If Palawan is a gem of the Philippine Islands in terms of natural beauty and eco-tourism, then Puerto Princesa is definitely one of its prized cuts. It is home to some of the most mesmerizing natural wonders, which explains why plenty of international visitors come flocking every year. It may be overwhelming to plan out your itinerary with so many attractions to see but these 10 places are great options for first timers.
1. Underground River
By far the most popular destination in Puerto Princesa, the Underground River is part of the New 7 Wonders of the World. It’s the longest underground river in the world and it is blessed with many beautiful rock formations. It’s a two-hour drive from the city but the path going there is so full of flora and fauna—including monkeys and monitor lizards—that you won’t even notice the time! You take a boat ride through the underground river for the full experience.
2. Honda Bay
Honda Bay is a great location for both snorkeling and island-hopping. Cowrie Island and Luli Island are definitely instagrammable places with their alluring sights, while the Pambato Reef is another visual treat you can check out while you’re snorkeling. You can also buy bread to feed colorful fish, as this is the trick to get them to swim towards you. If snorkeling isn’t your thing, you can also go on a boat ride to Pandan Island where you can enjoy good facilities and fresh seafood cooked by locals.
3. KaLui Restaurant
This beautiful restaurant is a traditional native cottage that’s full of colorful paintings, making it very homey and traditionally Filipino. You have to take off your shoes before you enter the premises, so if you aren’t comfortable being barefoot, make sure to wear socks or bring a pair. To make the experience truly authentic, you can even choose to eat on the floor instead of on the usual tables and chairs! Their seafood entrees are huge (the crabs are as big as a plate!), plus your meal comes with complimentary soup, coconut and fruits for dessert.
4. Firefly Watching at Iwahig
This tour (which is done on either a two-person or four-person canoe) starts after 5:30 PM when it’s dark. The many fireflies look like floating Christmas lights, and on a dark night with plenty of stars, it’s a breathtaking experience. When the tour guide paddles, you can also glimpse the bioluminescent plankton in the water. The tour comes with a meal at the floating island. Make sure to pre-book your tour though as they prioritize those with reservations.
5. Ugong Rock
The Ugong Rock experience consists of entering the rock, climbing the rock, and either hiking the trail back or going on the zipline. Each part of the hike has an excellent view of the beautiful rock formations and the nearby rice terraces. The view on top of the rock is picture perfect. You can tap the stone to hear its “ugong” (howling) sound which earned the rock its name.
6. Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa
It has a big swimming pool and beach close to each other, making it perfect for water lovers. You can also enjoy live entertainment near the restaurant and bar, the tables positioned close to the beach to provide guests with a scenic view. Other activities you can try out here include going to the outdoor gym, riding ATVs, or getting a massage at the spa.
7. Badjao Seafront Restaurant
This restaurant has huge servings of delicious seafood, making them a popular choice among visitors. They have a wide menu of local food that will surely satisfy your appetite, with their salt and pepper squid and crabs as some of the must-tries. You can enjoy dining with a great view of the islands, the mangroves and most importantly, Honda Bay.
8. Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour
This is a great side trip while you’re waiting for your turn to go through the Underground River. This 45-minute boat ride is a nature tour of the majestic mangroves, including sightings of monkeys, snakes, and monitor lizards. It’s good to know that the mangroves are well-maintained by the government, as they are an important part of the local ecosystem.
9. Puerto Princesa City Baywalk
It’s a nice experience to have an evening stroll along Puerto Princesa City Baywalk. You can also rent a bike and ride around the baywalk. At night, there are restaurants serving fresh fish that can be cooked upon order whichever way you like. There’s also balut, dirty ice cream, and for the adventurous, their signature crocodile sisig dish.
10. Baker’s Hill
This whimsical fairytale land is colorful and full of strange sights like funny statues, costumed characters, and creatively-recycled plastic decor. There are so many vibrant plants and flowers in the botanical garden and leisure farm. Despite having plenty of stores to choose from, their bakeshop is the most popular store as it has an excellent range of baked goods. The ube hopia is one of the favorites for pasalubong.
Puerto Princesa is a gorgeous eco-tourism spot with plenty of natural wonders to look out for. It might be quite expensive to go on some of the of the tours like the ones for the Underground River, Iwahig, and Honda Bay (they’re around ₱1,500++ per person). But since most of the fees go to maintaining the sites and the barangays that take care of the attractions, you should still consider visiting, especially if you’re a first-timer as it really is beautiful and awe-inspiring seeing these wonders firsthand.