I was able to experience Palawan for the first time last 2010. It was officially rainy season back then but thank heavens they were so compassionate of my buena mano visit to the Philippines’ last frontier. This trip was a dream come true for me and indeed, Palawan is a paradise!
This province with the longest coastline in the country has a lot to offer, not just along its shores but also in its entirety. I was able to tour some of its attractions in Puerto Princesa, the capital city. This city was not the typical concrete jungle, I was amazed that even some of the nature-kissed spots are still within its territory (as far as 30 kms from the city proper, approximately).
One of Palawan’s best places of interest, or should I say Palawan’s best place as far as the New Seven Wonders of The World is concerned, is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River or popularly known as the Underground River. I won’t be describing it in details because the name said it all. All I know about it was that it connects Sulu Sea and the West Philippine Sea underneath a land mass.
What also made me got mesmerized with the Underground River is on how to get there. You have to ride a boat and admire islands and white beaches where you’ll pass along. Upon reaching the shore that serves as the entrance to the park, you’ll be welcomed by an ancient forest where animals thrive freely and without harming their human guests. Then you’ll pass through the forest where a lagoon-like entrance to the river awaits you. The water is crystal clear, calm and as hospitable as Filipinos’ personality. We are not allowed to swim so as not to create waves that could affect the riverflow inside the cave.
The Underground River’s interior is another masterpiece of nature. When caves for some are somewhere to be afraid of, it’ll be an absolute opposite when this particular cave is seen. What I love the most is the part where a stalagmite formation described as the “Sagrada Familia” is positioned. The entire stretch of the river is not available for tourists passage, but at least seeing a part of this wonder is still worth the visit.
Beach bumming is best experienced in Sabang, where most of the Underground River visitors are brought after the tour. Lunch is freshly served and you can jump to the beach aftewards. The shallow waters are child and adult-friendly. It’s beauty is so unspoilt that you don’t mind soaking under the sun without sunblock. There are simple stay-in houses that offers accommodation, just take note of the electric services which only runs until sunset and will resume by dawn. My friend tried staying there to see giant lizards roaming the next day, they’re harmless unless provoked.
Of course, we did not miss other places in Puerto Princesa as well as some neighboring areas. We went to Iwahig were prisoners live freely, learning livelihood. There is also the Mitra Mansion were you can view the city beautifully. You can do island hopping too at Honda Bay where each island has something special to offer which includes snorkeling.
My trip to Palawan during this time is barely a fraction of what this province can offer. Yet, it manages to lead me to an impression that Palawan as a whole is a paradise. We should encourage the local and national government that should be kept free, or at least strictly regulated, from “developments” of real estate developers and other industries that pose risk to the beauty that introduced Palawan to the world.
As of this writing, a travel magazine had named Palawan the world’s best island.
The photo below is taken from the mouth of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River facing the Sulu Sea.
I am looking forward to revisit this enchanting province, hopefully somewhere north where El Nido and Coron is situated.