So it’s my first holiday back to the Philippines and I’m very excited to be home and be with my family, friends and finally see real coconut trees. It’s a 1 month vacation for me and I have arranged for trips within the country— or have at least booked the air tickets.
After the New Year festivities with the family in Cebu, my first stop is in El Nido, Palawan— yes, I’ve always wanted to go there. I’ve arranged this trip with my good friend Roxanne, she’s from the island and she’s the first person I can think of to plan a beach getaway with. Why, we just hit it off and travel-ethics-wise, we click! (Read: no girly fuss we can get ready in 10 minutes!)
I came from a direct flight from Cebu to Puerto Princesa via AirAsia I’ve carefully booked it to arrive in PPS before 9pm as El Nido is 5hrs away from the airport and last bus leaving the town is at 9pm. Luckily we had seats in the bus — El Nido is a tourist destination and transport could be a real issue. From the airport I’ve noticed there were also transport vans bound to El Nido, some hostels have included this in their package. We arrived in El Nido at 3am— we were a bit worried as we didn’t know if our hostel would still accept us at that hour. Luckily, they’re still awake and gave us an available room and told us they’ll transfer us to a new room once it’s available. We got much sleep as we can as we know island hopping would drain our energy.
Day 1 was a Friday. We got up at 7am, had breakfast at the hostel and waited for our tour guide to pick us up. We were told the call time is 8:30am but in reality, our boat left the beach past 10am! Yes, in this part of the Philippines flocked by international tourists, Filipino Time is practiced which I think as a Filipino is a bad, shameful trait. Anyway, we met some punctual guests at the boat and just shrugged and laughed about Filipino Time.
We had Tour A &C, these are the scenic, postcard-famous iconic El Nido sites. And I would say they’re simply breathtaking! I know there are tourist spots that are overly photoshopped just to sell, but El Nido doesn’t need any of it. The sun is the perfect filter and it reflects the blue and green waters and the cliffs, the cliffs are magical!
Doing the combo tour though, I felt was a bit rushed, plus the fact that we were in a joiner group and some just are not so mindful of the time the whole group had to wait for them! Can’t really blame them the place is just amazing! But if we’ve known it, we’ll do separate tours for Tour A & Tour C— I personally like to swim and stay in the beach longer than go where all the tourists are. Day 1 was perfect we ended it with dinner and drinks at Big Bad Thai place with 2 new friends we met at the tour.
We started day 2 with breakfast at the hostel and we walked our way to the beach, we did the registration and we borrowed aqua shoes. Tour B only had few islands compared to Day 1 Tour so we expected we will be done 5pm-early. This time we went to least-touristy islands. There were only average 3 boats per stop compared to 7-10 boats from Day 1 Tour. So I was happy we didn’t rushed, there was less crowd and I had more time swimming and napping in the sand.
We were still with the same group from day 1 tour and agreed we meet for dinner and drinks this time at the always-full pizza place in El Nido. It was a nice place with good food that justified the long queue. We had gelato after, walked around town and gone for beer before calling it a night.
Day 3 in El Nido we plan to leave town before noon, we didn’t waste it though. We booked us a hike in Taraw Cliff overlooking the town. I was hoping it will be an hour-long hike, in preparation for my next mountain trek adventure, but it was just a good 20 minutes, steep but the path is well paved. We were told they used to have another trail, more challenging but they’ve closed it for security purposes. Well, this is another view of the town, indeed El Nido is beautiful! ❤
The cost, it’s a bit pricey but all worth it— (1 USD= 50 Php)
USD26 per island hopping tour x 3 tours
USD8 Taraw cliff tour
USD2 aqua shoes rental
USD26/ night for room for 2
USD12/ person for a good dinner
USD10/ way bus/ van transport to PPS
Note: Tour packages are government regulated.