Folklore claims that the name Puerto Princesa pertained to a Princess–like maiden who is said to roam around Puerto Princesca at certain nights of the year. Puerto Princesca certainly lives up to its name and is a city of contrasts exploding with rare tropical flowers, excellent restaurants, city tours within thirty minutes of the city, and a natural history museum depicting the culture and history of the people.
Palawan is blessed with 1780 islands and islets most of which have irregular coastlines that make excellent harbors. Palawan is surrounded by a coral shelf that abounds with varied and colorful marine life, hence the island province has been declared a nature sanctuary. The province boasts of extraordinary scenic wonders like El Nido, Underground River, Tabon Caves and Honda Bay Islands and is considered the last frontier.
Always dreaming of visiting the South Seas we took a flight from Cebu to Puerto Princesca, Palawan and used Puerto Princesca as our jumping off point for exploring Palawan. Upon arriving at the modern airport we immediately contracted a motorized tricycle to take us to hotel Casa Linda…. Located only ten minutes from the airport. If you like peace and quiet, an eco-lodge experience, a friendly staff, and walking distance to fine restaurants Casa Linda makes the ideal travel headquarters while in Puerto Princesca.
After checking in to our hotel we hired our tricycle driver as a tour guide for Puerto Princesca.Our first destination took us to the butterfly garden about twenty minutes outside of Puerto Princesca. It is well worth spending time in the garden and watching the different butterflies at their different life stages… plus they have a collection of butterflies and their history. It is best to go early in the morning as the hot sun makes them dormant in the afternoon.
We then proceeded to the Irawan Crocodile Farm where we witnessed one of the largest crocodiles on record……about five meters long from tip of snout to the tail or sixteen and one half feet. It is mounted in the museum and you can hardly believe your eyes at the crocodiles enormous size. We then walked through several holding tanks of different sized live crocodiles. One small child was handed a live crocodile and the crowd quickly grabbed their cameras to capture the moment.
On our exit from the crocodile farm we saw a rather large ostrich strolling around the grounds and Perla my companion asked: “if it was a large chicken?” I laughed and said: “indeed a really big chicken and you should see the size of the egg. After that we proceeded to Bakers Hill which has an abundance of tropical plants, several restaurants, and great walking paths… complete with golden pheasants, peacocks, and a golden Buddha. Bakers Hill grounds are covered with everything from rare cactuses to exploding bougainvilleas next to the golden striped tiger statue.
Bakers Hill is a great place to spend many hours just enjoying the sights and also to have lunch or dinner. They have several theme statues including: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and is great attraction for the entire family. You can spend endless hours just hanging out at the different benches and rest spots looking at rare tropical plants and live specimen birds. You feel as if you are living in a large Japanese garden. Pebble and natural paths wind around throughout the complex and there are so may photo opportunities…. you definitely will want to bring your camera.
That night we walked from our hotel to Kalui Restaurant. As you entered the restaurant you deposited your shoes and walked on your bare feet over natural wood floors. The restaurant was decorated in natural woods, bamboos and local art. We ordered the set seafood plate for two… which included: grilled tuna, steamed fish in coconut milk, large prawns, vegetable dish, and a huge fruit salad for desert. The food was great, the atmosphere unbelievable ….complete with outside garden with flame torch lights. As restaurants go —it doesn’t get much better than this. So if you are planning to go to Puerto Princesca make it a point to eat at the kalui Restaurant …its an experience you will never forget.
That night we relaxed in our honeymoon suite which we gladly paid a few pesos extra for. It was the last room available and we felt very fortunate to get the room. Staying at Casa Linda hotel is a great way to meet other fellow travelers and you can arrange all sort of tours from the hotel itself including: going directly to the underground river system, taking several city tours, or head out to Honda Bay and do some island hopping, snorkeling or diving.
On our return trip we were staying at Kims Hot Springs near Honda Bay and Perla phoned our tricycle driver and asked if he could pick us up… since it was rather close to Puerto Princesca. He arrived at nine am and took us to a local nursery where we photographed exotic plants and then headed back to Bakers Hill where we had lunch and enjoyed the tropical plants and ambiance of the natural setting.
We headed into Puerto Princesca and toured the Palawan Museum which has two floors of amazing history and artifacts from Palawan. It is an excellent museum and certainly worth a visit to learn about Palawans history and culture of the people.
We then proceeded to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, a Spanish expedition proclaimed The Immaculate Conception of Mary as the patroness of Puerto Princesca in 1872. That same year the first mass was celebrated here. We took several photos of the cathedral inside and out and took a few minutes to reflect on the cathedrals unique architecture and history. Several meters from the cathedral we walked across to the historic Plaza Cuartel park, with its large trees and several shrines. The park has quite a checkered past and our guide pointed out this used to be the military headquarters for Puerto Princesca.
From there we went to the new Puerto Princesca city’s Baywalk which included:a huge peacock statue, colorful modernistic fish logos and a great place to take photos and walk as far as the eye could see. You could purchase beautiful pearls at a stand for bargain prices and pick up a local snack of fish and rice at one of the stalls nearby or just sit on the seawall overlooking the port and watch the world go by.
While we at the cathedral we saw at least four people picking up garbage and raved at how clean Puerto Princesca City was. Our tricycle driver told us: “yea we were voted the cleanest city in the Philippines and our mayor is dead serious about enforcing people who throw garbage. The fine for littering is 200 pesos…since many people can’t afford 200 pesos, they must clean the streets to work off their debt…now that’s a plan that works.
We spent our last night in Puerto Princesca at the D’ Lucky Garden Hotel very close to the airport and we ended our trip by having a very fine fish dinner underneath the stars in their patio restaurant. Before turning in Perla and I raised our glasses and toasted to a great vacation and vowed to return to Palawan some day soon.
The following morning we boarded the Air Pacific jet and returned to Cebu City.
As the jet took off we both looked back and said like the famous general MacArthur: “We shall return!!
So if you would like to travel like a Princess surrounded by unimaginable natural scenery and tropical plants… why not book yourself into Puerto Princesca city and kick off the vacation of a lifetime.
QUOTE:“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW:Firefly watching is a new attraction in Palawan that only started in October 2008. This is a boat-tour through a portion of the Iwahig River strewn with mangrove trees and other indigenous trees. On a calm (wind-less) and moon-less night, you’ll be treated to several “Christmas Trees” where the fireflies provide the lights on the branches of mangrove trees. The tour guide provides background info on the plants along the river as well as information about the specie of fireflies found in the Iwahig River. Firefly communities are becoming rare because they only thrive in areas with clean unpolluted air. Recommended for nature lovers, a must-do at least once! Needless to say, the tour starts after sunset, the darker the night the better visibility. The schedule is a good add-on to your day-trips (underground river, hunda bay, city tour) since you get enough time to rest(and shower) in your Puerto Princessa hotel before the firefly watching tour. off the beaten path…trip advisor
THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE:Travel time… ..its like accumulated sick leave or vacation time…if you don’t use it you lose it.!
ZENTRAVELER SAYS:Set a good example when you travel! Don’t be a complainer and expect things are like they are in your country…after all the reason we travel is to learn history, learn culture, learn new foods and seek adventure.
From here to Infinity is a relatively short ride! The next leg takes eons and eons as you fly through the Barycentric Dynamical Time Zone! …and on and on and on.
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