After a few day on Cebu Ronda and I departed for Palawan where my brother, Ben, was waiting for us in Puerto Princessa. Truth be told this city is really just a hub and the best thing to do is head north for Sabang, Port Barton or El Nido but if you’ve got a few days to kill like we did then check out these awesome attractions!
1) Go to El Nido! Okay so the title says this is about Puerto Princessa but honestly if you have more than 48 hours on Palawan GO TO EL NIDO! We stopped in Sabang, Port Barton and Puerto Princessa. None of them even hold a candle to the amazing scenery, beaches and adventures waiting for you in El Nido. There’s a reason El Nido has been voted the #1 beach in the world for 2 years in a row!
To get to El Nido head to San Jose Terminal where you can book Air Conditioned Share Vans to any city on Palawan. 6 hours on some of the worst roads I’ve seen in all my travels will drop you into the dreamland you’ll read about in my next post.
On a budget? Try the ferry to Puerto Princessa!
2) Island Hopping in Honda Bay is both affordable and fantastic way to spend your day. We only went to Cowrie Island but the beach was pristine with a shallow surf and a great view. For a paltry 200 pesos you can enjoy an unlimited buffet but don’t expect gourmet cooking. Honda Bay is also home to Star Fish Island and a half dozen other attractions if you want to spend the day boating between instead of relaxing.
To get here hire a trike (~400 pesos round trip) to the ferry. You’ll spend another 700 pesos to hire a boat but luckily that can be split among all your travelers.
3) Sabang’s Underground River is the longest underground river in Asia and the second longest in the world! As a UNESCO World Heritage Site it has gotten more attention in recent years but still remains largely unknown. Tours along the river travel a few kilometers into this natural wonder as an audio guide explains some of the geology and history of this subterranean stream. Its nestled in between mangrove jungles so keep your eyes out for monitor lizards and monkeys!
Book a trip with your hotel and get ready for an early departure to head to Sabang. On the way back you can stop by a zipline or do another jungle trek since you only spend about an hour in the river.
4) Microtel Beach This was my favorite beach in Puerto Princessa. A long shallow beach means you can walk past the mangrove forest for what feels like forever as the sky reflects on the calm surf of Microtel’s private beach. There is a 150 peso fee to enter this private beach but it 100 pesos be used towards drinks or snacks. This beach faces east so don’t stick around hoping for sunset; instead inquire into staying at the seaview rooms and watch the sun rise past the white sand.
To get to Microtel Beach hire a trike for about 400 pesos. He’ll even wait for you until you’re ready to return.
Looking for more info about Palawan? Check out this awesome guide on FollowYourRoad.
5) Eat at KaLui Highly recommended by both the internet and the locals KaLui is sure to please any palette. Serving primarily sea food at reasonable prices (~200-250 pesos per person) you have to make a reservation for one of their 2 dinner seatings. We had our hotel call a day ahead for the 8:30pm seating deciding that 6:30 was to early if we wanted to get back from Microtel’s beach in time.
Upon walking through the doors of this fantastic restaurant you are transported to paradise. Wear flip flops since they make all guests take off their shoes as you sit among fresh fruit and trees decorating this delicious restaurant.
To find Kalui just any Trike. It should be 50 pesos or less.
6) Explore the Bay Walk The Bay walk comes alive at night with street vendors selling snacks, drinks, souvenirs and tours. We enjoyed dining at the fresh BBQ restaurant on the southern tip. You will find the day’s fresh catch from local fishermen mixed among traditional Filipino pork & chicken skewers ready to be grilled.
To find the Bay Walk just ask any trike driver. It should be 50 pesos or less.
7) SCUBA dive My brother and I did some online research and chose to dive with Puerto Princessa Divers. Romel was very knowledgable and helped us book both the hotel and get our gear ready to dive with Master Diver Napoleon (Nap for short). Nap grew up on Palawan and by the time I was in elementary school he already had over 2000 dives in El Nido discovering some of today’s best dive spots. He prefers diving out of Puerto because you can see the same sealife with a fraction of the tourists. Dives should cost 3300 pesos (including rental).
Over 2 days Ben and I took 4 morning dives and were fortunate enough to see huge coral reefs teeming with life. Trios of lion fish scared smaller fish off with their poisonous fins as scorpion & frog fish hid among the coral. A small moray eel flitted about in a rare state outside of its cave before we saw 2 rays and a pack of 3 massive sea turtles!
The best way to get a hold of Puerto Princessa Divers is on their website or by email.