Paradise in The Philippines
After my visit to Indonesia and a day trip to Brunei, I decided that I wanted to spend a few days in another type of paradise, a very secluded but yet beautiful island of Palawan, The Philippines. I recently heard other fellow travelers speak wonders of this place and wanted to discover that for myself. So off I went to country # 47.
I took a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Manila with AirAsia.com - AirAsia Online Booking, then I took an internal flight with Cebu Pacific Air - Just go! from Manila to Puerto Princesa. It was the more economic route, about $60 US round-trip. You can fly directly from Manila to El Nido; however, those flights cost about three times as much, so I opted for Puerto Princesa, which is about 230 kms from El Nido. Once I landed, I had to take a bus (shuttle van) to El Nido, which is a 5 hours away. I used Daytripper Palawan - Official Website of Daytripper Palawan and had a great experience. Although the ride was a bit exhausting, it saved me about $200 and they picked me up from the airport and dropped me off at my hotel in El Nido. The bus ride cost me $18 US and we arrived to El Nido just as the sun was setting. Our driver stopped for a few minutes so that we could enjoy the sunset over this cliff. "Welcome to El Nido" he said... It was so beautiful! Paradise right before our eyes!
I stayed at Talindak Beach Cottages, which for many reasons I will not recommend to you; however, I will recommend Novie's Tourist Inn Opens in new window . The owner of this hotel was so helpful to me when Talindak Cottages basically left me in the street with no place to stay for the night (overbooked). Although Novie's didn't have any availability that night, they helped me find another hotel and they even offered me transportation. I was able to comfortably sleep that night thanks to them.
The following day I took a island hopping day tour. I had a great time and made some new friends. I highly recommend a day tour because you will get to visit a handful of islands including the famous Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon, where you can kayak. This link can help you find a tour www.elnidoboutiqueandartcafe.com/island.html. My tour provided lunch and we ate in the boat after a swim in the Small Lagoon. The scenery was breathtaking and they grilled fresh fish, shrimp, and other delicious Philippine dishes. It was one of the best lunches in my life!
We spent the full day island hopping and returned to shore at about 6:30pm, just in time to go back to the hotel, take a quick shower, and go out again with my friends for a nice dinner on the beach. We had dinner at a restaurant that was near my hotel, in Coron-Coron. They had live music playing in the background as we enjoyed our dinner and drinks. As the full moonlight shined over us, I closed my eyes for a moment to feel the waves touch my bare feet. It was such a dream!
The thing I love so much about El Nido is that is is such a virgin island. It is recently becoming popular but only 5 years ago it was mostly known and visited by locals. This is why they don't have adequate transportation for tourists, hotels are still in construction, most places only take cash, and there are very few banks and ATMs in town so you must come prepared and get your cash in either Puerto Princesa or Manila. The fact that it is still unexplored territory is what makes this island a mystery and is why it is yet one of my favorite places in the world. Just like Cuba, I am so glad I got to see this beauty now and now and not in 5-10 years. There cannot be a better definition to paradise in my opinion. El Nido is that lovely place and I encourage you to see it now.