Beach bums and lovers of the life aquatic can satisfy all their desert-island fantasies in Palawan. It’s a large archipelagic province of the Philippines (the easiest way to get here is to fly from Manila) characterised by virgin rainforest, limestone karst cliffs and unrivalled sands. Below water, there’s WWII shipwreck diving and cities of coral. Forget Thailand: rumour has it that Palawan’s Bacuit Archipelago was the real inspiration for Alex Garland’s The Beach. The author lived in El Nido for six months.