Taytay, the ancient capital of Palawan during the Spanish occupation, now called the Star of the North, must be on your bucket list. Even if Palawan is full of tourists, few passes by Taytay and they're missing on something great. There are a lot of activities to do here and spending a few days in Taytay is a good way to escape the crowd. Deserted beaches, gorgeous waterfalls and river dolphins watching are only a few things you can do in Taytay. Here are some of Taytay's best tourist spots:
1 - Irrawaddy dolphins watching
Credit: Stefan Brending - License
This dolphin species is almost extinct and can only be found in a few places across the world like in Kalimantan or in Taytay. To see them you'll need to start early, around 5 am. The tour last about 2 hours and will take you along the river and then to a big lake. The fishermen there see the dolphins every day so you're chances of spotting a couple of them are high. Even the ride in itself is nice, the lake is beautiful and really peaceful.
Price: 1200 pesos for a boat good for 4 - 500 pesos for the tricycle back and forth (we got overpriced, I think you can find a better offer for the tricycle).
2 - Kuyawyaw falls
Located 26 kilometers north of Taytay this 3-levels waterfall is a nice place to relax and do some jungle trekking. Because I went at the end of the dry season, the falls are pretty small and the water is not that clear. Only the third waterfall had nice water. Normally the water at all 3 levels is crystal blue.
It only takes 10 minutes to the first level and 10 more to the next level. The trek is easy but tiring because you go up and the path is often uneven. It takes 20 more minutes to reach the last level, this part is really steep and pretty hard to climb, go only if you're in good shape.
To get there, you can just take a bus bound for El Nido and get off at the crossroad. If you're lucky you'll find a tricycle or habal-habal to take you to the entrance, otherwise you can walk, it's about 1 kilometer away from the main road. You can also hire a tricycle from Taytay for 1000 pesos, the driver will wait for you and take you back. He might also serve as a guide.
Entrance fee: 200 pesos – You'll need to hire a guide if you want to reach the third level.
3 - Island hopping
Island hopping is one of Taytay's major attractions. Many islands are owned by resorts so you'll need to be a guest or pay an entrance fee on some of the islands. But don't worry there are still a lot of places to explore offshore.
One of the best spots is the Elephant Island and its small lagoon. The island is full of small white-sand coves. The lagoon is easily accessible (just a bit of climbing) and reminded me of the caves where you can swim. The pool is surrounded by high rocks with just a little opening letting the sunlight come in. It's also a great place for snorkeling with many beautiful reefs in the area.
You can arrange the boat at Casa Rosa but it's a bit expensive (starts at 3500 pesos for 2 persons). You can also go to the port and negotiate directly with a boatman. I paid 2500 pesos for the whole boat going to Elephant Island plus one snorkeling spot. The farther you want to go the higher the price.
The best part about island hopping in Taytay is that you'll probably be alone on the islands you visit. Contrary to El Nido or Honda Bay, not many tourists visit Taytay, and it's just as nice.
4 - Fuerza de Santa Isabel
Built in 1667 by the Spaniards, the fort is still really well preserved. Invaded by vegetation, the place is perfect at sundown. You'll get a great view, especially of the Taytay Hollywood-like sign. There's an old chapel in the middle which looks like is still being used.
Next to the fort, are several food stands, the food there is super tasty. The best I had in the Philippines so far. I tried several booths, and each time, the food was amazing.
Entrance fee: 50 pesos