Rediscover Puerto Princesa City in Palawan
The first time I went to Puerto Princesa, Palawan back in 2012 I was captivated by the unsullied richness of Mother Nature. You read that a lot on the internet, in blogs; captivating view, fascinating destination, delighting people, breath-taking mountains… We all know what it means and we can all imagine how it would feel but going back to Palawan this 2015 to visit its top 3 tourist destinations, Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron, it was then that I found no value in those words.
Underground River in Puerto Princesa Palawan
Nothing could ever truly describe the grandeur of Mother Nature and the feeling of liberation to witness her in her untarnished form, no words, just a mix of emotions. Our trip consisted of 12 wonderful days, an adventure that left me hung-over and lusting, wondering what other beauty I have yet to see in the world. It left me longing and waiting in anticipation for the next opportunity to explore the world and chase sunsets.
Our vacay was kickstarted with lunch at Badjao Seafront Restaurant and the city tour. Last time I was there, my family and I enjoyed a dinner at Badjao Seafront and seeing it in a different light, I would definitely recommend having lunch instead of dinner here.
Entrance to Badjao Restaurant in Puerto Princesa
Badjao Seafront boasts a picturesque view and rightly so as the view was indeed a a picture of calm and tranquillity for the tired and overworked. While I had no complaints about the food, I find that its popularity stems more from its ambience and scenic venue than its dishes.
Seafood Platter at Badjao Restaurant
So to make the most of your trip, dine there while there’s still sunlight so that you can actually enjoy the scenery along with your meal and maybe even drink or two. If it wasn’t for the fact that we had just gotten there I probably would’ve had a drink or three.
We took advantage of our first day and also went on to experience the Iwahig Firefly Watching tour directly after our city tour. This was a welcomed change of pace as it takes you away from all the hustle and bustle of the small city into a quieter more serene part of town. This tour last for only about 30 minutes, the travel from the city proper to Iwahig was much longer but It’s a must in my book. You get on a small paddle boat and are taken into the darkness along the Iwahig River. Once you get over the worry of a crocodile jumping up to get a taste of you or tilting your boat so it can drag you down under to drown and not immediately eating you but saving you later for a midnight snack like the crocodiles do to the wildebeests during the great migration, once you get over that- it’s actually a very calm little tour, unique and one of a kind. You also get to experience the star studded night sky, undegraded by city lights to the peaceful sound of the paddle slowly sloshing through the water.
Shellaise Dalisay in Sabang Port
We were accompanied by another very knowledgeable boat man as our tour guide who used his laser pointer to show us different constellations, where Saturn, Jupiter, and the North Star were. Then I noticed the bioluminescent organisms scintillating as the oars of our boat agitated the waters… I thought I’d only get to see that on NatGeo. According to our boat man, luminous planktons and the fireflies are one of the ways you can gauge the health of the flora and fauna in a certain region as these are the first to go if on a decline. I don’t know if that’s scientifically true or not but it sounds good to me!
Jump Off point to the Underground River
Entrance to Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan, is the home of 1 of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World. It was my second visit to Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park for the Underground River tour but that was no cause for a dull moment. Our boat man, Luis, was expertly knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor which I enjoyed engaging as he paddled us through 1.5 kilometers of stalagmite and stalactite formations and back again. Wondering how far it goes? The river is actually 8.2 kilometers long and according to Wikipedia, Puerto Princesa Underground River houses one of the largest cave domes in the world measuring 980 feet above the underground river. Sorry, but you don’t go far enough to witness the majesty of the said cave dome on this tour. Apparently though, you can obtain a permit from the local government that allows you to go even further in. The only problem then is finding a boatman willing to paddle that far to take you there. I asked Luis if he was available, he said he’d be happy to come along as long as I’d be the one paddling. LOL.
Dinner at KaLui Restaurant
Aside from the Iwahig River, I didn’t get a chance to dine at the famous Kalui restaurant the last time I was there. It always left me wondering what it was I had missed as it came with stellar reviews online and raving recommendations from all the locals I asked. Kalui only serves dinner, does not serve chicken, pork, or beef, is closed on Sundays, and is by reservation so make sure you plan ahead. Before being seated you are asked to remove your footwear, everyone in the restaurant, customers and staff alike, walk around barefoot. You go to the bathroom and you’re still barefoot but you don’t have your disgusted face on because it’s that clean. Their bathroom could be my accommodation for the night and you wouldn’t hear me complain.
KaLui Restaurant in Puerto Princesa
Kalui Restaurant has a Filipino grass roots touch to its décor with native paintings and wooden ornaments on the wall. True to its reputation, Kalui is one of a kind, both in terms of ambience and food. You can be seated at a chair and table or in one of their more relaxed set up with a rug and pillows on the floor to sit and recline on and a low table to eat on. It’s pricier than the norm, a tad more compared to Badjao Seafront but it’s duly justified as the food is fresh and the dishes are delicious. Trying to recall the food we ordered got me thinking of the grilled blue marlin we had and has got me salivating while writing this.
Tuna Sashimi at KaLui Restaurant
I love sashimi and the sashimi served at Dad’s Kamayan Resto looked pretty fresh to me until my cousin ordered it at Kalui. I have never seen or tasted sashimi that fresh. For a full island experience we had to order a buko-conut which is basically drinking coconut water straight from its shell or whatever it’s supposed to be called. I took it a notch further an ordered a mango shake because despite the price, I love mango shakes that much.
Beach near the entrance of Underground River
After having to open up my shorts’ button ‘cause I was that full, I texted the driver at Romy’s Place which was where we had been staying, to come pick us up. The guest house is 30 minutes away from the city proper so when you check in at their place you have the privilege of having their driver drop you off and pick you up wherever and whenever you want. Romy’s Place is equipped with your basic essentials and added amenities like free Wi-Fi, hot/cold shower, a/c rooms, and a swimming pool. Our room had a double bed with a small TV and was very spacious, so spacious in fact, you could probably fit 3 extra single beds in there comfortably. We had the option of checking into 1 room and get charged 600 a night, that’s a steal. We were a group of 4 so if you compute that per head it was dirt cheap, I didn’t think it would be that cheap considering our rooms had air-conditioning. Our trip had a budget but we decided not to be cheap skates a get 2 rooms for 500/night, at this rate it was still a great deal.
Palawan Underground River Tour
Our tours, with the exception of our city tour, was facilitated through 3B’s Tours and Travels. If you go to them directly, no middleman, ask for discounts. That’s what we did and got a 300/head discount on the Underground River Tour and 200/head discount on our Firefly Watching tour. Our city tour was through Kuya Buboy who is a tricycle driver we met at the airport. He found out we had no travel plans and offered to give us the city tour for 200/head. Tour agencies and hotels usually charge 600/head for that. He too was the hand behind us finding Romy’s Place and 3B’s Travel and Tour agency. Our Kalui reservations and El Nido travel arrangements were also taken care of by Kuya Buboy, so talk about hospitality and traveling cheap.