What are the best places for snorkeling in Palawan?
If you are traveling to the Philippines you will most likely go to Palawan. Palawan is an archipelagic province of the Philippines, named after its largest island. Many websites and magazines rave about this destination and list it as a must-visit.
Palawan is indeed incredible. The beaches of El Nido are simply beautiful (check out this El Nido travel guide) and Coron is equally alluring. If you love the beach and the sun, Palawan is perfect. If you love diving, Coron offers some of the best dive spots in the country.
But what If you only want to go snorkeling in Palawan? You may have fewer options because El Nido, for example, is more of a beach paradise than a snorkeling haven. If you love to snorkel, your best bet will be Coron as the underwater scenery there is more vibrant and spectacular than its beaches.
Now that we have established that, do not be surprised if most of the places on our list below are in Coron. So, read on and find out where the best snorkeling sites in Palawan are.
10 Best Snorkeling Spots in Palawan
1. Black Island (Malajon Island)
Malajon Island, commonly known among locals and tourists as Black Island, is located northwest of Busuanga Island.
Black Island is named as such because of its black limestone cliffs jutting out from the dark blue waters. From a distance, the island looks as if it came straight out of the Pirates of the Caribbean film and from up close, the sheer size of it is imposing.
There are two caves on the island and the soft sand is great. But, the true wealth is underneath the waters. Black island is a snorkeler’s paradise. The coral is healthy and colorful and can be accessed easily, at only a few meters from the shore.
In the middle of it all, if you would venture a bit deeper, you will find the wreck of Nanshin Maru, the so-called Black Island Wreck. The wreck is a popular dive site and loved by underwater photographers. Because the wreck is located at a depth of 21 – 32 meters (69 – 105 feet) however, it’s not great for snorkeling.
2. Siete Pecados
This is perhaps the most popular snorkel site in Palawan and the easiest to get to as it is the closest to Coron town. Siete Pecados sets the bar high when it comes to underwater adventures.
Siete Pecados (Seven sins) can only be accessed by boat and boats cannot dock on the shore because there’s no coastline so visitors have to swim from the boat to the islets.
The coral here is generally in good condition, although you will see some dead coral. There are numerous species of fish such as schools of jacks, barracudas, angelfish, anemones, clownfish, banded sea snakes, and anchovies, among others. Occasionally, you also get to see sea turtles, stingrays, octopus, squids, juvenile sharks, and whale sharks.
Tip: if you want to avoid the crowds, go early in the morning to enjoy this popular snorkeling spot in Palawan!
3. Lusong Gunboat Wreck at Lusong Island
The wreck of a Gunboat that sunk in Lusong Island’s waters offers divers and snorkelers a great opportunity to marvel and take photographs of the thriving marine life here.
The wreck itself has been transformed into a beautiful artificial reef consisting of soft corals and sponges with a variety of fish species. The shallow depth of this wreck (5-15 meters or 16-49 feet) and clear visibility makes it ideal for snorkeling.
Some of the fish you may spot while snorkeling at this Palawan snorkeling spot are: parrotfish, damselfish, lionfish, nudibranchs, and stonefish.
4. Dimakya Island
This island is home to a good resort named Club Paradise Palawan and the resort’s house reef is in good condition with several reef systems consisting of both hard and soft corals.
A variety of reef fishes call these waters home, such as damselfish, flying gurnards, parrotfish, several nudibranch species, frogfish, thorny seahorses, Pegasus sea moths, ghost pipefish, and on some occasions, black tip reef sharks, rays, sea turtles and schools of jacks.
But the real gem in Dimakya Island is its rare resident, the dugong – a sea cow related to the manatee. Dugongs come to feed here and they can grow to a length of 9 feet (almost 3 meters).
Another reason why Dimakya Island is special and protected is because it is a turtle sanctuary. From December to February, hawksbill turtles come to the island to lay their eggs and the resort staff and other volunteers fence the eggs until they hatch. Resort guests can also take part in the endeavor and help with the protection and guidance of the hatchlings as they make their way towards the sea.
5. Dimalanta Island
Easily one of the best snorkeling spots in Palawan, Dimalanta is a tiny uninhabited island located at the north of Busuanga. Most boats cannot come close to the shore because the corals are in very shallow waters so boatmen will have to anchor a bit further from the shore and you’ll have to snorkel from there towards the shore.
Dimalanta Island has several tall corals and they are everywhere. The marine life here is really splendid and the crystal clear waters make it possible to see them from the boat without even having to get into the water!
Some marine species worth mentioning at this snorkeling spot are the mantis shrimps, plenty of angelfish and clownfish.
If you are a diver, you can also dive to see the wreck of Kyokuzan Maru which is believed to be a spectacular sight in itself.
6. Barracuda Lake & Kayangan Lake
Barracuda Lake is breathtaking above the water but it is an entirely different scene underwater. The lake is deep and resembles a lunar landscape with numerous weird rock formations. It is simply jaw-dropping.
The lake is known for its unique thermoclines, which are distinct layers of cold, warm and hot water. This is caused by the meeting of the cold fresh water and the warm salt water. There is also a long cave system at a depth of 30 meters, which makes this a popular dive site.
There’s not a lot of marine life at this Palawan snorkeling spot, but you will encounter shrimps, gobies, groupers, and barracudas.
Kayangan Lake, which you will find right next to Barracuda Lake, is considered to be the cleanest lake in all of Asia. It is also the highlight of almost all of the popular Coron tour packages. There are healthy corals and lots of fish in Kayangan Lake and you don’t even have to snorkel to see them!
Tip: During peak season when there are lots of visitors, the entrance to Barracuda Lake can get very crowded. It is therefore advised to leave your things on the boat and only bring your swimming gear, as there is no place to put your bags inside the lake. This only goes for Barracuda Lake as Kayangan Lake has a long wooden platform and some seating area.
7. Smith Coral Garden
Coral Garden is actually more for the seasoned divers because it can go to a depth of more than 130ft (40 meters).
Although popular for diving, Coral Garden is also a good snorkeling spot in Coron, Palawan, with a wealth of colorful coral and fish. The shallow reef top is covered with hard and soft corals, leathery and smooth ones including small gorgonians and huge table corals.
Tip: Be careful with jellyfish, since they appear occasionally, and sea urchins that live on the bottom.
8. Twin Peaks Reef
Characterized by the two protruding rocky peaks, Twin Peaks Reef is a great snorkel spot in Palawan, as it is rich in marine life and the reef extends for a few hundred yards.
The water here is very clear and relatively calm which makes it great for snorkeling. The reefs are shallow so boats are not allowed to dock close to the shore. Visitors will have to jump off and snorkel from the boat.
Twin Peaks Reef is home to sea turtles which, even though I have seen dozens over the years, are still some of my favorite sea creatures.
Tip: The amazing underwater scene can lure you away but you need to pay attention as the outer reef suddenly drops very deep. This can make less experienced swimmers feel uncomfortable, so try not to venture too far from the boat.
9. Banana Island
Banana Island is a beautiful island with long stretches of white sand beaches and crystal clear, calm waters. It is often visited along with Malcapuya and Bulog Dos Island but Banana Island has deeper waters and is a great snorkeling spot that deserves to be on this Palawan snorkeling list.
As you venture into the deeper waters you will find more and more corals and huge varieties of fish. You also see giant clams that are actually moving but you need to be careful if you are not a strong swimmer as the reef comes to a sudden deep drop and currents tend to get stronger.
10. Noa Noa Island
Noa Noa Island is a private island with a resort on it. The island was designated an official Marine Sanctuary in 2006 with a boundary from the shore to 20 meters (66 feet) past the edge of the reef. This means only resort guests can enjoy snorkeling at this reef. However, I felt it still deserved a mention in this list of best snorkeling spots in Palawan, because of the quality of the reef.
The 70-hectare marine sanctuary is teeming with diverse coral and fish species. The government declaring it a protected site has helped it flourish and grow to become one of the best fringing reefs – one of the four main types of coral reef – in the world.
Noa Noa coral reef features a long, spectacular drop off and several caves. The visibility is normally very good and the reef is so close to the shore that you can snorkel for hours without venturing far at all.
Enjoy Palawan and all of the great snorkeling Palawan has to offer!
If you love scuba diving, also read:
Map of the Best Snorkeling Spots in Palawan
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