What you need to know about the Philippine island which just won an award

It’s an often overlooked gem in the Philippines. Source: Shutterstock.

“GLORIOUS white sands meet volcanic rocks and blue-green waters topside, while coral gardens and a rich marine reserve meet divers under the surface. Palaui is all about raw beauty,” wrote CNN in ranking the world’s best beaches.

Palaui, located in the northeastern tip of Luzon in Cagayan Valley, was the only one from the Philippines and the Southeast Asian region to make it to CNN’s 2013 list.

And now, the pristine yet untouched island can confidently add another feather to its cap.

Palaui took home an award which recognizes associations in the region that support sustainable livelihoods, protection of socio-cultural traditions, and natural and cultural heritage at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Community-Based Tourism Award for 2019-2021 held in Vietnam last week.

“Palaui Island won the award for promoting sustainable tourism through the efforts of the island’s environmental group, the Palaui Environmental Protectors Association (PEPA),” Philstar.com quoted Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) CEO and administrator Raul Lambino as saying.

For the uninitiated, since 2006, PEPA has been training Palaui fisherfolk, farmers, women, and out-of-school youth in programs which arm them with skills to provide visitors with services such as environmental protection.

Today, Palaui is a gem for sustainable tourism that “safeguards its socio-economic future.”

Here’s what else you need to know about the idyllic destination:

The gorgeous island is only 10 kilometers at its longest and about five kilometers at its widest and is made up of volcanic debris.

It boasts stunning white sandy beaches, magnificent panoramic coves, a scenic rugged terrain with massive waves, a 741-acre marine sanctuary with vibrant marine life undisturbed corals, lush mangroves, and hidden cascading waterfalls, to name a few.

Aside from Palaui’s unparalleled natural beauty, one of its other main attractions is the century-old Faro de Cabo Engaño, one of the four lighthouses built during the Spanish Colonial period, which served as gateway lighthouse for incoming ships.

In 2013, two seasons of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor was filmed on the island: Survivor: Blood vs. Water (27th season) and Survivor: Cagayan (28th season).

The latter season went on to top TV show ratings in the US with 9.9 million viewers, beating American Idol’s 9.6 million, ABC’s The Middle‘s 7.2 million, NBC’s Revolution‘s 4.7 million, and CW’s Arrow‘s 1.2 million viewers.

The local residents live in Punta Verde, the island’s only village which houses about 200 families. Most of them making their living through farming and fishing.

Aside from environmental protection, CEZA also trained the residents in the art of traditional massage, preparation of local cuisine (village kitchens), good hygiene, and production of island souvenirs from indigenous materials.

The best way to explore the island is on foot and two hiking paths through Palaui – the Lagunzad Trail Hikes and the Leonardo Trail – will offer Insta-worthy picturesque views.

As there are no commercial accommodation on Palaui, visitors can either opt to camp in Punta Verde where the locals are or put up in a homestay.

And remember to bring our own food and water as there’s only one small shop at Punta Verde selling just basics.