*** Click here for the anchor page for the Palawan segment of my trip.
*NOTE: Palawan is a malaria risk area. Malaria doesn’t have a vaccine, but if you contract it, there is medication. I’m allerigic to that medication. I survived through preventable measures, using high-grade mosquito repellent and wearing long sleeves, and long pants anytime I was heading into a wooded area.
Getting to Sabang
We took Cebu Pacific airlines to fly from Manila to Puerto Princesa first. There are also other options, such as using a ferry, depending on where you’re traveling from. We then took a hired van took us on the 2-hour ride to Sabang. The air-conditioned van was the best option for our large group (8 people + driver + all our luggage). Our drive also included a rest stop that had a gorgeous view of the West Philippine Sea from a lookout point. A sight for the traveler who has been sitting for most of the day.
There are plenty of beachfront hotels and hostels in Sabang just outside of the port, with much cheaper restaurants and services than what you’d find at the hotel. For our hotel stay, we splurged for the Sheridan Beach Resort & Spa.
The most popular draw to Sabang is the famous Underground (Subterranean) River. We booked directly through the hotel and our guide picked us up early in the morning. We were able to beat the rush! Large tours coming from Puerto Princesa travel 2 hours before lining up for boats around 10:00am. Tourists crowded the port waiting for shuttle boats by the time we were returning to the port. This was in contrast to the little-or-no wait time that we experienced on our early morning tour.
They brief you on the safety rules and procedures before you even get to the port. Something you will get used to is the smell of the waste from the bats. You are given a life jacket, an audio guide, and a hard helmet – not for debris, but to protect your head from any of that waste dropping down! Your guide will be entertaining and the informative tour tells about the history, but also the many stories behind the shapes and areas of the stalactites and stalagmites. Our tour guide even found some of the local wildlife for us in the wooded area after our river tour.
So what else is there to do/explore in Sabang after you’ve visited the main attraction? Swim in the West Philippine Sea! If you’ve had your fill of swimming, get yourself onboard another tour. There are quite a variety of tours available at the port or through your concierge. We opted to go to the Sabang Zipline experience. This involved a very rocky drive, and quite the hike up the limestone cliffs to get to the zipline launch area. Definitely a workout, and I’d recommend doing this after peak hours, as we definitely were doing the hike (about 20 mins) in peak heat, humidity and sunlight.
Everything done local is way cheaper than what you’ll find at a resort. For a solid meal and fresh seafood, take a 5 minute walk in any direction to find services (massage, laundry, public transportation) and restaurants. Next door to the Sheridan was the Green Verde hostel and restaurant. I believe they also offered laundry services. We chose to dine in their bahay kubo (nipa hut) open-air restaurant, listening to the sound of the crashing waves.
Head Here If…
You’re into private, secluded stays. Being a 2-hour drive away from the main city, Puerto Princesa, the stay here was truly relaxing and a great break from the city. Other destinations, I felt, had become too “touristy,” but (other than the port area), the locals here are pretty laid back and willing to help you out.
Happy exploring, everyone!