PUERTO PRINCESA (Palawan)
Home to a New Wonder of the World - the amazing underground river that flows close by - Palawan’s capital promises a relentless assault of natural glory. Founded by the Spanish in 1872, Puerto Princesa is one of the Philippines’s largest centres - but the Green City is also one of the country's most spacious and lush. Whether it’s the innovative environmental credentials, or the dense vegetation clinging to scenic limestone cliffs nearby, Puerto Princesa welcomes you to a rich, green, and astonishingly beautiful corner of the world.
The underground river of glowing emerald water slices into the limestone rock and runs through inky darkness for five miles, amid dark stalactites and elaborate natural rock sculptures. A subterranean wonder, sail into the cave in a canoe to witness this UNESCO World Heritage Site firsthand and explore a gaping interior, where bats flutter overhead. The scenery is just as impressive above the earth, with tropical beaches and rainforest-cloaked waterfalls nearby. Travel between attractive bays and islands, alive with diverse flora, as well as monkeys and monitor lizards wandering freely. Island hop the stunning sandy isles that pepper the turquoise water of Honda Bay, to investigate characterful idylls that beg to be snorkelled, surrounded by seawater stocked with starfish.
Puerto Princesa itself is dotted with cultural and historical sites - including the harrowing World War II history of Plaza Cuartel. Where a massacre of American soldiers took place. Elsewhere, you can visit the thought-provoking Iwahig Prison and Penal Colony - which aims to reform prisoners through farming and agricultural practices. Head for the Baywalk to try some local foods, and to soak up the palm-lined waterfront atmosphere.