Its 5 o’clock in the morning, in Manila, and time to hit the showers before grabbing a breakfast on our way to the Airport. Our flight to Palawan departs at 07h30. Our 9 day adventure of beaches, coconuts, massages and remote islands is about to start.
We head downstairs to eat and check out. We have lots of time. I look over the counter at the clock on the wall. Sh*t. They forgot the wake-up call. We realize that it is in fact 06h30. Rushing out of the hotel we grab the nearest taxi (which turned out to be the Hotel managers’) and head off towards Terminal 3 (30min away). It’s like an episode from the Amazing Race, except that we aren’t racing against teams but against time and there’s no Million Dollar Prize. In the end we make the flight by the skin of our teeth. I guess it goes without saying that it’s always more fun in the Philippines.
After landing in Puerto Princesa (the capital of Palawan) we make our way to El Nido in an air conditioned minivan. There isn’t much to write home about Puerto Princesa so I’ll save you some time. El Nido is a six hour trip up North and the road condition is much better than some of the reviews we read on Trip advisor. We drove past several small towns, hundreds of coconut plantations and numerous miles of unspoiled coast line.
About halfway through our trip we were stopped at a security checkpoint. We were sleeping at the time and therefore only got the gist of it. Apparently some little bugger of an insect that likes mangoes escaped and these guys were looking for it. Well, at least that’s what it sounded like.
The shuttle bus dropped us off at the local bus station where we caught a tricycle for the last 5km into town. El Nido, which is situated in Bacuit Bay, is composed of 45 small islands and inlets. It’s also protected for its diverse range of unique fauna and flora. The main languages are Filipino and English and El Nido is predominantly Roman Catholic.
We stayed at the El Nido Beach Hotel for 6 nights and whilst here embraced the island lifestyle to the max. There is so much to do in this area that one can easily stay here for a few weeks.
Lists include doing an open water scuba diving course, snorkel, swim, tan, restaurant hop, hire bikes, surf, walk to the waterfalls etc.
What surprised us the most about El Nido, apart from the proficiency in English, were the numerous restaurants that cater for tourists. The Altrove, V & V Bagel, Mezzanine and the Art Café were among our favorites. Not to mention all the little stands that sell fruit shakes and filled crêpes. It’s a shame that they don’t promote their local food more as we would have loved to experience it.
Another must whilst in El Nido is to head over to Las Cabanas Beach and sip on cocktails or Buko juice (juice from a young coconut) whilst admiring the sunset over the horizon.
So you might be asking yourself, who died and how was the coconut involved? Well, no one died (fingers crossed). Statistically more people die from falling coconuts than from shark attacks. At first one might be hesitant to believe it and merely write it off as an urban legend but there is truth to this. Needless to say, Caitlyn and I often played “Let’s-see-who-can-dodge-a-coconut-whilst-reading-your-book-under-a-coconut-tree-game”. Luckily for the coconuts, my cougar-speed-lightning-reflexes never had to make its appearance.
Keep your eyes peeled for the second and third installments of our journey in the Philippines “The Russian called Vlad” and “Body surfing with a sea turtle”.