If you’re thinking of where to go on your next tropical beach getaway, you may want to look a little farther than the Caribbean.
For the second time, the Palawan archipelago in the Philippines has been named ‘Best Island In The World 2016’ by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, after ranking first place in 2013. The annual list is based on the sights, natural attractions, activities, food, friendliness and overall value.
Palawan, the western most string of islands in the Philippines, is known for its undisturbed, lush rainforests and quiet beaches, and it’s home to natives and occupied with few tourists.
Bacuit archipelago at El Nido, Palawan.
Here are a few more things you probably didn’t know about the best island in the world:
1. It’s home to incredible marine life.
According to the Palawan Diver’s organization, the crystal clear waters of Palawan are home to 120 species of coral reef, 800 species of exotic fish and it’s known to have sunken shipwrecks, making this the ultimate scuba diving destination. Kayaking and snorkeling are also popular activities here thanks to the abundant native marine and animal life that occupies the land.
A kayaker paddles to a small lagoon in Bacuit Bay in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.
2. You’ll find the largest underground river here.
According to UNESCO, the world’s largest underground river, a five mile waterway that runs through the caves beneath the island’s mountains, is located inside Palawan’s St. Paul National Park. Voters recommended hotspots such as Bacuit Bay for exploring reefs and the serene beaches of El Nido for simply relaxing.
A beach of El Nido, Palawan Province, Philippines.
3. Palawan is a big-screen favorite.
Palawan’s picturesque landscape has been featured in movies like “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “James Bond.” The Philippine News website also notes some of the A-list visitors such as Madonna and Brad Pitt.
4. It’s a sanctuary for wildlife.
Calauit Safari Park on Calauit Island, the Philippines’ largest game reserve and wildlife sanctuary, is open for tours to see the native animals in their natural habitat.
Sunset on the beaches of Palawan.
5. It’s a history buff’s dream.
If you’re into anthropology, Palawan is the place for you. Researchers discovered the remains of the oldest Homo sapiens were discovered in the Tabon Cave in Puerto Princesa in Palawan, and date back roughly 47,000 years.