Puerto Princesa is a coastal city on Palawan Island in the western Philippines. It’s a base for boat trips through the massive limestone caves and underground river of the biodiverse Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. Dive sites are dotted around Puerto Princesa Bay, home to long-nosed dolphins, turtles and rays. Close to the port is the 19th-century Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral.
Who doesn’t love a Puerto Princesa Getaway? I know I do.
Although nothing beats a proper getaway where you can linger longer, there’s something very refreshing about a three-day sojourn. It’s like taking a power nap. You always come back from it with enough drive to power through anything.
There are a lot of beautiful places where you can spend your three-day getaway, and we thought we might tempt you with a quick getaway to Palawan. If you don’t know where to start, here’s a 3-day Puerto Princesa itinerary for you and your go-to travel buddy (or buddies, the more the merrier!). You can even catch up on some me time and go on a solo trip — whatever floats your boat.
how to get there
Direct flights from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila to the Puerto Princesa International Airport usually take an hour. There are many to choose from, and you can get them for cheaper rates if you come across a seat sale. Airlines that ply the Manila-Puerto Princesa route are AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, and Philippine Airlines. If you’re coming from the Cebu-Mactan International Airport, though, it would only take 45 minutes before landing in Puerto Princesa. The same airlines fly this route.
Start the day with a splash — observe dolphins in the wild.
Witnessing wild dolphins swimming and splashing about puts a smile on anyone’s face. Don’t believe us? Sign up for dolphin watching in Puerto Princesa and see for yourself. This activity usually begins early in the morning so an early flight is highly recommended. Flying in the night before is also an option. Coordinate with your hotel so that they can make the necessary arrangements. You may also talk to the tour operator and see if they can store your luggage while waiting for check-in.
Remember to be a responsible tourist when you’re out at sea with the dolphins. You’re visiting these creatures in their natural habitat, after all.
Explore the natural wonders of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is probably the area’s busiest tourist spot. Its mountain-to-sea ecosystem is one of the world’s most diverse. This is why it is also a hub for biodiversity conservation. Visitors never forget the park’s limestone landscape and its 8.2-kilometre underground river that’s filled with spectacular stalagmites and stalactites. The area is a haven for wildlife so don’t be surprised to see monitor lizards and monkeys roaming freely.
Make a starry night more magical with the fireflies at Iwahig
The Iwahig Firefly Watching site is a 45-minute drive from the city’s centre so make sure you allot time for road travel, too. For obvious reasons, this activity is done at night. Do note, though, that the weather plays a huge role in determining whether or not the fireflies will make an appearance. If you do get the privilege of observing these fascinating insects flashing their lights, we promise you it’ll be one enchanting experience.
Be a beach bum and go island-hopping
Have fun in the sun on the Honda Bay Island Tour
Honda Bay is known for the group of smaller islands within its waters. Those who want their fill of island-hopping will love this area. The best part is you can decide which islands to visit. Take note that travelling to the drop-off point from the city centre takes about 30 minutes via car. Getting ferried from one island to the next can take the same amount of time. Here are the islands you can check out and what you can do there.
Watch the waters slowly reveal Luli Island
Although Luli Island has a habit of disappearing, seeing it when it resurfaces is quite the treat. This charming little sandbar was dubbed “Luli” because it sinks ( lulubog in Filipino) at high tide and reappears ( lilitaw in Filipino) during low tide.
Keep count of the creatures at Starfish, Cowrie, and Bat Islands
Some tourists skip this trio, but we recommend getting the most out of your island-hopping experience by visiting each one. Here, you’ll see healthy populations of starfish, mollusks, and bats.
Swim and snorkel at Isla Pandan
Aside from having beach huts for rent, Isla Pandan is a favorite among snorkellers because it features a coral reef not far from the shore.
Spend the day at Dos Palmas Island
Dos Palmas Island is technically not in Honda Bay but across it. Going on a day tour here comes with lunch and limited access to amenities, although it will mean skipping all the other islands. Its highlights are lush mangrove forests, vibrant coral reef, and a pristine beach. Check out room rates here
Immerse in the culture and shop to your heart’s content
Learn to work a handloom at the Binuatan Weaving Center
Binuatan Weaving Center is a handicrafts specialty store that’s also known as Binuatan Creations Handloom Weaving. It spotlights Palawan’s rich weaving tradition and gives artisans the chance to earn a living from their craft. There, you can watch them in action, too.
The word binuatan roughly translates to “creation,” which is perfect because the place showcases handcrafted creations such as buri mats and abaca accessories. Paying a visit to Binuatan Weaving Center is a great way of supporting local craftsmen and safeguarding Palawan’s heritage.
Know the basics of craft beer at Palaweño Brewery
Image credit: Facebook.com
Most people are surprised to discover that Puerto Princesa has its very own craft beer brewery. Well, it does and it’s called Palaweño Brewery. The best part is the microbrewery also holds tours every afternoon. Consider it a crash course on craft beer. Aside from the tour, visitors can also have a few drinks and know more about beer and food pairing. But do note that they don’t do tours on Wednesdays.
Go on a museum tour at the Palawan Heritage Center
Oddly enough, most tourists skip this stop, but we highly recommend dropping by the Palawan Heritage Center. Essentially, it’s a mini museum, and it’ll give you a comprehensive overview of Palawan’s history and heritage
Buy giftables at the MCA Pasalubong Center and Pinoy Souvenir Center
If you want to buy keepsakes and local delicacies, there are many shopping centres to choose from. The MCA Pasalubong Center, formerly known as the LRC 908 Market Mall, has outdoor and indoor areas filled with souvenir stalls. The bazaar-type shopping hub is definitely a favourite for both locals and tourists.
But if you want the convenience of shopping in a mall, Robinson’s Place Palawan also has a Pinoy Souvenir Center located at the ground floor. Many tourists swear that prices there are the same, if not lower. You’ll also see a wide array of handicrafts and pearls. Although it’s located inside the mall, haggling at the Pinoy Souvenir Center is possible. And if you want to take a break, a coffee shop called Bead Cafe is just across it. If you have time to spare, make your own trinket while having your caffeine fix. The cafe also has a collection of pearls that you can browse.
There you have it, a jam-packed adventure for vacationers planning a quick trip to Puerto Princesa. Keep in mind that there are many places to grab a bite, too. Just ask your hotels for recommendations. They’re sure to point you in the right direction.