PUERTO PRINCESA for a day (or two)

It’s just a usual morning at my office when my boss told me to visit our projects in Puerto Princesa, Palawan weeks ago. There happens to be a huge mall under construction (a SM Mall to be exact) wherein the company that I work for is the contractor of five of its tenants (4 boutiques and 1 restaurant). Having five projects at a single location and knowing how SM malls take deadlines seriously, it is a requirement for all our staff (our company is very small btw) to take turns in visiting the site every week. It so happens that it’s already my turn and it’s a little urgent especially that I need to meet a client representative there. Being a “dedicated employee,” I gave in but decided to and asked if I could take my beautiful wife with me given that she’s still on-leave and my weekend will be compromised by work. Fortunately, my company allowed it and agreed to cover our transportation, food, and accommodation. “Thank You LORD!” I thought.

 

Enough of my dramatic intro and now for the regular programming (LOL).

We arrived at Puerto Princesa Thursday morning and was scheduled to go back to Manila by Sunday morning. Upon arriving, we went straight to our project sites to monitor the progress then walked in at a nearby hotel to check in and rest.

 

But here’s the thing.

After taking our dinner that day, I decided that my wife and I shall spend our whole Friday exploring what this city has to offer especially the client representative I’m supposed to be meeting on-site will arrive on the following day (Saturday). Being on one of the best islands in this country and myself being in love with going places, I cannot waste the opportunity of seeing its wonders even only on a glimpse. Besides, going to Palawan is one of our travel goals and now we’ll be marking this off albeit work is the primary reason that we’re here

 

So what did we do?

It was a fortunate event that the tricycle driver that brought us to the restaurant where we took our dinner that night offered us tour packages. We’re originally planning to only be brought around the city. But upon seeing pictures of the beaches located near the city, I told the driver to also bring us there. Besides, it’s been a while since the last time we went to the beach which are months ago when my wife is still pregnant with our heaven child Marvel Zane. Also, we’re now both allowed to be on the beach. Wifey’s “no-going out” rule had already ended so was the healing period of my permanent tattoo.

Therefore, it led us to doing the island hopping in the morning then tour around the city on the remaining hours of the day.

 

ISLAND HOPPING AROUND HONDA BAY

Honda Bay is a bay located east of Puerto Princesa City. Within it lies numerous beautiful islands and beaches which are great for swimming and snorkeling as well as other usual beach activities. Famous for tourists are island hopping wherein you can visit 3 or more islands within the area which are mostly included when availing packages on travel agencies. But being on an impromptu trip to this island, we did it the DIY (do-it-yourself) way.

From the Honda Bay Port, we rented snorkeling gears (shoes and goggles as required for Php. 300.00 per set) and a boat only for the two of us (and the operators… LOL) then went to about three of the islands. Boats are expensive if you’re travelling solo. Given that a 3-cylinder boat can accommodate up to 6 persons for Php. 1,300.00, travelling with groups will divide the fee. Also, each passenger is required to pay an environmental fee of Php. 150.00 and terminal fee of P5.00  and each island had their respective entrance fees which we’re required to pay upon arrival.

 

Starfish Island

This is our first island stop. From the name itself, this island is filled with starfishes of all sizes. But I don’t know why, we arrived there and didn’t saw that much. Maybe because we’re a little late or its off-peak season and starfishes are starting to hide now (LOL). Nevertheless, its water’s color makes it worth the dip.

RATED SPG… LOL!

Entrance Fee:           Php. 50.00 per pax

Cottage / Shed:        Php. 50.00 (good for 10 pax, optional)

 

Luli Island

Luli Island’s name came from the word “Lulubog-lilitaw” which describes its nature. A large part of it sinks down with only its infrastructures above the ground. Then resurfaces during the low-tide. Fishes swim around the area in schools (am I right?) and can be fed with bread which can be bought in the port area. Too bad I didn’t have a waterproof camera to take pictures of the fishes underwater. Its sandbar, in addition, is picturesque.

Entrance Fee:           Php. 60.00 per pax

Cottage / Shed:        Php. 250.00 (good for 10 pax, optional)

 

Cowrie Island

When talking about touring Honda Bay, Cowrie Island is the first thing that comes into people’s minds. This may be due to its upgrading of its amenities. This island is suitable for picnics-by-the-beach and caters different activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, tattoo (henna), massage, etc. Events like weddings and birthday can also be held here. In other words, if you don’t know what to do, they had lots of ideas for you.

Cowrie Island offers lunch buffet available from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM. Although we took our lunch here, we arrived late so the buffet period is almost over (lesson learned). Seeing the food served, I can say that the price is acceptable.

Entrance Fee:           Php. 75.00 per pax

Lunch Buffet:            Php. 200.00 per pax 

Cottage / Shed:        Php. 250.00 (good for 10 pax, optional)

 

There are other islands that we’re not able to go but may be considered when planning a tour at Honday Bay:

  • Pambato Reef

Locals said that this is their best place to snorkel. From the name itself Pambato (“bet” in English). We decided to not include this in our package given that we still want to explore what remains in Puerto Princesa.

  • Pandan Island

Pandan Island is a private island and is said to be one of the best in Honda Bay. Upon knowing that the entrance fee is Php. 800.00 per pax inclusive of lunch buffet, we decided to give it a “no-no.”

  • Others which I already forgot (LOL)

 

 

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY TOUR

We’re able to go back to Honda Bay Wharf by 3:00 PM. Few hours before sundown, we managed to visit some of the great sights around the city.

 

Going around the city.

Tricycles and multi-cabs are the main modes of transportation around Puerto Princesa; UV Express if going to other municipalities of Palawan: El Nido for example. One tricycle driver honestly told me that there’s no fixed fare. If there is, drivers seldom implement them. So, fare for going from one place to another will depend on your haggling skill. Riding in groups will also divide the fee. One ride costs around Php. 20.00 to Php 50.00 from one point in the city to another. If leaving or going to the airport, it costs around Php. 70.00 to Php. 150.00.

Some travel agencies are offering tour packages around the city at a certain price. But if you choose to do-it-yourself, you can just arrange an agreement with some tricycle drivers to tour you around the city. In our case, since he’s the same tricycle driver that took us to Honda Bay, we paid around Php. 1,000.00. Honestly speaking, my haggling skills aren’t that great and I believe that the price can be lowered down up to Php. 600.00.

 

Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center

Also known as Crocodile Farm, PWRCC is home to Philippines’ two endangered species of crocodile: saltwater crocodile and freshwater crocodile.

Some rescued crocodiles around the country are also brought here to be taken care of including Rio, the Philippines’ 2nd largest crocodile (next to Lolong), which was caught decades ago but died shortly due to stress. I can’t blame him (LOL). Its skin and skeleton is being preserved here.

At the end of the tour, everyone have an opportunity to take home a picture holding a baby crocodile which my wife and I missed (LOL). Tours are being conducted by batch every 30 minutes lead by a tour guide.

Aside from crocodiles, other Palawan endangered species such as the Palawan Bear Cat, etc. are being sheltered here.

Address:                   South Road, Brgy. Irawan, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Entrance Fee:           Php. 40.00 per pax

Open from:              9:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM 

 

Butterfly Eco Garden and Tribal Village

From the name itself, this butterfly sanctuary is home to different species of butterflies. Its life stages can also be witnessed here. The guides suggest that this place should be visited in the morning given that the number of colorful butterflies are on its highest during this time knowing how short their life span is.

Aside from butterflies, earthworms and other insects like walking sticks and scorpions are also here which are safe to touch. It’s kinda funny that we’re scared of touching these while kids that were with us are bravely letting them crawl around their arm.

Other animals also live here.

The native Palaw’an tribe from Southern Palawan showcases their livelihood from hunting tools, musical instruments, and their language here. One family lives here for at least two months then go back to their home for another family to live and represent their tribe in this city. Too bad we’re not able to take any pictures but it’s fascinating to see them and how is life far away from technology and fast-paced city living.

Address:                   Bunk House Road, Brgy. Sta. Monica, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Entrance Fee:           Php. 50.00 per pax

Open from:              8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

 

Rancho Mitra

Rancho Mitra is used to be a private property but now a tourist destination. As far as I know, they are also offering zipline and horseback riding. But for us, a picturesque view of the city and just a place to sit down and take some instagram-worthy pictures are enough.

Address:                   Sta. Monica Heights, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Entrance Fee:           Free

Open from:              6:00 AM – 6:00 PM

 

Baker’s Hill

Baker’s Hill is a bakeshop/restaurant/theme park located nearby Rancho Mitra. This place is famous for its delicious food including desserts at a reasonable price which is too bad we weren’t able to taste. Everything in the place is instagram-worthy but given that it’s almost sundown and my wife is already complaining of some body pains, we only managed to take a few photos then decided to go home. On the other hand, we’re able to take home a box of freshly baked pizza for dinner.

Address:                   Sta. Monica Heights, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Entrance Fee:           Free

Open from:              6:00 AM – 10:00 PM

There are places in which we’re not able to visit but according to research, these places may be considered when visiting Puerto Princesa:

  • Puerto Princesa Underground River (or Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park)

Do I need to say more? Being one of the Wonders of the World, missing this place is a huge slap on our faces. But as much as we want to go, I realized that it’s necessary that travelling here should be pre-arranged with the management or to a travel agency. My wife and I will DEFINITELY go to this place on our next visit. Going to this place should be your first goal when visiting Palawan.

  • Sabang Beach
  • Puerto Princesa Cathedral
  • Plaza Cuartel
  • Iwahig Firefly Watching

Same with the Underground River, I know that travelling here should be pre-arranged.

  • Puerto Princesa Baywalk
  • And more…

CITY FOOD TRIP

Of course, food is one of the primary reasons why people travel. Puerto Princesa is home to lots of restaurants serving good to great foods. We really don’t own our time there but we managed to try few of what most people recommend. According to locals, must-tries are crocodile meat and tamilok (wood worm). As my wife had a love-hate relationship with exotic foods (LOL), we decided to skip but may already have a courage to try them on the next time we come back.

I’m only going to include here places that we personally tried. So I’ll leave the rest of researching to you…

Kinabuch’s Bar and Grill

Located along Rizal Avenue, this place is one of the “must-go” for those who want beer and other alcoholic beverages served with their food. We ate adobong pusit (squid) along with grilled pork here and it rekindled the “food lover” out of me. We just don’t have the pictures since that time, we’re too hungry and we just wanted to eat.

Address:                   369 Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Open from:              05:00 PM to 01:00 AM

Badjao Seafront Restaurant

If you wish to eat while enjoying a nice sunset by the ocean, then I’m going to recommend this restaurant to you. Having an honest love-hate relationship with seafood (funny right?), it’s unbelievable that I enjoyed their grilled blue marlin and grilled squid. Given that the place is a little secluded and 15 minutes away from city proper, I would suggest that if you’re riding a tricycle, ask the driver to wait for you.

Address:                   Abueg Road, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Open from:              10:00 AM to 11:00 PM

 

TOUR ITINERARY

I don’t find my itinerary advisable. But to help you prepare your itinerary, let me advise you the following:

  • City Tour can be accomplished half-day.
  • Honda Bay Tour can be accomplished half-day if only visiting 3 or 4 islands. If more than that, it may take a day. I don’t know, I’ll leave the figuring out to you. I’ll also advise you to go early. We arrived late. Don’t be like us (LOL).

WRAPPING EVERYTHING

I honestly find a day (or two) not enough to explore everything this city has to offer. But the beauty of this city (and this province) was showcased even on just a glimpse. These moments made me realize that I should still be thankful for the job that I have (I complain a lot about it honestly). If given another chance (a vacation hopefully), we’ll indeed go back here to visit the places we failed to visit. We may consider visiting other places in Palawan too.

Also, knowing that many people visited this city already, I honestly felt a little absurd writing about it. I felt I visited Palawan years too late. That’s just a thought. Yet, I know that everyone had their own journey; their own pace. So, technically, it’s not too late for me. There’s a hope in me that this will somehow be helpful to you, in case you’ll be planning to visit Palawan soon.

Anyway, I really appreciate you taking time to read this very long post of mine. I would be happy if you’ll bookmark, share, and leave some love at the comment section. Thank you very much and enjoy! 

 

– Dex B.

6 thoughts on “PUERTO PRINCESA for a day (or two)

  1. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to Puerto Prinsesa. It seems that a lot of things happened. SM, a new airport, and stuffs. I think I need to go back. I was kinda thrilled though that LuLi and Baker’s Hill hasn’t changed a bit. I miss those hopias and brownies.

  2. I was in PPS before for two days and I only explore the streets. It was a work assignment and I did not have the chance to island hop. Hopefully, I can visit the ones you mentioned this year.

  3. Hey there,
    Firstly I want to congratulate you on your incredible blog! It’ so beautiful, the pics are amazing and love the way you describe everything.
    Then i want to tell you that it’s a long time that I want to visit Philippines and are articles detailed like this that help me to organize a future trip here! Thanks 🙂 and hope you can have an incredible new year!

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