The Puerto Princesa Underground River in the Philippines is a unique and stunning natural wonder located within the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park. This park boasts a spectacular limestone karst landscape, old-growth forests, and diverse wildlife. The park is located on the mid-western coast of Palawan and is approximately 76 km from Puerto Princesa and 360 km from Manila.
At the heart of the park is the 8.2 km long Puerto Princesa Underground River, which flows directly into the sea and is one of the most impressive cave systems in the world. The lower half of the river is brackish and subject to tidal influence, making it a significant global phenomenon. The river’s cavern is filled with remarkable rock formations and large chambers that can be as wide as 120m and as high as 60m.
The underground river provides a vital habitat for biodiversity conservation and protects some of the most pristine forests in the Palawan Biogeographic Province. The park is home to eight intact forest formations including: forest on ultramafic soil, forest on limestone soil, montane forest, freshwater swamp forest, lowland evergreen tropical rainforest, riverine forest, beach forest, and mangrove forest. The Palawan Moist Forest within the park has been recognized as the largest and most valuable limestone forest in Asia, with a high level of regional and local endemism and a rich tree flora.
Tourists can experience the breathtaking beauty of the Puerto Princesa Underground River by taking a river cruise through its caverns. Although only a portion of the 4.5 km inland river is open to the public for safety reasons, visitors can still marvel at the magnificent rock formations. The park is also noteworthy for being the first national park in the Philippines that was devolved and successfully managed by a local government unit, a testament to the Filipino people’s commitment to preserving their natural heritage.