A trip to El Nido almost demands a kayaking photo. The best places to score these photos are within Bacuit Bay’s exquisite lagoons. Here, karst landscapes serve as an astonishing backdrop, and your bright yellow kayak will be a striking contrast to the beautiful turquoise water.
Both Big and Small Lagoons are stops on the popular Tour A (one of the four ubiquitous tours that are recognized and offered by almost every tour company in town), and kayaks are available for rent on site. Both are equally exciting to explore on kayak. Some areas of the Big Lagoon are shallow, making it inaccessible to bigger boats, while the entrance to the Small Lagoon is a narrow opening between limestone formations that’s small enough to only swim or kayak through. It’s an unmissable experience in El Nido that delivers fantastic photos.
El Nido is one of the country’s top tourist destinations due, in large part, to the amazing islands within Bacuit Bay. The most popular can be found on the set itineraries of the four basic El Nido island hopping tours: Tours A, B, C, and D. Tours A and C are far more popular than B and D, so their stops also tend to get more crowded. For islands that give off more of the Cast Away vibe and tourist-free photos, opt for tours B and D, or customize your tour, based on your boatman or tour companies’ advice. Whichever ones you choose, you’re almost guaranteed stunning beach shots for your feed.
While Northern Palawan is undeniably a tropical paradise, its capital city, Puerto Princesa, also has its hidden charms that should not be overlooked. A nearby beach that locals love is Nagtabon. It’s frequented by those looking to catch a wave or who want to have a few beers by the sea. Because tourists are automatically bound for El Nido or Coron as soon as they land, Nagtabon is rarely on their lists, and is more of a local secret.
Tagged the cleanest lake in the country, Kayangan has become one of the most popular attractions in Coron. After seeing its cerulean water and the surrounding scenery, it won’t take long to realize why. As is the case with tourist hotspots, the lake can get too busy for some to enjoy at certain hours of the day. So set an early alarm and make Kayangan your first stop to see the lake at its most serene. This will also be the only way to score photos without having too many people and selfie sticks in the background.
Approximately halfway between Puerto Princesa and El Nido is the secret gem of Port Barton. This sleepy fishing village in San Vicente and its underrated nearby islands contain the tranquility sought out by travelers avoiding the hustle and bustle of places like Coron and El Nido. Stop by German Island for beach photos, or pack your GoPro and head out for a snorkel. Turtle sightings are common in the area, so you’ll have some beautiful underwater shots your followers will adore.
Another famous Coron attraction is the Twin Lagoon. It’s made up of two neighboring lagoons, separated by the towering limestone formations that create El Nido and Coron’s extraordinary landscapes. This karst divider contains a small opening, allowing visitors to cross from one lagoon to the other. And just like Kayangan Lake, these lagoons’ dreamy blue water and surrounding limestone topography make for a gorgeous photo backdrop.
Sabang Beach, the departure point for the famous Puerto Princesa Underground River, stretches long and far. One end approaches a commercial area with affordable restaurants and refresher kiosks, while the other kisses the sea on a striking rocky path. Take a stroll to find the perfect spot for a snap. Whether in the sea, on rocks, or by one of the many resorts that line the beachfront, you’re bound to find a couple spots that will look great on your feed.
Much lesser known than the distinguished Underground River, the Sabang Waterfall sits about a half-hour walk from the Sabang dock. The route is a rocky one, so making the trip in sturdy shoes would be best. The 50-foot series of cascades ends at a small rock pool fronting the sea, so visitors are guaranteed a beautiful view to accompany their refreshing post-trek dip. Because most Sabang tourists make a beeline for the Underground River and not much else, you’ll find that this natural attraction is still off the beaten path.
Another underrated gem along the coast of San Vicente is a 14-kilometer beach still unscathed by commercialization. Said to be the longest white-sand beach in the country, Long Beach possesses the raw beauty once had by now frenzied beaches, before their rise to popularity and the waves of tourism that followed. In such an alluring setting (and 14 kilometers of it, no less), it’s impossible not to find a spot for a good photo.
For the most remarkable underwater shots in the province, divers might want to consider venturing out to the Tubbataha Reefs in the Sulu Sea, east of mainland Palawan. Since it’s within the Coral Triangle, this protected area is home to extraordinary marine biodiversity, pristine coral reefs (it contains approximately half of the world’s coral species), and several hundred species of fish, sharks, dolphins, and whales. Photos in one of the world’s best dive sites are sure to “wow” your followers.
One of the most luxurious island resorts in the country is located northeast of mainland Palawan. Not surprisingly—based on its price tag and clientele (including Hollywood A-Listers)—Amanpulo is only reachable by private plane. This exclusive resort boasts immaculate beachfront accommodations and the feeling of utmost privacy for its guests. If you’re willing to pay the price, a vacation at this high-end paradise and the photos you take home (or to Instagram) will not disappoint.
If you don’t have the budget for a luxury resort Insta-shoot, don’t fret. Southern Palawan also serves tropical utopia on a silver platter through the islands of the Balabac municipality. Not nearly as popular to tourists as Northern Palawan, the remote islets around the southern tip of the province are less frequented and left in a purely dazzling state. There are no crowds and no commercialization—just unspoiled, natural beauty. Take it all in and snap away.
If your Palawan trip doesn’t permit you enough time to journey too far from the capital, you’ll be glad to know that envy-worthy beach photos aren’t exclusive to travelers who venture all the way up north. Close to the Puerto Princesa city proper, there are also gorgeous beaches that can easily be paid a visit. Organize an island hopping tour around Honda Bay and stop by the islands of Cowrie, Starfish, Luli, and Pandan. Each island has its strong suit, like Luli’s sandbar and Pandan’s snorkeling, but they all look great in photos.
As wonderful as Palawan beaches are, it’s nice to have a change of scenery every now and then too. If you’re in El Nido and have Nacpan Beach on your itinerary, consider making a detour to Nagkalit-Kalit Falls. It’s around a half-hour trek through open fields, forests, and past a few rivers and streams. It’s not too difficult, and the river crossings and different scenery make it an interesting hike. Freshen up with a swim and take some waterfall shots to spice up your beachy feed.
For something different and off the tourist radar, join the locals at another waterfall, but this time, in the municipality of Narra. It’s over an hour’s drive south from Puerto Princesa and the perfect spot for a picnic—so pack some bites. No hiking is involved—just a few minutes’ walk to reach the falls. It’s an uncomplicated, laid-back destination and an easy way to pack in some great shots.
You can’t leave Palawan without this classic shot. On any island hopping trip, don’t skip the opportunity to get the obligatory bangka (boat) photo. Position yourself at the bow of your boat and let the sensational view work its magic.