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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sabang Beach and the UNDERGROUND RIVER

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We stayed in Puerto Princesa for 3 days and 2 nights. We got there late morning Thursday, September 23 so we decided to start the tours the next day. We then opted to go around the city in the afternoon and check some shops and attractions in the downtown area. City tour is an option you can have and your resort/ hotel will be happy to help you out on that. Since we are here for the nature trip, we decided not to avail of it which costs 600 php per person. If you have no intention of seeing Iwahig penal colony, I would suggest you go to the city on a D.I.Y basis. I will publish a related post soon but for now, allow me to start with our much awaited underground river tour as it is one of the reasons why we were excited to fly here.

One thing I like about Puerto Prinsesa is that they are very systematic with their tours. If  you have plans to travel here, the only thing you need to do is to decide what to see then find a good hotel/ resort. As I said, your resort will take care of the tour. if you have worries about the tour rates, don't, the fees are standard. They will not overcharge you, some even offer discounts on groups. Ms Sheryl of Dangkalan resort did.

Puerto Prinsesa is such a vast city.  the airport and downtown area is located in the west facing Sulu Sea. Our resort shares the coastline with the airport and Microtel Suites. I was surpresed to know that it takes 2 hours to Sabang where the underground river is.


It all starts in Sabang. It's on the other side, facing South China Sea.Located 80 kilometers northwest of Puerto Princesa City, Sabang is comprised of a small fishing community that provides banca transportation to and from the Underground River.Guides will ask for your id's here to register. Sabang is also famous for it's white sand beach. Some high end resorts are located here, notably Daluyon Beach and Mountain resort which no doubt one of the best in the area.

I though of getting a room in Daluyon for 1 night upon knowing that the underground river is far from the city center. Good thing I didn't. The whole shuttle ride from Dangkalan is already an adventure in itself. One more thing, HONDA BAY is just minutes away from the city center so it is still more convenient to stay downtown or near the area.

The guide will give insightful information along the way so be sure to listen carefully. I mentioned that they are systematic ayt? I found out that the guides are from travel agencies. So if you go here alone or on a date with your boyfriend or girlfriend, don't worry, the resort will find other tourists to go with you on the tour in coordination with the travel agencies in the area. 6 is the minimum number for the underground river and 10 for Honda bay.


We waited in line for only 5 minutes or so, that gave us a lot of time to take pictures of the area. The boats are in good condition so there is no need to worry about safety. Aside from the driver , there is an assistant who will look after you. That on top of the individual life vests which you are required to wear. Your tour guides will also accompany you all the way--- except inside the underground river.

It takes approximately 10 minutes to the underground river. The view along the way is very good so be sure to keep those cameras ready. I love the tall mountains and the karst all lining up the view as well as white sand coves.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
There is no dock in this area so you will go down the boat straight to the sandy beach. I love the rock formations in this area as I find them majestic. After registering, you need to walk for a few meters to the other side where the waiting/ boarding area is located. Each boat can only accommodate 8 tourists at a time.
I was surprised to see that the water is really very clear. If you could notice in my photos, it's greenish as a result of the reflection of the lush vegetation surrounding the area. Swimming here is not allowed but you can go down and take photos if you wish. Just make sure not to go farther than a few meters as the waters gets suddenly deep.
The whole boat ride inside the cave takes 45 minutes back and forth. Along the way, you will be orientated with the different rock formations. They do it in English most of the time and the paddlers are really funny. The person in front of the boat will be in charge of holding the lamp.Once inside the underground river, taking quality photos is almost impossible because of the scarcity of light. Out of 100 clicks, less than 10 are decent enough to be published. 
edsa in puerto prinsesa subterranean river national park

I was amazed with the different rock formations of the underground river. This is only my 2nd time inside a cave, Sagada's Sumaging Cave being the first. I particularly like the sections they call the altar and Edsa. You'll get the whole story when you visit the place. At some point in the cave, you'll come across a spot where water seeps from the mountain above and you feel like it's raining. The cave ceiling in that spot is so high. Our guide told us it's directly below the tallest mountain is Sabang. Amazing.

We went back to Sabang for a buffet lunch which is already covered by the tour fee. This is a good chance to mingle with other travelers. In our case, I met David who is from California. We had a very good chat over lunch. Grilled fish and pork becomes more delicious when eaten near the beach. hahaha
sabang beach

mangrove forest

 After lunch, we decided to see the mangrove forest which is just a few meters from the tip of the main beach of Sabang. This is a separate tour and most tourists miss it as it is not part of the package. You have to pay separate entrance fee here. This is a must see place as it will make you appreciate the significance of mangroves in the sustainability of biodiversity in our seas.
the mangrove forest

I will be posting specifically on the mangrove forest here in the days to come and I will just link it as soon as it's made available.

1, 100 php ---Honda bay Island hopping
1, 500 php--- Sabang and Underground river
600 php   ---  city tour
200 php   ---  mangrove forest

That's per head basis. All tours start early in the morning. 7 or 8am are the usual call time so when your flight arrives 9:30 am onwards as we had, better start your underground river or honda bay tours the next day---unless you are a group of 6. lesser than that, you still have to pay for an exclusive tour if you insist on going after the call time since the boats has to be paid for their capacity. Tour fees cover everything---tour guides, shuttle transfer, boat, and lunch. All you have to do is relax and enjoy.

This was our first day tour in Puerto Princesa and we were all satisfied with it. In my case, I set my expectations low so it went beyond that. After the underground river experience, I started wondering why this part of Palawan is under rated. Honda Bay will be next, another  jewel in the capital of the Philippines' last frontier.


  1. wow like first picture! i mean havent seen it from your album in facebook :) wonder when could i visit palawan :) such a paradise!!

  2. Ang gaganda ng shots !!! :D

    Balak namin bumisita rito e... Kso anhirap ng time :((

    Pero thanks for sharing this...At least natikman naman namin ang kagandahan ng Puerto Prinsesa!

  3. astig ng lugar! wooot wooot!

    ang vivid ng colors. go Nikon! :D

  4. ganda ng pagkakakulay par... anu preset mo? hehe

  5. Ikaw na may trip lage! hehehe XD

    Ganda ng shots mo na ah... you are greatly improving.. =)

  6. fufu---good thing you didn't see all the pics in the FB album coz I already uploaded all of them last month. I just cant keep secrets you know. My excitement to share things always get in the way.

  7. Pinoy AdvenTurista-- bow, bow, bow

  8. Traveliztera--go for it. what do you mean ang hirap ng time? find time. book early. kaya yan

  9. Nimmy ---that's the nikon difference. alam mo yan!!! and thanks to the cpl.

  10. Mokong™--naka-manual ako eh. check mo flickr for exif info. basta yung sky---enhanced lang because of the cpl. and minimal editiong lang using lightroom.

  11. KUMAGCOW--basta galing sayo---masaya ako. kasi i look up to you as a photographer. thanks John

  12. bakit bawal magswimming? may mga corals?
    i like the 1st shot, teaser ng gradients ng beach! ☼4

  13. Subterranean River << one of the most beautiful place in earth.. grabe yan sabi ng insan ko... i want to go there huhu!!
    great shot ha.. astigin... pude na isama sa asia travel magazine hehe :D

  14. Sige na, ikaw na ang may pang-palawan. Gala ka ng gala! sama mo naman kami!

  15. Chyng--biglang lalim ng tubig---tapos baka raw mahagip ng bangkang di sagwan.lol.

    basta bawal---diko na tinanung.lol

  16. Axl--travel magazine? hahaha---matry nga.lol

  17. Anna--iba naman kasi trip mo eh----international. ako demestic travel lang.lol

  18. You made me miss PP haha! Well, hindi naman siguro sa underrated. It's just that sa Palawan kasi, sobrang dami ng magagandang places. At bawat lugar, katulad ng Coron at El Nido, ay may sariling charm.

    Very crisp ang color ng photos ah. Nice! Dumaan na ba sila ng post-processing? Incidentally, meron tayong photos katulad na katulad ang subject. You may want to see it. Here's the link: http://nortehanon.com/?p=375

    Mabuti at maganda panahon while you were there.

    Yes, it takes two hours to reach Sabang. How is the road now? The last time I was there kasi, maraming parts na hindi maganda pagkaka-semento. Kaya tawag ko sa highway na yun, the libre-masahe road haha!

  19. I wonder if the trail from the underground river all the way back to Sabang still exists. We did that option, about 3 hours walking if I'm not mistaken and it was worth it.

    Puerto Princesa's travel agencies have indeed made tours around the area more convenient for visitors, especially those with limited time. Great photos!

  20. Nortehanun---strange pero ganun parin ang kalsada---pero mas improved na raw yung kaysa dati kasi ngyn soft massage road nalang sya, dati aksi abortion road daw talaga kasi mapapa-anak ang sinumang buntis. hahaha.

  21. nomadic pinoy---ah---I heard of that trail while researching in manila kaso diko na natanung sa guide namin. pag mahaba time mo maganda nga yun kaso effort siguro talaga kasi 3 hours. hehehe


  22. wow.. ganda ng mga pictures.. nice shots...

    punta din ako dito... soon..

  23. been in sabang beach couple of months ago and i agree na sobrang clear ng water. sarap lumangoy kaso bawal hehehehe

  24. ganda naman jan, pwede bang maging salingpusa sa susunod na biyahe? hehehe

  25. katakot naman parang napaka-constricting nung mga bato may pagka-claustrophobic pa naman ako...

  26. Ganda ng mga kuha Anton!:)Pinagpalit ko tong Puerto Princesa sa El Nido noon. Pagnakabili na ako ng underwater cam lilibutin ko ang Puerto princesa!

  27. Cebu Travel--if you are from Cebu malapit kana. I actually envy people who live in the area of central philippines----tourism super region yan eh.

  28. Bino ---odd nga kasi unti lang naliligo nung andun kami--sa sabang ha. and I cant understand why, maybe kasi maalon or maybe coz biglang lalim. pero okay naman sakin ang beach

  29. asiong32---lam mo bang yan ang unang name ng blog ko? salingpusa? hahaha

  30. glentot ---ge. ikaw na ang mas sosyal na disorder.lol

  31. thepinaysolobackpacker--cge, try mo PP para makita mo difference. ako naman sa Coron next year.lol

  32. those sceneries are breathtaking and the prices are not bad ha...nice!

    out of topic: I started shooting with film last May of this year. Thank you sa sweet comment :)

  33. ok first things first... grabe, ang GANDA mo na kumuha, parang-pro na ah. ayos ang framing at composition. galing-galing (bow)

    i miss palawan, sana makabalik na ko jan :)

  34. My last trip in Palawan was 2005, lalong gumaganda ang Palawan looking at your wonderful photos (and some photobloggers').

    Will use all the info here kapag bumalik ako sa Palawan. Thanks for sharing. :)

  35. annalyn---woo---the same time I started using dslr. may din. yihhh!!!

  36. Lawstude---kaso me vignette effect yung mga shots ko dahil sa cpl. diko ma-edit kasi wala akong photoshop. lightroom lang. hahah. thanks for the compliment. hiya naman ako.coming from a pro like you. ei---I think I am ready to run with the BIG boys.lol

  37. Rizalenio---woo. 5 years ago---for sure when you get back there you would notice a lot of difference. but I think di naman sa nature kasi naalagaan naman nila talaga.

  38. saya nga pumunta diyan. i like the first photo the most in this set along with the other beach shots.

  39. nice shots! I've never been to Puerto but your blog says a lot that I wanted to put it on my list. Though maraming nagsasabing walang binatbat ang Puerto sa Coron. Well, since sa Coron lang ako nakarating, I wouldn't know. hihihi! Thanks for sharing. love it!

  40. dong ho ---uo. yan ang weakness ko---in terms of framing and composition. puro generic. I need to experiment more like that in the 1st picture.

  41. Kura--yeah---you have to go to PP to compare it yourself. Honda bay will be next.

  42. yay! thanks for sharing your PP trip antoniooow! wait lang, 10 mins lang yung bangka portion mula sa port dba? since nabasa ko na may lifevest, ok solve na ko dun haha. teka, may pic ka ba nung bangka mismo na sinakyan nung papasok sa underground river? pa msg nalang ako kahit sa fb hehe. gusto ko lang makita. excited na ko pero alam mo na, kelangan ko muna masagot ang mga katanungan ko pag may bangkaan portion ahihihi!! :D

  43. princess_dyanie---uo. cge--imessage kita fb nalang then.

  44. ganda naman jan...nasa top of the list ko yan.

    nice blog and pics Anton

  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

  46. nice shots!! been here for two weeks in a row.. Palawan continous to amaze me.. especially el nido. it is 3x more beautiful than puerto princesa. Good job!!!

  47. Came here from Stumble Upon! Nice photos! Parang gusto ko na tuloy pumunta! Sana kahit papano man lang ma-experience ko din :P


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