Palawan is a beautiful, underdeveloped island lying west of the Visayas. This long, narrow island is fringed with white sandy beaches and there is a rich diversity of wildlife in the mountainous jungle which covers this most attractive destination.
Puerto Princesa lies approximately in the middle of the east coast.
Position 09°50.3'N, 118°50.4'E.
Fishing you might see.
Some days can be so sweltering, the fisherman in their little boats will be hiding under a towel a couple of miles offshore. These guys sit in the blazing sun, no shade, in the smallest of boats, jugging for a few fish.
Around Bugsuc Island, you might be marveled at the inshore fishermen engaged in far more high tech fishing pursuits happily blowing what’s left of the reef there to pieces. You can actually watch the columns of water leaping into the air after they toss their home made hand grenades away from their boat and into the water. They don’t appear to be particularly perturbed by your presence and enforcement would appear to exist only as a fantasy. They shouldn’t, however, be too hard to catch; apparently you find the explosive fishermen by counting the number of their fingers.
When boats arrive at Puerto Princesa, the local fishermen have their own ways to catch fish. The procedure is to lay a net at both ends with an anchor by moving the boat around in an arc of about 50 meters, and then frighten the fish into the net. The best way to do this is to, it seems, is to take a long pole with a large “drain or bath plunger”, (the same piece of high tech equipment the Daleks in Doctor Who used to carry about) and use said hi-tech equipment to make loud banging noises while striking the water. It does seem to be very effective although the fish they catch are quite small and probably easily frightened, however, size presumably doesn’t matter that much when something to eat is better than not much else.
Tourism & things to do ashore in Puerto area
Puerto Princesa Underground River
The island of Palawan is becoming apparently one of the “the” places to visit while at the moment not suffering from the excesses of tourism that abound in parts of Malaysia and most of Thailand. Top of the list of things to do here is visit the Underground River on the island’s west coast in Sabang. The river is in a large national park and in 2011 declared one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The only way to visit the river is to utilize the local (park's) boatmen who take you in their little cannons two and half km upriver. The underground river system actually extends some tens of km with tributaries and smaller offshoots all over the place having carved an extensive network of tunnels through the limestone bed-rock. There are day trips daily to the Underground River.
Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm
One can visit the local prison and purchase prisoner handicrafts. This may be the only working prison in the world that has tourist. I searched and found no other.
Only thirty (30) minutes by road from Puerto Princesa City, Iwahig is unique among penal institutions. The Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm were originally set up in 1902 by the United States to house Philippine prisoners who had fought against the American colonization of the Philippines.
Despite the fact that most of the 2,300 inmates have been convicted of homicide, the majority are minimum security prisoners and are thus not locked up within the colony. Instead, these minimum security inmates live in dormitories and work on one of the many agricultural projects located within the prison farm. Prisoners who are deemed to be at risk of escaping are confined to medium or maximum security areas, where they are monitored but these prisoners comprise less than fifty percent of the Iwahig population. Minimum security prisoners bring rice in from the fields.
Framing the coastline of the capital of Palawan, Puerto Princesa City, is Honda Bay a popular location for snorkeling and island hoping.
Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village
The Palawan Ecological Garden and Tribal Village is a place that reflects the mesmerizing beauty of a province that is known as the “Last Frontier of the Philippines”. It showcases a sheer variety of tropical butterflies from the Southern region of the country. These free flying butterflies are surrounded with live exhibits of scorpions, green-crested lizards, phasmid, and mantises which are considered their natural predators. It is a window to the natural ecology of these colorful insects.
Another added attraction is the rescued endemic wildlife of Palawan. These animals are given the chance of a second life being rescued from poachers and wouldn’t have survived in the wild because of the probability of suffering the same fate all over again. Like the Palawan Peacock Peasant and the Palawan Bearcat, these animals are now ambassadors of their own species in the wild. By educating the public about these wild, yet gentle, creatures, the facility promotes public awareness about how our actions as human beings can effect everything in our environment.
Entrance Fee 50 peso
The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a protected area of the Philippines located in the middle of the Sulu Sea. The marine and bird sanctuary consists of two huge atolls and the smaller Jessie Beazley Reef covering a total area of 97,030 hectares.
If you don't have a boat, you must charter one.
Immaculate Conception Cathedral
Located along Rizal Avenue, Barangay Liwang, this historical landmark celebrated the first mass in Puerto Princesa in 1872 where a Spanish expedition proclaimed the Immaculate Conception of Mary as the Patroness of Puerto Princesa. One of the famous tourist destinations in the city, the blue-colored cathedral with its pointed symmetrical arches has a touch of Gothic craftsmanship style which reminds you of Medieval Europe era.
According to the local guides, the cathedral which was a small church, or more likely a chapel, was built during the time when the Spanish invaders colonized the country and founded the highland on March 4, 1872. The vicinity was a perfect place for the Spaniards to build a settlement because of its steep hill and its far-reaching flat terrain.
No Entrance Fee
Palawan Special Battalion WW2 Memorial Museum
Enjoy learning about history (particularly World War II), this is a must. The museum is not too big, as it exist in a singular military barrack style building, located on a private lot, inside the outskirts of Puerto Princesa.
The entry fee for this museum is only 30 peso and all proceeds go back into the museum up keep.
The tour guide is informative and will take you through each of the museum’s 5 rooms (excluding the main entrance which is an exhibit in itself), explaining every photo and exhibit very clearly. Each room has artifacts from World War II and wars previous, all in relatively good to excellent condition.
Puerto Princesa City may look vibrant today but like many cities in the Philippines, it also has a dark history. This is most evident in a small park in Barangay Liwanag called Plaza Cuartel.
Plaza Cuartel looks like an ordinary city park with concrete pavements, towering trees and benches but the ruins of an old garrison and tunnels are proof of its grim past. This Plaza is the site of the Palawan Massacre.
The tunnels were where 150 American prisoners of war were kept during World War II and on December 14, 1944, the Japanese decided to kill them all by burning them alive. Many perished but eleven escaped the execution and were able to survive.
No Entrance Fee
Experience a boat cruise that last for an hour where firefly populated mangroves illumine the night, it is both serene and romantic, located at the Iwahig River about 15 minutes outside Puerto Princesa City.
Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center
A breeding place for Philippine Crocodiles and home to some endangered animals in the Philippines, tourist can pet and cuddle baby crocodiles.
Bakers Hill is a place where you can buy yummy baked goods at very affordable prices. This place has a lot to offer, it is not just a bakery on top of a hill, well worth a visit.
No Entry Fee
Mitra Farm is a nice place to visit with no entry fee. There are a lot of benches and tables scattered around the ranch where you can just relax or have a picnic. For a small fee, also located there, and for the more adventurous, is a zip line or a gentle horse back ride.
Housed in the old City Hall building adjacent to Mendoza Park, this museum has two floors of ageing exhibits about the ethnological and archaeological significance of Palawan, most with interesting accompanying explanations in English.
Other place to see and experience while you are here:
Abanico Yacht Club
22 Zone 5 Purok Abanico
San Pedro, Puerto Princesa,
Smart Phone: +63 998 304 9566