Philippines Travel

Adventure in El Nido Exposed

January 19, 2017

To say that Palawan is the most beautiful island in the Philippines is an understatement. This cluster of islands is beyond beautiful inside out and any words that I can think of.

The Philippines is composed of 7,107 islands and increases when it’s low tide/high tide. Palawan has 1,700 islands of those.

Whenever I travel to an unfamiliar place, there are things that I look forward to see and experience. Breathtaking sunset, fantastic local food, basking in the sun, swimming in the deep (Yeap! I am already comfortable in saying that.), exchange interesting conversations with locals & foreigners, and of course, bond over different activities while on the island.

Five days and four nights in this gorgeous island? Yes, I got them all!

  1. Island hopping
  2. Snorkeling
  3. Anniversary dinner
  4. Meeting new friends
  5. Staying at a hostel

How can I squeeze in 5 days of paradise in one post? I honestly don’t know, too. Here’s the itinerary that I have prepared and it’s safe to say Marti and I were able to visit them all without hassle and thrift.

Budget: 16,750php

Two-way plane ticket via Philippine Airlines (MNL-PP-MNL) – 6,000php / 120USD
Van rental – 900php/person two-way ride
Lodging – Swiflets Inn 1,500/night; Spin Hostel private room 9,ooophp/3 nights
Food – 200php/night
Activities – 1,200php for each tour; 700php/person for van rental to Nacpan Beach
Miscellaneous (tricycles, souvenir etc.) – 500php or less

 

DAY1:

5am flight to Puerto Princesa via PAL – 5-hour van ride to El Nido – Checked in at Swiflets Inn – Sunset at Marimegmeg Beach at Las Cabanas – dinner at Angel Wish in El Nido Town – food-hopping at Rizal Street

DAY2:

Wake up at 7am for breakfast – leave luggage at Spin Hostel – catch the 9am Tour A – Dinner at Rizal Street

DAY3:

Wake up 7am for breakfast – take the 9am shuttle to Nacpan Beach –

DAY4:

Wake up 7am for breakfast – catch the 9am Tour C – anniversary dinner at The Art Café

DAY5:

Leave hostel at 6am – lunch at KaLui Restaurant in Puerto Princesa – 5pm flight to Manila

 

The cheapest way to reach El Nido is through Puerto Princcesa International Airport; unless you prefer taking a boat from Coron, then that is possible, too. From the airport, tourists can rent a van and a lot of agencies offer a great deal. I suggest you book your seats earlier. When we landed at six in the morning, the driver of Fortwally Tours was already waving a signage with my name on it when we stepped out of the arrival area. We alighted at the bus terminal where we chartered a tricycle (motorbike with three wheels and a cart) which cost 50pesos (1.10USD) and only to find out our hotel was probably one or two kilometers away. (TIP: Take the tricycle outside the bus terminal. It would only cost 10pesos (0.20USD) per person.)

Our bodies were flogged by the 6-hour ride which made us decide to take a nap before hitting Marimegmeg Beach to catch the sunset. We went out of the hotel at 4pm and took a 30-minute tricycle ride to Las Cabanas. Sitting in one of the high chairs at The Beach Shack offered a superb view of the beach and horizon. We were munching on our grilled cheese panini and sipping the thirst quenching mango fruit shake when the most beautiful colours appear right before our eyes. As we watched a foreign couple surrounded by their loved ones get married and danced the dusk away, the scenery and ambiance became outstandingly fascinating. To end the day, we went food binging at Rizal Street. Dinner by the sea side, anyone? Angel Wish served the freshest seafoods in town. Finished the feast with a big serving of homemade crepe (Nutella banana, FTW!) and some street food. Perfect for a day one!

elnidopalawan-2 elnidopalawan-3 elnidopalawan-4 elnidopalawan-5 elnidopalawan-6elnidopalawan-7elnidopalawan-8elnidopalawan-9elnidopalawan-10elnidopalawan-11 elnidopalawan-12

 

Our Day 2 was packed with adventures and ticking-an-item-off-the-bucket-list activities. It was a first for me to go island hopping and definitely, Tour A was the best and most recommended for first-timers. Aside from seeing the limestone karst formation and hidden treasures of Palawan, we had the chance to mingle with other tourists (Hello, Andrew, David, and Raul!) and had a boodle fight of fresh seafoods, grilled chicken, fruits, mountain of rice, and vegetables for lunch. The day was filled with firsts and upon approaching each destination, a stunning view and warm greeting of a virgin and laid-back island surprised us. Every time the engine would stop, we knew something wonderful was about to say hello to us and we could not brace ourselves any better. We went around 7 Commandos Beach, Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Secret Lagoon, and Payong-Payong Beach.

Kayaking around the lagoons is not to be missed. If ever you opt to swim, take extra care and wear swimming shoes because there are a lot of sea urchins and jellyfish lurking around- most especially in the Big Lagoon. Kayak rental is 100php/boat which can be shared by 3 people. Fresh buko juice from the boatman is a must during lunch break. Where else have you seen a vendor selling refreshments using a small boat? Hashtag OnlyInThePhilippines.

This is, by far, the top reason why I would go to the beach right now! Or to El Nido again, perhaps. Here’s a separate entry for the island hopping! Click HERE.

 

Third day on this amazing island led me to the MOST beautiful beach my eyes had ever laid on. We rented the van of the hostel for 700php each and head north for about 30-45 minutes. The pristine waters and talcum sand of Nacpan Beach made me believe that Palawan was, indeed, a paradise here on earth. Our feet literally sank while standing on the fine sand and the splash of water was just too perfect for the hot weather. The whole stretch of Nacpan was ours and two other new friends from the US and nope, we complained not a single bit. We were able to explore the whole stretch and walked under the Palawan sun for about 30 minutes. Curious tourists as we were, you could hike to the tip of the cliff, but be extra cautious because heat stroke could attack you and the path on the way up was steep and narrow. We were using slippers and had to take them off for better grip. The view on top would leave you completely speechless. I kid you not. The Twin Beach of Nacpan was a sight to see and even better from bird’s eye view. It was divine.

*Twin Beach photo is the cover photo on top.

elnidopalawan-17elnidopalawan-13 elnidopalawan-14 elnidopalawan-15 elnidopalawan-16 elnidopalawan-17elnidopalawan-18

 

There was no other way to celebrate another year of togetherness but joining Tour C. The tour may be filled with snorkeling and lots of jumping off the boat, but seeing pockets of coral reef and underwater creatures were the most spectacular experience ever. Plus, the activities made me forget my thalassophobia. The tour was composed of the majestic Helicopter Island (which for me looked more of a chicken drumstick), Hidden Beach, Matinloc Shrine, and Star Beach.

What I love the most about this trip is the curtains of limestones that open up to the shallow bay of clear waters in Hidden Beach. From the outside, the destination looks like ordinary black stone walls and once you alight the boat and swim to the barely-seen opening of the beach, there lies a relaxing and picturesque view of Hidden Beach.

To cap the night off and to celebrate three wonderful years together, we treated ourselves some Italian cuisine at The Art Café. Apart from its cozy setup and good food, the cool breeze of the wind coming from the sea and the sound of waves crashing onto the limestones created a romantic mood. Our night was filled with laughter, stories, and strolling around the town. Nights like this with Marti are the best!

elnidopalawan-19 elnidopalawan-20elnidopalawan-23 elnidopalawan-21 elnidopalawan-22 elnidopalawan-23elnidopalawan-24 elnidopalawan-25elnidopalawan-26elnidopalawan-27

On our last day, we spent most of our time traveling since the airport was still in Puerto Princesa. Upon arrival at the city, never miss the opportunity of trying the city’s best restaurant KaLui. This native Filipino restaurant offered local food that any tourist should try before leaving the Philippines. As for the locals, there was a twist in every dish so, go!

I can’t say Palawan is the best among the rest because I have not seen all, but I can assure you that my eyes caught sight of the most beautiful sceneries, unspoiled islands, and underwater treasures of the Philippines.

 

*ALL photos were taken using Fujifilm X20 and/or iPhone 5s.

You Might Also Like

2 Comments

  • Reply Rose January 24, 2017 at 2:08 AM

    I love this! I’ve been reading about the Philippines a lot because it has been sitting on my bucket list for forever. However, tips from a local are always better. You’ve made some great photos, too! Thanks! 🙂

    • Reply The Girl in the Window Seat xx February 7, 2017 at 9:48 AM

      Thank you so much, Rose! 🙂 I guess it’s about time you plan your trip here! Let me now how I can help you when you plan your itinerary. Just email me at gaylepenaranda@yahoo.com. Good luck! <3

    Leave a Reply