Have you seen the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies”? Were you mesmerized by the clear azure blue water that incessantly caresses the powder white sandy beaches? Didn’t the wide expanse of underwater garden with its variedly colored coral reefs and myriads of swimming fish entice you to be there… to actually feel the water and the sand on your feet and to be able to feel the “butterfly kisses” of the countless differently colored fish on your face?
The movie was shot in Palawan, the untouched island in the south-west part of the Philippines. Palawan is dubbed as the last ecological frontier of the Philippines and considered as one of Pacific’s last unexplored islands.
If you want to get away from the hurly burly of city life, Palawan is the prefect hideaway for you. There will be no neon lights, no blaring sounds as all the entertainments will be derived from nature. You can take a guided hiking trip to the rain forest where you can stay the night and be serenaded by the white noises of the crickets; be awakened by the chirping birds in time to see the rosy tinge of the sky that heralds a new day.
Diving, snorkeling, island hoping or watching the death defying antics of local people as they harvest the world famous edible bird’s nest from the rock indentations of dizzying cliffs are only some of the nature derived entertainments offered by Palawan to the world weary tourists.
The Calauit Wildife Reserve Sanctuary, the El Nido Marine Reserve and the Tubbataha Reef are all world renowned Palawan tourist destinations. Also gaining much popularity is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. This underground river that was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1999 is reputed to be the longest and largest underground river in the world. The subterranean river is located in the Saint Paul Mountain range, about 60 kilometers north of Puerto Princesa, the largest city in the Philippines.
From the Puerto Princesa downtown, a tourist would have to take a 2 to 3 hours land trip in one of the colorful jeepneys (public transportation vehicle) native only to the Philippines to reach the town of Sabang, the entrance to the underground river. The underground river is over 8 kilometers long and navigable by seemingly unsteady but actually well balanced small boats.
Giant ancient trees are standing sentinel like at the mouth of the cave. At the entrance of the huge and cavernous mysterious cave, you will be subjected to the incessant sound of pouring water. And once inside you will be awed by stalagmites and stalactite formations. Giant mushrooms, animals, fruits and religious icon formations would make you wonder at the marvels of nature.
The distinguishing feature of this underground river is that it meanders through a cave and empties into the South China Sea. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is considered to be the most beautiful in the world as evidenced by the fact that it is nominated in the New 7 Wonders of the World. Definitely a must see place!