For our second day at Puerto Princesa, we decided to take the tour offered by our hotel attendant. It would be a nature tour that costs Php1200 per head. The first stop was a magical trip to the underworld. Palawan presents a visual feast not only above the ground but also below it. St. Paul National Park is Palawan’s most popular attraction and covers 5,349 hectares of lush forest, dark mountains, caves and white beaches. In the deep recesses of the marble and limestone peaks of Mt. St. Paul flow the Underground River, said to be the longest in the world. It is easily navigable for at least four kilometers. The caves are filled with filigree-like sculptures formed by stalagmites and stalactites. Near its mouth is a beautiful lagoon with crystal-clear water that teems with fish. Also within the park is the Monkey Trail, a series of wooden paths that winds into the forest where monkeys, squirrels, lizards and some 60 species of birds are found. The Park is inscribed in the World Heritage List.
Along the way we were also treated to Palawan’s bountiful resources, abundant wildlife and extraordinary natural beauty are known only to the many ethnic communities that thrive in these islands and a few other daring settlers who wanted to live in unpolluted surroundings.
Ecology awareness is at a high level throughout the province. Puerto Princesa prides itself as the cleanest city in the Philippines. To protect its megadiversity, only eco-friendly programs are adhered to by tourist establishments. And there are strict ordinances against dynamite fishing, with only net and line fishing allowed. Palawan may have opened itself to tourism but it has also taken serious efforts to preserve this last frontier.
Many ancient trees have been cut down. For many years already there were campaigns of action groups against the illegal logging. At last they were successful on Palawan. The Philippine government took the necessary measures to halt large-scale logging. Even the former logging bosses now profess to be environmentalists. In other parts of the Philippines however, the government didn’t succeed yet to prevent all illegal cutting of the tropical giants.
Palawan waters are among the best in the world, not only for diving but also for fishing. A diver’s paradise, it has miles of sub-surface coral and rainbow reef walls which surround the coasts and coves teeming with rich marine life. Palawan is popularly known for its white sand beaches, crystal-clear azure waters teeming with colorful marine life – a swimmer’s delight, a diver’s destination, an angler’s dream.