Paradise Palawan Part 2/2: El Nido!

This post is a continuation of my previous post about Puerto Princesa. El Nido is a municipality located northeast of Puerto Princesa, the capital city of Palawan in the Philippines. It is known for its flourishing marine ecosystem, pristine beaches and island-hopping tours.

I stayed at the Og’s Pension, which is located at the beach front. It is a budget hostel among many other hostel/hotels in the area. But this to me is the most affordable, considering its location.

Og's Pension
Og’s Pension
The view from Og's Pension. Beautiful!
The view from Og’s Pension. Beautiful!

 

There are 5 island hopping tours (Tour A ~ Tour E) available in El Nido, and most of the hotels/hostels offer them and can be availed at least a day before the intended tour. Some of these packages can be combined to fit a one-day schedule, like Tour A & C (although I would not recommend it), but ideally, 1 tour package a day would be the best option. In my case, I chose Tour C.

The tour starts early in the morning, around 8:30~9am with the boat waiting at the seashore to pick up the tour’s passengers. You have to be there at the scheduled time since they would not wait for latecomers. In case you don’t make it, you have to re-schedule again on the next day!

Some essentials to bring:
-Water (LOTS of it)
-Sunblock (LOTS and LOTS of it!)
-Sunglasses
-Hat
-Shawl (preferrably a long one, if ever you sit at the side of the boat that’s facing the sun)
-Ziplock case (For your gadgets. The locals sell them at the beach front, but it’s better to bring your own case)

Tour C Itinerary
Talisay Island

It is about half an hour away from the El Nido beach front. We only stayed for less than an hour snorkelling and then we headed to our next destination.


Hidden Beach 

As a person of novice swimming skills, reaching this place can be a bit of a challenge. We had to jump off the boat and swim our way to get to this place. But I must say it was all worth it!

Matinloc Shrine

This is where we had lunch. I have to commend the boatmen for cooking the scrumptious meal for everyone! We had grilled fish, eggplant, tomato and cucumber salad, as well as bbq and fresh fruits. Perfect meal for an island hopping trip.

The most we could do while we were here was to do some sight-seeing and just chill!

Secret Beach

This wasn’t called “Secret Beach” for nothing. This is another swim-your-way-to-get-there kind of beach. You have to go across a narrow passageway so be careful of the sharp rocks on the side. I bumped my knee into one!!

You can also snorkel here and there are lots of fishes frolicking around!

Helicopter Island

This is the last part of the tour C package, and we arrived here at around 3 or 3:30 in the afternoon. It’s my favorite destination out of the 5 islands ’cause it was serene and you can just appreciate the views and calm waters.

 

So there! It sure was a very rewarding trip and I got to marvel at our country’s famous travel destination! If you come to the Philippines, make sure to include Palawan!

Paradise Palawan Part 1/2: Puerto Princesa

Palawan is the largest province in the Philippines, situated in the country’s southwest side. So if you’re going to the Philippines, make sure to include it in your list of must-see destinations!

A week in Palawan is probably just the right duration of stay to see everything it has to offer. When I spent a vacation there however, I only stayed for 5 days ’cause I only checked El Nido and Puerto Princesa. So I’ll definitely come back another time to visit Coron. 😉 In this post I’ll be talking about Puerto Princesa, the capital city of Palawan.

Before that, here’s an overview; there are lots of travel agencies offering cheap deals for the complete Palawan experience. This is ideal for relatively large groups or those who don’t want the hassle of DIYing their itineraries. But for people (like me) who’d like to have a personalized trip, or perhaps you hate getting up too early, or maybe you just prefer to travel at your own pace, it’s best to come up with your own schedule with the help of some good amount of research.

Most of the accommodations in Palawan offer packages that you can avail upon moment’s notice (although to be sure, buy them at least a day in advance) which include the price for the tour itself, transportation fees (both by land and sea), and even lunch. The prices only vary a little bit for each hotel/hostel in Palawan. They usually don’t exceed 2,000php. In the case of Puerto Princesa, the Underground River and Honda Bay tours are the most in-demand tour packages around. You can purchase them individually or as a combination depending on your preference.

Honda Bay tour is an island hopping adventure and since we were headed to El Nido (which has lots of Island Hopping tours as well), we just settled on the Underground River tour. So from the city proper, it took us about 2 hours by van to get to the port where the boats to the Underground River are.

This is the view when we arrived at the port. Breathtaking.
This is the view when we arrived at the port. Breathtaking.

A VERY IMPORTANT TIP: DO NOT, BY ANY MEANS, SCHEDULE YOUR UNDERGROUND RIVER TOUR ON A WEEKEND, especially during summer. We had to learn this the hard way ’cause our tour was scheduled on a Saturday. And guess what. We arrived there at around 10am, but we had to wait at least 2 hours to get to the boat, and almost an hour in front of the cave before our tour actually began!!

Near the shore are various souvenir shops and food stalls where tourists can check out while waiting for their turn to ride the boat.
Near the shore are various souvenir shops and food stalls that tourists can check out while waiting for their turn to ride the boat.
At least the scenery while waiting was calming enough... LOL
At least the scenery while waiting was calming enough… LOL

The tour guide will be the one to call you once it’s your turn to ride the boat. It will take you to the island where the underground river is. Upon reaching the shore, it’s just a short hike to the entrance of the cave itself.

Underground River Entrance
Underground River Entrance
Stalactite formations at the cave's entrance
Stalactite formations at the cave’s entrance

The local boatmen are also the tour guides inside the cave, explaining how the various cave structures were formed, as well as providing a little bit of background info on the history of Palawan. Plus, they are very humorous!

Inside the cave
Inside the cave
I'm quite amazed I managed to take this shot, considering how dark it was in the cave.
I’m quite amazed I managed to take this shot, considering how dark it was in the cave.

It was an educational tour and I was amazed at how big the rock structures were inside. Even though we had to wait a long while, it was truly worth it. This was the highlight of our stay in Puerto Princesa. In my next post I’ll be talking about El Nido! 🙂