It was past noon of Saturday, under a fine and warm weather, when I got into a taxi going to the airport to meet up with the group joining the Puerto Princesa Familiarization Trip. I didn’t know everyone at that time but I looked forward to meeting them all. The thought of traveling to Palawan excites me that I arrived four hours earlier than the flight schedule. And while waiting for the rest to arrive, I stayed at a coffee shop next to AirAsia’s check-in counters.
I could say this trip was very special to me not because it’s my first time to visit Palawan, rather I was lucky enough to be one of the passengers to get on board AirAsia’s inaugural flight from Cebu to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. AirAsia, the World’s Best Low Cost Carrier, continuously heats up your summer by expanding new routes direct from Cebu to Palawan daily, thereby bringing Palawan wonders closer to you more than ever. We were still boarding the AirAsia plane yet my “wanderer” spirit has already been awaken. Can’t blame, just couldn’t hide my excitement to spend my summer and chase wonders in the world’s best island.
Puerto Princesa is the gateway to Underground River, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, and amazing attractions like Honda Bay, Crocodile Farm, Mitras’s Ranch and stunning islands around Palawan, from the azure waters of Balabac to limstone karst combo of Coron to idyllic tropical island-paradise of El Nido and much more natural wonders. Palawan is not named as the “Best Island in the world” for nothing, so we gotta chase ‘em all!
After an hour of smooth flight, we arrived safely at Puerto Princesa City airport. The new international airport was not yet open that time but I look forward to seeing it in flesh very soon. Two (2) Ai World vans picked us up with the presence of Ma’am Coalie (Ai World Palawan Sales & Marketing Consultant). After 30 minutes of land trip, we finally set foot to a blue-hued paradise called Sapphire Hills, just within the vicinity of Ai World Resort. We were all mesmerized with the place’s stunning views but we had to temporarily leave it as it is and prioritized filling our tummies with good food ‘coz we’re starving.
Led by Ma’am Bong (Ai World’s Operations Manager) and Ma’am Coalie, we proceeded to Rendezvous, the resort’s world-class restaurant that serves gastronomic fusion of Japanese and French cuisine. And it didn’t disappoint. While eating our sumptuous dinner, a short briefing was conducted to highlight what to expect for tomorrow’s activities. Since not everyone knew each other, we had a round table introduction and played a category game thereafter and it was really fun. We took some photos around the resort before we headed to our respective villas and fix ourselves to cap off the night.
As for me, the real adventure began on the first day. What you are about to read and view are some of our experiences during our 2D/2N trip in Puerto Princesa. If I were to ask you, “What type of adventure you’d like to experience in Puerto Princesa, Palawan?” You might have endless answers to this grueling question but in this post, I will make things easy for you. However, you may want to set aside Underground River and Crocodile Farm for a while because I’m gonna take you to some of Puerto Princesa’s non-mainstream wonders, to wit:
1.) Sunrise Watching and Workout
First things first. Sunrise in Ai World Palawan is a must-catch. It seemed to me that the dawn breeze is calling me: “WAKE UP SLEEPY HEAD. CHASE ME IF YOU CAN”. And so I did and it was a magical sight to behold. We also had a refreshing Zumba session to jumpstart our day with a positive mood. Ai World Palawan promotes healthy living and wellness by having these internal fitness programs in place.
2.) Rejuvenate at Jikitan Therapeutic Pool
It’s not your ordinary pool, I tell you. Among the four pools in Ai World, this is the most interesting one. Jikitan is believed to have therapeutic effects because of the fact that it utilizes a magnetic charcoal technology and anti-aging property that reduces oxidation and promotes wellness. I tried it twice and I’ve never felt rejuvenated than before. What makes it more interesting is that Jikitan-filled bags are also positioned underneath the king-sized beds, thus same chemical reaction applies while we are sleeping. Isn’t it cool?
3.) Flower Plantation Appreciation
Ai World Palawan is also a flower park. We spend majority of our half day exploring the flower park and unleashed the biophiliac in us. If you pay close attention to the surroundings, the flowers emit negative ions that would awaken that suppressed feeling when stressed, thereby giving you a calming effect and will make you feel better (and not bitter). Wherever we go, we’re greeted by vivid and lovely flowers in shades of red, yellow, white, pink, orange and violet.
4.) Buy Pasalubong at Baker’s Hill
After lunch, we had an opportunity to go to the city proper and visit Baker’s Hill. Baker’s Hill is known for its exquisite landscaping and yummy snack and goodies for pasalubong. It is also perfect place for having family quality time, may it be in the playground or in the zoo. We roamed around the place only for a short time ‘coz we originally just planned on buying just pasalubong. It’s just our first day in Puerto Princesa and we almost bought everything in the store.
5.) Take a Selfie at Nagtabon Beach
We don’t have enough time to loaf in the beach so we just took a picture of this less-trodden gem from the view deck. To be developed in Nagtabon Beach is Casa Blanca del Amor Resort, another must-visit resort owned by World Ai Corp. It will be a Santorini-inspired beach resort and will be overlooking the long stretch of white sand beach over the West Philippine Sea. We are all stunned with its beauty but we would have wanted to take a closer look and tread our feet in the white sand. At least I have more reason to come back to Puerto Princesa!
6.) Bacungan River Cruising & Fishing
Have you tried real fishing in your life? This is your chance to catch a fish using a traditional nylon rod right from the calm river. Edd Buenaviaje (www.iluvcebu.com) successfully caught one small fish but we unanimously decided to release it back to the river apparently because of its size. I guess we better luck next time.
7.) Bacungan Sunset Kayaking
This was my first time river kayaking during sunset and it was really rad. Aside from the awesome experience, let me focus on the different modes of capturing these magical moments. The above photos were taken using different camera, as follows: Top – shot by Marco Diala (www.countocram.com) using iPhone 6S with minimal post-processing and fine-tuning, Left Bottom – captured by yours truly using Huawei GR5 2017 in silky smooth mode, Right Bottom – GoPro Hero 4 shot of me and my roomie Ram Mancelita (www.sugbo.ph) at the farthest north of Bacungan River while the sun has not yet set.
8.) Celebrate Music and Dance Festival
We ended our first day by having a festive mood at Ai Boutique Town’s Music and Dance Festival. We were all amused with Ai Boutique Town’s arts, crafts and paintings curated by Puerto Princesa’s talented elementary and college students. While having our dinner, we were greeted by hot performances of Puerto Princesa’s great artists and lively spectacles.
We checked-out at Ai World around 10:00AM and headed to Blue Palawan Beach Club. Being the first and only white sand beach resort right at the heart of the city, we knew then that we were about to have a great day of exploring Puerto Princesa’s yet another less-crowdy paradise.
9. Try Boardsports at Blue Palawan
Blue Palawan Beach Club is popular for the first and only beach front and club in one resort hosting water sports activities and international competition such as kiteboarding, among others. We would have wanted to try the ATV ride but it was not available that time so we opted for kayaking and stand-up paddling in the resort’s vicinity.
Though it was low tide when we got there, it didn’t stop us from enjoying the water sports and each other’s company. Edd and I immediately grabbed respective SUP while the remaining group were divided into two. While in transit, I observed that the team of Ram, Jeandie and Mariel was so competitive. And ofcourse, my fave team of the day is no other than the group of Sinjin (www.libotero.com), Victor and Ehda because I loved watching them struggled yet still having fun, with their laughter totally contagious.
10.) Eco-adventure Mangrove Cruising
This is the main highlight of our second day at Puerto Pincesa. Kayaking or stand-up paddling (SUP) by the mangrove forest is a fun activity and I must say said “bakhawan” place is so insta-worthy.
Paula (Blue Palawan’s business partner) led the group towards the mangrove forest. On board her SUP is Sophia (www.iamsophiasanchez.com), and they were making a great and sexy tandem. I like how I captured Marco going deep inside the mangrove forest (Top Left) but I love Marco’s stunning shot more because of the unique perspective and composition (Bottom photo).
We spent the rest of the day at Blue Palawan, swimming in the azure pool while boozing on Palawan local beers, cocktails and healthy options.
Spectacular views, superb activities, sumptuous food and inspiring travel buddies ~ it was indeed one fun-filled Puerto Princesa trip that I will never forget. Chasing wonders in Palawan has never been this rewarding with the company of great people. If I have to summarize my take on this bunch, that is we came to Palawan as strangers, but we returned to Cebu as friends. And I think it’s beautiful.
Keep chasing wonders and everything that makes you happy. If there’s anything in life I advocate, it is that we ought to keep wondering and wandering, in awe. I’ll definitely be back soon Palawan!
After a long and tiring trip, a meal or two during flight can never go wrong. Add flavor to your usual meal by ordering AirAsia’s hot meal and I must say this Thai Green Curry is definitely a must-try. With Santan’s authentic flavours around the globe, you’ll surely have a sensational gastronomic adventure and at the same time, heightened inflight dining experience.
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