Iwahig Firefly Watching Area is a famous evening riverboat cruise in Puerto Princesa which lets tourists view flickering insects also known as “fireflies” or “lighting bugs.” This educational firefly watching activity is one of the community-based sustainable tourism initiatives of the city. It started in 2007 and now being managed by the locals of Barangay Iwahig. This tourist destination located in Iwahig, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan is among the bucket lists of tourists as it also gives them a chance to have a close encounter with fireflies. The watching site, which is around 45 minutes away from the city proper, opens at 6 p.m. as the fireflies usually come out in the evening.
Fireflies live in the mangroves and trees situated along the banks and Sicsican and Iwahig Rivers. They usually thrive in pollution and noise-free areas. The boat tour at Iwahig Firefly Watching Area will cost you P600 for three people aside from the English-speaking tour guide. Children aged below two years old may join the tour for free. If you are traveling solo, you may also join other groups but the motorized boat can only accommodate a maximum of three people. The tour fee also covers the boat transfer as well as the life vest for tourist’s safety.
Cruising around Iwahig Firefly Watching Area will take you around 30 to 45 minutes, minus the waiting time. There are usually queue in the waiting area for the boat transfers but there are souvenir shops to visit and they also have a big sparking space on site. There is also a buffet restaurant for those who want to indulge in feast before touring. Before the tour starts, tourists will be photographed for souvenir purposes. Using flash photography during the tour is, however, discouraged as this may disturb the fireflies who are inhabiting the area.
During the tour, your boat guide takes you to the ten-meter wide stretch of the mangroves perimeter by paddle boats where you can get a glimpse of the glowing fireflies as well as the enchanting view of the starry sky. Sometimes there are bioluminescent phytoplanktons or star-like planktons in the pitch-black water of the rivers that you can witness during the tour.
Iwahig Firefly usually closes at 10 p.m. so tourists are encouraged to come in early to be accommodated by the management.