Visiting the Underground River of Puerto Princesa City
On the last day of our tour, we had the one and only Underground River of Puerto Princesa as the last place in our itinerary. Having the Underground River as our last stop to conclude the Puerto Princesa Heritage Tour was the cherry on the cake, if I may say so. After all the beautiful places we went to, and all the sides of Palawan that we experienced within the past two days, having a quiet boat ride to one of Palawan’s most beautiful destinations was the only best way to conclude such a wonderful tour.
We woke up early and had breakfast in our home, Canvas Boutique Hotel. After few minutes, we left early to start the day. We arrived quite fast in the Underground River’s registration area. It only took us about one and a half hours to get to Sabang (registration area to the Underground River) via our private van.
We were even able to have a short stopover to grab some snacks. Before, getting to Sabang from Puerto Princesa would take longer, but, thanks to the development of the originally unpaved roads, transportation become faster and easier.
After registering in an area in Sabang, we proceeded to a short boat ride to the entrance of the Underground River. When we got there, I could already feel my excitement. It was not the form of excitement one feels when looking forward to seeing long unseen loved ones. The excitement I felt, rather, was one where I was looking forward to something so beautiful that I couldn’t put into words. I was looking forward to something that I couldn’t explain, and it was in that very sense why I couldn’t contain it.
We boarded a small paddle boat with a maximum capacity of eight passengers and at least one boatman. Aside from life vests, we were required to wear helmets for protection on possible falling rocks inside the cave. We were all given an earpiece and a gadget that would tell us the important facts and details about the Underground River. It was a new experience for me, having a voice from a gadget tour us during the boat ride. I was used to listening to an actual person giving the tour, instead of a voice from an earpiece. Nevertheless, that odd development did not stop me from enjoying the tour.
As our boat silently made its way into the calm waters of the Underground River, the voice in the earpiece began the tour.
Puerto Princesa Underground River was once considered the longest underground river in the world, at 8.2 kilometers long, until a longer underground river was discovered somewhere in Mexico. Regardless of this, however, Puerto Princesa has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and, on 2012, was internationally renowned as being one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
Today, Puerto Princesa Underground River continues to be a wonder of nature with its serene waters, its mysterious rock formations, and limestone caves. Aside from being a wonderful tourist attraction, the Underground River also serves as a wonderful source of knowledge for geologists and environmentalists. Deeper parts of the Underground River, which are off-limits to visitors due to natural hazards and environmental concerns, are home to more interesting rock formations, more river channels, more caves, and endemic marine creatures.
Everyone in the boat was mostly silent during the ride, aside from a few gasps and awestruck “ohhhs” when seeing interesting rock formations. I myself was mostly silent as well. Underground River was so beautiful, I was left speechless, and left to silently gaze at its beauty like a child who cannot speak.
We vacated the boat after about 30 minutes of staring at beautiful rock and cave formations. It was a relaxing boat ride that would lull anyone, but not me, who was so fascinated with this wonder of nature.
The boat ride was short because deeper parts of the cave was off-limits. Tourists need to acquire a special permit in order to explore the further parts of the cave. I would want to be able to reach that part someday. I heard that one can wade on the waters on the deeper parts. I could not, unfortunately, do so during the tour, but I would love to be able to get there myself one day.
We left the Underground River, and eventually my heart, after the boat ride. I would go for a second boat ride, but I was presently faced with time constraints.
We headed to Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort for our lunch. It’s conveniently located near the Underground River, and they also have a reputation for serving good food. It’s also the only resort in Palawan to be rewarded with the ASEAN Green Hotel Award.
It was almost lunch time when we reached Pawikan Restaurant, the in-house restaurant of Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort. We were welcomed by Ms. Debbie Tan, the Marketing Director of the resort, and escorted us to our reserved tables. After a few mintues, we were served lunch.
We had a great variety of Filipino dishes for lunch.
We had the restaurant’s Palawan Seafood Trio, a brilliant mixture of grilled prawns, squid, and blue marlin. It was like taking a bite of the entire Pacific Ocean in just one serving.
We also had Daluyon Fried Chicken, which was served with cassava chips and onion rings. Perfectly complementing this golden brown fried delight was Pinakbet Classic, a bowl of locally sourced vegetables in thick bagoong flavored sauce. There was also bits of crispy lechon kawali as toppings, which gave the bowl of veggies some wonderful texture.
Another wonderful bowl of broth we had for lunch was the in-house restaurant’s Beef Bulalo. It was patterned after the Batangas version of bulalo, but the Palawan twist to it was more dominant. For all our amazing viands, we had Daluyon Rice, a seafood rice that went well with all the dishes, but most especially with Palawan Seafood Trio.
To conclude our hearty and heavy meal, we had L’Opera, a wafer, butter, and chocolate-layered cake.
Before leaving the resort, Ms. Debbie gave us a short tour of the resort then afterwards, we headed back to Canvas Boutique Hotel afterwards to freshen up and check out.
Before completely packing up my things, I glanced one more time at the photographs that I have taken in the past two days. I had an amazing time there in Puerto Princesa. I was able to see so many sides of Palawan. I met its people, I appreciated its historical significance, I enjoyed its food, and I was able to become one with its environment. The three days I spent here were a blast! I would come back here again one day.
After quietly packing up my things and placing my smartphone back in my pocket, I met with the other travel writers in the lobby and headed to the airport for our flight to Manila, to finally say good bye to the wonderful city of Puerto Princesa.
Many thanks to Palawan Tourism Council, USAID, Rajah Travel, Provincial and Puerto Princesa City tourism offices, Canvas Boutique Hotel and Philippines AirAsia for making this trip possible.
For inquiries about Puerto Princesa City Heritage Tour Package, you may contact them via email: [email protected] or call them at (632) 894-0886 local 1504. Visit their website at www.palawanliberation.com or follow them on facebook www.facebook.com/palawanliberation.
To encourage tourists to visit Puerto Princesa City, Philippines AirAsia flies 5x daily from Manila with promotional fares now available via www.airasia.com. Fly-thru service from Kalibo to Puerto Princesa is also available with seamless connection via Manila.