Philippines with Palau & Taiwan
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.
Depart USA / Koror, PalauFebruary 29 — March 1
Board your independent flight to Palau. Arrive in Koror on March 1 in the late evening and transfer to the Palau Royal Resort for overnight.
Today explore Palau’s geologically fascinating Rock Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Board a local boat for a cruise among the limestone islands and islets and enjoy world-class snorkeling among vibrant coral reefs. Then take a leisurely hike to world-famous Jellyfish Lake for an extraordinary snorkeling experience. After centuries of biological isolation and subsequent evolution, the melon-sized jellyfish that live here have lost their ability to sting. Return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Palau / Embark Caledonian SkyMarch 3
Palau’s surrounding reefs are home to more than 1,500 species of fish and 700 species of coral, while in the sandy shallows, thousands of giant clams can be found. Spend the morning exploring this incredibly rich marine environment at one of Palau’s many world-class snorkel sites. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before embarking the Caledonian Sky.
At SeaMarch 4 — March 5
Two days at sea offer a chance to relax onboard, scan the skies and waters on deck with naturalists, and attend lectures from our experts.
Pamilacan Island, PhilippinesMarch 6
Arrive in the Philippines this morning. Spend the rest of the day snorkeling or diving off tiny Pamilacan Island, with the possibility of going ashore to visit with locals.
Tubbataha Reefs Natural ParkMarch 7
Today visit Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a marine and bird sanctuary that covers over 370 square miles. Part of the Coral Triangle, this area was recognized as a World Heritage Site due to the high density of marine species and important breeding grounds for seabirds and marine turtles. Spend the day snorkeling or diving over pristine reefs.
Coron IslandMarch 8
Explore the natural and cultural wonders of Coron, including an active hike up Coron’s vertical cliffs, which is rewarded with breathtaking views of Kayangan Lake. Afterwards there is an opportunity to swim in the crystal-clear waters. In the afternoon, visit the Banuang Daan who will showcase their rich traditions with a performance and display of handicrafts.
Apo ReefMarch 9
The second-largest contiguous coral reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef, Apo offers a kaleidoscope of hard and soft corals. Discover luminescent anemones and nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, pipefish, and other wondrous small creatures, as well as large pelagics such as sharks, tuna, and barracudas.
Hundred Islands National ParkMarch 10
Comprised of 124 lushly vegetated islands, Hundred Islands National Park offers lovely beaches, gorgeous vistas, and crystal-clear waters. Spend the day on one of these private islands birding, snorkeling, diving, and exploring by Zodiac.
Established in the 16th century, Vigan stands as Asia’s finest example of a planned Spanish colonial city. Exceptionally intact, its grid street pattern and architectural influences earned the city UNESCO status in 1999. Wander the cobbled streets, and pay a visit to the Pagburnayan pottery makers, to learn about the production of Vigan’s famous burnay jars.
Babuyan IslandsMarch 12
The Babuyan Islands are home to steep foothills, volcanic cones, mangroves, and a marine sanctuary. Take a stroll along Calayan’s gorgeous white-sand beaches and snorkel or dive in the warm waters, while birders search the forest for the Calayan rail, a flightless bird endemic to the island.
Batan IslandMarch 13
Batan was the first domino to fall during Japan’s invasion of the Philippines during World War II, and you will hear harrowing tales while visiting a tunnel used as a hideout by Japanese soldiers. Climb to the top of Radar Tukon, a former lighthouse and US weather station, which offers 360-degree views across the island. Savor the fresh air and bucolic setting of the Vayang Rolling Hills, then take a leisurely stroll around the town plaza, dominated by Santo Domingo de Basco Church, built in 1812.
Hualien, TaiwanMarch 14
Arrive in Taiwan’s second-largest city, located on the mountainous east coast. Hualien serves as your gateway to Taroko National Park, centered upon its namesake marble gorge. The park comprises some 227,000 acres and varying altitudes, from sea level at the mouth of the Liwu River to towering Mount Nanhu at more than 12,000 feet. Such dramatic climate changes create a diverse array of vegetation and habitats, hosting a third of Taiwan’s vascular plants, half of its mammal species, and over 140 recorded bird species.
Keelung (Taipei)March 15
Dominated by Taipei 101—a 1,600-foot-high tower that resembles a stalk of bamboo—Taiwan’s capital offers a captivating mix of Asian and Western influences. The city is famous for its street food, so make a stop to sample a variety of xiaochi (little snacks) while visiting top attractions such as the Chinese-influenced Martyrs’ Shrine; Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, commemorating Taiwan’s former president; and the National Palace Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of Chinese art. Or, leave the city bustle behind to visit Yehliu Geopark with its surreal rock formations, as well as Gold Ecological Park, built to offer insights into the region’s gold-mining culture.
Taipei / USAMarch 16
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your independent homeward flight, arriving in the USA the same day.