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El Nido and Puerto Princesa DIY

Updated on February 7, 2012

Puerto Princesa and Palawan, Philippines

One could never go wrong with Palawan, Philippines or the so called 'Final Frontier'. It is one of those destinations that would make someone appreciate nature and marvel at its beauty.

There are three main destinations in Palawan - El Nido, Puerto Princesa and Coron. For our trip last year we were able to go to two of these destinations - Puerto Princesa and El Nido.

Puerto Princesa has become a tourist destination for the Underground River which is now included in the New 7 Wonders of the World; while El Nido on the other hand is known for its marble cliffs and island hopping.

Scorpion with stinger removed for picture taking purpose at the Butterfly Farm
Scorpion with stinger removed for picture taking purpose at the Butterfly Farm | Source
This welcome sign is really tasty! At Baker's Hill
This welcome sign is really tasty! At Baker's Hill | Source
A skeleton of a croc on display at the Crocodile Farm
A skeleton of a croc on display at the Crocodile Farm | Source
My take on weaving - very slow (fail!)
My take on weaving - very slow (fail!) | Source
Strike a pose at the Iwahig Souvenir Shop
Strike a pose at the Iwahig Souvenir Shop | Source

Puerto Princesa

Below are what we enjoyed for their one day city tour of Puerto Princesa:
1) Butterfly Garden - Lots of large butterflies of different shapes and sizes. There are also small (not deadly) scorpions that they let us hold
2) Baker's Hill - I loved their 'hopia' at their store! Hopia is a flaky pastry with sweetened beans inside. They also have a version with sweetened purple yam inside. It cost 45P for a box.
3) Mitra's Ranch - It seems like it had a good view, but it started to rain and we were only able to see fog. We opted to stay dry in the van and skipped this.
4) Crocodile Farm - After seeing the different sizes of crocodiles at the crocodile farm we were able to take a picture with a small crocky wrapped around my neck
5) Binuatan Creations - The store sells different things made of 'buntal' fiber. Buntal is a natural fiber from a talipot palm. I was briefly taught how to weave the buntal fiber and needless to say, I don't have a talent in weaving.
6) Iwahig Souvenir Store - We were not brought to the prison itself which according to several sites looks like a farm. Instead we went to a store in the city to purchase stuff made by the inmates of Iwahig. My favorite were the crocodile keychains made of recycled plastic.
7) Delma Pearls - The last stop was a line of stores which sell shirts, local cashew nuts, and other souvenir things from Palawan. Our destination was the pearl store. One can find really cheap cultured pearls here. The price for the South Sea pearls were good as well.

Trip Tip 1: We stayed at Hibiscus Garden Inn. We recommend the place, they have wonderful staff and the place is good for relaxation. They also have free shuttle every 10 minutes from the airport. Contact:; tel: +63 48 4341273. Their website can be found here.

Trip Tip 2: If you have more time at Puerto Princesa (or are only staying at Puerto Princesa) we also heard that Honda Bay is also a good visit. It is a one day trip though. There you can fish feed and snorkel.

Trip Tip 3: For the restaurants, you may want to try Ka-Lui, Kinabuch, and Itoy's. Ka-Lui is a Good date place when in Puerto Princesa. We had ordered a tubbataha salad along with a set meal of grilled tuna, sizzling seafood, prawns, vegetables, and tropical fruits with muscovado sugar. Better to Reserve since they grow full: Contact 048 433 2580, +63 928 753 9621. Kinabuch Had tamilok (woodworm/shipworm) and crocodile meat. The tamilok over vinegar tasted very much like fresh oysters over vinegar except that there are a little crunchy parts here and there - which I don't know why. But if one can't bare to eat a slimy meal, it can be requested to be cooked breaded or 'calamares'. Lastly, Itoy's is The most popular coffee shop at Puerto Princesa. Their simple rice coffee with muscovado sugar was already good.

At the Buenavista View Deck
At the Buenavista View Deck | Source
The mountain man before riding our boat
The mountain man before riding our boat | Source
Our banca/boat arrives
Our banca/boat arrives | Source
Entering the Subterranean River
Entering the Subterranean River | Source
One of the many swiflets inside the cave
One of the many swiflets inside the cave | Source

Underground River Tour of Puerto Princesa

Our next day was a whole day trip of Puerto Princesa's Underground River/ Subterranean River. It was quite a long vehicle ride away from the hotel but a very scenic one. Some of the highlights along the way are the Buenavista view deck and the Ugong Rock of Tagabenit. We later on asked to be returned to the Ugong Rock to do caving, spelunking, and zipline.

After the van ride to Sabang Port the beautiful scenes continued as we were pointed to the mountain shaped like a man. We then had to transfer to a medium sized banca (native outrigger boat) to reach the drop-off point of the underground river tour.

It was already a wonderful sight as we arrived at the drop-off point. There was a long stretch of beach with trees and the signage of the Underground River. We proceeded to sign-up at the tourist's table before starting our river tour.

Inside the underground river's cave were stalactites and stalagmites with different shapes (by imagination) - some of the memorable ones were the vegetables and the cathedral. It was pitch dark and one of the tourists had to hold up a big flashlight and point it to where the tour guide/ boatman asks him to. Flying across and making squeaking sounds were swiflet birds.

After the underground river tour the banca boat sailed back to Sabang Port for us to have our buffet lunch. Guests may also choose to swim at the Sabang Beach but we opted not to.

On our way back to the city we did the optional trip to Ugong Rock for caving and spelunking going to the zipline area then ziplined going to the other side. There is a maximum of 200 pounds to ride the zipline in a normal way, otherwise one one would have to wear a parachute to be able to slow down. We enjoyed this and suggest this side trip to our friends to be done.

Trip Tip: The Underground River Tour includes lunch, park fee, van and boat transfer which could be arranged by the hotel. Travel time going to the river tour is 1.5 hours including the boat transfer. The actual river tour is approximately 30 minutes. There is now an option to view the fossil of the 20 million year old extinct sea cow for an additional fee.

Our boat for the island hopping tour of Tour A waits for us while we snorkel by the lagoons
Our boat for the island hopping tour of Tour A waits for us while we snorkel by the lagoons | Source
Fish feeding at Simisu Islands
Fish feeding at Simisu Islands | Source
We didn't need to dive to see a trumpet fish pass by at the helicopter island - snorkeling was enough
We didn't need to dive to see a trumpet fish pass by at the helicopter island - snorkeling was enough | Source
There were lots of fish and hard corals at helicopter island
There were lots of fish and hard corals at helicopter island | Source

El Nido

There are three main tours for Island Hopping in El Nido - Tour A or the tour of the lagoons, Tour B or the tour of the caves, and Tour C with the highlight of secret beach. For our trip we were able to do a half day modified Tour A and one day Tour C.

Tour A - Consists of the Secret Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, snorkeling at Miniloc and Simisu Islands. My favorite in tour A is the snorkeling and fish feeding at Simisu Islands. There were lots of varieties of fish that came for the bread we had at our hands.

Tour C - Consists of the Secret and Hidden Beach, Matinloc Island tour, and Snorkeling at Tapuitan Strait and Helicopter Island. There were lots of highlights for Tour C in our experience - I have two favorites, first is swimming through the cave like arch with deep water to enter the Secret Beach and the second is snorkeling at Helicopter Island. I was happy to see that there were still a lot of live corals and diverse fish at the said Island. A couple who was with us in the tour even saw a sea turtle while snorkeling. Don't forget to wear a rash guard, as there are jellyfish depending on the season - we were there July.

The tours were arranged by the inn. For tour C there were 8 tourists in the boat with 1 tour guide and 2 boatmen. It includes a heavy lunch complete with tropical fruit dessert and unlimited coffee and tea.

Trip Tip 1: The van from Puerto Princesa to El Nido was arranged by Hibiscus Inn Staff. Contact Fort Whally directly: 09172762875, 09173488078. Prices: from Puerto Prinsesa 700P, from El Nido 600P. A card will be given for a discount rate going back from El Nido

Trip Tip 2: We stayed at Alternative Inn at El Nido town. The rate for two nights is 1963.38P which I booked via Agoda. FYI - The prices go lower if off peak. Best to just pay at the inn rather than book online when it is not summer season. When we arrived, rates were only 800P for two days. The first floor room has a good view but footsteps could be heard at night. Also, there are no electicity at morning in El Nido, breakfast they served was expensive for just two eggs and bread; better to bring something to eat.

Trip Tip 3: The best place we found to dine in and buy souvenirs was the Art Café. It is Walking distance from Alternative Inn. Our meal was organic Arugula Salad and Art Café pizza which made it different because of the sunny side up egg added. Food was just fine but the Ambiance was good with a live band and the view of the islands. They also sold nicely designed shirts at their store for 220P each.

Trip Tip 4: There is a nearby Catholic Church at El Nido Town, the St Francis of Assisi which is just walking distance from the Inns/Hotels. The Regular English Mass Schedule is at 6:30AM and 8:15AM but they started late when we were there.

Secret Beach El Nido (Tour C)

Budget Per Person in Philippine Peso

Day 1
Departure - NAIA Terminal 3 (buy one take one Cebu Pac Promo)
Arrival at Puerto Princesa International Airport
Check-in Hibiscus Hotel at Manalo Extension(1PM, just left stuff)
1PM - 6:30PM
Airconed Van City Tour arranged by hotel
Tricycle to Ka-Lui
8PM - 9PM
Dinner at Ka-Lui
Tricycle to Itoy's
9:10 - 10PM
Coffee and dessert at Itoy's
Day 2
9AM - 2PM
Puerto Princesa Underground River/ Subterranean River Tour
2PM - 3PM
Caving and Spelunking. Zipline going back
Dinner at Kinabuch Bar and Grill
Day 3
6 or 7AM?
Van to El Nido via Fort Whally
Arrival at Alternative Inn
1PM - 5PM
Half Day Island Hopping - Tour A
Art Café
Day 4
Alternative Inn Breakfast
9AM - 5PM
Whole Day Island Hopping - Tour C
Art Café
Day 5
St Francis of Assisi Mass
8AM - 2PM
Van back to Puerto Princesa via Fort Whally
2PM - 2:30PM
Public Transportation to City Proper
Tricycle to Airport
Total Per Person: 11069.24

El Nido and Puerto Princesa Tour Google map



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    • munchwaffle profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Philippines

      Hi lene! I tried to look for brgy masagana via google maps but it is asking for the specific resort name. I was planning to create a point A and point B to check if your resort is near the place we stayed - Alternative Inn, Serena St, El Nido.

      Just to give you an idea - what we did was just take a van as indicated in my post. When we got there we took a tricycle to the resort. The prices are also indicated in my hub. It might have already increased but I'm sure it's not that significant.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      hi, would you recommend a mode of transport from puerto princesa airport to brgy. masagana, el nido, me and my husband are both a first timers to palawan and our resort is asking a lot of money for pick up and drop to the airport from our resort, can you help us please, anyone who reads this is welcome to pinch in that would be great:-D cheers Lene

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      @uriironi789 how was the van you took? We're looking for a van this April!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      My wife and I tried this service daytripper palawan. They were comfortable for big people like us.

    • munchwaffle profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Johmz. It was just me and my husband. As far as what the guides in El Nido told us the rates actually do not differ per person but it differs depending if you are going there on peak days.

    • profile image


      5 years ago


      Are the prices for the tour discounted? I mean, ilan kau nagpunta sa palawan to get these rates? Because, prices differs from 2 pax and so on. Or are the price already standard no matter how many are traveling?

    • munchwaffle profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Philippines

      No problem Leanne :) Enjoy Palawan! Thanks for visiting

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks for creating this :) we're planning a El-Nido PP trip for next year, june 13-18 for our 3rd year anniversary and i really needed this info! :)

    • munchwaffle profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Philippines

      Great you enjoyed Puerto Princesa jpcmc :D I hope you could also use my other blogs when you go to your next trip! Thanks for visiting!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I think you need to start a travel guide business! LOL This is such an informative hub. I've been to Puerto Princesa several times. It stands out because it's really really clean. My wife and I spent 3 days at Dos Palmas, it was great. Great work on the details.

    • munchwaffle profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Philippines

      thanks Thelma :) Enjoy Palawan!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      6 years ago from Germany

      Wow! Here are lots of information of what I need for my travel destination I intend to do this year. Thanks a lot. Great hub and photos. Bookmark for later use.


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