Sabang’s Underground River, one of the 7 new wonders of nature.

Posted by on Mar 4, 2012 in Asia, Philippines | 2 comments

After we got settled in Sabang, we went to the Tourist Center.  The only place where you can register for a coveted boating permit to the Underground River. The Underground River is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was just named one of the 7 new wonders of nature.

The waiting area was packed.  The girl behind the counter told us that they were all out of boating permits for today and to come back early tomorrow morning. “But can we get a boating permit for tomorrow?” We asked. “Tomorrow”, she said.

We arrived the next day at 6 am to find a big group of people already waiting, half already with boating permits. Then more bad news, the center wasn’t going to start issuing boating permits for the day until later that evening. Shit, what are we doing here this early in the morning.

Luckily another option presented itself.  The center also offered walking permits. A walking permit meant we would be walking the 5 km to the river instead of taking a boat but could leave whenever we wanted.  We would also be given a guided canoe once we got the the river to take us inside. Nice, we opted for the walking permit, not wanting to have to wait around all day for the boating permits to be issued.

The trail’s scenery made the 2 hour trek worth it despite the intense humidity and steep limestone mountains.

Ben swing from a Tarzan vine we found in a cave.

The descent down from a limestone mountain we had to climb.

We even saw monkeys and komodo dragons on the way, which was unexpected treat.

Just chillin'.

Komodo Dragon. I'm not going to lie, I was kinda scared.

Here’s a video I shot of some monkeys.  They were just so super cute!!!

Fast Tube by Casper

It was 9:30 am by the time we arrived at the Underground River. We were given a DMV like ticket with 56 on it. A couple of tour operators were kind enough to show us where we should wait. I asked what number they were on. One of the tour operators told us 9, looked at our ticket number and started laughing at us! He told us that we could finish a book in the time we had to wait! Brutal. But you have to love the way the Asians break bad news to you, always with a joke and a smile.

At least the area wasn’t too shabby of place to hang out for another 6 hours.  The ocean fed into an deep aqua colored lagoon surrounded by unique rocks and lush vegetation.

Trees over the Lagoon

A guided canoe making its way to the Underground River aka the cave ahead.

I even had some fun playing with the local fish.

Fast Tube by Casper

Finally around 3pm, we got into our helmets and life vests and loaded onto our Underground River canoe. Here are some pictures as we approach the underground river.

Approaching the cave.

The mouth of the Underground River

Our Underground River guide was a one man show, responsible for steering and paddling the canoe as well as giving the tour. So it was forgivable when he would occasionally run out of breath while talking, but not so forgivable was his constant burping! I’ve never heard someone belch so much!

He was also very fixated on bat poop. Telling us every time we needed to look up to “Keep your mouth closed”. He would also say things like “look at those interesting markings over there…bat poop.” or “that wasn’t condensation that just fell on you, that was poo from a bat.” I definitely did not learn anything about stalagmites or blind fish on this tour.

Lots of bat poop.

As we went deeper inside the cave, the rock formation got more eerily beautiful.

Inside the Underground River, the light ahead is another boat.

Rock Formation in the Underground River

As we exited the cave, it started to rain!

Existing the Underground River

Not exactly the perfect ending to the day but hey at least we didn’t have to wait in the rain. We also ended up getting a boat back instead of hiking…Thank God!




  1. Quite an adventure! Both the tour and the waiting! Loved hearing from you. Take care LOL MOM

  2. WOW!

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