Visiting the Underground River of Puerto Princesa City

From Iwahig Penal Colony on the first day, to the time-frozen Special Battalion WWII Museum on the second, we finally woke up to the morning of the third day of our Puerto Princesa Heritage Tour.

Danggit Lamayo is a Palawan version of Cebu's dried danggit. It is marinated with vinegar, pepper and garlic.
Danggit Lamayo is a Palawan version of Cebu’s dried danggit. It is marinated with vinegar, pepper and garlic.

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.

En route to Sabang
En route to Sabang

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.


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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.

Stopover at a coffee and souvenir shop
Stopover at a coffee and souvenir shop
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park Information Center
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park Information Center
Sabang Port in Puerto Princesa City
Sabang Port in Puerto Princesa City

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.

Cove near the Underground River Entrance
Cove near the Underground River Entrance
Old Trees near the entrance
Old Trees near the entrance
Puerto Princesa Underground River Park entrance
Puerto Princesa Underground River Park entrance
Earpiece issuance area
Earpiece issuance area

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.

wooden walkway to the Underground river
wooden walkway to the Underground river

As our boat silently made its way into the calm waters of the Underground River, the voice in the earpiece began the tour.

Voice Tour Gadget
Voice Tour Gadget

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.

Underground River of Puerto Princesa City
Underground River of Puerto Princesa City

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.

Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Inside Underground River of Puerto Princesa photo by PalawanIsland.org
Inside Underground River of Puerto Princesa photo by PalawanIsland.org

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.

Puerto Princesa Underground River
Inside Puerto Princesa Underground River

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.

Media Participants at the PPUR
Media Participants at the PPUR

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.

Palawan Underground River
Palawan Underground River

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.

Monitor Lizard just walking around
Monitor Lizard just walking around
Unesco World Heritage Marker
Unesco World Heritage Marker
New 7 Wonders of Nature Marker
New 7 Wonders of Nature Marker

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.

Pawikan Restaurant Entrance
Pawikan Restaurant Entrance

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.

Palawan Seafood Trio
Palawan Seafood Trio

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.

Daluyon Fried Chicken
Daluyon Fried Chicken

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.

Pinakbet
Pinakbet

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.

L' Opera dessert
L’ Opera dessert

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.

Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort
Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort

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: palawanlibinfo@rajahtravel.com 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.

AirAsia Flight to Manila from Puerto Princesa City
AirAsia Flight to Manila from Puerto Princesa City

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.

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