Palawan Island stretches long and thin from Luzon to Borneo, and is one of the Philippines’ lesser known
resort islands. Those that have been however will tell of the Puerto Princesa underground river,
caves inside Ugong Rock, and beautiful tropical beaches at Honda Bay. For an off-the-tourist-trail
undiscovered paradise, Palawan ticks the boxes.
We flew from Manila to Puerto Princesa on Cebu Pacific, and stayed for two nights at a little hotel, the Badjao Inn,
on the main road into town from the airport. Our three days were spent on organised tours, with the
bus picking us up in the morning, and mostly the same faces even through they were three separate jaunts.
It was a great way to quickly get around the area and see the sights.
Rizal Avenue is the main street in Puerto Princesa, running a short distance from the airport terminal
to the centre of town. We stayed in a little hotel on this road. There were plenty of the local
tricycles buzzing past, so no problem to get a lift anywhere.
A local canoes his way across the bay at Puerto Princesa, in a small outrigger boat.
The Badjao Inn, our hotel for the trip had a pleasant little courtyard, with breakfast served in the
central gazebo or nipa hut as I'm told it's called. Despite being very cheap, it still had air conditioning
and an en-suite.
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral is in the centre of the town, and was built in a European architectural
style, yet painted in blue tropical colours. Unfortunately it was a bit grey when we visited.
In late 1944 there were around 150
POWs kept in Palawan by the
army, but as the tide
of the war had turned there was a massacre to prevent their release, as the trenches they were sheltering
in were set on fire. Eleven managed to escape, and now there is a memorial at the site.
We had dinner on our first night in the famous Badjao Seafood Restaurant. Barbequed crab and fish on
a terrace overlooking the water, perfect.
Outside of town we visited the crocodile farm, and saw some small crocs.
We also saw some pretty big crocs!
This enormous crocodile was the largest at the farm, and I wouldn't have liked to get as close as this
when he was still alive and snapping. His skin is mounted on the wall behind the skeleton.
Wooden carved masks for sale in a shop on the way up to Ugong Rock.
Local jewellery and scarves for sale on a route through the rainforest.
Ugong Rock is a monolithic but largely hollow rock on the journey between Puerto Princesa and the Underground
River. It's possible to climb right up inside the rock through a system of caves and ladders,
then zipline down from the top. It reminded me somewhat of Bible Rock in
A local farmer ploughs his field next to a smaller version of Ugong Rock, as seen from its larger brother.
Sabang Beach is the jumping off point for boats to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
The journey to the Underground River takes only around fifteen minutes, and we came to rest at this
Puerto Princesa Underground River in the Subterranean River National Park is one of the world's longest
navigable underground river system. The outflow pictured here runs almost directly into the sea,
and tour boats are allowed to ply almost a mile inside the Saint Paul mountain range.
A monitor lizard came along to say hello, and there were a few cheeky monkeys chasing each other around
the area too.
In Honda Bay we took an island hopping tour on a typical outrigger-style Philippine boat. The first
island we stopped at was Cowrie Island, seen here through the outriggers.
The Cowrie Island Sign, not quite the
Sign but at least we knew where we were. We also visited
Starfish Island, but unfortunately were unable to visit nearby Bat Island or Snake Island. Perhaps
that was a good thing.
A bathing beauty takes to the waters of Honda Bay.
Our final stop in Honda Bay was at Turtle Reef, no actual land to stand on but this floating station
allowed us to get kitted up with snorkels and do some subsea exploration. This is the second largest
turtle I've ever seen.
We travelled around Honda Bay on an outrigger boat not dissimilar to this one, typical of the region.