Love is sweeter the second time around! No, don’t get us wrong. We didn’t fight, break up, and reconciled. Rather, Sheila and I have been in this amazing relationship for two years! Yes, two years of love, inspiration, travel, and adventure, and we’re still going strong. In concordance with our love for each other, we wanted to celebrate our second year together by doing something nostalgic and special.
We decided to return to where we celebrated our first year together, in the paradise island of Palawan. This time, however, we decided to let other friends join in our anniversary adventure. With us were lovely Alexa; the Duders Kristine, Lilian, and Muffins; the mountaineer sisters Agnes, Sam, and Reynen; and the sweet family Kei, Zaldy, and Eli.
Except for us, it was their first time to set foot in Puerto Princesa, and they were utterly excited. But the real adventure—and our real 2nd year anniversary celebration—is 238 kilometers north of Puerto Princesa. Yes, we celebrated our 2nd year anniversary in the municipality of El Nido.
Our excitement for this trip had a tight grip on us since the night before. So much so that we woke up really early even though our flight was still scheduled at noontime! Thus, Sweetie, Alexa, and I were at the airport a little before 9AM. We were there before the check-in counters opened! Duders Kristine, Lilian, and Muffins arrived at around 10AM. In no time at all, we boarded the Cebu Pacific aircraft that would take us to Puerto Princesa.
For Sweetie and I, it was such a nostalgic feeling when the aircraft reached its cruising altitude. The one-hour flight suddenly brought pleasant memories of our first anniversary last year. After all, we celebrated the first year of our relationship in beautiful Puerto Princesa.
For Alexa, it was an exhilarating, wondrous experience. You see, it was her first time to actually see cottony clouds and the clear, blue sky in daylight! True, she has been flying with us a couple of times, but we always flew at night or early morning. During those times, she couldn’t see anything outside but darkness.
We arrived at the Puerto Princesa airport 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Thus, we had to wait for a little while for our booked van to pick us up.
Victoria Guest House and Cottages
It only took around 10 minutes from the airport to reach the humble but very cozy Victoria Guest House and Cottages, our home for the next couple of nights. Victoria Guest House and Cottages is an affordable bed-and-breakfast that does not only offer excellent accommodations but also acts as a tour agency, assisting guests in their Palawan tours and adventures.
Warmth, friendliness, hospitality, and tradition all in one place! The entrance to Victoria Guest House featured gardens, native materials, and traditional paraphernalia such as tribal masks, clay jars, and gongs.
As soon as we entered the premises, we were given cold, refreshing mango juice as welcome drinks. This was a pleasant surprise—and an indicator of an excellent start. In all our trips, we have never experienced being given welcome drinks in a bed-and-breakfast.
A neatly arranged footpath led the way to our rooms and other areas of the bed-and-breakfast. Rock gardens, shells, potted plants, wooden furniture, and structures made of native materials all add to a homey, classic, friendly Filipino atmosphere.
The open-air lobby was made to make guests feel the comfort and warmth of a traditional Filipino home. While waiting for our keys to our assigned rooms, Sweetie enjoyed swinging on a rattan hammock.
Aside from the friendly dog which roams freely around, Victoria Guest House also keeps some resident pets. They have a handsome black Mynah who can utter greetings and a magnificent serpent eagle who glares at passers-by balefully. Personally, though, we would have wanted these beautiful creatures out in the wild, not in cages.
After a little while, the staff showed us our rooms. The rooms were very traditional although they do have modern conveniences such as air-conditioning units and showers. Don’t you just want to lie down on that soft bed and forget the world?
Don’t worry if you need to accommodate a group. Victoria Guest House has rooms large enough to accommodate 6 people. These rooms have the same cozy, traditional ambiance as the smaller ones.
The open-air kitchen is clean and well-equipped. Being open air, we can clearly see how our food was prepared. The nice thing about this was that we could actually see and smell what was cooking. The delicious sights and smells made our tummies rumble even more.
Needless to say, food enthusiasts, budding chefs, and culinary students will have a heyday here.
Lunch was worth the one-hour wait. We had a sumptuous seafood lunch consisting of huge bowls of Tinolang manok and sweet-and-sour fish. After we took our lunch, we started our Puerto Princesa city tour, which served as a warm-up for the coming activities.
Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center
Our first stop was the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center. For Alexa and the rest of our friends, this was quite an exciting stop because it would be their first time watching real live crocodiles.
The last time we visited the center, we didn’t have the opportunity to show our dear readers a photo that shows how large and how long Rio is. Now, you can see just how massive Rio the crocodile is; just compare the size of that skeleton to our three lovely friends Agnes, Sam, and Reynen.
These juvenile crocodiles were vicious! A few seconds after this photo was taken, that nearest croc with the open mouth suddenly attacked the fiberglass wall of its pen. It scared the wits out of me! The bite force of a crocodile, even a young one, is so strong that it can sever your fingers easily.
These huge, dangerous crocodiles basked lazily in the afternoon sun. They keep their mouths open to cool off.
We were quite fortunate that Mac-mac, the largest living saltwater crocodile in the facility, showed up. “Large” doesn’t even describe how enormous he is! Truly, he ranks among the largest crocodiles in the world.
After we had enough of the crocodile pens, the ladies stopped by the souvenir stalls to see if there is something interesting to buy. We love the crocodile stuffed toys, but they were quite expensive given our limited budget. Oh well.
Rancho Santa Monica and Baker’s Hill
By mid-afternoon, tummies started to growl despite the full, hearty lunch. Thus, we decided to go to the quaint and lovely Baker’s Hill to grab a bite to eat. Before that, however, we stopped at Rancho Santa Monica to enjoy a view of gorgeous Honda Bay and quaint Puerto Princesa City.
The house/ranch of the late senator Ramon Mitra was simple but elegant in design. We weren’t allowed to go in still.
When Senator Mitra was alive, he was a huge fan of horses. The Mitra family carried that tradition of his love past his death. Thus, it is no surprise that many horses roam freely here. A beautiful rainbow arched across the sky when we visited Rancho Santa Monica. It certainly was a good omen, don’t you think?
We spent only a quarter of an hour in the Ranch before our tummies really complained. Well, it was time to have some hot merienda in magical Baker’s Hill. The verdant landscaped gardens, statues of favorite cartoon characters, brick pathways, and expertly sculpted topiaries coupled with the fragrant scent of freshly baked bread never fail to bring back the child in us. Just like our visit last year, we were transported to a fairy-tale world.
Merienda time in the middle of a playground! Alexa and Eli quickly finished their snacks so that they can try out the slides, swings, and seesaws.
There’s LOVE in the air! We didn’t visit this particular “attraction” the last time we came here.
One of the coolest things in Baker’s Hill is that they have several of these cartoon-inspired playhouses where kids can play freely. We visited Shrek’s domicile. Fiona didn’t seem too happy that she had visitors in her clay/log home. Hehehe!
Baker’s Hill’s resident peacock spread his tail in all its splendor! For many of our friends, it was their first time to see a peacock. Every time the creature rustles and spreads its tail, our friends let out a whoop of delight! Awesome!
A visit to Baker’s Hill isn’t complete without buying some of their mouthwatering crinkles, hopias, breads, cakes, and other baked delights.
When we got back to the city center, Alexa and the other fellows asked to stop by a souvenir shop to purchase some items. Alexa was giddy with excitement; she saved money for an entire year for this trip. In the end, she got more than a thousand pesos of pocket money! Way to go, Alexa!
She bought herself and her best friend a few bling-blings. She felt proud to have bought something coming from her own savings.
The Baywalk and Plaza Cuartel
As late afternoon approached, we headed to the city’s Baywalk, a popular esplanade where locals go to relax, watch the sunset, and grab a bite to eat. There were plenty of people milling around.
Everyone enjoyed the peace and relaxed atmosphere. However, we weren’t able to see a glorious sunset due to the thick gray clouds that gathered quickly at the horizon. We would have wanted to let our friends witness the glory of Puerto Princesa’s sunset, just like the last time we visited here.
Here’s something you don’t see every day…unless you’re in Puerto Princesa. The Duders ordered sorbetes (Filipino ice cream made of purple yam and cheese) in a hamburger bun. Lilian said it was delicious!
Our last stop for the day was Plaza Cuartel, a historic place in Palawan where a number of American and Filipino soldiers were brutally executed by Japanese troops during World War 2.
Aside from the reverence and the solemnity, the Plaza is a cool place to hang out and to escape the din of the city. It’s a place where students congregate, where lovers whisper sweet nothings, and where veterans pay their respects to fallen comrades.
At around 6:30 PM, we went back to the guest house, hot, sweaty, and tired but completely satisfied with the tour. After everyone had a short rest, the staff served us a tasty, hearty dinner.
Puerto Princesa Underground River
We woke up early the next day at around 5:30 AM to have a quick breakfast. Even though eyes drooped and tired limbs gently screamed for us to crawl back into the covers, everyone was filled with excitement. It was the start of the real adventure, which begins with a visit to the eerie and majestic Puerto Princesa Underground River, one of the most well-known UNESCO Heritage Sites and one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World.
After more than an hour’s drive toward the town of Sabang, we took a break at a popular stopover. Check out the name of this stopover. Quite a tongue-twister, isn’t it?
Fresh buko for an after-breakfast snack! There’s nothing more energizing than drinking the sweet juice and eating the soft meat of a fresh, young coconut.
We arrived at Sabang around 8:00 AM. Even at this early, there were already plenty of people. In fact, we needed to wait more than an hour to board our boat that will take us to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park at the other side of Sabang Bay.
Like guardians watching over the denizens of a clear, green sea, the towering limestone cliffs and secret beaches of Sabang Bay never fail to hold us spellbound.
After a 30-minute ride, we reached the beautiful, white-sand Sabang Beach and the entrance to the National Park. Swimming is not allowed here because this is a marine protected area. The waters do look tempting.
While waiting for our turn to enter the cave, I left the group for a little while to check out the other side of the waiting area. I witnessed a beautiful white-sand estuary that opens up to the waters of the West Philippine Sea. This estuary is very rich in marine life.
A park ranger whom I talked to said that it rained hard in Sabang the night before. Rainwater carried sediments from the mountain and deposited it into the sanctuary, making the water brown and murky. The last time Sweetie and I visited the PPUR, the water in the estuary was aquamarine green.
After a short walk through the lightly wooded jungle and a short wait at the edge of the lagoon, we were ushered to a rowboat that will take us inside the cave itself.
All set, ready, and full of excitement!
A strong push from the park rangers and the boat smoothly glided towards the leviathan entrance of the cave.
Entering the PPUR was like entering an alien world. Squeaks from thousands of bats, the calls of thousands of swiftlets, and the sound of dripping water from stalactites all form a strange cacophony of otherworldly music.
Those dark spots are actually bats hanging upside down from that gigantic slab of rock. The streaks are their waste, called guano. Guano is used for many things such as fertilizers, lawn treatments, fungicides, and composting activators.
Stalagmites, stalactites, flow stones, and other amazing rock formations abound. Many of those rock formations are huge!
The guys and gals listened intently to the guide and rower as he blurted out interesting facts about the PPUR. It was actually fun listening to the guides as they mix amazing facts with wisecracking jokes.
If you’re the lazy type of person, don’t sit up front of the boat. That’s because the people sitting up front hold the floodlight.
Sometimes, these nature-sculpted flow stones resemble vegetables, fruits, animals, people, and everyday objects.
After an hour in darkness, we exited the PPUR and welcomed the warm, bright daylight. When we asked them how was the tour, everyone answered that they were simply amazed beyond words. No wonder they were very quiet inside the cave during the entire tour! Hehehe!
Happy faces! Congratulations, guys! You just visited one of the official New 7 Wonders of Nature!
Near noon, we boarded back our outrigger boat to take us back to the port of Sabang. Along the way, everyone kept quiet to enjoy the picturesque, serene, wonderful view of the bay.
Hungry? Don’t worry! A standard Puerto Princesa Underground River tour also includes a buffet lunch. The food was not really spectacular, but who are we to complain? It was an eat-all-you-can lunch! After long waits, short treks, and riding the waves, we were definitely starving!
After a hearty lunch, we dared everyone to eat tamilok, which is considered to be a fear factor food. Apparently, they were not afraid because everyone dug in without hesitation! Everyone agreed that the tamilok tastes okay, and Alexa even wanted seconds!
We stopped by Elephant Cave before going back to Puerto Princesa City. Little did we know that just a few months after we visited here, the place became part of a leg in The Amazing Race Philippines Edition.
Due to the lack of time, we weren’t able to visit Ugong Rock. We would have wanted our friends to experience the fastest zipline in the country!
The first and second days in Palawan were totally exciting and fun! But that was just a teaser. The real adventure, the “meat” of this trip, was our fascinating tour around the gorgeous islands of El Nido. Stay tuned for our El Nido adventure!
1. You can book accommodations at Victoria Guest House and Cottages. Look for Ma’am Mylene to assist you. Get in touch with them using the following details:
- Mailing address: WESCOM Sea Road, Barangay San Pedro, Puerto Pricesa City, Philippines 5300
- Landline: +63 (48) 723-2312 / +63 (48) 433-8054
- Cellphone Number: 0917-7576739 / 0928-7814757 / 0917-5440549
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook Page: Victoria Guest House and Cottages
You can also ask Ma’am Mylene to arrange your Puerto Princesa City Tour and PPUR Tour. She can also arrange an El Nido tour.
2. You can also visit Victoria Farms and Eco Jungle Cottages at Maoyon River courtesy of Victorian Guest House and Cottages.
3. For more detailed information about each destination in our city tour, click this Puerto Princesa City Tour tab link. Click on a city attraction that interests you, and scroll down to the Tips section of each post for more information about that attraction.
4. For more detailed information about the Puerto Princesa Underground River tour, click Part 1 and Part 2 of our previous Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park tour. Scroll down to the Tips Section of each post for important information.