Area where Vietnamese refugees stayed - although most houses are vacant now, a lot of the refugees are now in the united states. Culture wise, there isn't really much to see, but check out the restaurant.
St. Paul Subterranean River was declared a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most sought-after destinations in Palawan. The underground river was discovered years ago by the native tribes but in fear of retribution from their gods, they did not explore the cave's interior. In the early 70's, a team of foreign spelunkers entered the cave and came up with the estimated length of the underground river: 8.2 kms.
To date, only half of it can be reached by paddle boat as there are areas passable only by human bodies. The round trip boat ride will take 3 hours and requires a special permit from the environment authority. The common or standard practice is to take a boat ride for 1.5 kms. or approximately 45 minutes round trip travel time. This also requires a permit which is normally processed by the tour guide.
The cave's interior is very dark and only the lamp from the boatman illuminates the way. Rock formations, stalagmites, stalactites, bats and bat dung can be found inside the cave. The boatmen have fancy names for the different portions of the cave based on rock formation like - market section (cucumber, corn, mushroom, etc.), cathedral (holy trinity, Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, etc.), among others. The water is cold and depth varies between 5-7 meters.
A day tour to Dos Palmas resort would cost around 1500 pesos - includes welcome drink, round trip transfer from the city (NCCC mall), buffet lunch, sea activities (except the swimming pool which is exlusive for overnight guests). Island hopping tours will not stop at Dos Palmas though.
Going to the underground river is a journey of several stages. The stage prior to taking the paddle boat for the river trip itself is a short walk in a forested area.
After disembarking from the motorized boat, we entered the picnic ground where monkeys and monitor lizards greeted us. There are also huts arranged on one side where we had our lunch after our river trip. From this area to its left is a well-marked trail of around 100 meters long that led us to where the paddle boats are waiting. The trail is bordered by big trees and tall plants, much like a mini-forest.
For the more adventurous ones (and if the weather permits), there is a trail from the picnic ground to Sabang (or vice versa) which passes through the jungle. It takes 3 hours to complete the hike as compared to the 20-minute boat ride between the picnic ground and Sabang.
Cacnipa Island is very near Port Barton. Coconut Garden Resort is beautifully built among the tall palm trees in front of the sandy beach with the crystal clear water. It is cheaper than many up market resorts on Palawan's islands. There is very good snorkeling just in front or you can arrange excellent island hopping. Food in the hotel restaurants includes local or western dishes. There are hammocks and a nice sitting area in front of the hotel. Hiking is also possible in the jungle leading to spots with amazing views!
The nippa huts are not disturbing the exotic character of the island and the prices start from 350 for a dorm bed going up to 1000 for a suite.
There are discounts for long stays.
Click on photo
Palawan's Subterranean River is located in St. Paul's National Park, a Unesco Heritage Site. It features 8.2 miles of winding underground river with nice stalactites, stalagmites and chambers with interesting limestone formations! It is one of the longest navigable subterranean rivers in the world. It houses thousands of bats hanging over your head so don't forget to wear your hats to avoid their waste. The cave is dark so the passengers sitting in the front have to hold the heavy lamp to illuminate the spots being described by the guide , so don't sit in the front if you want to take pictures...
The bangka (500p) will drop you on a pristine beach where a well kept path leading to the sub river starts. It is almost certain that monkeys will try to snap anything that looks like food especially plastic bags, so hold your belongings close to your body and avoid plastic bags.
The area in front of the entrance is perhaps the best part of the whole trip as it involves lush vegetation and transparent green sparkling water. The boat seems to be floating in the air. (the photo is proof !)
The Monkey Trail is a path through the jungle leading to the river. It starts in Sabang beach and takes about 3 hours of not very difficult walking with beautiful views in some parts. Don't forget to get a permit at the tourist office.You can visit the underground river either from Puerto Princesa after a 2-3 hour drive on a bumpy dirt road or from Port Barton by bangka. Of course the best for those who have enough time is to stay in Sabang. The place is so peaceful and idyllic that deserves more than a day.
Click on photo
Sabang is a beautiful beach village and the nearest settlement to the Underground River. The beach is picture perfect fringed by palm trees, the village is small but has enough to keep you happy and relaxed for 3 or 4 days. There are very nice restaurants with delicious traditional and international food, good service and wonderful views of the sunsets. Also try the very cheap ones beyond the dock frequented by locals. I loved their fishsoup !!!
The bus from Puerto Princesa takes 2-3 hours on a bumpy, dusty road but I am sure you will not mind.
If you just come for one day bring your personal necessities in case you change your mind and want to stay more....
In case you have brought all your luggage you can continue your trip to Port Barton or El Nido by bangka. This takes about 4 hours to Port Barton and it is really enjoyable !! We saw a lot of interesting small islands and some flying fish on the way. Bring money from Puerto Princessa because there is no ATM or bank in El Nido or Port Barton!
Click on photo
Port Barton is a quiet fishing village that is developing into a backpackers' stopover, cutting the long trip from Sabang to El Nido in two. The laid-back atmosphere, good accommodation, some nice restaurants and excellent island hopping, snorkeling and diving makes it a fine destination. There is a waterfall at 1,5 klm from the village but the way is not so clear so ask the locals for detailed information.
The beach is better on the right side, facing the village from the boat. Accommodation is also better there. I have heard Swissippini Resort (the most expensive but very affordable) is good and Elsa's Beach Cottages (from 350and up) is also very nice with a restaurant on the terrace in front of the beach. There is an excellent restaurant ( Filipiniana, I think) with delicious local and international food on a corner next to Elsa's.
The beach on the left side is too muddy and shallow, impossible to swim.
El Dorado Bar though, on this muddy side, offers beautiful sunsets and cold beer as well as passable rooms for 400-600P. I stayed there and had no serious complaints, except for the fact that the rooms were infested with mosquitoes and I had to cover all night and sweat with no fan on (there is no electricity at night)..Nevertheless the bar was a nice place to chat with other people.
A day diving trip costs about 1000P per boat including BBQ fish lunch on the exotic small islands. The fish was superb!!! One of the best snorkeling spots is Paradise Garden just in front of the Port Barton bay!!!
It's better to use a bangka for El Nido or Sabang. Prices vary depending on the size of the boat. The bigger, the more comfortable! They usually take 4 so ask the boatmen for more people if you are less. The trip to Sabang is 3 hours and to El Nido about 5. The boat is surprisingly steady and the scenery is amazing! Bring water, something to munch and a small pillow especially if you are skinny. The seats are really hard...!
Cacnipa Island is very near and deserves a day trip at least!
Click on photo
El Nido is one of the best diving destination in Philippines and not only. There are 50 islands nearby so you have endless choices for snorkeling and diving. There is a kiosk on the beach where you can book your trips directly with the local boatmen or you can book it at Art Cafe or many other places if you ask around. The prices are fixed and the routes also. Of course you can hire your own boat with the boatmen and go wherever you like. If you decide to follow the usual rides then you have several choices, all worthy if you can do more than one. I chose A which includes a visit to the small Lagoon then swimming in the big Lagoon!!! Then we had some snorkeling in 2 different spots, walked on an interesting island, had a delicious lunch with BBQ fish and chicken, green salad, rice and some fruit for the end. The setting was a beautiful beach. We finally had an evening snorkel on 7 Commandos' beach, a fine underwater reef and one of the best beaches near El Nido. If I ever go back I will certainly stay more to try ..everything..!
The boatmen were really caring, minding our steps and even caring my bag while I was swimming!
Click on photo
The more you stay in El Nido the more you like this little charming place. Maybe it's the laid-back atmosphere or the gentle smiling locals. Or maybe it's the fact that El Nido has everything you need in small mild doses...Excellent diving and snorkeling, good food both local and international, interesting hikes in the green mountains, wonderful sunsets, even cockfights ... You can spend more than a week without doing the same thing twice.
There are more than 50 islands around where you can dive, snorkel and have barbeque on the pristine beaches entirely to yourself. Food in the market is very cheap and fish is fresh and delicious. For amazing sunsets you can ride a motor bike to the other side of the village where you have nice views. Locals know the spot. Then you can have a romantic walk back on the long beach watching local people going on with their life.
For relaxed hotel-centered vacations there are excellent all inclusive resorts on several islands with crystalline sea and coral gardens just a few steps away.
You can try rock climbing on the majestic rock cliffs or ride a motorbike to explore the amazing places north of El Nido. Kayaking, windsurfing, cave exploring are offered too.
For the nights there are bars offering billiards, karaoke and dancing and last but not least there is Balay Tubay with a unique, relaxing atmosphere and nice rock music. That' s where locals and long staying foreigners meet to have a nice evening. Sometimes we stayed after closing time talking away until very late... I am sure you will discover more on your own because the treasures of El Nido are endless.
Click on photo
I love the hike going to the underground river. Hiking through the jungle with manmade steps going up the mountains and hills is extrenous but fulfilling. Once in a while, I gasped for breath. The hike is long and hard. In the middle of the trail, there is a lookout and a rest area made of nipa hut. The lookout is beautiful and the view is breathtaking.
Then, below the mountain, I finally saw the light. There was the mouth of the underground river! We took two boats getting inside. Our guide has two lamps and kept telling us to look up- the cave has stalagmites and stalagtites hanging. Once in a while, as we were paddled the boat, a bat would fly out and scared me to death!
The boat ride was about 17 kilometers, I would say. It took us a while paddling the boat inside the cave! Then, the water got shallow. Little did we know, we were already outside the cave - on the other side of the island!
Tips: Be careful with the monkeys. One of the tourists' sneakers were stolen by one of these rascals. They come in and get sneaky! They open unattended backpacks and steal whatever they could steal. These monkeys come in a group and their leader is mischievous!
Make sure to have good hiking boots/shoes.
Bring bottled water and bring snacks.
Bring cameras with a good flash to capture the stalagmites.
Bring extra clothes just in case you get wet inside the cave.
Have a guided tour with other tourists and split the fee. It is way cheaper.
what we did is we hired a trike to take us to the honda bay wharf (20/pax).............. when we reached the wharf we hired a boat for the whole day island hopping (1,200)........... we just divided the boat rent by ourselves..............
the islands we went to are:
- dos palmas (we didnt dock, because docking would cost us 500/pax for entrance fee)
- pandan island (diff from mindoro's)
- senyorita island
- luli island (lulubog-lilitaw)
- snake island
- starfish island
i would be posting separated travel tips for each of the islands i mentioned :)
The easiest and best way to make a short trip to the Underground River is from Sabang. This takes about 20 min and costs P500 there and back (for the boat); P400 for the single trip. Its's worth noting that the trip from there is not possible during the south-west monsoon season from June to November, which can get quite stormy. We landed on a beautiful beach. After which we walked along the "Monkey Trail". If you keep your eyes and ears open you will be aware of a rich and vocal community of birds, monkeys by the dozen, and a few majestic over 1 metre-long monitor lizards. The imposing vertical grooves caused by erosion in the limestone cliffs are also well worth seeing. However, the main attraction of this extremely well-run national park is a subterranean one: the Underground River.
The permit for the journey into the Underground River is available at the entrance. However, the rangers prefer people to obtain the permit beforehand at at the Information Office in Sabang (open from 8am). Admission costs P150, including the river trip with a paddle boat. This takes 45 min and will end up in the 60m high "Cathedral" at a minimum, although they may take you further. The trips are usually made between 8am and noon and then from 1-4pm. However, the boatmen sometimes pack up for the day in the early afternoon, so it's safer to get there before 1pm.
Update 2013: After more than a decade, I visited the Puerto Princesa Underground River or PPUR. Lots of improvement, there's a concrete platform quay now and lunch is at Sabang, no longer at the underground river park where the monkeys are grabbing your food. I did not see much monitor lizards like before when they're roaming around the park in group, I saw one this time although the monkeys are still plenty. The boatsmen are funny with their comic antics with their description and tales of what's inside the cave while paddling their boat.
Indeed, the whole island of Palawan is an attraction by itself. I would not leave out any square kilometer as a non-attraction area. It is hard to enumerate the things to do or the places to visit in this paradise-on-earth kind of place.
The underground river is the main attraction of this place but the surrounding area or the whole park, including the boat ride to get to the island where the cave is, is simply spectacular!
That was 4 years ago, and if I remember it right, the whole package cost us Phil. Pesos 1,000 or US$25 (during that time) per person. The duration would last for the whole day, inclusive of transport from your hotel for the 2 hours or so ride going to boat quay, the boat ride is also included that will take you for an hour sail to the island/forest park, pack lunch and an english-speaking tourist guide, and of course the way back to your hotel. Isn't that a huge deal?
So it goes, we woke up early morning to be fetched by a Toyota Lite Ace that was sent by the travel agency we have contacted. Took the boat ride... the sail itself is just exhilirating, crystal clear bluish-green water, you could see the corals, fish and it's like looking at an aquarium without the glasses. It's a 360 degree-full of postcards scenes - the water, the cliffs, the vegetation, the wind. Perrrfect!
Upon reaching the island, we sat on table, took the lunch with monkeys in their natural habitat, and friendly monitor lizards - those huge ones that looked like komoto dragons, looks freightening but harmless though. There are scout rangers around to keep the place safe for tourists, and there is also the monkey trail if you want to do that tour first or directly go to the underground directly which we did.
You will be stunned by the water in the mouth of the cave, so clear. You'll wear the orange safety vest and ride the boat that will navigate the more than 8 kilometer long cave.
You can go to the Subterranean River on your own and not join tour packages. In July 2006, package tour is at P1,300.00/pax with buffet lunch, permit fees, transpo to/fr PPS. But since i want to bring my cousin and niece to the river also, i found out a cheaper alternative.
We booked at the PPS Subterranean River Natil Park Office at the Basaya Bldg in PPS where El Mundo Tours is also located at the grnd floor. This is where we got the permit, but the park fee will be paid at the park.
Jeep to/fr PPS to Sabang: 120/pax (one-way)
Park Fees: Adult: 150.00/pax Students (20 yrs old & below): P75/pax.
Boat to/fr Sabang to Underground River P600.00/6 pax(2-way)
PPS to Sabang - approx. 2 1/2 hours via jeepney
Boat to/fr Sabang to Underground River 15-20mins (one way).
Underground River Tour takes 45mins. - 1 hour. 1.5km tour
Our experience here: Sobrang ganda! But i think it is best to go there during summer. Since we went there in July (rainy season), the water is light brown and muddy unlike during summer, it is blue-green. It is also best to get there early or have an overnight stay, then head to the river very early since there are a lot of people who get to the river by 9am or later esp those who go on package tours. In our case, we arrived at 10am (leaving PPS at 7am). We got to the boat/tour by 11:45am because of the queue. The rock formations are splendid! really amazing! There was an eel who splashed at the back of our boat and it sounded scary hehe. There was also a snake near the rock formations. It would be best to have a member of the group who holds the light properly so other guests can see the formations and take pictures well. In our case, the one holding the flashlight (a big halogen light) takes out the light fast so we were not able to have a closer view of the formations and pictures are too dark. The boat is very small and only some inches above the water so you better waterproof your things.
if you look for more quiet palce you should look something not in center .. You should try to get...more
Good for: Solo
Pamalican Island, PO Box 456, Palawan, 0000, Philippines
Good for: Business