Asia with kids

Philippines With Kids- Off-the-Beaten Track Family Adventures in Palawan

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Spice Up Your Trip With Some Of The Lesser Known Activities For Families Traveling to Palawan

By Philippines standards at least, Palawan is a big deal in terms of tourism. The largest region in the country, the Palawan archipelago has become the subject of much interest among the high-end travel press, with writers enthusing about the pristine beaches, paradise islands and magnificent marine life. The jungle-covered rocky islands shooting straight out of crystalline waters are picture perfect, and international tourists are increasingly heading to the towns of El Nido and Coron, in particular.  But families in Palawan needn’t worry – it’s not yet become the destination of choice for the full moon party brigade, and the region remains little-visited in comparison with many other Asian destinations. It’s not hard to dodge the crowds here, and travelers visiting Palawan with kids will find plenty of opportunity for off-the-beaten track adventures in spots that are unlikely to house luxury hotel resorts anytime soon.

?A word to the wise – hiring a bike is a cheap and practical way to zip around from one beauty spot to another with the fam.

Go Snorkeling at Port Barton

Shhh, don’t mention the village of Port Barton to folks back home. This still unspoilt beauty spot remains somewhat under the radar among foreign visitors to Palawan, and families will likely have the ocean to themselves as the island-hop their way around the waters surrounding this laid-back village, where noisy bars and upscale restaurants are conspicuous by their absence. There are a handful of simple guest houses in town, and local guides will happily ship visitors out to the impossibly-scenic nearby islands of Exotic Island, German Island and Paradise Island. The snorkelling is some of the best in the Philippines, and families can get up close and personal with all manner of colorful sea creatures at the appropriately-named Aquarium 1 and Aquarium 2 (open water sites that genuinely feel like being inside a vast aquarium). Don’t expect fast internet connections (or indeed any internet connection at all, much of the time) at this sedate locale some three hours north of Palawan’s capital, Puerto Princesa, but set aside some time just to soak up the incredible seascapes and the laid back vibe.

Island-hop Around Araceli

If you’re after blissful isolation during your family trip to Palawan, head for the remote northeastern municipality of Araceli. Still untroubled by tourism, this stunning part of the archipelago takes some reaching (a two-hour boat ride from Puerto Princesa to Roxas, followed by a four-hour boat ride), but once there your brood will be able to race unhindered down long stretches of sand where the only inhabitants they’re likely to disturb are flocks of colorful birds and crowds of chittering monkeys.  The fresh-caught lobster make a ridiculously tasty dinner after a day’s swimming alongside Nemo-esque clown fish, among the ocean’s other inhabitants. Nature-spotting trails are another way to pass the time here, but really, you’re unlikely to want to tear yourself away from the beaches. There are a few unpretentious spots to stay her, the real luxury is the opportunity to unplug and enjoy the island escapes and the superb coral reefs Angoy, Kutad and Marakit islands. Ask around at the pier, and you and the family will find a fishing boat with a skipper ready to whisk you off.

Follow the Trails Around Olangoan Falls

One of relatively few real beauty spots close to the Palawan capital Puerto Princesa (although, who are we kidding, everything in Palawan is pretty easy on the eye…) the Olangoan Falls, Binduyan, is around two hours’ motorcycle or jeepney ride north of Puerto Princesa, followed by some scenic trekking through jungle paths (bring plenty of water and sensible shoes, and prepare for some steep climbs), to reach a series of pretty waterfalls and cooling natural pools. Crowds gather here at weekends and holidays, but come midweek and things will be blissfully quiet, or just cool off and then trek a little more to find a secluded spot for a family picnic.   

? Eat Here: Baker’s Hill

It’s a hill! With a bakery at the top! This Puerto Princesa cafe is firmly established on the tourist trail, but still worth exploring – entice the kids onto their bikes by telling them that they’ll be rewarded for their uphill pedaling with cheesecake, cookies and house speciality banana cream pudding. Not only that, but there’s a small, Disney-themed playground at the top, complete with strolling peacocks, and views for the parents to admire while the brood are burning off that sugar high. It’s possible to wander a little farther afield for some crowd-free trekking, too.

Here are some family friendly hotels in Palawan you can check.

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