Imagine turquoise waters shimmering under the sun, hiding a world teeming with life, colours, and magic. This is Palawan, the Philippines’ unspoiled paradise, home to some of the best snorkelling spots on the planet. It’s an underwater kingdom where you’re a guest, witnessing breathtaking marine biodiversity, vibrant corals, and an endless panorama of blues. However, with countless islands and a myriad of beaches, choosing where to start your underwater exploration can be overwhelming. That’s where we come in.
We have curated a list of the top 15 spots in Palawan that you must snorkel in. These spots offer more than just a dip in the sea – they promise an immersive experience into a thriving, enchanting underwater realm. Let’s embark on this journey together, diving into Palawan’s crystal-clear waters and discovering a world that will etch memories in your mind that last a lifetime.
1. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park
As a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park occupies a special place in the heart of every snorkelling enthusiast. It is a veritable underwater paradise with an ecosystem brimming with a rich variety of marine life, including over 600 species of fish and more than 350 types of coral. The reefs are a true spectacle, boasting majestic manta rays, turtles, and even various species of sharks. Being remote and only accessible via liveaboard, it remains an unspoiled jewel of biodiversity, offering a snorkelling experience that is a class apart.
2. Coron Bay
Coron Bay is a snorkelling spot that doubles as an underwater history lesson. This captivating site is renowned for its sunken WWII Japanese warships, providing a unique snorkelling experience where history and marine life coexist. The aquatic vista of the historic shipwrecks juxtaposed with vivid reef systems and diverse marine life creates a truly captivating underwater landscape.
3. Honda Bay
Located in Puerto Princesa, Honda Bay offers several islets with stunning beaches and diverse marine life, making it a popular snorkelling destination. Pambato Reef, in particular, offers snorkelers a breathtaking view of colourful fish and lush corals. The crystal-clear waters and the variety of sea life offer endless amazement. A journey through the waters of Honda Bay is like flipping through a vibrant album of the Philippines’ most stunning marine life.
4. Tapiutan Island
One of the most remote islands in the El Nido Archipelago, Tapiutan Island is a snorkeler’s delight. The island’s strikingly clear waters are teeming with marine life, including a variety of tropical fish and exquisite coral formations. This snorkelling spot, known for its tranquillity and stunning beauty, provides a real escape from the outside world. Snorkelling in Tapiutan Island is akin to entering a natural aquarium where the beauty of the marine world unfolds before your eyes.
5. El Nido Marine Reserve
Widely acknowledged as one of the best snorkelling destinations in the world, El Nido Marine Reserve has it all. This marine paradise is a stunning showcase of biodiversity, with a plethora of fish species darting around the flourishing coral reefs. Limestone formations rise majestically from the emerald waters, and beautiful beaches invite relaxation after an underwater exploration. Snorkelling at El Nido offers a peek into a dynamic underwater world teeming with life and colour.
6. Port Barton Marine Park
Port Barton Marine Park is a well-preserved ecological wonder that promises to beautify your snorkelling experience. The vast biodiversity, which includes sea turtles, stunning coral reefs, and vibrant schools of fish, is a treat for snorkelers. Plus, the park’s dedicated efforts in marine conservation ensure that this underwater paradise continues to thrive, enhancing its natural beauty. Snorkelling in Port Barton Marine Park is not only an adventure but also an opportunity to witness firsthand how marine ecosystems beautify and flourish.
7. Siete Pecados
Known as the ‘Seven Sins’, Siete Pecados is a group of seven islets that serve as a vibrant snorkelling spot. A marine park teeming with marine life and beautiful coral gardens, Siete Pecados is a testament to marine biodiversity. It’s a true paradise for snorkelers seeking to immerse themselves in an environment that throbs with life and colour.
8. Balabac Island
Balabac Island, with its remote and pristine state, stands as a testament to the untouched magnificence of nature. Serving as a haven for rare flora and fauna, the island thrives as a biodiversity hotspot. Snorkelers are rewarded with the opportunity to explore the island’s crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and the possibility of encountering a diverse range of marine creatures, including turtles, colorful fish, and perhaps even dugongs. Delving into the underwater realm surrounding Balabac Island is akin to immersing oneself in a concealed trove of marine marvels, waiting to be discovered.
9. Barracuda Lake
Located in Coron, Barracuda Lake is a unique snorkelling spot that stands out for its distinct thermocline phenomenon. As you descend into the lake, you’ll experience a dramatic change in water temperature and clarity due to the varying layers of warm and cold water. Snorkelling here provides a surreal experience, where you can swim among stunning rock formations and encounter curious fish while navigating through the thermocline layers.
10. Linapacan Island
Linapacan Island, nestled between El Nido and Coron, offers snorkelers a quieter and more secluded experience. With pristine waters and untouched coral reefs, Linapacan Island provides an opportunity to explore a tranquil underwater world. Snorkelers can swim alongside colourful fish, spot unique coral formations, and enjoy the unspoiled beauty of this island paradise.
11. Calauit Island
Calauit Island is not only known for its wildlife sanctuary but also offers incredible snorkelling opportunities. The island’s surrounding waters are home to vibrant coral gardens and a diverse range of marine species. Snorkelers can encounter schools of fish, sea turtles, and even reef sharks. Exploring the underwater realm of Calauit Island provides an exciting glimpse into the harmony between land and sea.
12. Apulit Island
Situated in Taytay, Apulit Island is famous for its luxury resort and exceptional snorkelling opportunities. The island’s marine sanctuary boasts a dazzling array of marine life, including tropical fish, sea turtles, and vibrant coral formations. Snorkelers can enjoy the beauty of Apulit Island’s underwater world while relishing the exclusivity and serenity of this picturesque destination.
13. Taytay Bay
Taytay Bay is a hidden gem for snorkelling enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of snorkelling sites with stunning coral gardens and abundant marine life. From colourful reefs to vibrant fish species, Taytay Bay presents a captivating underwater playground waiting to be explored. Snorkelers can revel in the natural beauty and tranquillity of this off-the-beaten-path snorkelling destination.
14. Port Barton Reef
Situated in the charming town of Port Barton, Port Barton Reef serves as a captivating snorkelling spot that showcases Palawan’s marine wonders. The reef system surrounding Port Barton teems with life, offering snorkelers the chance to encounter a variety of fish species, intricate coral formations, and other fascinating marine creatures. Snorkelling at Port Barton Reef immerses you in the vibrant marine ecosystem of Palawan, where the underwater world unfolds in a breathtaking display of beauty and diversity.
15. Cowrie Island
Located near Honda Bay, Cowrie Island enchants visitors with its pristine white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Snorkelers can explore the island’s underwater wonders, including vibrant coral gardens and a diverse array of tropical fish species. With its serene atmosphere and breathtaking marine scenery, Cowrie Island provides a fantastic choice for snorkelling enthusiasts seeking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and tranquillity of Palawan’s aquatic realm.
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In conclusion, Palawan, Philippines, offers a breathtaking array of snorkelling spots that are sure to captivate any underwater enthusiast. From the crystal-clear waters of Coron to the vibrant marine life in El Nido, this tropical paradise is a haven for snorkelling enthusiasts. With its rich biodiversity, stunning coral reefs, and colourful marine species, Palawan provides an unforgettable snorkelling experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced snorkeller, exploring these top 15 spots in Palawan will leave you in awe of the beauty that lies beneath the surface. Dive into the wonders of Palawan’s underwater world and create memories that will last a lifetime.