tourguide picks us up at the Panya Resort and drives towards our place of destination in high speed. Apparently there are a lot of ‘unwanted passengers’ walking down the road at night, our tour guide explained to us, after seeing us peeking a bit worried at the speedometer.
The firefly tour isn’t as the photos say it to be. With a small boat we go up and down the river and look up, searching the trees for big groups of fireflies that here and there light up. The tour would take around 45 minutes, but after a short 20 minutes we get dropped of at the side of the river again. While it wasn’t at all what I expected the tour to be I am still glad I booked it. Fireflies still are magical to me and it was fun to see so many of them.
After a turbulent car ride back, I arrive ‘home’ at the Panya Resort again, for what is going to be our last night in Puerto Princesa. It is to early to say goodbye, because there is way too much that I still need to do in Puerto Princesa. But the rest of the week is promising: El Nido awaits.