Puerto Princesa offers a lot in the way of places of outstanding natural beauty and this is heavily reflected in our list of the best things to do in the capital city of Palawan Province. Located on the east coast of Palawan Island, Puerto Princesa is a great destination for nature lovers. It has also won acclaim on many occasions as the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines.
Bordered by the Sulu Sea to the east and by the South China Sea to the west, the city is surrounded by mountains covered in rainforests that offer challenging hiking opportunities. Check out the most popular Puerto Princesa attractions below; they’ll brighten up your holiday and make your stay in Palawan a memorable one.
Puerto Princesa Underground River’s official name is the catchy Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. It is a protected area that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located 80km north of the city. This complex cave system covers 220km² and features 8km of underground river that can be visited through organised excursions. The tours depart from Sabang Wharf and allow you to view the outstanding fauna and flora that live around and in the caves, including many endemic species. Read More...
- Location: 80km north of Puerto Princesa
Island Hop in Honda Bay
Island Hopping in Honda Bay offers a variety of activities, including snorkelling and scuba diving. Named for the Spanish word for ‘deep’, Honda Bay is a fantastic playground for gentle adventuring and is located just to the northeast of Puerto Princesa. Before the advent of tourism, fishing along with ore mining were the two main means of subsistence in the area. Nowadays, commercial fishing is still practiced, but it is not as dominant as it once was. The bay hosts over 20 islands of all shapes and sizes. Some of them, Pandan, Luli, Cowrie, and Fraser, just to name a few, are especially attractive for their powdery sands and crystal clear waters. Day tours and boat rentals are available from the Puerto Princesa pier to cruise around Honda Bay.
- Location: Just northeast of Puerto Princesa on the east shore of Palawan Island
Hike up Ugong Rock and Come Down by Zipline
Ugong Rock is named for the sound that reverberates when hitting a stalactite with the palm of one’s hand. Ugong Rock is a limestone karst formation of around 30m in height, located some 40km northeast of downtown Puerto Princesa. The modest size of this natural landmark may sound unimpressive, but the interesting part is what’s hidden inside this rock formation. A challenging steep ascent through a series of caves leads those fit enough to the summit of Ugong Rock. En route there lies the possibility to test whether the attraction’s name is a suitable one. Once at the top, you can return the same way you came up, or enjoy a thrilling descent via zipline.
- Location: About 40km northeast of Puerto Princesa City, on the road to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
Tubbataha Reef is considered one of the best dive sites in the world and is located in the middle of the Sulu Sea, some 150km southeast of Puerto Princesa. The ecological importance of Tubbataha Reef National Park, and the fact its isolation preserved it from the negative consequences of human interaction, make this 97km² marine and bird sanctuary extremely well preserved. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, it comprises two large atolls and the Jessie Beazley Reef. You’ll find no less than 360 coral species here, hundreds of fish, shark, dolphin and whale species, as well as many sea turtles that use the atolls as a nesting ground. Due to the distance that separates it from Puerto Princesa, Tubbataha Reef National Park can only be visited on live-aboard boats. Read More...
- Location: 150km southeast of Puerto Princesa
Join a Firefly Watching Tour on the Iwahig River
Firefly Watching Tours on the Iwahig River offer an attractive evening option. Flowing into the sea directly opposite Puerto Princesa City Baywalk Park, the river runs through a mangrove forest and offers an almost daily ethereal show at dusk; the flight of the fireflies. These lightning bugs live in abundance in this preserved area. Note the use of the phrase ‘almost daily’. Fireflies can sometimes be fickle and seeing them is not guaranteed, especially when the moon is full or on windy nights. There are a good choice of tours available to take you here. Most tours include a light dinner before going onboard a paddle boat for a 45-minute tour through the river’s meanderings.
- Location: The Iwahig River flows into the sea just south of Puerto Princesa, right opposite the city’s Baywalk Park