Day 15: Sabang
The next morning we roused at 6:30 to go on a mangrove tour. It was actually a bit late if one wants to see the birds. You just go to the beach right of the pier along the hotels and through the coconut groves on the same path going to the underground river. We agreed with the boatman the previous day to come earlier so that we can still see the birds and other animals. During low tide, our boatman, who is an old man, told us that you can even see the monkeys eating crabs. It was indeed a fantastic boat ride early in the morning with just the sound of nature in the mangrove forest. Towards the end of our tour, he sang for us their “mangrove song”. Then we got back to where we started and allowed to plant “our” mangrove to mark our visit. I will definitely check on it when I get back there. They have allotted an area where visitors could plant mangroves, and you can see varying sizes of growth and age of the plants.
We went swimming immediately right after the tour. The beach was deserted despite the best of weather. There were many signs at the hotel area warning everyone of a strong undertow thus it is dangerous to swim in the area. It was much of an alarmist thing. There were no lifeguards esp. after 6:00 p.m., so it was discouraged to swim. I have been there several times and can safely say I knew how the weather there is. Anyhow, if you don’t go away far from the beach and as long as you can still feel the sand on your feet, you can frolic on the waters relatively safe. Bathing or swimming in Sabang was pretty good since there were no rocks or seagrasses – just clear water and fine white sand.
On our way to Sabang, we were already warned against swimming. Most of the Filipinos are non-swimmers so I can understand the guide’s concern. Naturally, the safety of her guests is her primary concern. Pesky sand flies (niknik) are also present in many beaches. Fortunately, we didn’t have them in Sabang. Perhaps it’s seasonal too. I can only remember during my previous trips that there were some in other swimming areas. After swimming, we went around a bit through this sleepy little village. Most of the tourist just arrive with the van, go to the underground river, eat lunch at some cottage then drive back to the city.
The accommodations in Sabang are relatively cheap and very affordable unless you wanted to stay at the more cosy resorts like Sheridan or Daluyon which prices range from 4,000 Php a night and up. The rest is basic cottages which cost as low as 800 Php (a cottage). There is no ATM machine in Sabang, so it’s better to bring enough cash with you. We went to Sabang Cafe which lies on the right side of the road going back to Puerto Princesa. This is under new management which is a Filipino. It was formerly owned by a French. We ate a sumptuous meal then were surprised with a free dessert courtesy of the chef which I’ve learned was previously a chef of Sheridan. This was really a pleasant and very welcomed surprise. I’ll truly recommend this café. (*As of 2017, this cafe is not in business anymore).
On our way back to our cottage, we made a stop at the tidal flats left of the pier, to take pictures, of the mountains as a fantastic backdrop, of small fishes and small crabs. We rested and then went to dinner at Dabdab’s own restaurant.
It rained at night, and it feels so good warmly tucked in the bed and listening to the rain pattering down the roof. You are practically inside the rainforest, in the middle of this beautiful nature and feeling protected inside the cottage.