The Philippines is composed of 7,641 islands — no wonder it’s famous among beach lovers. It has some of the most-loved beaches in the world, like the white-sand Boracay and the surfer’s paradise Siargao. As an archipelago, there’s something for everyone in this Asian nation known for its hospitality.

There are many Instagrammable places in the country, from the mountain where Thanos lived after snapping his fingers to the picture-perfect Chocolate Hills. However, one island stands out: Palawan, globally known as the home of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. The biodiversity of this island province is unmatched, and it’s a budget-friendly destination. Stretching more than 400 miles, the island’s natural wonders are stunning, surprising, and simply world-class.

10 Why Is It Called The Last Frontier?

As the country’s last frontier, Palawan most of the time makes it first in “best” lists. It still has old-growth forests, well-protected so its endemic animals can thrive. It’s an ecological paradise and the star of the show is its underwater world. The Philippines, a center of marine biodiversity, is part of the Coral Triangle. Palawan is one big island dotted by smaller islands, all of which boast pristine waters and mesmerizing coral reefs — attractive for divers. The last frontier truly means business. With all that, tourists just need to pack their travel essentials — that is, sunscreen and their desire to be out there.

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9 It’s Tourist-Friendly

Being featured in many travel magazines and earning praises therein, Palawan developed a thriving tourism sector. Even the small islands that surround it are capable of delivering world-class services. Right from the landing in the capital Puerto Princesa City, tourists will already feel the beaming hospitality. Even on islands far from the hustle and bustle of the city, there's a good connection. Sure, visiting islets is a time to unwind and log off, but who wouldn’t want to share online the beauty that surrounds them?

8 Diving Spots Are World-Class

Palawan is recognized as a prime diving destination. Aside from the brimming Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, it has the small island towns of El Nido and Coron frequented by scuba and free divers. The former is a protected area — a whole town protected, imagine that — while the latter is most recognizable from its stunning photos of crystal clear waters. The islands are awe-inspiring, more so when embarking on a journey in its underwater world. From World War II shipwrecks to colorful coral reefs, Palawan’s underwater paradise is a whole new world — even Aladdin might want to visit it.

7 It Has The Biodiverse Tubbataha Reef

Tubbataha, as earlier mentioned, is a favorite diving spot not only in the region but the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is praised for its coral islands and lagoons. Since it’s part of the Coral Triangle, divers would be amazed at the conglomeration of marine species in the park. It is home to hundreds of species like jacks, rays, turtles, wrasses, tiger sharks, moray eels, and even gentle whale sharks. There are many marine friends to greet in this slice of heaven on earth, and anywhere divers look, it’s superb and satisfying.

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6 It Has A World-Famous Crystal Clear Lake

Coron is home to the picturesque Kayangan Lake, one of the cleanest waters in Asia. Its rock formations are stunning and surrounded by crystal-clear waters, making it an ecological paradise. Add its rolling hills and some mangrove forests, and the place feels like a dream. Kayangan looks like it’s plucked out from a postcard. It’s a favorite boating destination and, thanks to its mirror-like waters, those afraid to go diving just need to look down. Tourists can also visit the unique Barracuda Lake and the Twin Lagoon, and they won’t ask for more.

5 It’s Home to One Of The “New 7 Wonders of Nature”

As previously mentioned, the Puerto Princesa Underground River, one of the longest in the world, calls Palawan home. This one-of-a-kind protected area is 5.1-miles long, and tucked in its corners are majestic displays of Mother Nature’s gifts. There’s the Cabayugan River that leads tourists to the cave of Saint Paul, and it’s also proud of the Italian Chamber, one of the world’s largest cave halls. Within, tourists can spot bats, swallows, cockatoos, turtles, and even giant spiders, among others. From stalactites and stalagmites to unique critters, the river shares endless surprises.

4 Weirdly Enough, It Has A “Safari”

In the 70s, the Philippine government decided to put up a game reserve on the island of Calauit, with the animals imported from Africa. The safari park is, to date, the only place in the country where giraffes and zebras can be seen — and tourists can interact with them. When the other animals brought from Africa died out, conservationists decided to repopulate here endemic species like the Palawan bearded pig, Calamian deer, Philippine crocodile, bearcats, Philippine porcupine, and Philippine mouse-deer. The safari is small but a welcoming home nonetheless.

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3 Many Endemic Species Thrive In Palawan

There are more than 200 endemic species in Palawan, thriving in various parts of the island and its waters. Such species include the Philippine mouse-deer, Palawan bearded pig, Palawan peacock-pheasant, Philippine pangolin, and Palawan birdwing, alongside over 600 butterfly species. Some other species were just recently discovered, like the purple crab in 2012 and the meat-eating Attenborough’s pitcher plant in 2009. The inland is thriving with beautiful species of plants and animals, and if marine critters are added, there’s no question why Palawan is indeed the Philippines’ last frontier.

2 Birdwatchers Will Have Fun Time On Rasa Island

Birdwatchers can consider Rasa Island their office, thanks to the thousands of endangered Philippine cockatoos that live here. Only in this sanctuary can tourists find the largest population of said birds, so avian lovers will have a fun day checking them out. Other than cockatoos, other feathered friends can be spotted on the coral island, like racket-tails, pigeons, egrets, and scops owls. Like many Palawan islands, it’s also frequented by sea turtles, and lucky guests might even meet a dugong. The island might be small, but it’s big on wonders.

1 Even Its Lesser-Known Towns Are Worthy Of A Visit

Areas in Palawan where tourists flock are unquestionably stunning, more so the emerging destinations not yet frequented even by domestic travelers. One such town is San Vicente, famous for its nine-mile Long Beach, which, as the name suggests, is the longest in the country. Balabac, on the other hand, is the southernmost town of Palawan, and is home to many shoals and sandbars — the shallow, crystal-clear waters are perfect for sun-worshippers. The archipelagic town even has some of the longest sandbars in the country. Indeed, it's more fun in the Philippines, more so in Palawan.