Johnny Jet: Palawan, Philippines from Above and Below


johnny jet palawan

Thank you to Johnny Jet for sharing our story from Palawan in the Philippines.

Having heard that Palawan in the Philippines is a worthwhile destination from a variety of travelers over the years, I was excited to be heading to the island’s capital, Puerto Princesa. Rissa Gatdula-Lumontad and Ricky Tio at Cebu Holiday Tours set up our accommodation and itinerary in advance, and so we were picked up at the airport by a representative from Hotel Centro, a misnomer since the hotel is located a few kilometers outside of the city center in a quiet area near Robinsons Place Palawan mall.

Room at Hotel Centro

Constructed only two years ago in 2011, Hotel Centro has a variety of rooms to choose from including deluxe, superior, as well as honeymoon and family suites. The hotel puts on grill nights near the pool and has implemented an eco-friendly stance with programs to help the environment, such as their towel initiative; Hotel Centro was in fact awarded the 2011 Puerto Princesa City’s Cleanest and Greenest hotel award and is the 2012 Gold Circle Award.

The “Soul Pool Bar” offers Happy Hour discounts each night (60-peso local beers from 5 pm-8 pm; 50%-off margaritas and mojitos from 8 pm-11 pm) to help guests kick off evenings while relaxing at the bar adjacent to the pool and outdoor Jacuzzi. Hotel Centro’s amenities include a souvenir shop, fitness center, spa, business center and five conference venues. Fine dining is available for clients at Expressions Café but we had a romantic date night at Badjao Seafront, a highly recommended oceanside seafood restaurant where we sampled shrimp salad, crab soup and a tuna filet served with a side of vegetables and rice.

Navigating the underground river

Navigating the underground river Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

After a comfortable night’s sleep, we departed to the underground river at Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and perhaps Palawan’s biggest tourist draw alongside El Nido. The underground river is also cited as number two of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Formed by limestone karst formations, the underground river is open from 8:30 am-3:30 pm and issues 900 daily permits (which must be secured ahead of time; tour groups like AMIKA Tours can make the arrangements). We were picked up by April, a representative of AMIKA Tours, and en route we passed by Puerto Princesa’s largest mountain, Mt. Cleopatra. In keeping with Palawan’s theme of cleanliness and green eco-tourist stance, solar streetlights and trash free streets were evident.


Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education, is a science teacher and is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. You can find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over 1.3 million views on her YouTube channel. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed an Olympic swimmer and numerous bestselling authors and has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. She was named both a Top 10 Travel Influencer and a Top 50 Female Influencer for 2021 by Afluencer and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. She has been nominated for the inaugural Forbes 50 over 50/Know Your Value list due out in Summer 2021. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best and has more than 150,000 followers across social media. Niver is a judge for the Gracies Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media and has also run 15 travel competitions publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries on We Said Go Travel. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded two Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards. From 2017 to 2021 in the Southern California Journalism Awards and National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards, she has won four times for her broadcast television segments, print and digital articles. Niver won in 2021 as Book Critic and in 2019 for one of her KTLA TV segments NAEJ (National Arts and Entertainment Journalism) award. Niver won an award for her print magazine article for Hemispheres Magazine for United Airlines in the 2020 Southern California Journalism Awards and a 2017 Southern California Journalism Award for her print story for the Jewish Journal. Niver has written for National Geographic, USA Today 10best, TODAY, Teen Vogue, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave(ish): It's All About Perspective 50 Adventures Before 50,” about her most recent travels and insights. When she's not SCUBA diving or in her art studio making ceramics, she's helping people find their next dream trip.

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