here's a brief guide to those who are planning or who already have their tickets yet still checking out what to do in Puerto Princesa Palawan.
when to go:
Palawan being out of the usual typhoon route in the Philippines makes it an all-year round destination. though it's best to go there in summer, a trip during the rainy season won't disappoint you.
eskapo recommends: if you want to go there with less people on tourists spots, the rainy season will be a good time but as i mentioned tourists flocking Puerto Princesa knows no season. with organized tours and well managed tourist spots, it won't be bad going there at any season. before going there, make sure you already coordinated with a travel agency for the tours.
by Plane: there are several airlines that offers daily flights to Puerto Princesa. you'll have many options from early morning till night.
by Boat: boats leaving from Manila has regular schedule to Puerto Princesa but not daily. mostly leaving on Friday afternoon.
eskapo recommends: if you have all the time for this trip, you can enjoy the boat trip as it usually has a stopover in Coron but with limited time, take the earliest flight to Puerto Princesa and the last flight back to maximize your trip.
suggested itinerary (for a three-day weekend trip):
9:00am ETA Manila to Puerto Princesa
10:00am check in hotel (eskapo recommends Microtel Palawan)
10:00am - 12:00nn City Tour (eskapo recommends Palawan Museum)
12:00nn - 1:30pm Lunch (eskapo recommends Vietnamese restaurant)
1:30pm - 4:00pm Nagtabon beach or Crocodile Farm
4:00pm - 6:00pm Mitra's Ranch and Baker's Hills
6:00pm - 7:00pm Dinner
5:00am - 6:00am Sunrise by the mangrove beach of Microtel
6:00am - 7:00am Rest
7:00am - 8:00am Breakfast
8:00am - 10:00am Trip to Sabang Beach
10:00am - 12:00nn Palawan Underground River
(eskapo recommends to trek the monkey trail but requires more time)
12:00nn - 1:00pm Lunch in Sabang
1:00pm - 1:30pm Trip to Ugong Rock
1:30pm - 2:30pm Explore Ugong Rock
2:30pm - 4:00pm Trip back to town center
4:00pm - 5:00pm Drop by Lawiswis (an option if you're planning to buy organic products)
5:00pm - 6:00pm Early dinner and drop by a coffee shop around town
6:30am - 7:30am Early breakfast (to maximize time in Honda bay)
7:30am - 8:15am Trip to St. Lourdes Pier
8:15am - 8:30am Trip Registration
8:30am - 9:00am Boat trip to Pambato Reef
9:00am - 10:00am Snorkeling in Pambato Reef
10:00am - 10:30am Boat trip to Starfish Island
10:30am - 11:00am Around Starfish island
11:00nn - 11:30am Trip to Pandan island
11:30pm - 12:30nn Lunch
12:30pm - 1:00pm Trip to Snake Island
1:00pm - 3:00pm Fish Feeding and Beach walk in Snake island
3:00pm - 4:30pm Trip back to Pier and hotel (or with enough time explore other islands)
4:00pm - onwards Flight back (depending on flight)
recommended activities and spots:
[for beach bums]
Honda bay - has more than 12 islands with cream colored sands and large areas of mangroves. best place for the beach bums and snorkeling is highly recommended.
Nagtabon beach - explore this slow-paced and secluded beach West of Puerto Princesa town center. no amenities for beach activities just plain beach, coconut trees and cottages.
Sabang beach - very similar to Nagtabon beach but with restaurants and shops and yes, hammocks hanging on coconut trees. also a take-off area to the Palawan underground river.
Small beach coves - in between Sabang and Underground river are exotic beaches. great stopover.
underground river: they say you've never been to Puerto Princesa if you haven't been to the underground river. i must agree as it is one of the highlight of your trip there. there's less chance of getting a decent shot while cruising, so just enjoy the trip.
for sunrise shots: the mangroves in Microtel Palawan are great subjects for sunrise silhouettes. it has a large area of these coastal flora with the sun rising right infront of the hotel's beach.
for sunset shots: Nagtabon beach, Sabang beach and the rest of the West coast of Palawan.
for karst and limestones>
along the road: the last 30minutes of the trip from Puerto Princesa to Sabang has some beautiful views of karsts. make sure to stop on those spot. many people miss this as they are usually sleeping along the way. let your guide wake you up when you reach this area. Ugong rock is also along the way.
by boat: the boat trip from Sabang to Underground river also gives you a good view of the karst and limestones. this time on a wider perspective.
by trekking: take the Monkey Trail from Sabang to Underground River. expect encounters of animals along the way.
[for underwater activities]
snorkeling in Pambato reef in Honda bay has been highly recommended even by international standard. but don't be surprised to see other great snorkeling spots in Snake island, Starfish island and the rest of the islands in Honda bay.
Penal Colony - visit the this prison site in Ihawig to get a chance to immerse and commune with prisoners who are open to meet and greet visitors. buying some handicrafts helps the community.
Secluded schools - doing special teaching on schools located on mountains and secluded area is a great activity. coordinate with the local government to guide you to some of these schools.
Immersion with fishermen - there are fishing villages around Honda bay with locals who are open to conversing. a chat with them helps you understand their lifestyle.
here are some of the related posts in the series that will give you a glimpse of my experience there.
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa's Karst and Limestones
Puerto Princesa Three Stop: Nagtabon Beach, Honda Bay Viewpoint and Sabang Beach
Puerto Princesa Three Stop: Lawiswis, Mitra's Ranch and Baker's Hills
Microtel Palawan Sunrise
Microtel Palawab by night