Palawan: Sailing’s next great destination?

All of these enviable factors would usually point to the perfect destination for a sailing trip, but the charter industry here lags far behind other sailing destinations, like Thailand, Australia or the Caribbean.

A lack of infrastructure, including mooring — and outdated legislation — has conspired to keep this sailor’s paradise from fully developing its potential.

But it’s hoped that the tide is turning, not least in the far western province of Palawan.

To take advantage of this nascent interest in yachting, I gather some sailor friends, pack some boat shoes and head for Coron, one of the province’s main towns, with the prospect of five days on the water ahead of us.

Tranquil water, uninhabited islands

On the first day, instead of setting sail right away we take a traditional trimaran “banka” and aim for nearby Coron Island (confusingly, not where Coron town is located), where sacred freshwater lakes are administered by the indigenous populations.

Two of them are open to tourists but, despite this, are largely empty.

Swimming in Kayangan Lake is a peaceful way to relax, and the towering limestone cliffs that surround it cut the outside world off completely.

Island time means early to bed and early to rise, and it’s not long after first light before we’re awake and back on board.

We set out again for another day of island hopping, taking in a slew of impossibly picturesque islands from the deck before traversing a deep channel and heading for Black Island, a piratical-sounding limestone bulk that looms out of the sea and has one of the most perfect beaches I’ve ever seen.

We head back out after lunch — a full on-board menu is prepared for us by Sunny, a Cordon Bleu-trained chef who set up a small restaurant in Coron — and make for our final destination, a marina surrounded by resorts and in the mouth of a river.

Raul tells us manatees are often spotted in the brackish water here.

A rare dinner ashore at one of the resorts is followed by final drinks aboard, the water calmly lapping against the hull as the darkness and silence lull us into a calm slumber.

The final day, we squeeze in a last side trip to the picture perfect Pass Island, for a snorkel and swim before returning, slightly sun- and wind-burned and sporting a scruffy five-day martime beard, to the marina and drive back to Coron, the airport and, regrettably, civilization.

Raul and Ichay Bulaong can be contacted about charters at Other companies offering Philippines yacht charter services include and Inter Yacht Charter (U.S. users can dial +1 917 4844 997, if in the UK call +44 203 6087 605).