Puerto Princesa River

About Puerto Princesa River

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, a captivating natural wonder in the Philippines, navigates its way beneath towering limestone cliffs and lush landscapes. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this subterranean river flows through an awe-inspiring cave system, showcasing remarkable geological formations and a rich biodiversity.

Located in Palawan, the river stretches for approximately 8.2 kilometers, making it one of the longest underground rivers globally. Its cavernous chambers, adorned with unique stalactites and stalagmites, create a mystical environment that captures the imagination. The river emerges into a stunning lagoon before meeting the South China Sea.

Home to a diverse ecosystem, including bats, swiftlets, and a variety of marine life, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River represents the delicate balance between geology and biology. Recognized as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, this underground marvel beckons explorers to venture into its depths, offering a journey through a subterranean realm of extraordinary beauty and ecological significance.

Physical Characteristics

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River in Palawan, Philippines, is a marvel of nature. Stretching approximately 8.2 kilometers (5.1 miles), this underground river holds the distinction of being one of the longest navigable underground rivers globally.

Carving through limestone karst landscapes, the river reaches depths of around 80 meters (262 feet). Remarkably, a significant portion of this subterranean wonder lies about 24 meters (79 feet) below ground level.

As you journey into the darkness of the cave, the river unveils a mesmerizing world of rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites, creating a breathtaking underground tableau. The river’s pristine waters wind their way through awe-inspiring chambers, revealing the intricate beauty of nature’s geological artistry.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River stands as a testament to the splendor hidden beneath the earth’s surface, inviting adventurers to explore its captivating depths.


Nestled within the lush landscapes of Palawan, Philippines, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is a natural wonder that flows beneath ancient limestone cliffs and through dark caverns. This UNESCO World Heritage Site not only boasts stunning geological formations but is also a haven for a diverse array of wildlife. From bats that fill the caverns to vibrant birds perched in the surrounding forests, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is a sanctuary for both unique and captivating species.

Top 10 Wildlife Species in and around the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River:

  1. Palawan Flying Fox (Acerodon jubatus):
    • As dusk descends, the Palawan flying fox takes to the skies. With a wingspan of up to five feet, these large fruit bats are vital pollinators and seed dispersers in the lush forests surrounding the river.
  2. Monitor Lizard (Varanus):
    • Basking on rocks near the riverbanks, monitor lizards are common inhabitants of the area. With their sleek bodies and sharp claws, these reptiles navigate both land and water, adding a touch of wild beauty to the surroundings.
  3. Blue-naped Parrot (Tanygnathus lucionensis):
    • Amidst the verdant canopies, the blue-naped parrot flashes its colorful plumage. Recognizable by its vibrant green and blue colors, these parrots contribute to the symphony of sounds echoing through the forest.
  4. Philippine Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia):
    • With its striking white feathers and prominent red crown, the Philippine cockatoo graces the treetops near the river. This endangered parrot species is a symbol of the rich biodiversity found in the region.
  5. Palawan Hornbill (Anthracoceros marchei):
    • Soaring through the air with distinctive casques on their bills, Palawan hornbills are charismatic birds found in the forested areas. Their unique calls and vibrant plumage make them a captivating sight for visitors.
  6. Philippine Mouse-Deer (Tragulus nigricans):
    • Shy and elusive, the Philippine mouse-deer forages along the riverbanks. With its small size and delicate features, this miniature deer species is well-adapted to the dense vegetation of the area.
  7. Philippine Forest Turtle (Siebenrockiella leytensis):
    • Inhabiting the waterways and wetlands, the Philippine forest turtle is a small and distinctive reptile. Recognizable by its dark coloration and intricate shell pattern, this species plays a role in maintaining the ecological balance of the region.
  8. Swiftlets (Family: Apodidae):
    • Darting through the caverns, swiftlets are agile birds that call the subterranean river home. Their remarkable navigational skills allow them to maneuver effortlessly through the dark tunnels, contributing to the complex ecosystem within.
  9. Kingfisher (Family: Alcedinidae):
    • Perched on branches near the river, kingfishers await the perfect moment to dive for fish. With their iridescent plumage and sharp beaks, these skilled hunters add a splash of color to the riverine habitats.
  10. Crab-Eating Macaque (Macaca fascicularis):
    • Swinging through the trees with playful agility, crab-eating macaques inhabit the lush forests surrounding the river. These primates are known for their resourcefulness and adaptability in the diverse ecosystems of Palawan.

Exploring the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River unveils not only the wonders of an underground river but also the rich biodiversity that thrives in the surrounding ecosystems. From ancient limestone formations to the lively calls of tropical birds, this natural sanctuary is a testament to the incredible variety of life that flourishes in this unique corner of the Philippines.

Ways to Experience

Nestled within the Philippines, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River enchants with its mystical underground allure. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this river invites explorers to venture into a captivating realm of limestone formations and biodiversity, offering a unique and awe-inspiring experience.

Ways to Experience Puerto Princesa Subterranean River:

  1. Underground River Boat Tour:
    • Embark on a boat tour navigating the subterranean river’s dark waters. Led by experienced guides, this journey unveils the mesmerizing stalactite-studded chambers and mysterious rock formations within the cave.
  2. Cave Exploration and Hiking:
    • Combine the boat tour with cave exploration and hiking. Venture into the chambers on foot, discovering intricate formations and learning about the geological wonders that have shaped the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River over time.
  3. Birdwatching along the Riverbanks:
    • Engage in birdwatching along the riverbanks. The surrounding forest is home to diverse bird species, providing birdwatchers with opportunities to spot and appreciate the rich avian life thriving in this unique ecosystem.
  4. Mangrove Paddleboat Tours:
    • Extend your exploration with mangrove paddleboat tours. Navigate through the lush mangrove forests at the river’s entrance, gaining insights into the critical role these ecosystems play in maintaining the river’s health and biodiversity.
  5. Educational Interpretative Tours:
    • Participate in educational interpretative tours. Local guides share insights into the river’s geological significance, the ecosystems it supports, and the conservation efforts in place to preserve this natural wonder.
  6. Photography Expeditions:
    • Capture the mesmerizing beauty through photography expeditions. The unique play of light and shadow within the cave, coupled with the natural splendor of the surroundings, provides ample opportunities for stunning photographs.
  7. Night River Cruises:
    • Experience the magic of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River with night river cruises. Witness the cave come alive with the glow of bioluminescent organisms, creating a surreal and enchanting atmosphere.
  8. Beach Picnics and Relaxation:
    • Combine your adventure with beach picnics and relaxation. The nearby beaches offer serene spots for picnics, where you can unwind and absorb the tranquility of the surroundings after your underground exploration.
  9. Wildlife Spotting:
    • Keep an eye out for wildlife along the riverbanks. The area is home to various species, including monkeys, reptiles, and butterflies, providing nature enthusiasts with opportunities for wildlife spotting.
  10. Cultural Interactions in Sabang Village:
    • Explore the nearby Sabang Village for cultural interactions. Engage with the local community, sample traditional cuisine, and learn about the village’s connection to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River.

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River offers a spectrum of experiences, from the mysterious depths of the cave to the vibrant ecosystems that surround it. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural insights, this underground marvel promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of nature’s wonders.

Best Times

Embark on an extraordinary journey to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, a captivating wonder in the Philippines. Choosing the best time to explore this natural marvel ensures an immersive experience amid stunning limestone formations and a thriving ecosystem.

Best Time to Visit:

  • Dry Season (December to May):
    • Average Temperatures: 77 to 91°F (25 to 33°C)
    • Reasons to Visit: The dry season unveils optimal conditions for river exploration. Crystal-clear waters and manageable temperatures enhance the underground river cruise, allowing you to witness intricate limestone formations and diverse wildlife. Marvel at the mesmerizing play of light and shadow within the cave, creating a surreal experience.
  • Wet Season (June to November):
    • Average Temperatures: 75 to 88°F (24 to 31°C)
    • Reasons to Visit: While occasional rain showers are expected, the wet season transforms the surroundings into a lush, vibrant landscape. The river’s flow might be more robust, providing a unique perspective of the cave system. Enjoy the verdant beauty of the rainforest, and witness the resilience of nature amid tropical showers.


Selecting the best time to visit the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River allows you to tailor your experience. Whether you prefer the dry season’s clarity and calmness or the wet season’s lush landscapes and dynamic river flow, this natural wonder promises an unforgettable adventure beneath the surface of Palawan.