The Palawan trip will never be complete without visiting the world’s longest navigable underground river — the Puerto Princesa Underground River. A National Park since 1992, the underground river is more than 24 km (15 mi) long with 8.2 km (5.1 mi) long underground section of the Cabayugan River. It winds through the cave decorated with stalactites and stalagmites before reaching the West Philippine Sea. It’s navigable length by boat is about 4.3 km (2.7 mi). In November 2011, it was named as one of the New7Wonders of Nature.
Traveling to the underground river was quite long. Counting the hours driving from the hotel to the area where we had to wait for the motor boat to take us to the island where the underground river is, it took us three hours or so. Waiting for the boat at the Sabang wharf was not bad at all.
Around the wharf is a white beach with a picturesque green mountains on the side.
We even had a lunch buffet at the beach.
The short boat ride from the wharf to Sabang Beach was all about seeing rocky island cliffs with lush green tops. And the blue water was beyond awe!
The boat brought us to Sabang beach. This is basically the entrance to the trail going to the underground river and cave. All visitors will be required to register.
To reach the cave, we walked 5 km through a jungle.
Since my mom was slower in pace, it took us about 1.5 hours. We were warned at the registration area that we would see monkeys and lizards and other wildlife along the route.
Arriving at the cave entrance, there will be another waiting time. Only a number of wooden rowboats were allowed to ply the river cave at scheduled time. While waiting, tour personnel handed everyone with life jackets.
There it is — the entrance of the cave to the Palawan Underground River!
Once it was our turn to ride the boat, we were all excited. The cave’s dark — like pitch dark!
Apart from the spotlight from the tour guide, there was no other source of light inside. If you do not know how to set your cameras, you may not get good photos of the beauty of the formations inside the cave. Also, it could be scary for those who haven’t tried riding a row boat. Take note of the size of the boat and that you are flowing slowly and seeing nothing down below.
The tour is only 45 minutes long.
If you decide to have a long 4-hour tour, you have to pay for a permit. While there are more things we could have done in the island, we decided to head back to Sabang beach for our next itinerary.
All in all, the underground river is something everyone should not miss to see. Unique in itself, it’s no wonder why it is named as one of the New 7 wonders of nature.
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Address: Sabang, Puerto Princesa, Palawan Island 5300, Philippines
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Check the official website for more info and travel tips.