Palawan Warnings and Dangers
Known for its exotic locale, delicious seafood and ocean tranquility, Palawan is fast becoming an unusual but popular vacation destination. But like any compelling island landscape there are dangers lurking, warning to be heeded and areas to avoid.
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Scary Undertows on the West Coast
While swimming in the cool blue waters on the east coast is safe and pleasurable, be wary of swimming on the island’s west coast. Dangerous undertows often lurk beneath the surface, which can suck you in and drag you out to sea before you know what hit you. Certain beaches issue warnings: Sabang Beach hangs red flags if conditions are unsafe. Nagtabon poses dangers, too, as does City Beach a bit further south. If you risk a swim and feel yourself being swept up in a dangerous current, don’t try to fight it; even if you’re a strong swimmer odds are it will tire you out. Instead, go with the flow as best you can, swimming to the left or right of the current, and aim yourself towards shore.
Avoid the extreme south: kidnapping for ransom
There have been in recent years a few instances of local thugs who capture a tourist or businessman and sell them for money to armed groups, who then try to extort larger sums of money from their families or governments. These are isolated incidents, and happen mostly in the extreme south of the island, which is why it is best avoided. If you look at a map of Palawan and draw a line just south of Brookes Point to just south of Rizal, consider carefully not traveling south of that line. Most people in Palawan are, of course well-meaning and friendly but be aware of kidnapping thugs in the island’s extreme south.
Creepy crawly creatures that bite
Palawan is home to several unique species of scorpion, including the Malay Giant Scorpion which can grow to seven inches long. The Malay are aggressive, territorial, and not at all subtle, so beware! Stings by a Malay scorpion are not lethal, but they are strong and painful. If you’re bitten on the foot the pain will spread up your leg. Some locals know of plants that will ease the pain and swelling, but you cannot depend on this; plus, the nearest hospital could be hours away.
One of the largest stag beetles in the world, the dorcis titanicus palawanicus is found only on Palawan. It creeps quietly, the males using their jaws to fight other males and impress females, but don’t place your fingers in its vicinity or you could get a very painful bite.
Huge Palawan centipedes can bite too, with their sharp claws connected to venomous glands.
So: don’t wander into uncharted territory, ask your guide about danger zones, and pay attention to where you walk!
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Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about areas to avoid in Palawan.