Puerto Princesa Palawan; Breath-taking Firefly Watching at Iwahig River

Day is done, gone the sun. Firefly watching at Iwahig River is first on our plan. Yay!

After the exciting ride with Cebu Pacific Air, we went straight to our lodging at Bahay ni Lolo Manit, which is just a 5-minute ride from the Puerto Princesa International Airport. It’s one complicated lodging to find (even online), ‘coz even the locals can’t recognize where it is but once you get in, you’ll forget you’re in a foreign land. It feels so home, even better. But, as much as we wanted to lay our dizzy heads in our comfortable pillows, can not be since we got an appointment with the Fireflies at the Iwahig River. So, we settled the payment, dropped our backpacks and hopped in our service van.


After 45 minutes, we arrived at the Iwahig River entrance. Went to the registration and paid for the boats to be used. Each boat costs 600 pesos with a capacity of up to 4 persons including the boatman/ tour guide.
After we settled the bills, we were asked to wear life vest and wait for our numbers to be called.

Finally, our turn!

Good thing I was seated in front of the tour guide so I got to listen very well to his mechanical script. Here’s a list of what I learned from our Iwahig River Firefly Watching tour:
  • Iwahig Firefly Watching, Mangrove Eco-tourism and Wildlife Park is a joint project of Iwahig Community Eco-tourism Association and ABS CBN Foundation which aim to preserve the ecosystem
  • Iwahig River is 30-40 feet deep
  • Fireflies are bugs in the family of insects.
  • Fireflies are one of the indicators of a healthy ecosystem
  • Fireflies produce light from their lower abdomen. I thought it’s from their butt :)
  • Courtship also happens to fireflies. How? Female firefly goes to the top of the tree/mangrove. Shine at its highest so the male can see her glow. Then the male fireflies compete with each other. Whoever goes first wins.
  • Red light is used by the boatmen to make fireflies emit strong light. It’s their defense mechanism to their predator. They see red light as threat, so they tend to produce light in unity to scare their enemy. 
  • No sightings of crocodiles in Iwahig river
  • Fireflies in other countries don’t go in groups rather they isolate themselves. 
  • Mangroves, stars and constellation are part of the discussion. I just can’t force my brain to remember them all. Smile with tongue out
These were actually left over facts, since I cannot fully absorbed what he was saying. But the funny thing was, after the tour, the van turned out to be a classroom. The information was overflowing we can’t help but share and review what we learned. Then I realized, there’s so much in this world to learn! And learning doesn’t need to be boring. Smile

The Experience

The experience was simple yet priceless. It was like watching a theatrical presentation. The fireflies were the main cast and we were the audience. At first, it was creepy because we were sailing in a cold night with 30 feet deep river underneath. Anything can happen in just a blink. My brain was bombarding me with what ifs. What  if the boat suddenly collapsed? What if there’s a crocodile waiting for us? What if there’s an anaconda below? Waah! But God was gracious, he shoo the fear with breath taking fireflies trying effortless to please its audience.

Please bear with my long wordings coz as much as I wanted to show you great photos, can’t. It’s too dark (no flash photography is allowed, of course!) and the boat was moving. The boat man also told us that it’s really hard to get a beautiful snap of the fireflies, even some of the great photographers had a hard time with these magnificent creature. Maybe it’s meant to be that way, seeing and experiencing it personally.


The boat ride took us approximately 45 minutes. I thought it was gonna be boring but the fireflies did not fail us, we were craving for more. I think if you’re a couple sailing, it would be one romantic date night!

After the ride, we get our souvenir photo for 150 pesos. I know, it’s expensive but mom insisted. Anyway, you have the option to buy it or not. But for me it’s better to just bring your cameras and just save the money for the souvenir shops visit.

And oh, if you’re planning an Iwahig River Tour, you may call Kuya Ryan, 09154261966. He is very hospitable and more than willing to give the assistance you need, such as van rental and affordable tour package. 

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