Mango Tours Spotlight: Palawan (Part 1)

written by Vincent Amazona

Fresh from a whirlwind tour of the island, we’d like to give you a sneak preview of Palawan and all it has to offer so we can provide an experience for our customers that we know you’d enjoy!

Day 1:
Arriving at the airport of Puerto Princesa, we are greeted by a 9-piece band, a far cry from the sterile greetings of any other airport. These aren’t just any band members: they are the security guards that watch the airport. When was the last time a TSA agent gave you anything other than a wary look? Efforts to change the island’s image are evident, as the warm greetings and the constant construction in and around the airport show. There, we meet Hanny Enor of Hadefe Tours. He is part of an industry eager to show anyone the Palawan that deserves to be seen.

On the way to our hotel, we travel down the main thoroughfare, where Puerto Princesa City is abuzz. There is very much a small-town feel, but the billboards lining the street do well to show the town’s ambition. Shops, restaurants ranging from cafes to full on dining and even some fledgling colleges are all striving to make a name for themselves.

After about 15 minutes we take a seemingly random right turn off the road and head to our hotel: the newly-opened Microtel Palawan.

Puerto Princesa is home to hotels for any budget, and the Microtel is one to blur the lines. Value-priced but nicely appointed with rooms done up with all the modern appointments, the Microtel sits in between a private lagoon and the ocean. While the immediate area is bustling with construction, the secluded confines of the hotel are far from interrupted. This construction includes that of a pool and a snack bar/café. Watersports equipment (i.e. snorkel, scuba, and personal watercraft) will also be available for rent.

The first attraction of our trip was the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, or more lovingly known as the Crocodile farm. This institute is home to many species indigenous to both the Philippines and Palawan.

There are large boars, bearcats, ostriches and yes, crocodiles. For 30 pesos, you can see all of these creatures, get a walking tour of the hatchery and facility, as well as find out more about the local wildlife. You can even have your picture taken while holding a crocodile, if you are brave enough.

After getting up close and personal with crocodiles, we were taken to Honda Bay, a gateway to many small and private islands. Hiring an outrigger, we sampled two of the islands (some islands are actually owned by local hotels): Snake Island, which our guide assured us was named after its long and slithery shape, and Pandan Island, with its white sand and easy-access snorkel spots. Sipping on fresh buko juice, our group spent the rest of the day taking in the sights, and notably the silence, that surrounded us.

In order to preserve these islands, the local government has hired “tenders” people who watch over these small islands and take care of them, much like a park ranger. This assures preservation and longevity of the natural beauty these islands possess.

Sitting down to dinner, barefoot, at Ka Lui, one of Puerto Princesa’s most popular seafood restaurants, we recalled the day’s events and enjoyed our share of Ka Lui’s specialties like Crispy Fried Tuna Tail. As we sat in the busy nipa house, we shared our highlights as we dined on food caught and sold locally. One day down and our Palawan adventure had us begging for more. Luckily, the island was more than happy to oblige. Stayed tuned as we visit the famous Underground River!