The Philippine archipelago consists of 7,107 islands, one-quarter of which are in Palawan (1,780 islands), the country’s largest and westernmost province. It is considered the most remote region and the Philippines’ last frontier, a pristine ecosystem and UNESCO Biosphere Preserve endowed with habitats of coral reef, mangrove forests, and rare fauna and marine life.
Between Busuanga Island (Coron) and El Nido on the northern tip of the large island of Palawan is the Linipacan group, a cluster of of 200 other isolated islands, most of which are inaccessible to independent travelers due to their remoteness and lack of tourist infrastructure (transportation, guesthouses, restaurants, and shops). Some of these islands are occupied by small, traditional fishing villages, but most simply consist of white sand beaches, towering limestone cliffs and mountains, coconut forests entwined with thick jungles, and the coral reefs that are teeming with wildlife.
Tao Expeditions introduces a new concept of tourism by bringing adventurous travelers to experience the remoteness of this area without the unnecessary development and cultural adjustments typically brought upon (and sometimes forced upon) local communities when accommodating tourism. For each expedition, Tao buys or barters for local products (produce, livestock, and seafood), promotes local services (native massages, guides), and even injects company profits back in to the community with social welfare projects across the islands, concentrated on education, nutrition and medical assistance.
For the expeditions, their fleet currently consists of six native Bangka boats and one Paraw, a spectacular 72′ traditional Filipino sailboat built by local sailors attempting to revive a lost art. As they say, they “balance the expeditions with pure adventure and a rustic kind of luxury.” The voyages have no set itinerary and only a vague and basic route planned… they leave the departure port (Coron or El Nido) the morning off day one and get to the arrival port (again, Coron or El Nido) in the evening of day five. Days consist of lounging on the decks of the boats soaking in the scenery in between snorkeling excursions, beach breaks, and sun-drenched naps. At night, boats anchor at one of Tao’s 16 basecamps for the night for large, family-style meals and beers before heading to bed under bug nets in small, open communal bamboo and Nipa huts.
It was easily the most unique experience I’ve ever had…