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Gay Palawan: The Essential Gay Travel Guide to Palawan island

Stefan Arestis
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We found Palawan Island to be a popular romantic getaway for gay couples in the Philippines. It is surrounded by some of the most beautiful untouched beaches and islands, as well as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

This is our gay friendly travel guide to Palawan island following our visit there in June 2015.

Palawan map
Palawan map showing the most popular destinations


Puerto Princesa is predominantly used as a base for onward travel to El Nido as well as for tours to the Underground River, which was voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature by a global poll in 2012.

Bangka ride into the Undergound River
Our bangka boat ride into the Underground River and Seb is in control of the night light!

1. Where to stay in Puerto Princesa?

Puerto Princesa is a small town, making intercity transport between the town centre, airport and main bus station very convenient. There is a wide variety of good quality home-stays and guesthouses near the airport, which is very close to the town centre. The gay friendly accommodation options we recommend are:

AZIZA PARADISE HOTEL   Check prices now

  • Pleasant stay in the heart of Puerto Princessa.
  • Very friendly staff, live music performance every evening.
  • Prices start from $70 / £50 for a double room with breakfast.


  • A homely inn, good for those on a budget.
  • They can arrange tours the undergroud river for a very good price.
  • Prices start from $35 / £20 for a double room with breakfast.
YMCA selfie gay friendly Palawan Underground River tour
Our YMCA Underground River selfie after emerging from the tunnel

2. Organise your tour to the Underground River

The Underground River is 80 km (50m) North from Puerto Princesa city centre and usually visited as part of tour. The easiest way to book a tour is through your guest house.

We arranged our tour via Purple Fountain Courtyard Inn and paid 1,500 pesos ($33 / $22) per person which is the standard price.

Entrance to the Underground River
The entrance to the deep Underground River

Our tour to the Underground River also included a visit to the Ulong Caves with some excellent views across the Ulugan Bay and some fun zip lining activities.

View of the Ulugan Bay from Ulong Caves
View of the Ulugan Bay area from the top of the Ulong Caves

3. Where to eat in Puerto Princesa?

Puerto Princesa has many decent restaurants and considered the culinary capital of Palawan. Our favourite restaurants were:

  • KaLui: a very popular restaurant, serving a delicious fish platter amongst other things. It gets very busy, so book ahead.
  • Marbers Beergarden: great place for international food as well as for traditional Filipino foods like pork sinigang or pancit noodles.
Stefan trying pancit noodles
Trying Filipino pancit noodles at Marbers Beergarden in Puerto Princesa


El Nido is a great base in Palawan to enjoy the surrounding islands and beaches. But take plenty of cash because there are no ATMs…yet (we went in June 2015 but heard there are plans to open a bank there “soon”).

1. Gay friendly accommodation in El Nido

RESORT BAYVIEW HOTEL   Check prices now

  • Excellent high end gay friendly option, located on nearby Las Cabanas beach and ideal if you want a romantic setting away from the El Nido party crowds but close enough to be near the main amenities.
  • Those sunset views, every evening…wow!
  • Prices start from $190 / £125 for a double bed.

BALAY PARAGUA   Check prices now

  • An excellent family run home stay ideal for budget travellers and located right in the heart of El Nido town.
  • Prices start from $40 / £23 for a double bed with breakfast.

WHERE 2 NEXT   Check prices now

  • Very welcoming gay friendly hostel for those who want to camp underneath the stars in Nacpan, away from all the noise in El Nido town.
  • Prices start from $10 / £7 for a bed.
Sunset view from gay friendly Resort Bay View
The view of the stunning sunsets every evening at the Resort Bay View

2. Activities to do in El Nido

There are plenty of fun activities and tours to do in El Nido:

  • Island tours: there are 4 main government controlled tours called A, B, C and D to the surrounding islands and beaches, which are awesome day trips. We booked Tour A and C with the gay friendly El Nido Boutique ArtCafé.
Seb preparing for island tour kayaking around El Nido
Sebastien getting ready for an island tour kayaking around El Nido
  • Snorkelling: the island tours, particularly Tour C is great for snorkelling in El Nido by some stunning coral life particularly around Tapiutan and Matinloc islands.
  • Kayaking: the island tours also include some kayaking around some of the islands, particularly Tour A which goes to the Big and Small Lagoons of Miniloc Island.
Finding Nemo snorkelling in El Nido
Nomadic Boys finding Nemo the Clownfish whilst snorkelling in El Nido
  • Luxury tailored tours: for those wanting a bit of luxury in a romantic setting, we recommend the gay owned Isla Expeditions who take tours to more remote and untouched locations, like Ginto Island over several days with a 5* service.
  • Scuba diving: there are some great diving sites and if you get lucky you can see turtles and even some reef sharks. We recommend El Nido Adventure Scuba.
Seb scuba diving in El Nido
Sebastien scuba diving in the tropical waters around El Nido
  • Keeping fit: the beaches around El Nido main town are great for morning jogs. For gym bunnies check out Peak Corner Gym, located in the centre, which charges 100 pesos (£1.50 / $2.20) entry (as at June 2015).
Funny sign at Peak Fitness Gym El Nido
Stefan mocking this sign at the Peak Fitness Gym in El Nido

3. Gay friendly bars and restaurants in El Nido

El Nido is very touristy, but as a result has a plethora of excellent dining options. Our favourite was:

Artcafe Restaurant: does the best breakfast in El Nido. They have their own organic garden so everything is fresh. Their homemade bread is also one of the best we’ve tasted in Asia. They also do great pizzas for dinner.

Artcafe our favourite restaurant in El Nido
Posing with Judith and Tany, owners of our favourite restaurant in El Nido

FLOWER ISLAND: the ultimate romantic experience

For a romantic getaway holiday, consider spending a few nights at the gay friendly remote Flower Island Resort (Check prices now).

The private island is located around 45 minutes boat ride from the town of Taytay and is a real tropical paradise. When we visited Flower Island Resort. we were the only ones on the entire island.

The gay friendly Flower Island Resort
The gay friendly Flower Island Resort in Palawan

The staff were extremely open to us as a gay couple and were delighted to show us the surrounding area, which included a visit to the nearby pearl farm. The island is also surrounded by completely untouched coral, which makes for some excellent snorkelling.

Sebastien snorkelling
Sebastien enjoying a day of snorkelling around Flower Island

Our favourite memory from Flower Island Resort was enjoying a buko (coconut) in the hammock outside our private cottage taking in the beautiful sunset. Utter bliss!

Sebastien relaxing in hammock on Flower Island Resort
Sebastien relaxing in the hammock outside our cottage on Flower Island Resort
Enjoying the sunset on flower island
Enjoying one of many stunning sunsets on flower island resort


Sibaltan is a peaceful village by the sea, located around 1.5 – 4 hours from El Nido (depending on the road conditions). It can be reached via minivan, jeepney (the distinct Filipino public bus) or by tricycle.

Hijacking tricycle El Nido
Hijacking this tricycle in El Nido to take us to the Sibaltan village

If you want to get away from the tourist crowds, Sibaltan is the place to go. We recommend you stay at the Ursula Beach Club, a gay friendly guest house by the beach owned by the lovely Dennis, who will make you feel like you are in a 5* hotel.

Ursula Beach club in Sibaltan
The lovely Ursula Beach club in Sibaltan near El Nido

As it’s quite far out from El Nido, the Ursula Beach Club is better suited for those who value relaxation and nature over busy bars and beach parties.

Relaxation and enjoying nature on Palawan
A moment of relaxation and enjoying the nature during our amazing stay on Palawan island

Travel with us as we swam our way through Boracay and Palawan in our Philippines travel video.

Happy travels are safe travels

We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

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The Nomadic Boys Gay Guide to Palawan in the Philippines
Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor and author of the gay travel blog As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about travelling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gay Times, Gaycities, Pink News, Gay Star News, Attitude and Towleroad. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practised as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

19 thoughts on “Gay Palawan: The Essential Gay Travel Guide to Palawan island”

  1. Aloha Gentlemen! mahalo for your informative site, enjoyed everything about it. My better half and along with my family are going to El Nido in October, since my family will be there, I was planning on having a wedding ceremony, do you guy’s know if there’s somebody who can perform a same sex wedding?

  2. Hi Guys
    I’ve booked flights to Manila next week, but am still deciding between El Nido on Palawan and Boracay.
    I’ve researched both places like a , but would just love your honest feedback.
    Essentially on an Asian getaway I love to swim, eat great food, explore a little on a motor bike, lay on or near a beach, and get a massage or five…and swim some more.
    Do you think Palawan will deliver lovely beaches ( on the island itself ) that I will be able to swim at? I have read that Marimegeg beach is beautiful… I know the A B C and D tours are available, but am wondering if you think the beaches of Elnido alone are worth going there for – or is Boracay a winner in terms of its beaches ?
    I don’t really need lots of loud music and bars at night, much happier having a drink over delicious food in a local restaurant.
    Any advice is very welcome.

    • Hi John – tough one as both tick your boxes. El Nido and Palawan generally probably has more scope for those undiscovered island gems like Flower Island or further afield whereas Boracay is more party based. Whichever you choose you’re sure to love 🙂

  3. Hi guys,

    I’m a 58-year-old male and have been living in Indonesia for 10 years. I’m getting ready to retire and have been thinking of relocating. There are many gays in Indonesia, of course, but I’m getting a bit tired of being secretive about my sexual orientation. I keep reading about Thailand (esp. Bangkok and Ko Samui) and the Philippines (esp. Manilla, Borocay, Palawan and Cebu) . . . where it seems that one can be “open” about his sexuality without receiving “disapproval.”

    SO MY QUESTION IS THIS : Is the gay experience really “different” from Indonesia (in Thailand and the Philippines)? Forgetting about the “official laws” of these countries, are these REALLY places where I can feel as free as in, say, Canada? Are people REALLY accepting of gays, as it seems?

    If so, what islands (in these 2 countries) would you recommend that I consider for a permanent move?

    I’m not looking for a “party vibe” like I might find in Bangkok or Manilla . . . but I’m not looking for a “Robinson Crusoe” situation either. I’m looking for something “in the middle” – sonething like Lombok in Indonesia – not crazy like Bali, but not remote either. Just a nice relaxing spot where people are “accepting” and it’s easy to hook up with some PLU whenever you want.

    Is there such a paradise in Southeast Asia? I’d really appreciate any advice you can offer Boys.

    Thanks, Dono

    • Hi Dono and thanks for your message. The Philippines is a dream. Although not on paper remarkably gay friendly, the people are so hospitable (and famous for it), which makes the country seem so open to everyone. Boracay is your best bet – it’s near some dreamy beaches and the busy part is centred around one strip so you can easily escape that. Palawan – El Nido is the base for the beautiful islands, but El Nido itself is not that nice and extremely touristy.

      We loved Koh Lipe in Thailand a lot. It’s touristy, but 30 minutes from Koh Adang which is a perfect remove island for adventure (and surrounded by coral so makes for excellent snorkelling). Also – have you considered Taiwan?

  4. I will be visiting El Nido on Nov 01 for 3 nights alone. How will be the weather and how can I find a gay person to spend time with there….Thanks

  5. hi
    thanks for all the great info
    the question is, i was hopeing to go next JUNE 2016
    how was the weather ???
    this yerar i was in cambodia in june and had some rainy days
    thansk again
    love your site


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