Philippine’s Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Exiting the Underground River

I have been into numerous caverns and caves over my lifetime, so my curiosity about the Underground River in the Philippines got the best of me. One year, I decided that we should take a family trip to my parents homeland to ride canoe-like boats into a dark cave. We flew from Las Vegas to the Philippines, boarded “are those safe?” boats across the ocean, landed on the shore where monkeys greeted us, and then finally floated through the underground river. I have been known to take the family on interesting adventures over the years!

We had come to the Philippines during its dry season, which is from November to May, and is the best time to visit. Even still the weather here can change day to day, as we had found out the day after we took our trip to the Underground River in Palawan. The next day all boat trips were canceled due to wind, so we officially lucked out. Keep that in mind when you travel here, and give yourself several cushion days of travel in case of unexpected weather delays.

The subterranean river is located in the Palawan Provence, and has a complex ecosystem that had developed over centuries. The river is noted as one of the longest in the world, but due to the climate and natural environment a small section of only 4.3 km can be explored. The Subterranean River National Park includes a complete full ‘mountain-to-sea’ ecosystem, and has some of the most significant forests of Asia.

The Underground River was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, as well as being listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Both very prestigious titles for the Philippines.

Getting There

There are various professional tour companies that will safely bring you to the Underground River in Palawan. We had booked through the resort we were staying at in Puerto Princesa, which is the capital city of Palawan. Prior to your visit ask your accomodations to set up the tour for you, which in my opinion would be your most comfortable and safest route. They will take care of everything from round trip transfers to entrance fees, which makes the trip easier than if you did it yourself.

Like many others taking the trip to the Underground River, we were transported by our Puerto Princesa resort to the Sabang Warf. From there we were loaded onto small boats, and then transported to Sabang Beach where the entry to the Underground River is. The short trip across was not bad and quite enjoyable, but then again my family and I do not get sea sick. Just keep that in mind if you do have any form of motion sickness, and to come prepared.

Once we landed on the gorgeous Sabang Beach, I was in awe of its natural beauty. The bright blue skies, turquoise waters, and the rocky peaks with toppling jungle foliage. It was breathtaking, and very postcard worthy.

Sabang Beach

After we arrived we had a short wait until our tour time of the cave. My family and I mingled by the picnic benches trying to avoid the pesky monkeys who will steal your things. I am very serious and locals will warn you about their aggressive behavior. Do not leave anything on the table, or carry your bags hanging close to the ground. I had seen several monkeys sneak up to people’s tote bags that were held hanging down, reach their little hands in, and pull out food. Another time, I caught a photo of a monkey laying claim to a woman’s backpack that she left alone on a table. Additionally, for goodness sake please do not try to pet or feed the monkeys!

When it was our turn for our tour, we were loaded onto small canoe boats with a guide and floated into the cave. We did bring our own personal headlamps in order for us to see better, but the guide will have a lantern to point out some of the fascinating features inside the cave.

The enterance into the Underground River is though an opening at the bottom of a rocky mountain where it touches the sea. To me that was beautiful in its own right. The arched openings surround with jagged mountain rock, made it more of the adventure for my family and I.

Underground River Entrance

Once we were in, it was completely dark with the exception of our headlights as well as the guide’s spotlight. I had mentioned that I have been through various caves and caverns in my lifetime, but this was the first time I had navigated one by boat. The ecosystem of the river is one of the reasons for its notability. Inside there are a variety of species that are specific to this underground river system. There is a range of fish, giant spiders, snakes, crabs, swallows, and bats. Although the swallows and bats are what you typically would see.

The tour itself is not long but it is an amazing adventure, especially for those who love caves and nature. It made for an enjoyable addition to our family trip to the Philippines, and I strongly recommend it for those who plan on visiting this country. Remember to dress lightly, carry bug spray, and sun screen- because it is a jungle out there!


Live for the moments you cannot put into words…

Yours Truly at the Underground River in Palawan

🌎 Thank you for visiting my website and NEVER STOP EXPLORING!

📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre

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