Puerto Princesa City has been dubbed the country’s proverbial “last frontier” and “City Within a Forest” as nearly three-fourths of its land area consists of forests. It is also the capital city of Palawan, a perennial awardee of the “The Best Island in the World” from prestigious travel publications.
With low COVID-19 cases and vast outdoor destinations, this is an exciting urban and forest playground getaway once travel restrictions are eased.
Literally meaning “port of the princess” in Spanish, Puerto Princesa is indeed fit for royalty with its natural and man-made luxury. Here are some of the getaways in the city which are fit for a princess.
Sabang. This coastal village, 70 kms. away from the city proper, is the jump-off to the prime attraction—the Subterranean River Park or simply the Underground River, a Unesco World Heritage Site and among the New Seven Wonders of Nature. The world’s longest navigable subterranean river with jaw-dropping cave formations, it is tucked under limestone mountains which are believed to be millions of years old.
After the tour, guests usually feast for lunch at the beach cottages or at the nearby establishments, among them Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort, an earth-friendly and well-appointed tropical hideaway. Sabang’s other attractions complement the tour with beach bumming, water sports, a jungle trail, and a mangrove paddleboat tour.
The Park is currently closed, but will reopen soon once health and safety guidelines have been set.
Ugong Rock Adventures. Situated just a few minutes away, this park offers adventure activities in and around the 50-meter-high limestone karst, which include a zipline ride, zip biking, and rock climbing. The summit offers an exhilarating view of the National Park embracing the Subterranean River.
Stop over at the Batak Cultural Center and interact with Palawan’s “disappearing tribe” and admire its exotic culture, and the Buenavista viewdeck for a merienda break while gazing at Ulugan Bay’s panoramic cove.
Nagsaguipi River Firefly Watching. Cap the night with the firefly watching, a community-based project along the river barangays of Salvacion and Sta. Cruz. The relaxing cruise attests to the rich forest biodiversity of the area which provides a haven for fireflies, insects and other wildlife.
Honda Bay. Bum around and snorkel on the powdery islands scattered in this enticing body of water—Cowrie, Starfish, and Luli sandbar, and the private Pandan and Areceffi. The latter island is where the luxe Dos Palmas Resort stands, where you can go scuba diving, pamper yourself with a spa treatment, or spend the night.
City Proper. Travel back in time at Palawan Museum, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, the World War II Museum, and Plaza Cuartel where hundreds of American soldiers were imprisoned and killed during World War II. Explore the home-grown bars, restaurants, craft beer makers, cafes, souvenir art shops, and boutiques which reflect Palaweño way of life.
As a “green city” which embraces earth-friendly technologies, Puerto Princesa encourages walking and biking, and has installed smart street lighting to illumine the city at night. Stroll around the Baywalk and the Tourism Mile, a nocturnal colony which has a bevy of tourism-related recreation.
Staycation. The city also takes pride in its plethora of accommodations fit for a princess. Princesa Garden Island Resort and Spa, situated on the city’s southern peninsula, boasts of luxe facilities, watersports, and a sandbar across the channel to boot. For cozy boutique lodgings, there is a wide choice among Hue Hotel, Canvas Hotel or Hotel Centro which have their own homey character. Further away into the suburbs is Astoria Palawan which has a recreational waterpark, marine sanctuary, mangrove park, and modern spacious rooms.
Other side attractions. If you got more time to spare, swing by the lesser-known attractions, such as Babuyan twin sandbar, Isla Felomina, Maoyon river cruise, Nagtabon Beach, Olangoan Falls, and Iwahig Penal Farm, which all have interesting stories to tell and memories to make.