Listed as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, the Underground River Tour in Puerto Princesa, Palawan is an amazing combination of cave and lagoon
We were advised to make sure that we went to see the Underground River Tour while we were in Puerto Princesa; therefore, after getting a good night's sleep at Astoria Palawan Resort and enjoying an amazing buffet breakfast outdoor near the water, it was time for our driver Dennis to take us to the tour. Again we were a bit spoiled as Dennis handled everything for us. Because entrance permits are required, we provided our passports as our photo IDs. It is recommended to get their early, as the numbers of groups of tourists waiting the transport boats to the entrance of the caves quickly rise.
In 2011, the Underground River was chosen as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, next to natural wonders as Halong Bay in Vietnam or the Amazon Rainforest.
Once our permits were secured and our fees were paid, we were provided our paperwork to wait for our transport boat. We watched as the boats arrived to the dock in numerical order. Our boat number was #35, and we had to remember that number, as it's the same one we had to ride back to the town of Sabang. When I inquired, we were advised that it would be a 15-minute transport via boat. Dennis had arranged for a private boat for us to ride, so that we would not be crowded as part of large group during our ride to the cave.
Heading to the Cave & Lagoon
The Underground River is part of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. When you arrive to the beaches and hop off the boat, you walk through paths to await your number to be called to board your respective canoe which seats 8 people. You are provided disposal ear buds to plug into an audio recording to listen to during the tour. Due to the cave being a home to bats and their dependability on sound to maneuver, it's very important for the tourists to be as quiet as possible, and the audio guide allows that respect for them and other wildlife living in the caves.
It is difficult to adequately describe all that you see and learn; however, we enjoyed this tour and the history and on-going changes of how cave develops. Most of the tour is eerily dark with your guide flashing a light in different areas to coordinate with the audio guide. Once you come out of the caves, the light is very bright and it take a few minutes for your eyes to readjust. However, once it does, there is even more natural beauty surrounding you. You'll be taken back to a small dock to get off your canoe, turn in your audio control, and walk back to the main beach to find your numbered boat to head back to the town of Sabang. While you wait to board your boat, there is lot to take photos where there are local merchants set up for food, jewelry, apparel, and other souvenirs. It's definitely worth seeing if you are on the island of Palawan.