Imagine Scotland and Southeast Asia had a baby—that’s what you get when you head to Palaui, a picturesque island in the Philippines. Lush green grass and rocky cliffs give way to verdant rice patties and jungle-covered hills, and all around it is the most stunning beach.
Palaui is one of the many reasons visitors are flocking to the Philippines.
Not much to report here, really. Palaui was declared a National Marine Reserve in 1994 and is largely uninhabited, save for a small fishing community. Not much has changed on this island for thousands of years.
Where Is It?
Just off the northeastern coast of Luzon, near the special economic zone of Santa Ana in Cagayan.
How to Get There
There are daily flights from Manila to Tugeugaro, taking about an hour. Otherwise, buses leave Manila every hour—though the trip takes 12 hours.
You will need to get a boat from St Vicente port in Santa Ana to the actual island. Tour operators leave regularly, but if you’re more about solo travel, there are plenty of boats (and fishermen!) who can ferry you over to the island.
When to Go
February to May is the best time to visit Palaui, with smooth water and sunny, dry weather being the norm.
Where to Stay
The closest places to stay are across the water in Santa Ana. As Palaui is a marine reserve, staying on the island is not allowed. There are plenty of resorts, hostels and backpacker-friendly places in Santa Ana and even camping spots. There are some homestay options available, but they fill up fast, so try to book as early as possible.
What to See
The water and beaches are spectacular and full of marine life. Swimming and snorkelling are a must. The main “tourist attraction”—if you can call it that—is the Cape Engano lighthouse. Built during the Spanish Colonial era (1892 to be exact), the lighthouse offers spectacular views of Palaui and the Dos Hermanas (two sisters) islands. It’s a bit of a trek to get there, so bring plenty of water.
Punta Verda is the only village in the town, and the majority of people who live there belong to the Agata tribe. It’s a lovely place, but be respectful if you choose to visit.
Palaui’s unspoiled beauty is the main drawcard, so hike, swim, run and sunbathe, but take all your rubbish with you!
What to Eat
Apart from a couple of little places in Punta Verda, you’ll have to supply your own food. Santa Ana has plenty of places to stock up before you head out!
How to Get Around
Walk or swim. The island is a beautiful, untouched paradise. Get out and enjoy it!