When tourists ask what’s the best place in Palawan, the southern part is oftentimes mentioned second. Fortunately, this portion of the province is gradually getting the attention it deserves, thanks to its forests, falls and farms that make it an interesting destination.
Among the lesser-known towns in the south deserving to be in the limelight is Quezon, and I tell you it never disappoints when it comes to offering visitors a long list of must-see attractions. Aside from the famed Tabon Caves Complex, you will find below places you should not miss when in Quezon. Spend more than a day here so you can accomplish plenty of exploration!
1. Tabon Caves Complex
You probably heard of the world-renowned Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR). And you might think it’s the only cave destination worth-visiting in the province, right? However, long before PPUR rose to popularity, interestingly there’s this Tabon Cave Complex (TCC) that’s discovered many years ago.
Shaped by time, this group of archaeologically important caves is particularly located in Lipuun Point Reservation, north of Quezon town. Ride a tricycle for P10 going to the town port. A 25 to 30-minute boat ride (P800/8 persons) will take you to the TCC on the west coast of Palawan.
Feeling adventurous? You could otherwise drive your way (or hire a tricycle for P500) to the jump-off point at the “view deck.” You’ll find this spot in Sitio Iluluway (also known as Bugtong), Bgy. Panitian, some 30 minutes away from the downtown. Then from there, trek through the mangrove forest for less than an hour to reach the site.
The National Museum manages the 138-hectare Lipuun Point Reservation, which is rich in natural and cultural resources. It was declared a Site Museum Reservation through Proclamation No. 996 dated April 11, 1972.
In 1991, TCC became more popular the time it was announced a priority site for tourism development for its natural and cultural heritage. The TCC including all of Lipuun was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site tentative list in 2006, and was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum in February 2011.
So you might ask why Tabon? Locals say it got its name from its regular visitors, Tabon birds. This avian species digs deep holes in the bat waste deposit on the cave floor or soft beach sand. After laying eggs there, they scratch back the soil or sand to form a mound. This serves as the nest’s “cover,” which is translated in Filipino as “tabon.”
Amazingly, TCC has 219 caves! 8 out of the 38 explored caves are accessible and safe for tourists to visit. The famous of which is Tabon Cave, which earned TCC the reputation of being the Philippines’ cradle of civilization.
It’s in the Tabon Cave where the earliest human remains in the Philippines known as Tabon Man (estimated to be 22,000 to 24,000 years old as per C-14 Carbon-dating method) was recovered.
Excavations throughout the TCC yielded a burial jar (known as the iconic Manunggul Jar), stone tools, earthenware vessels, among other artifacts. These all suggest 50,000 years of Philippine prehistory was already linked with Southeast Asian neighbors.
You won’t get lost here as you’ll tour around for at least two hours with a guide. Getting from one cave to another, however, involves enduring around 2,000 stair steps going up and down. To keep yourself hydrated, it’s better to bring your own refillable water bottle. Also, bring insect repellents if possible.
2. Island destinations
If you’re a beach lover, you may find comfort in Quezon’s selection of island destinations. The Municipal Tourism Office offers two island hopping packages that you can avail with your family and friends.
Package 1 includes Tataran and Sidanao Islands, plus TCC for P1,200. Some 15-minute boat ride from TCC lies Tataran, which boasts of a white sandbar that’s surrounded by emerald waters perfect for swimming. Here, work on your tan while taking selfies and groupies all you want! Sidanao, meanwhile, sits just in front of TCC and is also ideal for beach bumming and sunset chasing.
On one hand, Package 2 consists of Nasirik, Tamlangon, Mansaluyan and Double Islands for P2,700. These islands are a bit farther. So if you want to visit them all without feeling in a hurry, venture into the sea earlier. The highlight here is the picture-perfect Nasirik, an islet of sand and sandstone surrounded by turquoise water.
Nasirik (or Mansirik) Island gives off a castaway feel being the farthest of all the islands included in Package 2. You can reach it after an hour of boat ride from the town port. As it’s set in the open sea, expect the ocean to be wavy!
For boat rental, ask the Municipal Tourism Office to arrange it for you. Each boat only carries up to 8 persons. Beyond that number, other passengers will be transferred to another boat. If your group wishes to add islands not included in your package, the boat operator charges P200 per island.
3. Nagmisi Peak
All you need is an adventurous spirit to scale the 500-feet high Mt. Nagmisi (also known as Devil’s Peak). To get there, ride a tricycle (P30/head) northward to Barangay Maasin, 17 kilometers away from the poblacion. Ask the driver to drop you off at the jump-off point near Lasyap Beach.
Make sure you coordinated first with the tourism office so you’ll be assigned a guide that would ensure your safety. The guide (P500/5 persons) will lead you to the rocky trail. After some 30 to 45 minutes of climbing, you’ll reach its summit that offers a panoramic view of Quezon. It’s also the best spot to take in the beauty of cerulean West Philippines Sea.
4. Tumarbong Falls
Not far from Nagmisi lies Tumarbong Falls, also in Barangay Maasin. A 15-min tricycle ride from the town proper will take you to Tumarbong Bridge. That’s your jump-off point which is located just along the highway.
Going to Tumarbong Falls involves 20 minutes of trekking. The falls itself is at its fullest during the rainy season, but you can cool off here any time of the year. If you’ve been to Siquijor’s Cambugahay Falls, you’ll notice they have a resemblance, except that the former’s catch basin has clearer waters. Nonetheless, Tumarbong Falls offers a quiet place for stressed out souls to unwind.
Indeed, Quezon town is an overlooked treasure in southern Palawan where you can have a recharging weekend getaway. If you’re not a fan of overcrowded tourist hot spots, or fancy getting off-grid and off the beaten track, then this is an ideal place to be.
Quezon town is a 3-hour drive from Puerto Princesa City. It’s accessible by public utility vehicles like shuttle van, bus and jeepney. In visiting the TCC and other sites, you need to register at the Municipal Tourism Office (MTO) and pay an environmental fee of P50 for Filipinos and P100 for foreigners. You also need to secure a TCC visit permit at the National Museum office in town. For inquiries and assistance, contact the MTO at 0917 8888 469 or email them at email@example.com