El Nido and Palawan
Lighting the way in the Underground River
Do you fancy exploring the unknown and seeing spectacular, one-of-a-kind sights hanging from the roof of an enormous cave, while you ride a boat? Trip Guru can think of no better place to recommend than the Puerto Princesa Underground River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a prime habitat for biodiversity conservation.
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a beautiful mountain landscape with an underground river that stretches across a sizable cave before flowing through the West Philippine Sea. When you visit the island, you need to board another boat to reach the maw of the cave. For animal lovers, the short walk after disembarking will reveal some sizable monitor lizards and monkeys – although the latter may grab plastic bags, so don’t bring them out. Travelers and tourists alike may write their names in a nearby logbook and wait to be called, to embark on a paddleboat to experience the wonders deep in the cave.
Inside, with the aid of a flashlight you can gaze up at some impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations that create wondrous patterns, hanging above your head and jutting out from the water, just close enough to touch, but be careful of the bats that may be sleeping above your head. If you're early and you get the seat in front of the boat, you will receive a spotlight and occasionally the boatman will tell you when and where to point it from time to time, meaning you get to control what the others in your boat see!
From El Nido, you can go to Puerto Princesa by rental car. Go southeast, make a slight left, and at the roundabout, take the second exit to Puerto Princesa North road, then make a slight right to Tapul – Bahile Rd. Finally, make a sharp left and stay on Tapul-Bahile Rd. To get to the Underground River from Puerto Princesa, you should first secure a permit when you arrive at the Underground River Office at the City Coliseum, accessible from Puerto Princesa by tricycle. On the day of your trip, take either a multicab or a tricycle to the San Jose New Market and look for the terminal for transport jeeps/buses to Sabang. They leave from 7:00am, 9:00am, 12:00nn and 2:00pm. The sunniest times to visit is from March to April.