Puerto Princesa Underground River Adventure Part 1: Playing the Waiting Game at Sabang Wharf

Our 2nd day in Puerto Princesa is getting better and better. We got the permit that we need to enter the Underground River. The sun is shining brightly and the sky doesn’t show any hint of rain.  This only means that the heavens wanted us to go to the world famous spot in Palawan.

Our tour group had an interesting mix of people. We were composed of two Norwegian ladies, one FilAm, a mother, father, and little boy, and three honeymooning couples! The most amusing fact is that the other two couples got married on the same day as us.

Our group left the city proper immediately when we got our permit. Our destination is Sabang Wharf, which is located to the west side of Palawan Island.

It took us around two hours just to reach the wharf. The journey was not boring because of the scenery. The trees, the amazing mountains, and my conversation with the FilAm kept me awake. My Beloved Wife Lei, on the other hand, slept during the whole journey. I guess she’s still feeling a little unwell.

Sabang Wharf, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Sabang Wharf!

We finally reached Sabang Wharf around quarter to eleven. Lei suddenly lost her sleepiness and prompted me to take her photos. She really enjoy her selfies.

Our presence, just in other tourist spots that we visited, attracted some vendors. A hat vendor was very aggressive in selling us her hats. Her tactic was a success because Lei bought a hat for a hundred pesos.

Mad hatter at Sabang Wharf, Puerto Princesa

That transaction left a bad taste in our mouths because we discovered that that same hat costs 80 pesos in the souvenir shops nearby. We were tricked! Well, that another lesson learned. We should never buy from hawkers.

Visitors to the Underground River are required to go to the Park Information Office at the wharf for the validation of the permits. The park officials checked our permits and our IDs. The registration was quick.

Buying souvenirs at Sabang Wharf, Puerto Princesa

Waiting for our turn to ride the boats to the underground river was boring. Good thing that there are souvenir shops at the wharf. Those are the best place to kill time and waste money. We bought refrigerator magnets and key chains as pasalubong. Our personal souvenirs would be the t-shirts that say “Underground River”.

Souvenir shirts at Sabang Wharf, Puerto Princesa
Our souvenir shirt, top row and third from the left.

Gemma (our tour guide) brought us to Gusto Grill, which is also located at Sabang Wharf. This place is an eat-all-you-can buffet restaurant so I (who is a veteran Mang Inasal unli rice eater) felt at home. There is a wide selection of Filipino food which all tasted fine. Since this an eat-all-you-can affair, I made sure to fill my plate with food.

Yummy food at Sabang Wharf, Puerto Princesa
Nagda-diet pa ako n'yan ha. :-P

Gusto Grill is crowded around noon and it may be hard to find a seat. Good thing that our tour guide is madiskarte and she was able to find our group a seat.The lunch at Gusto is already included in our tour so our tour guide dealt with the payment.

Gusto Grill at Sabang Wharf, Puerto Princesa
Lunch rush hour is over.

My Beloved Wife is not fond of traveling in small boats. A few small waves is enough to make her shriek. So, I knew what she’s feeling when she saw these little waves pounding the wharf:

Sea near Sabang Wharf, Puerto Princesa

Lei had no choice but to ride the little boat and brave the sea. A little sacrifice for seeing the most awesome cave in Palawan.

Bancas to the Puerto Princesa Underground River

I read of sad stories of some tourists who were trapped at Sabang Wharf because of inclement weather. The boats cannot leave the wharf and the foreign tourists had no choice but return to their country.I’m glad that the weather is fine and our trip to the Underground River will continue.

The fresh sea breeze made our wait bearable. The waiting area is organized with plenty of monobloc chairs to accommodate tourists. Good thing that the FilAm had plenty of topics to talk about. Our conversation went from comparison of the tourist industry in Thailand and Philippines to the improvement to Philippine economy.

An hour passed and our group was finally called. Well, I guess it’s time to go to the sea again.

Wait for us Underground River. We’re coming to see you!

Riding the boat to Puerto Princesa Underground River


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  1. I did this even if the weather was bad. I joined two vans of Taiwanese as they decided to go see the river, bad weather or not, and luckily we were given permission to go. We were the first and the last as the office gave no more permits after ten in the morning. It was worth it!

    1. Your group are fortunate because they manage to clinch a permit. Hassle talaga kapag hindi kayo nakakuha ng permit.

  2. We were there many years ago with the nice weather. Fantastic!


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