GREAT BEACH FOR A DAY OUT
Travel north on the highway and when you reach Bacungan at km 23 turn left and follow the road 10 kms to Nagtabon, but do not miss the turning down to the beach as you can easily drive by it without noticing. Just as you go up the hill you may notice a road sign saying B Marcela Road, so just turn left there down a very rough road and after a kilometer you will reach the beach. Where the road ends at the beach there is a new picnic area on the left where native beach huts will cost 200 pesos each, and you can even grill your fish or meat there. Just walk past the first resort (for want of a better word) and after 60 or 70 meters you will come to it.
PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THE SIGN WHICH WARNS YOU OF DANGEROUS CURRENTS
SPOT THE MAN WITH THE TWO FARTHING BIKE
I have spotted this local man twice riding his strange contraption. It is similar to the century old penny farthing bike but his looks more like a two farthing bike. On each occasion i have spotted him around km 30 going south on the National Highway. When he gets off his bike he slows down and climbs down some steps to reach the ground. I have no idea how he starts the contraption.
SUGGESTED TWO NIGHT TRIP SOUTH
From Puerto Princesa rent a motorbike and ride south to around km 85 where you can turn off to Estrella Falls. Enjoy a swim in the cool water, buy a fish and charcoal at the market in Aborlan and use one of the many BBQs to grill your meal. Bring your own drinks. Late afternoon continue the remaining 75 kms to Quezon where you can stay at the very economic Esperanza Beach house, enjoy their food. Next morning visit the museum where you can arrange a permit and take a boat to Tabon Caves (700 per boat for 6 pax) where they found evidence of Tabon man living there over 45,000 years ago. Enjoy the beautiful views from the cliffs where the caves are located. After lunch head back to km 51 at Inagawan, where you turn right and 2 kms later you will find the beach and Mia's resort. Stay in a clean room for 500 pesos.She will provide meals, or you can even buy fish direct from the fishermen. Enjoy swimming in the sea from the dark sandy beach the next morning before returning to Puerto Princesa.
- Historical Travel
SUGGESTED OVERNIGHT TRIP TO THE SOUTH
Rent a motorbike and head south to Inagawan at km 51 marker on the highway. Turn left and head to the beach,until you find Mia's Beach House. She has 4 rooms outside and some inside her house and you can buy fish and have her cook your meal or she will arrange a meal for you. The cost is 500 a night and the beach is dark sand but the swimming is safe. You can walk several kms in each direction along the sandy beach. Book your accommodation here and continue south to around km 85 where you can turn tight and spend the afternoon at Estrella Falls. The water is cool but good for swimming, and there are picnic tables, but bring your own food. Buy fish in Aborlan or Narra, along with some charcoal as there are BBQ facilities here. Return to Inagawan late afternoon and enjoy the beach the next morning before returning to Puerto Princesa.
BUCANA-----LOCALS RELOCATED FROM BAYWALK
Some years ago there were many squatters living on houses on stilts by the bay, but there was a mysterious fire and the government built the new promenade and a Baywalk.
What happened to the residents who lost their homes? Well, the local government gave them some land which was around 20 kms from PPC and i believe that they were given some money to rebuild their houses. Now this is a large community by the Iwahig river where the locals have responded well to their misfortune. Many have boats that they will reach PPC in 10 minutes or so, rather than taking public transport. This is now a thriving community and soon it will become a town! Well done for the victims of the fire!!!
HOW TO GET THERE
South highway, get off the jeepney at km 20, then explore by foot.
INAGAWAN BEACH----SAFE BUT GREY SAND
Inagawan Beach stretches for several kilometers but it is not so popular with tourists because it is relatively unheard of, but if you decide to go there you will more than likely have the whole beach to yourself. You can walk along the beach and see many fishermen attending to their boats and nets. There are no rocks at all and when you go in the sea it is very safe with no undertow, and the seabed is flat for many meters so it is comfortable to stand in neck deep water.
You can get there by going on the south highway to km 51 where you turn left, and the road will lead you all the way to the beach, perhaps 3 kms.
There is some simple accommodation (500pesos) there at the end of the road. Mia's on one side and her sister has a place on the other side of the road. Look for my accommodation tip-----MIA'S---A BUNGALOW ON A DESERTED BEACH
LANGOGAN VILLAGE & RIVER
KM 81 going north is a great place to take a rest, view the river and the fishing community by the sea. You cannot miss this place as the bridge spans the widest river going north. You can turn left directly after the bridge and wander along the road, or you can turn down a track just before the bridge which will lead you to the beach 200 meters away, where you can turn left and explore the village. Most of the residents are involved in fishing and you should see fish laid out, drying in the sun. There are a couple of small resorts here now.
RENT A MOTORBIKE AND DO THE LOOP
While staying in Puerto Princesa, rent a motorbike from one of the various rental outlets along Rizal Avenue between the airport and the Capital building. An off-road bike such as a Honda XR200 is advisable for this trip although you could get by on a smaller bike but take care. Hondas are available for 800-900 pesos, smaller bikes half price.
Take the road out of PP and head northwards on the northern highway and turn left at Bacungan (just after km 22). This road will be concrete for around 500m, then it will split, take the left hand fork and you will be on a rough road for the next 100 kms. After 10 or 12 kms you will catch your first glimpse of the ocean on the west coast, and after descending the hill you will reach City Beach where there are some bungalows and rest houses. The beach itself is around a km long and 50 meters of sand before your get your feet wet. This is probably a good place to have a swim but be careful of the undertow. continuing on your trip the road clings to the coast, going up and down hills and you will pass by other beaches, which unfortunately are fenced off by investors. There are a couple of small communities where you can buy drinks (not cold) and small items but no food is available until you reach Napsan, where you will leave the beach and head eastwards towards the southern highway. It is better to bring your own picnic. Leaving Napsan the road is surfaced for a few kms before returning to a dirt track. 20 minutes from Napsan you will reach Sarakot falls, stop for a rest and a cool dip. Unfortunately the place used to have bungalow and bbq area, but is now in a state of disrepair. Now you can ride the remaining 35 kms to the highway, possibly stopping just after a big steel bridge 7 kms b4 the highway. If you cross the bridge, turn down a track on the right hand side, which will take you under the bridge, after 200m you will find a deep hole for swimming and a small beach. these tracks were made by trucks getting sand and gravel from the river so are apt to change now and again, but the water is cool and deep so worthwhile the effort. And if you are not tired you can stop at the crocodile farm, Iwahig penal colony or the new eco-park on the way home, nut last time i did it it took most of the day and i was exhausted, especially in the rainy season.
SALAKOT FALLS----NOT WORTH IT AT THE MOMENT
Salakot Falls are on the road to Napsan but the road workers have made the area their temporary housing area so it is probably not a smart idea to visit the falls now as it is quite dirty and dusty in the area. And i cannot see the situation improving before Oct 2015. The road construction started around 2 years ago and is only around half complete. If you do go there expect the water to be very cold.
RELAX AT THE HOT SPRINGS & THEY ARE FREE
UPDATE--- Maybe a good idea to visit here on a Friday as they drain the pools and clean them on Thursday evening so they will be cleaner in Fridays!
I had not been here for around 6 years but yesterday while out on a motorbike trip i decided to investigate what had happened to the Hot Springs at Sta. Lucia as they had been closed for many years. I was surprised to find the gate open and a caretaker and her family residing there who were pleased to see us. There are 5 man made pools that are supplied with water from the hot spring and the water flows from one to the other so the actual pools are different temperatures. One is shallow for children while the others would be around 5 ft deep. The hot one must be a little less than 40C and was quire bearable and once i had spent some time in that one the others appeared to be luke-warm. There are 3 or 4 native huts for visitors to take advantage of but unfortunately the shower and toilet area has been destroyed. In fact there used to be a roof over the pool which is no longer there but don't worry as some trees provide shade over some sections of the pools. When visiting the caretaker will ask you to sign the visitor's book and there is a small box for donations should you feel the need to contribute. The springs are owned by the city and can be reached from the Highway South. I am not sure about the exact number of kilometers from the city but the track leading down to the springs (1+ km) is clearly signposted on the left side of the road. I suspect that it is somewhere between km markers 22 and 24.
The springs are closed in the evening, and i am told that they are quite busy at the weekend so better to go during a weekday and you will probably have the whole place to yourself.
NOTE----ALCOHOL IS NOT ALLOWED (but if you are discreet you may not be noticed) and the SPRINGS ARE OPEN 8am-5pm
The track leading to the hot springs can be a little muddy during the rainy season
- Spa and Resort
WONDERFUL BEACH and a NEW ROAD
Nagtabon Beach used to be a difficult place to get to as one had to drive 23 kms north of Puerto Princesa then take a track across to the west coast of the island for the last 10 kms, but just this month the concreting of the road has almost been completed. Unfortunately the last few hundred meters down to the beach is steep and rocky , but once you are there you will probably have this magnificent beach all to your selves, except at the weekend where we have sometimes seen as many as 10 people there!!!
HOW TO GET THERE
Rent a motorbike in Puerto Princesa.
Take the highway north to Bacungan which is between the 23 and 24 km markers. Turn left and after the small village the road will split, take the right hand fork and continue on the paved road until you are near the top of the hill and there is a signpost which says B Marcelo Road which leads to the right, but don't take this one. Leave the concrete road and take the rocky road on the left that leads down to the beach.
UPDATE--Unfortunately the road going down to the beach is still in very bad condition.
VISIT A FISHING VILLAGE
Take the road perpendicular to the airport, then you will come to a junction, take the second left, Gabinete Road and follow the road for around 1.5 kms and you will reach the sea. There is a small fishing community there and you may see the fishermen carry their catch ashore. Some fish are taken to the market and some are sold at 3 or 4 stalls there, where the fish will be up to 10% cheaper than the main market. You will see many bangkas and even a couple houses that have been built on a rock, 50 meters out at sea.
Best time to go is at high tide when most of the bangkas return
SQUATTERS HUTS OVER THE SEA AT LIBERTY
Why don't you take a walk and see some of the squatters who live in huts on stilts built over the sea. Most of the families have a small outrigger boat to catch fish, and you can see these shanty areas at several places by the sea. The area i visited was called Liberty and one can walk down to the end of Liberty Road and find a small walkway over the water where the boats are anchored. Each side is surrounded by the squatter's houses and the area is very crowded with washing drying in the alleys. Quite often there are fires in this neighbourhood and a few wooden houses are lost.
Liberty is just off of Abueg Road. Any hotel receptionist or tricycle driver will tell you how to get there.
Rent a bike and visit Talaudyong, a small fishing community with a deserted sandy beach on the other side of the island, about 40 kms from Puerto Princesa. If the fish have not been transported to town you may be able to buy some from the fishermen and bbq it yourself. You will have to bring buy charcoal from the sari sari store or find driftwood or old coconuts and build your own bbq device by finding a couple of stones, spearing the fish with a stick and lay the fiah across the stones. To get there take the road north to Bacungan at km 22.5 then turn off to the right, and at the end of the village take the right hand fork which will be unpaved. Ride for about another 9 kms until halfway up a steep hill then the road will split again, take the left hand fork (sign says B Marcelo rd), which will lead you another 10 kms to the village, winding your way along the coast line with some astounding views. The road ends at the fishing village.
UPDATE FEB 2015 The road has been surfaced from the main highway (20 kms away) except for the last 3 kms or so, and is much easier to get there.
GOING SOUTH---TAKE THE OLD ZIG-ZAG ROAD
When traveling south on the highway it would be a good idea to take the old zig-zag road as it winds its way up the hill through a forest containing many narra trees. You will see the old road on your right just after km 33, and just before you get there you will see a sign informing truck drivers going south to use this road. Make sure you only use this road if you are going south because of the overloaded trucks (they use the new road when traveling north). The old road will join the new road after 4 kms or so. The new road was opened up maybe 8 years ago and even though it does not really climb over the hill there are a lot of dangerous bends where many accidents have occurred which forced the authorities to divert the trucks on to the old road. It is quite difficult to catch a view of the surrounding countryside due to the forest but if you stop and wander around it is possible to see the area through gaps in the foliage!
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