• Palawan named 2014 Best Island in the World by Conde Nast
  • White beaches, white lagoons and stunning vistas galore
  • Underground river is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Palawan is not a word that easily comes to mind. It sounds like a dish perhaps, a greeting, something maybe out of a sci-fi film. It is, none of the above, but in fact a small island in the Philippines.

While that sounds relatively run of the mill – there are plenty of islands in this part of the world after all – Palawan has just been named as 2014's Best Island in the World, topping a poll conducted for Conde Nast Traveller's Readers' Choice Awards.

Average it certainly isn't for the sparsely populated and diminutive island is an absolute gem. What it lacks in size it makes up in beauty, delivering a rich mix of soft white beaches, outstanding lagoons and vistas that will leave in a daze.

Its celebrity is growing, thanks in part to its Puerto Princesa Subterranean River being named as one of the new 'seven natural wonders of the world'. Already a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 'mind-boggling' underground river – as Rough Guides puts it – is said to be quite the experience.

The sword-shaped island, often referred to as the Last Frontier, is ideal for holidaymakers looking for a quiet, picturesque break away from it all or looking to celebrate a wedding or anniversary in an exotic way.

There is, nevertheless, plenty to do, including a five-kilometre jungle trail that starts not too far away from the subterranean river, magnificent sights like Lake Kayangan, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, and the brilliant Palawan Wildlife Rescue & Conservation Centre. (However, if you are to go on any of these wonderful trips, check your insurance to make sure that you are fully covered on your travels, just in case)

Kiawah Island in South Carolina came in second place in Conde Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Island, followed by Maui and Kauai in Hawaii, the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique, the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands in Australia, Santorini and Cyclades in Greece, St. John in the US Virgin Islands, Kangaroo Island in Australia and Big Island in Hawaii.