If you want to get away from the typical tourist holidays or the busy city life, then Palaui Island is a hidden gem waiting for you.
Palaui Island is a scenic, elusive and peaceful island that sits on the northeastern top of Luzon Island (the largest island in the Philippines). It is home to a variety of flora and fauna, lush greens with meadows and forests, and extraordinary beaches.
Palaui Island is a natural beauty and has not been modernized. It has a distinct charm, with the natural scenery and less than 200 family population. Within the past few decades, the island has become more recognized by travelers, yet it still has an atmosphere of feeling undiscovered.
In addition, this breathtaking island is only 10 kilometers long and 5 kilometers wide. It is home to a close-knit fishing community, and has no modern architecture, with the only accommodation available being camping or home stays.
Palaui Island made a famous pop-culture appearance when it was the filming location for US reality show ‘Survivor: Blood vs. Water’ and ‘Survivor: Cagayan’ back in 2013.
In our detailed guide, we will discuss Palaui Island in all of the pedantic details, from the most beautiful places, some historic details, and how to get there. Read below to find out all of this information.
Palaui Island: An Overview
Palaui Island has been a National Marine reserve ever since 1994, and it offers natural landscapes with gorgeous meadows, forests, volcanic rockscapes, and long stretches of long white beaches with the constant crashing of waves hitting the sand.
Around 70% of this island is covered in forests, which ensures plenty of wildlife to spot whilst you are there. Palaui Island is home to 90 migratory birds. The vast coastline is also home to 21 species of fish.
The island won tenth place in CNN’s World’s 100 Best Beaches list, which was placed for its “raw beauty”. Another notable title the island boasts is ASEAN’s Community Based Tourism Award (2019-2021), for preserving cultural traditions and providing sustainable tourism.
How do I get there?
From Manila, you can get to Palaui Island by taking a bus going towards Tuguegarao. Or you could take a 1-hour flight to Tuguegarao to speed up your journey. Once you arrive at Tuguegarao, you will need to go to a van terminal and get on a van going to Santa Ana. After arriving at Santa Ana, there is a short walk to Santa Vincite Port, where you can get a boat going directly to Palaui Island. We strongly advise you to get a guided boat, otherwise, you will probably get lost!
- Bus Fare from Manila: 600 Php
- Flight to Tuguegarao: 3000-4000 Php
- Van Fare: 180 Php
- Boat Rental: 800-1500 Php
You can contact some boatmen in advance, so they have time to prepare the boat, and it will guarantee you a trip. You can contact the Ecozone Visitor Centre to arrange this, as they now organize all of the boat trips. We have provided you with contact details below
Ms. Roselyn Foronda: (telephone) 0917-7809302.
Where should I stay?
When we said about Palaui Island having an undiscovered atmosphere to it, we weren’t joking. There is no commercialized accommodation on this island. So, if you want to stay the night you will have to pitch up a tent and camp out.
On the island, visitors are only permitted to camp on a campsite called ‘Punta Verde’. Another option is to review the idea of home stays. Both will cost you around 250 Php.
However, if these options aren’t right for you, a short boat ride away will land you in Santa Ana, where there are plenty of luxury, seaside or basic hotels to choose from. Depending on your preferences for hotels will depend on where you choose to stay.
The ‘Reggae Resort’, is a unique accommodation experience in Santa Ana, with a fabulous lookout on the sea and mountains. The Reggae Resort has been rated the best-valued hotel in Santa Ana, which is with entertainment for all ages, restaurants, and BBQ facilities. Furthermore, the staff at this hotel will help you with arranging trips out to other islands nearby.
If you are looking for a hotel on a budget we recommend the Balai Cagayano hotel, which has a range of rooms with varied bed sizes, air conditioning, and daily cleaning.
This hotel offers room service and catering to you. A slight let down of this hotel is that there is not any entertainment and the rooms are very standard, yet if you are planning to spend most of your time exploring the area and surrounding islands this will not be a problem.
Places to see in Palaui Island
We have pulled together some of the best sights in Palaui Island, from the better known to the more elusive corners. Take a look below to get the most out of your trip.
Cape Engaño embodies all of Palaui Island’s natural beauty, with the rolling hills and endless green. The picturesque scenery is a treat to the eye, and you will have the chance to take some memorable photographs with a fabulous backdrop.
As well as the scenery, there is a historic lighthouse situated in Cape Engaño, which dates back to the Spanish colonial period. The lighthouse was constructed in the late 19th century and is a memorable sight.
To get to this part of the island, you can get a 40-minute boat ride. Or if you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can take the hiking route which will take you approximately 2 hours. If you decide to hike, you will save money and get to soak up more of the views of the island.
We must warn you that you must be prepared to do some hiking if you plan to go here for a day trip! Remember your water bottles and good shoes!
If you plan to stay over in Palaui Island, you will be staying in Punta Verde. This corner of the island is home to the locals, who are a small fishing community with around 200 families from either the Aeta or Agta tribe.
If you are interested in finding out more able what it is like to live on Palaui Island or find out about the tribe’s everyday life, they are more than happy to speak to you about their lives. Punta Verde is a welcoming village.
In addition, Punta Verde is home to a small white course beach, which is perfect for relaxing or swimming. Yet, you can also participate in some snorkeling here! A short stroll away will lead you to a waterfall called ‘Balatubat falls’ where you can soak up the natural attractions of Palaui Island.
Dos Hermanas or ‘two sisters’ is the name of the two neighboring small islands next to Palaui Island. You can witness their beauty and wildlife from looking out from the top of Cape Engaño’s lighthouse, or any high-level point on the island.
With a small fee of 100 Php, you can stroll, sunbathe or swim on Palaui Island’s most gorgeous beach – Anguib beach. The soft white sand and crystal clear water which provides the beach to feel heavenly and no trip to this island would be complete without visiting.
Visitors can also book into camp on certain sections of the beach which will cost anything from 500 to 3500 Php. Another option is ‘glamping’, which will cost visitors around 3700 Php per night.
Crocodile Island, otherwise known as ‘Manidad Island’, is a small island that would take 5-10 minutes to walk across the whole thing. Visitors tend to go there for a picnic or to take in the scenery around them. Crocodile Island is only a short walk from Cape Engaño.
The island got its name, not from being home to crocodiles, but from the shape and rock structure making the island look like a large crocodile! Do not worry; it won’t bite!
The Lagunzad Trail (named after ecologist Dan Lagunzad) is a memorable hiking trail, which will take you through open green space and forests. During the hike, you will be able to notice exotic wildlife and take part in some bird spotting.
The hiking required is not too much. The ground covered is fairly leveled and straight forward. The trail will take you past the landmark; Cape Engaño’s mlighthouse.
Money is always something to keep in mind whilst traveling, especially if you are on a budget. Palaui Island uses Philippine peso as their currency. You can look at conversion rates on Google’s accurate convertor.
Everything you buy whilst in Palaui Island will be by cash, so ensure you visit an ATM machine and take enough out before you travel over.
Below we have mapped up some prices, so you can decide on your budget.
|Hiking with a guide||300 Php|
|Snorkeling gear||250 Php|
|Snorkeling gear + guide||550 Php|
|Boat rental||3,500 Php|
|Boat to Crocodile Island||500 – 800|
|Campsite (per person)||250|
We have put together a few pointers to keep in mind whilst experiencing the beautiful Palaui Island. These are based on experience and research. Let’s delve in.
Palaui is not sunny through all 365 days. If you want to go when the oceans are calmer and the sun is beaming, we suggest you go between May and August. However, if you are planning to hike and want a cooler climate from March to May, or September and October is our best suggestion.
However, you should not be too surprised if when you go it is cloudy and a bit dull. So, try not to plan your agenda around the weather.
The climate in Palaui Island is very suiting for insects, so bring repellent with you and top up regularly. Furthermore, if you are staying the night, Mosquitos will be hovering. So ensure you have an effective repellant and you remain clothed during the nights.
Bring water and snacks
There is little access to bottled water in Palaui Island, and the few little stores selling it will charge you a fair bit of money. So we advise you to bring your own water bottle, and some snacks to keep you going during the day. If you are staying overnight, you will also have to bring food and beverages for meals.
Ecozone Visitor Center
We recommend signing up the Ecozone Visitor Center, although it is not required from travelers. They manage tourism around Santa Ana, and you can book tours around the island from here at a standard price. You will also be able to contact the center during the trip if any issues arise.
Charge up devices
The fishing community of Palaui Island is solar-powered, so you will not have access to electricity, even if you are staying the night. Before traveling, fully charge up your devices, and perhaps invest in a portable charging bank, or USB Charging backup, to charge your phone during the night.
Regarding devices, there is a limited signal on the island. You will only be able to send texts at certain points, and being able to make a call will be a challenge.
From experiences, we recommend staying overnight. It is therapeutic to feel remote and away from the hectic modern life, and also to switch off from technology and live in the moment. Another benefit of staying overnight is that the next day you will be able to further explore Palaui Island and witness the magnificent sunrise.
Something to keep in mind is that if you are planning to spend money or stay the night before you take the boat trip out, you will need to get to an ATM machine and withdraw money. There are no ATMs on the island, so you will need to make sure you have enough cash for accommodation, food, and travel back.
The section of this guide dedicated to things to do in Palaui Island was specific to locations. There are plenty of other things to do on this elusive island that we did not mention, such as snorkeling at any of the beaches, during your underwater trip you will be able to witness some of the island’s rare fish. Other activities include swimming, sunbathing, walking, and diving.
We highly recommend that you bring the following items, that you may have not considered.
- Portable charger
- Water bottle
- Torch (no electricity during the nights)
- Spare clothes
- Hiking shoes
- Snorkeling gear (to save you rental money)
Another thought to keep in mind is that you should not expect luxury. There are no hotels, bars or restaurants. There is limited home stay and ‘glamping options’ if you want something a bit more luxurious than a tent, so book quickly! However, stepping away from the luxury will make your trip more memorable and it will feel more like an adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is snorkeling a worthwhile activity to do whilst in Palaui Island?
Palaui Island is a wonderful place to snorkel, as it is classed as a marine sanctuary, so you can expect to see many different types of fish regardless of where you decide to snorkel. Some travelers have even reported seeing dolphins! In addition, you can purchase a snorkel guide for 300 Php and the gear for 250 Php.
Will children enjoy a trip to Palaui Island?
The journey to Palaui Island is quite long, and if your child is not a fan of boat travel, we recommend not to go. However, whilst in Palaui Island the beautiful beaches are great for sandcastle building and swimming.
So, Palaui Island is a good place for families if they are looking for an exotic adventure, but more for children aged 8+ because of the walking and travelling requirements.
What is the best time to visit?
The best months to visit Palaui island are May and August if you want to catch the sun and participate in some snorkeling. However, if you are planning to hike and explore the island in its complete capacity, you may want a cooler climate from March to May, or September and October is our best suggestion.
What type of food can you purchase in Palaui Island?
Palaui Island is home to a fishing community. Whilst you are there, you can attend a fish market and buy the daily catches of exotic fish to try. The local community will cook your meals revolving around fish and vegetables if you decide to stay overnight.
There are also a few stores that sell bottled drinks and snacks, they tend to be expensive and there is not a large variety to choose from. So, it is a good idea to bring food and drinks with you.
Is there internet on the island?
No, there is no WI-FI to access whilst you are on the island. There are not many signal spots (if you are lucky you will be able to get 1 bar of signal) so accessing the internet using your mobile data is not an option either.
How many nights should I stay in Palaui Island?
It depends on your preferences. If you want to go to the beaches, then one or two nights may be optimal for you. However, if you’re looking to explore the island and hike, two or three nights will be better suited to you. This will better enable you to absorb the atmosphere and beauty of the island.
On average, how much would a trip to Palaui Island cost?
We estimate that a two-night stay including transport would cost you between 3,500 – 3,750 Php.
Palaui Island is a hidden gem amongst some of the better known Philippine island. The long stretched white sands with the crashing, crystal clear waves and natural green scenery surrounding the island will make it feel like paradise.
The whole island is solar-powered. So if you feel like a break from technology and ‘modern world stresses’, this elusive place is perfect for you. By the end of your trip, you will feel detoxed from all stresses. It will make you think ‘maybe I should just live here’. The natural setting will make you want to relax, and make you appreciate mother nature in all her glory.
Palaui Island’s locals are extremely welcoming and can provide you with their fresh catches from the day at a small fee at the markets.
However, you must remember the Palaui Island is rather small. There is not a lot to do besides hiking, visiting beaches, and neighboring islands. Yet the time you spend there will be relaxing, and the breathtaking scenery will be second to none.
Also, do not expect luxurious treatment. But expect a trip filled with fun and mindfulness.
In this guide, we have looked at all of the vital aspects of Palaui Island. We’ve also provided you with plenty of information to best plan your memorable trip.
Palaui Island is one of the most picturesque islands in the world. The undiscovered feel of the place will make you feel both relaxed and adventurous. The island is relatively reserved. Thus making it is the perfect place to escape modern life and enjoy the bliss of turning off from technology.
So remember; book your boat in advance, bring insect repellent, and most importantly – enjoy!
If you have any questions about our guide to Palaui Island, feel free to get in touch. We will respond as soon as we can!