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“An experience like no other”
Review of Firefly Watching

Firefly Watching
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Firefly Watching in Puerto Princesa
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Owner description: A romantic dinner at the floating restaurant and a magical tour with Firefly.
Quezon City, Philippines
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“An experience like no other”
Reviewed April 10, 2014

The Firefly Watch was one of the 4-tours included in our Villa Saturnina vacation package, and I would say one of our most memorable experiences in PP. Coming from an elegant dinner in one of the bigger hotels (a welcome inclusion in this tour), we proceeded to the site in Iwahig.

It was pitch-black when we arrived, which wasn’t exactly ‘friendly’ to this flat-footed trip-prone grandma with poor eyesight - the path leading to the Registration and waiting areas was rather stoney and uneven with occasional up and down steps, and just when I was about to blurb out a few invectives why they have to create such drama at my expense, we were informed that there was a power outage in the area, thus this darkness. (Sorry guys for misjudging you…).

This served us well, because in complete darkness, coupled with a moonless and cloudless night, the fireflies were simply glorious! In between the ‘lights show’ (only fruit trees have fireflies) we got to see the galaxies right before our very own eyes in 3-D vision, gosh I’ve never seen so many stars (and some planets) in my life. Now I can honestly say I’ve seen Jupiter and Mars. (At least that’s what the boatman says while pointing at ‘em through his laser beam, and for the moment I believed him). Maybe, given this romantic atmosphere and if I were younger, I’d probably gently hold my partner’s hand while stargazing – but I can imagine a look of horror of my husband if I tried doing that! Next came the ‘water magic show’ – our guide told me to put my hands in the waters… this was kinda scary, what if a crocodile suddenly snaps my hand off… but then again in full trust of the guide, I did – and what an awesome sight! As you touch the waters, planktons radiated a magical luminous glow like you’ve never seen before. And so what if there were unfriendly creatures down there my hand was stuck in the waters the whole time!

The tour only took all of 45 minutes, but I consider this a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I don’t think I’d go back there again – but I guess it’s one of those memories which connects you with the earth, its creatures, and God’s beautiful creations – and deepens our relationship to ourselves in the process. I would hope everyone going to PP would always consider taking this tour. Aside from the beautiful experience, you would, at the same time, provide livelihood for the community.

My advice : 1.) A DIY tour may be perfect for adventurous young people used to travelling on backpack because it will save you a lot of money. But if you’re a tourist or a ‘Jr.’ citizen like me who wants a stress-free life, it’s better to take a guided tour. You will have to add a few more bucks and you’re spending for dinner anyway, but at least you’ll feel safer and taken-cared of. The roads leading to the sight is quite dark and deserted and far from the city proper - I wouldn’t cherish the thought of a flat tire or a trike motor breakdown along the way! In fact we encountered an overturned van on our way to the sight, I am still wondering how the driver got help. ; 2.) It is advisable to bring a flashlight if you’re taking this tour. I hoped I had one, cuz the fireflies will not be lighting you way…

Visited March 2014
Thank RAZ0106
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Hong Kong, China
Level 5 Contributor
33 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Love This - Don't Miss the Iwahig Firefly Watching Experience!”
Reviewed April 7, 2014

OMG - I didn't expect that firefly watching could be this fun!

Tour agencies offer this itinerary for Php 1,100 or USD25/head, but personally, would recommend that you try doing it yourself especially if you're more than two people. How to do it yourself?

1) Talk to any tricycle driver and they will agree to drive you there for Php 600. A tricycle can carry from 4-5 people so the more people on the tricycle, the cheaper the ride gets. Travel time is around 30 minutes from city center.

2) When you get there, sign up and pay immediately. A group who didn't pay came last and waited for over an hour for their turn. Fees are Php 600 per boat, and each boat can hold a maximum of 3 people. If you are alone, best to ask around and see if you can share with anyone else.

3) The ride itself takes 20 minutes. If you're doing it yourself, suggest that you leave your hotel at 5:15 pm or 5:30 pm at latest to get to the firefly watching venue by 6:00 pm. This allows you to finish the tour by 7:30pm. Wait a little longer as you'll be stuck waiting for hours for your turn. Enjoy!


First, the swamp itself is clean, quiet and a perfect place to go firefly watching. Except for heavy rainy days, you are 100% guaranteed to see fireflies. If you're lucky and are seated in front of the boatman (and behind everyone else), you may even get to hold one or two in your hand. Be careful though, they fly away easily because they're really really small!

The boatman as well is especially friendly and knowledgeable. Ours for example used to be a sales agent for Nestle before becoming a boatman. Needless to say, he speaks great English. He carries with him some dim red light which excites the fireflies, allowing them to emit greater light. He also beams up a strong flashlight and shows you interesting constellations while you're rowing down the swamp. At the end of the swamp, he even showed us plankton, similar to that of the Life of Pi. Overall, by the end of the 20-30 minute tour, you're bound to come away wiser about swamp conversation, firefly knowhow and a bit of the stars in the sky.

All I can say is, this is one of the best experiences I've had, and I've had many. It's too bad that it's 20 minutes short, but hey, I loved every single minute of it, and that brief solitude was enough for me to think, savor and enjoy the moments.

Definitely a not a miss event when you're in Puerto Princesa!

Visited April 2014
2 Thank Tina K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manila, Philippines
Level 4 Contributor
21 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“The most spectacular lightshow in the world!”
Reviewed March 25, 2014

I've seen fireflies so many times and I thought there will be nothing new to watch at Iwahig Firefly watching except for the boat ride. I am not excited to go but it is the first part of our 3-day tour of Puerto Princesa. When we were there, it was very dark as our tour guide said there are parts of Palawan with no electricity yet and just using solar panels for their lights. Then we got to the boat all I can see are the stars and something sparkling in the water which I thought are refection of stars from the sky. Then the first set of fire flies lit up... WOW!!!!!They are so many, it was a natural Christmas tree on a March night. Then the boat man is really knowledgeable about the fireflies. Not just the fireflies but astronomy and even plankton... Haha! It's lingering in my mind that those something sparkling in the water are plankton but I never thought that we had it here in the Philippines so I ignored but I was right... I never ever imagined that I will see it in Palawan but I've seen it. WOW.... It was a feast of the eye, a spectacular light show with no electricity needed.... NEVER NEVER MISSED IT!!! :)

Visited March 2014
Thank nemomanila
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cebu City, Philippines
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Amazing Fireflies”
Reviewed March 19, 2014

I love watching the fireflies but kinda afraid if there are crocodiles...hehehe but it's a nice destination...

Visited March 2014
Thank heydudeceb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 5 Contributor
57 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Magical :)”
Reviewed March 16, 2014

Two people I met at the museum told me that they were going to see the fireflies later on that day. Even though I barely knew them, I said yes and joined them for the tour. Our guide brought us to the Iwahig River before sun set and we were able to take marvelous shots of the river. When it was dark, the park operators gave us a short talk. Only 3 people are allowed per boat (one boat is P600). When I saw the fireflies flickering, I was spellbound. The Iwahig River is one of the cleanest in the Philippines and while you're there - dip your hand in the water to see the planktons glow. Just to set your expectation don't expect to see fireflies in all the trees.

Visited March 2014
Thank Patricia S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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