Palawan: Family Visit to Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

My bucket list used to be a long list of things that I wanted to do. Things that I don't know when I can fulfill and whether I can fulfill so I decided to just delete it.

Of course, I change my mind and so I wrote another one. A shorter one this time with fewer things in it. It does not include the trip to Puerto Princesa Underground River anymore because I got to tick it off last year when we went to Palawan. It was the highlight of our last year's vacation. I guess it is on everybody's bucket list.

Our second day in Palawan was spent going on a paddleboat cruising down the river surrounded by a lush mangrove forest and a hike up the mountain before zipping across the sea on a zip line into an islet off the coast of Sabang. Although both were just a side trip, it was both enjoyable and a must-do when you visit the island.

The main reason though for this family trip was to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the 7 Wonders of Nature - the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.

Click on the photo to enlarge

It was included in our 3D/2N Puerto Princesa package tour. Everything such as transportation, (van and boat) entry permits, and lunch have been pre-arranged for us which was really a good decision as I don't want to have any misadventures considering how much time we have and knowing that I have two kids and an elderly parent.

From the city proper, we hopped in a van and joined our tour buddies who were all looking very excited and ready for an adventure like us. It was a scenic, fun, and informative two-hour ride to Sitio Sabang.

It was a long drive and we needed a quick pit stop to pee, and get some snacks and rubber slippers. Jazz souvenir shop houses at least four stores of Palawan delicacies, food items, souvenir items, and a clean toilet.

I can't help but admire the clean and green surroundings and think about how lucky Palawenos are to live in a city in a forest. 

We reached Sitio Sabang around 9 am. Our tour guide collected our IDs and work his way up in the queue for us while we continue with the side trips. He waited for us at our lunch venue and just after a scrumptious seafood lunch, we all headed to the wharf and boarded a motorized boat that was beautifully adorned with colorful fiesta flags. It took us to the other part of Sabang beach where the entry point of the cave is located.

We had overcast skies and a little bit of shower every now and then but thank goodness it didn't rain hard. We were also lucky enough to have a sighting of a turtle swimming away from our boat.

It was about half an hour of pure bliss cruising in clear blue waters lined with limestone mountains covered by heavy greenery.

I am also glad to have my mother-in-law on this trip with us. My mom already visited Puerto Princesa with my brother so she didn't join us anymore.

When we arrived, we can't stop admiring our surroundings. We were all in awe of the beauty of this place. It is nothing but a true nature lovers paradise.

The beach was beautiful and untouched.

We moved on and followed our guide to the nature trail. I was expecting lots of monkeys and was expecting we would chance upon a monitor lizard but saw none except for one monkey who was hanging by a tree looking at the people around.

The best thing about going to this natural wonder in an off-peak season is that there were fewer people that we need not queue at all. Once we've reached the end of the trail, our paddle boat is ready for boarding.

Each one of us received an audio device to use once inside the cave and a helmet to keep our heads safe. The audio played information about the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River every tourist needs to know

While I was listening to the recorded audio, I can still overhear our boatman and tour guide giving information so I decided to ditch the audio and listen to him as we go along. Not only it was informative, but it was also a lot of fun to listen to his joke antics.

There were so many different stalactites and stalagmites formation inside the cave named after fruits and vegetables, a horse, sea creatures such as fish and dolphins

there were also a candle and the holy family.

It was difficult to take good pictures if you don't have a professional camera as it was pitch black inside. Whatever names were given to each rock formation, I find it all jaw-droppingly magnificent.

Apart from this, the cave is also home to hundreds if not thousands of bats and swiftlets also locally known as balinsasayaw. These birds are known for their edible nest used to make bird's nest soup.

Our journey inside was a good forty-five minutes. Our boat made a u-turn and started heading back when we reached the allowed length navigable for tourists. Our guide said that what we've seen was only half of it. To explore the other half requires a special permit and it was mostly given to a speleologist. 

Before we know it, we were exiting the cave back to the outside world.

We took mandatory photos before heading back to the beach where our boat was waiting for us. 

and another one without those orange life vests.

Off to the boat and back to Sitio Sabang.

We made a quick stop at the wharf for some delicious snacks of local fare. Turon, Banana Que, and Kamote Que!!!

On our way back, we ask our tour guide if we could stop at the huge Nuga Tree just to take some photos. The biggest specimen of Nuga trees can be found in India which covers 19, 107 sqm and it is known to be a sacred tree for them. Ferald and I were the only ones who went down, everyone was tired from the day's activities but the enthusiastic me never seems to get tired.

Our day didn't end there actually. We went back to the hotel to rest for a couple of hours then we're back on the road to see the fireflies at Iwahig firefly sanctuary and a hearty dinner at Kinabutch Grill so stay tuned.

Is this place on your bucket list too?

My Yellow Bells

Carla is a lifestyle blogger based in Dubai who's thankful to call this ever-evolving city her second home. The pages of this blog are filled with stories about her expat life in the sandpit. It features dining and travel adventures in and around the city and beyond. It also features food recipes, parenting tips, and fashion style.


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  1. Aww paradise :-) this makes me wanna come back to this beautiful island of Palawan!

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