Boracay or Palawan for a Vacation in the Philippines?

el nido town proper

The Philippines is a fun destination and the tourism industry in the country is gaining much popularity. The awesome beaches, scenic countryside and abundant natural beauty allure many international travellers all the time.

There are over 7000 islands in the Philippines, rich with biodiversity, which beckons tourists and nature enthusiasts. This might, at times, make it too difficult for travellers to make a choice of destination.

This write-up explores two of the prominent destinations in the Philippines – Palawan and Boracay.

Sure, you’ve heard highly of both areas and want to visit them. If you haven’t been to any of them, which should you visit first?

Fortunately, I have visited these islands in the Philippines – Coron, El Nido and Boracay, and so I share a comparison of both Palawan and Boracay and what you can expect from both.

About Palawan, Philippines

Kayangan Lake el nido philippines- travel-tramp; Best drones for travel
Kayangan Lake in El Nido

The Province of Palawan is probably the largest province with respect to the area .

Palawan has been cited as the ‘Best in the World’ by Travel+Leisure for the third consecutive year. Even the National Geographic has quoted Palawan to be the highly rated island in South East Asia.

There are quite a lot of smaller islands with clear blue waters and impeccable white sand beaches out of the 1,800 surrounding small islets. Palawan also boasts of a rich backdrop of flora and fauna and many species which are indigenous to the island province.

Palawan is known to house one of the 7 wonders of nature. The underground river in Palawan is listed by the UNESCO as one of the World Heritage sites. The province is undoubtedly a paradise with its penchant forests and coral reefs.

As per the tourism board in the Philippines, Palawan is one of the highly visited tourist locations. In addition to the underground river, El Nido has become the second most popular destination.

The municipality of El Nido, located in the northern region of the island is a much-anticipated tourist spot. The coral reefs and lagoons along with the remarkable limestone cliffs are highly recommended for a peaceful and relaxing vacation.

About Boracay, Philippines

Boracay beach
Boracay beach

Boracay is probably the leading destination among travellers. In addition to its beaches, Boracay also has an enthralling nightlife. Boracay has also received many awards from travel magazines and is recognized as one of the world’s top travel destination. This can be attributed to the scenic beaches and the eventful nightlife.

Boracay has also received the title of the ‘Best Island in the World’ in 2012, exactly the same award given to Palawan for three consecutive years.

Palawan vs Boracay for a Vacation

Palawan, Philippines

club paradise palawan coron porch hammock
Club Paradise, Coron, Palawan

Palawan is the destination of choice for travellers who would prefer a silent and serene vacation. The natural wonders on the island are just the icing on the cake.

When directly comparing the beaches in Palawan and Boracay, the beaches in Palawan are nicer than the ones in Boracay. Water sports like surfing and kayaking are common. There are underwater explorations like diving and snorkelling, and island-hopping adventures to go on.

kayangan-lake-viewpoint-boat-coron-island-hopping-tour-palawan
Island-hopping to Kayangan Lake viewpoint in Coron, Palawan

Trekking is also a quite common and there are many spots which offer a view of the exquisite natural beauty of Palawan.

Other destinations in Palawan which attract many travellers are Coron, Sabang, San Vicente and of course the island of El Nido.

These places all have the easy-going vibes that are typical to Palawan. There is hardly any traffic on the Palawan roads and very few people when compared to Boracay. The beaches seem much bigger because of a lesser density of crowds.

club paradise palawan coron beach bikini
On a private beach in Coron, Palawan

Almost every traveller to Palawan has great praises to sing about the astounding views from the beaches and the relaxing vibes of the archipelagic province.

These are indeed the spots to calm your mind and let go of all other worldly stress behind. It is also the best place to discover more about the local culture.

Palawan has a lot in store for both nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. It is full of natural places like blue lagoons, exciting waterfalls, breathtaking mountains and pristine forests.

There is a wide range of trekking spots both high up in the mountains and deep in the forests.

Photographers would have a field day taking snaps of the picturesque views from Palawan.

Boracay, Philippines

Boracay snorkelling underwater
Snorkelling in Boracay

On the other hand, Boracay is a place of beckoning for partygoers with the sordid reputation for its over-the-top and bustling nightlife. That being said, the beaches of Boracay also has many water sports like underwater diving and snorkelling, jet skiing, parasailing, and windsurfing.

The prime beach in Boracay is always a happening place, whether day or night, and one can find groups all through the beach. In fact, it is practically impossible to find a peaceful and quiet corner anywhere near the beach.

The Verdict: Boracay or Palawan?

el nido lunch island picnic hidden lagoon

On a head-to-head comparison, Boracay and Palawan might seem very different from each other. Palawan has a remote and isolated feel with a touch of wilderness. On the other hand, Boracay is bustling with crowds of partygoers and the music beats of the nightlife.

Palawan is becoming increasingly popular among travellers because of the underground river. The underground river has become a sensation which has led to travellers comparing Palawan to Boracay.

Both places have their own unique attractions, although many tourists claim that Palawan is a better destination than the lively but often overpopulated Boracay.

Boracay shopping crowd tourists
Boracay shopping crowd

Of late, there have been reports of a developing algae situation in Boracay. During the dry seasons, there is a typical growth of algae which makes the water dark green and slimy. In addition to this, there are also reported concerns about the cleanliness in Boracay.

The Government of Philippines has also declared that the island should be kept closed for tourist for a short period of time and to undertake a large-scale renovation drive. This decree was raised after it was found that the sewage system has become insufficient and needs to be revamped.

This is the outcome of a high number of tourists on the island of Boracay. There are quite a few numbers of non-government organizations as well in Palawan which are focused on maintaining its natural environment, although none of such sort has occurred in Palawan, yet.


coron-island-hopping-tour-palawan
Coron by ferry.

Both of the destinations are really wonderful, equally affordable for a budget trip and definitely worth exploring. Each place has something unique to offer, depending on your tastes and likings.

Recently, Palawan is becoming the frequent destination and is much recommended. So, if you are on the lookout for a peaceful and chilled out spot on the beach, Palawan is definitely a better option than Boracay.

Unlike Boracay, the increasing tourist visits have had little effect on the clean beaches and island province of Palawan.

Boracay is still the place of choice for tourists with a preference for nightlife, parties and the earth-shaking music albeit being hit by rapid tourism developments. But for tourists looking to get away from the hectic and busy city life, Palawan is the place of choice.


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