Rob: Sabang is a quiet town on the western side of the island that thrives during the day as tour vans pile in from Puerto Princesa to shuttle tourists back and forth to the Underground River. As the sun sets, the beach becomes home to just the locals and a few travelers like us who enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.
The first of two evenings in Sabang we stayed just above the beach on the edge of the surrounding rainforest. The sounds in this area have struck me as a standout feature that someone should put on a billboard.
“Laughing” ducks in the day time, 47 kinds of cicadas chirping and singing at night. Roosters, Monkeys and other assorted jungle creatures we couldn’t identify singing in the background 24 hours a day. It’s a great accompaniment to the sounds of the surf that we can still hear from our cabin in the hills.
The main attraction here is the entrance to a recently discovered underground river and cave system that is accessible via a little lagoon close to the town. From the cave entrance you can paddle 4 km in from the sea and under the limestone mountains. It only takes a few meters inside the mouth of the caves before everything goes dark and you are in a tunnel of rock stretching out in front of you. Our tour guide takes us 2km into the mountain which is as far as the tour goes. Areas past 4km inside really haven’t been explored due to the environmental sensitivity of the caves and river itself. From narrow passages to 30 meter tall chambers we glide very quietly through the very dim tunnels navigated by our guides headlight so as to not disturb the residents. Crabs, lobsters and 8 different species of bats, 3 of which are only found in these mysterious caves with a gentle flowing river as it’s floor. Stalagmites and stalactites abound as they should in these environs. The river itself naturally cleans out the cave so it doesn’t smell like there are about a million bats literally hanging over your head. “When you look up, please don’t open your mouth.” Pretty good advice from the guide, if you ask me.
We spent 2 days and nights in Sabang. We loved the peace and quiet at night, $8 massages with the sound of the surf and a few good Rhum and Mango Slushie Cocktails from the hawkers right at the pier. Lacy has also traded her beloved dragonfruit shakes for avocado shakes here. Simple garlic rice with cabbage and fried egg was one of the better meals we enjoyed. Keeping life simple is easy to do in Sabang. Tomorrow we set off further north to our ultimate destination of El Nido but we aren’t in all that much of a hurry. 🌺🌴🦜
We did two stints of an hour + on the bike today with lunch in the middle. Fully loaded with gear and the two of us at max RPMs for that length of time is enough to make me vibrate for an extra 30 minutes after getting off the bike. It has been worth it to ride from the western rainforest side of the island back over to the drier eastern side via the jungle road for the first 1/2 and coastal road the second 1/2 of the way today. The weather became hot and very windy as we made it near the eastern coast again. We got off the main island road that runs North and South about 5km from a little beach place we found online. We wanted to check it out in person before booking. Our last 15 minutes ride was through sand and palms parallel to the beach. A Water Buffalo, a few Cows and Chickens barely looked up as we passed by. It was a great little beach path road to get to Guru Beach – or – the Peace and Love Beach Club. Turning the engine off I could immediately hear Bob Marley playing on the speakers hung from the palm trees that surrounded the little bar hut and I could see chairs and hammocks in the palm shaded beachfront.
Later I relaxed with a cool San Miguel beer while Lacy practiced yoga in a bamboo Shala right on the beach while watching the sky turn purple and the water turn from aqua to dark blue and eventually black as the sun set behind me.
We might be here for a while.
Lacy: Guru Beach Resort is on an extremely quiet and local stretch of sand with the Sulu sea steps from our room. The rooms are clean and simple which is perfect because we are spending all day outside in the lounge chairs, hammocks, swimming or walking up and down the unspoiled beach lined with palm trees and mangroves. Herds of pigs kept by the locals come out at dusk to root around the sand for critters to eat…and even wade in the shallow sea to cool off. This sight made us both laugh. At the end of the day we get to enjoy fresh fish, garlic rice and vegetables by candlelight in the open air dining room. We have let the Chefs know that we would love to have the fresh catch for our next meal and we are enjoying our food here more than anywhere else we have eaten so far in Palawan. Of course, the sound of the sea follows us here too as we are never far from it no matter where we go. Shoes were taken off as soon as we arrived and not put back on for days. Add a lovely raised bamboo pagoda where I enjoy my daily practice on the beach and, well, we are in heaven. Did I mention it’s only $20/night?! We started for 2 nights and that quickly led to four. Onsite massages, a boat trip to surrounding islands with turquoise water and reading on the beach were added to our daily itinerary. The biggest responsibility I have felt is to brush my teeth each day. The staff here is superb and we really feel like we are on the receiving end of the kind of hospitality we were providing at the bed and breakfast we worked in for the last 6 months in New Mexico. Thoroughly enjoying everything about this place, we are so pleased that we found it.
The air in the mornings is still and calm with the wind picking up as the day progresses. Sometimes the wind makes a breeze cool enough for me to wear my shawl as I lay in the hammock or play cards with Rob. But by the time we order dinner, around 7p, the surrounding air becomes quite calm again and doesn’t threaten to blow away our 345th game of 500 rummy. It’s actually perfect because with all the shade from the palm trees and the refreshing sea breeze that is constantly surrounding us, we are never too hot at this beach.
We have become friendly with Jessica and Janie-Lynn, two of the girls who work at the hotel (and are essentially the Pinoy equivalents of Rob and I when working back home). Rob noticed them eyeing me during my daily yoga practice. When I asked if they were interested in trying a class they first asked if it was free and when I replied, “Of course,” I was met with an enthusiastic “Yes.” And just like that, I had my first 2 students! My teachers implored me and my fellow classmates to teach anyone we could after leaving so as to keep our skills sharp after the training course. Short of flagging down random people on the road this was the best option I could find!
We know that as soon as we leave this bubble we will be thrust into the more densely tourist-populated areas so for now we are enjoying quiet mornings sipping coffee on the beach while watching the neighbors bring in their fishing nets from the sun-kissed sea. Even though we left America at the end of January our vacation together didn’t start until just this last week…and it couldn’t be going better.