According to the latest theory, it was tenth-century Chinese traders who christened Palawan the ‘Land of the Beautiful Safe Harbor’. Its history, however, goes much further back than that, into the mists of time when the sparsely populated, mountainous island shaped like a kris, the Muslim warrior’s sword, formed a land bridge between Borneo and Mindanao. This accounts for Tabon Man’s kinship with his Malayan counterparts next door, as well as for the rich and varied indigenous fauna flourishing in the numerous nature parks. (The Kenyan giraffes and gazelles basking incongruously in the savannah-like climate of nearby Calauit, on the other hand, were a pet wildlife rescue project instituted by ex-president Marcos). Hardwood timbers, fish and swallows’ nests from the cliffs around El Nido are the main contributors to the island economy; for many visitors, however, Palawan’s principal attractions lie off shore. Pioneer tourist enclaves from Club Paradies to El Nido are scattered along the white sandy beaches of neighboring islands. Oil has been struck off the northwestern coast, finally putting an end to the island’s Cinderella existence on the fringes of the Philippine archipelago. Aspiring Cousteaus also fly in to explore the rainbow underground world of the coral reefs around the Calamianes Islands, Collingwood Shoal and the Tubbataha atolls east of the capital, Puerto Princesa.
Dimakya Island, Coron, Palawan
Not a bad stopover on the way to heaven. By plane from Manila and boat from Busuanga: a private island for a castaway life with local charm and Western comfort. Transparent waters as a psychedelic playground, jungled hillocks for pocket-sized adventures and white-sand bays and coves outside the bamboo cottages. There may be life after death, but why not get a taste of paradise before.
The ‘Nesting Place of the Manta Rays’ is no more than a tiny speck of land at the heart of the Philippine archipelago. All the prerequisites of a perfect tropical island blend into a cliché holiday scenario: sun-kissed white sandy beaches, azure sea, wafting palm fronds swaying above the luxuriant undergrowth, a coral reef some three hundred meters from the shore, and a carefree ambiente. Rising above a submarine terrain of gentle slopes alternating with steep underwater cliffs, the island’s photogenic charms are matched by perfect diving conditions. Since the construction of Amanpulo – latest in the line of the international jet-set map. Pamalican is a paradise for water sports of every kind: scuba diving, sailing or rowing in a traditional Filipino ‘banca’, it also boasts good snorkeling waters, and with luck you may even encounter the eponymous fish on your underwater sorties, its vast silhouette as you’d think; a private jet will whisk you within an hour from Manila to the landing strip on the island itself.
Pamalican Island, Philippines
Rainbow’s end lies on a ‘Peaceful Island’ in the Sulu Sea. Here you’ll want for nothing , because everything imaginable has been laid out by God’s grace – and Adrian Zecha’s genius. Wooden warmth, dramatic illumination, artistic interiors and real-world communication. Prepare the luxurious beachcomber’s seafront, treetop or hillside nest for the ultimate holiday.