Puerto Princesa is more than just the cleanest, greenest city of the Philippines. It is also home to two UNESCO world heritage sites. Add to that, it is also home to beautiful conservation centres and to exotic wildlife species. Furthermore, Puerto Princesa, famously known as the city in the forest, has a rich history which is proudly displayed in its various museums. Then of course, there are the islands you can visit and connect to on a deeper level with nature by visiting the wonderful Ugong rock and exploring the beautiful Tubbataha Reef.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Puerto Princesa
Of all the wonderful places that Puerto Princesa proudly possesses, it is the two UNESCO World Heritage sites it is most famous for. Among the top things to do in Puerto Princesa is obviously to pay a visit to these two sites – the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and the Tubbataha Reef. These two sites have put Puerto Princesa firmly on the world map and rightly so. As you visit the Subterranean River National Park, even prior to your reaching the beautiful underground rivers, you will be welcomed by sights to behold. Pristine white beaches, exotic wildlife, and luscious rainforests – feast your eyes on them.
The Tubbataha reefs have become quite the go to place for divers. Dive and meet aquatic friends as there are the chances of you catching a glimpse of turtles, tiger sharks, hammer head sharks, and even occasionally whale sharks. There are also lush corals that are very well taken care of. Very picturesque, pristine, and well protected, it will have you coming back for more.
The many islands in Puerto Princesa
Get set to get wet, as visiting the various island bodies gives you the opportunity to try various adventure sports. Honda Bay is the nucleus that holds on and connects to many beautiful islands, such as Cowrie Island and Lu-Li Island. Pump boats can be hired for the activities that you have planned to undertake. If you want to go snorkelling, swimming, island hopping or just want to relax at the beach– this is your one stop shop.
Lu-Li Island is very famous as a snorkelling place for beginners. A hit among the children, you can also try diving here. The sandbar is quite famous and you can also partake in feeding the fish. Cowrie islands, meanwhile, is probably the most famous island of Puerto Princesa. The white, sandy beaches are inviting and there are many outdoor showers. Yet another place to snorkel, you can also try your hand at kayaking. Apart from the activities to get your adrenaline up and running, these islands are also hotspots if you are looking to relax. You can get a reinvigorating massage while sipping coconut water and have a lunch or dinner buffet cooked by locals.
The Culture Connection
A large part of any journey is to interact with the natives and absorb the cultural and historical gifts that the place has to offer. Among the things to do in Puerto Princesa, is to visit their museums and heritage centres that form a connection between you and the locals. The Palawan heritage Centre is a good place to start with if you are looking to know about the nitty gritty details of Puerto Princesa. A video is shown to guests that depicts and doles out information about Puerto Princesa. The guides are friendly and very informative, should you require any sort of assistance.
Over the years, various tribes have come in and settled in Puerto Princesa. You get a general idea about the tribes, their ways of livelihood, and the artefacts they have used, when you visit the beautiful Palawan Museum. Furthermore, there is also the Palawan Special Battalion World War 2 Memorial Museum. A museum that takes you back in time and displays relics that have been used in wars; the Palawan Special Battalion World War 2 Memorial Museum has an interesting anecdote behind its inception. The museum was brought to life by the son of Hegenio Mendoza, who was executed by Japanese soldiers in World War 2. There is also the Immaculate Conception Cathedral to visit, which is a beautiful and historic church and is quite popular for its white and blue colours.
Away from the museums, there is an attraction that is very different from the usual. The Iwahig Prison and Penal farm, is a prison with a difference; way different from any prison you have ever seen or heard of. The prisoners can stay with their families but are required to work rigorously. Head to the souvenir shops and you can buy goods that have been manufactured by the prisoners. Also, here is where you get to see the prisoners dance!
Delight to the Sight
Get up and close with crocodiles in the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Centre. While it is also home to wild cats and other exotic birds, it is most famous for the crocodiles that are available here. Ranging in different sizes, you are also given the chance to take photographs while carrying a baby crocodile in your arms! Up next is the Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village. If in the wildlife conservation centre you were entertained with crocodiles of all sizes, here you get to see butterflies of all shapes and sizes! Apart from butterflies, you also get to see moths, bearcats, spiders, and even a peacock.
There is also the tribal village where you are exposed to their wonderful cultures and get to see first-hand, the weapons they use for hunting animals and the various musical instruments that are widely used by the tribes.
Phew! From UNESCO heritage world sites, to some of the most beautiful islands you have ever seen to a prison with a difference, Puerto Princesa has something in it for everybody. Truly, there are a wide variety of things to do in Puerto Princesa. The places are very well taken care of by the government and the people are friendly and very hospitable and these small things contribute in a big way to your overall experience. Head out for a visit!