Kawayanan Resort is a great place to stay in Puerto Princesa. I was looking for a hotel close to the airport and this one had good reviews on TripAdvisor and offered the day trips I was looking for. While the price seems a bit steep (1800 pesos a night), it does offer everything you need: AC/fan, a clean room, comfy bed and pillows, cable TV, a hot water shower, a patio outside your room, a pool with waterslides, beautiful grounds, and an onsite restaurant and travel agent. Also free breakfast and airport pick up/drop off were included with our rate (I'm not sure if it's because we booked a package or if that comes with just a room). We were greeted at the airport promptly with a large sign and upon check in we were given complimentary iced tea before being shown to our room. Service was friendly throughout our stay.
The resort was nice but not perfect.
Areas with room for improvement:
-Wifi didn't work well anywhere and didn't work at all in the room.
-Shower pressure was very low.
-Strangely, the TV didn't have a plug that fit into the socket so I had to use my adapter. Wasn't a problem but just odd.
-Food in the restaurant is not very good. We had a bad experience our last night when we waited almost two hours for dinner. When it was served we couldn't even eat much of it... The beef kare kare was very salty and the club sandwich was smothered in a Thousand Island-like sauce that ruined it. However, the owner Mary did everything possible to fix the situation. She later brought a fruit plate to our room and offered complimentary mango shakes, grilled chicken and rice, or whatever else we wanted. She also comped our meals and mango shakes. By the way... Their mango shakes are AMAZING. They definitely get those right. Breakfast was just OK but actually on our last day (after the dinner disaster) it was much better... American-style bacon and fresh watermelon! Anyway, a tricycle ride into town is only 30 pesos and 10 minutes, so I recommend going there for dinner. See my TripAdvisor review for Blue Ginger if you tire of Filipino food while you're there.
We also booked the Honda Bay tour (7 hours, 1100 pesos per person) and the Underground River tour (10 hours, 1600 pesos per person) with Kawayanan Resort. Both were excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed them. Great guides on both trips. Also I was pleasantly surprised to find that we were on small tours with only other guests from the resort (5 total for the Honda Bay tour and 8 for the Underground River tour)... Very personalized and no wasted time spent picking up and dropping off people from other hotels.
For the Honda Bay trip we left at 7am and returned and 2pm. (We were told the departure time was 7:30am but they knocked at our door at 6:25am and told us it had been moved to 7! Although they warned us the night before that that might happen.) Later other guests told us they took the same tour starting at 11am... I wish we'd been given the later time option!! Another hidden surprise was that snorkeling gear wasn't included. You stop at a rental place on the way so prepare extra money if you want to rent gear, towels, or buy bread to feed the fish (which you should!). It was 150 pesos to rent just the mask and snorkel, which is all I got. Our boat took us to a coral reef where the guide leads you around the water and points things out such as giant clams. I also saw fan coral, which was cool! Then we went to Snake Island. Lots of tropical fish in clear water, we took a walk past the mangrove trees, so many sand dollars you can find, and we saw live starfish! We also ate lunch here which wasn't great because it was cold and the meat was fatty: chicken adobo, pork, rice, beans, and fish. But it's included in the price. Then we went to Pandan Island. There is more to do on this island, you can get a henna tattoo or a massage. But my recommendation: Walk to your right (facing the ocean) with a big beach towel and find yourself a spot about 10 minutes away that's completely deserted. That's what we did! It was heavenly. At both islands there is only one main swimming area however.
The next day we did the Underground River tour. We were supposed to leave at 7:30am but ended up leaving at 8 after waiting around for half an hour. Not sure why. Also the owner didn't tell us until we checked in that the price had increased by 100 pesos for foreigners due to some permit fee. Also, no one told us to bring an ID but luckily I overheard someone talking about it so we did! Anyway, it's a 2 hour drive to Sabang Beach; on the way there we stopped halfway at a "rest area" to go to the bathroom and buy drinks/snacks/souvenirs. (Tip: Don't forget to bring toilet paper with you on these day trips!) When we got to the pier our guide took our IDs to arrange our permits. Unfortunately half of our group had a problem and their permits were delayed. So four of us went on without them while our guide stayed with them. We took a 20 minute boat ride to the underground river area. Our guide had told us that we would have time to hang out with the monkeys and monitor lizards but as soon as we were there we were rushed to the waiting area for our boat ride through the cave. I don't know why they rushed us though as we waited there for at least an hour. We walked towards the ocean and went swimming for awhile until someone told us it wasn't allowed! We wondered why no one else was swimming in this beautiful clear water... Our guide had apparently forgotten to tell us the rules (no swimming, smoking, or feeding the animals). So having to wait for an hour with no swimming allowed is really boring. But, once it was our turn, we donned our lifejackets and helmets and got into the ten person canoe for our ride through the cave. It felt so short and I wish it was longer!! The guide pointed out all the different formations to us and showed us places where the ceiling was so high. It was awesome I just wish we were able to go farther! After we got back to shore we did get to see some monkeys before we were rushed back to our boat. I wish we had more time with the animals and at the beach and I think usually you do. But our tour was just odd because our group got cut in half and we were without our original guide. When we got back to Sabang Beach our guide was waiting and the other half of our group had gotten their permits and gone to the underground river. So we went with her to the restaurant for a buffet lunch. The food was just OK again but a step up from the lunch on the Honda Bay tour. We got really lucky on the walk back from the restaurant to the van as we got a Chinese New Year show with dancing dragons! When we got back to the van we ended up having to wait longer but it was OK as we bought pearls from the sellers walking around and played basketball with some local kids.
All in all a great time was had in Puerto Princesa!
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.