SANDFLIES, known locally as NIK-NIKS are common on many of the beaches of Palawan, especially Sabang, Port Barton and El Nido. Sandflies are very tiny (1-2mm) but don't sting you--- they bite, but you will not notice the bite until it is too late. Ten minutes later you will start scratching but this should be avoided as you may end up with a big wound on your leg.
Unfortunately there is not much you can do once you are bitten, just resist the temptation to scratch, (the itchy sensation may last for 2 or 3 days).
To avoid being bitten the natives rub themselves with coconut oil, and if you should be lucky enough to purchase some, try mixing the oil with 'OFF' or similar.
The stonefish (which belongs to the scorpion group of fish, such as the lionfish) lurks around Palawan's beaches in as little as a meter of water and you will know when you stand on one. It is one of the most poisonous fish in the ocean and can kill you if you have a weak heart. It has a big head, a warty body, sometimes covered in algae and to complicate matters it changes color according to the seabed. Most of its body will be buried in sand as it waits for its prey to arrive, so it will be almost impossible to see it. It has 72 spines, each with venom in the end, and the spines can penetrate light sneakers and should you stand on one you will certainly know about it. When it stings you the affected area will turn blue and red, accompanied by excrutiating pain and swelling, and unfortunately there is nothing you can do to relieve the pain. You may experience shivering, high fever, vomiting and paralysis of your hands and feet, so seek medical treatment immediately.
You can move the broken spine and pour hot water on the area as the venom is killed in this way. Deaths normally occur within 8 hours but if you survive, which is most likely the paralysis and pains can continue for several weeks. And morphine does not help!!!
At certain times of the year the sea around Palawan will have many jellyfish (January-March) which can give you a sting, rather like a prick from a pin. However the quantities of jellyfish are diminishing due to fishing, and there are quite a few jellyfish buying stations around the island that reportedly collect 20-30,000 umbrellas a day (heads without the tentacles). The dried jellyfish are repacked in Manila where they are exported to Japan and Korea.
The box jellyfish is an entirely different matter as they can be extremely painful and quite dangerous. They are almost transparent and have long tentacles and are found around the island. Should you be stung by one it is extremely painful and you must pour vinegar on the stings to neutralise the affect. I would assume that we are not about to carry a bottle of vinegar with us, so you can also urinate on the affected area or sometimes petrol.
I was actually stung by a box jellyfish 20 years ago, up in Coron and the small raised marks where it stung me did not disappear for over a month.
There are many snakes on Palawan and i usually see at least 6 a year on my land. I am afraid i try to kill them all as many are poisonous and there does not seem to be too much information about them . I have seen cobras and a small snake that has black and white hoops, 2 feet long and the last 3 cms of its tail is bright red. This is what is locally known as an okku-okku or VIPER to us. If you are bitten by one you only have up to 5 hours to live. The big problem is that there is no antivenom on the island as far as i know.
Being a UNESCO world heritage listed site, you can't swim in the waters near the St. Paul Subterranean River, Palawan.
Just admire those limestone karst landscape, walk amongst the lizards and the monkeys. Sorry, are we blocking the view?
Watch out for monkeys that roam around the trail going to the St. Paul Subterranean River. Don't feed them as they are encouraged to grab those plastic bags thinking you have food in there. Be careful! One tourist got her hand bitten by a monkey.
"Don't stick your hand out in the water." cautions your boatman as you go inside the bat-lined cave. Just admire the stalactites/ stalagmites that form the apostles, the holy family and fruits. Stalac what? Check out those science books.