As a yearly habit, I and my friends go somewhere in the Philippines during the summer months. Last 2014 we marked Coron, Palawan and I still can’t forget my wonderful experiences on the island. This time we planned to hit El Nido and Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
It all started with a spotted promo airfare bound for Puerto Princesa. Without hesitation, we booked the flight. We scheduled our trip on off-peak season dates around early June so that the place will be less crowded. It was a 1-week trip on a budget (10K PHP).
Day 1 : The long-haul ride to El Nido
The first day of our trip was all about getting to El Nido from Cebu.
With a heart full of excitement and anticipation, we boarded on our scheduled flight. We arrived at Puerto Princesa airport around 2:40 PM with a gloomy weather greeting us. With no time to waste, we then hurried on the streets and looked for a van or bus to take us to El Nido. We took a van since it was the first option to meet us right outside the airport.
A land trip from Puerto Princesa to El Nido usually takes around 5-6 hours depending on your speed. Buses usually have more stop-overs but cost less than vans. Secure cash before heading to El Nido. ATM machines and banks are rare to find in El Nido.
It was raining hard while we were on the road to El Nido, thus slowing our pace which eventually took us more than 6 hours to get to El Nido. Luckily we did a short snack break in one of the stop-overs.
Arrived late and exhausted, we headed straight to our contact inn (Northern Hope). The inn just looks like a private house with several spare rooms for guests. Right after we settled our things, we then looked for a place to have dinner. There are lots of restaurants near the beach area with wide variety of dishes. Traveling on a budget forced us to settle for a place that offers budget-friendly meals.
There are plenty of shops offering tour packages. Usually, there are 5 different packages. Each package covers at least 5-6 attraction spots with lunch meals for around 1.5K php per person. Tour rates will really eat the most portion of your money. Luckily, the caretaker of the inn offered us a better deal. Since the peak season has started to fade, she arranged us a special tour that would cover all the best attractions of the 5 packages for just 3.5K PHP per person. We just shortened our staying time on each attraction. The whole tour was divided into 2 days.
Day 2: The Start of Fun!
The start of the tour!
The motor boat then picked us from the inn by 9 AM. Due to excitement, I forgot to bring my earplugs. Regardless, we pushed through with the tour. For those who don’t know, I got my left eardrum perforated from a sport.
El Nido is blessed with multiple enchanting islands.
Here is the list of the spots we went on our first day:
- Helicopter Island
- Hidden Beach
- Matinloc Island – Here you can dive into the deep waters and see colorful corals.
- Talisay Beach
- Secret Beach – You have to pass underwater passage to get to the beach
- Cadlao Lagoon
- Paradise Beach
We enjoyed so much that, without noticing, we returned to the main island with trails of sun kisses on our skin. The sunset view by the beach is stunning and inspiring while the sound of the waves gave me the feeling of serenity.
Day 3: The Fun Never Stops!
Start the second day of the tour!
- Pinagbuyutan Island
- Cathedral Cave
- Cudugnon Cave
- Snake Island
- Secret Lagoon
- Big and Small Lagoon
- Seven Commando Beach
Day 4: The Transition To the city of Puerto Princesa
As for the last day of our El Nido stay, we planned to climb the famous Taraw Peak. As the locals say, climbing Taraw Peak is challenging due to its steepness and piercingly rocky trail; that climbing when the trail is wet is not advised. Though the climb may be difficult, a reward of great view awaits at the peak especially during sunrise.
Alas! It rained the night before, so we were not able to climb. Nevertheless, we continued with the other destinations. To save money, we checked out from the inn, and just brought with us our things and made a deal with the van driver to directly bring us to Puerto Princesa right after we hit the day’s last destination.
After hitting the last destination, we headed to Puerto Princesa. Luckily the driver knows how to step on the gas pedal that it took us less than 5 hours to get to the city. While heading to the city, we have no idea where to stay for the night. We need a nice and clean place with a budget friendly rate. The driver was kind enough to assist us and suggested some place where we can stay. He brought us to different inns and hotels that fit our need. After the tiring hunt for a place to stay, we finally agreed and settled in a cheap hotel, House of Big Brother. Though the rate didn’t quite fit within our budget, we are already eager to see clean beds and nice showers so we took it. The place was quite clean and modern and just a walk away from the City Hall.
We strolled around the city after we had our shower. We were looking for a place to eat and luckily we found a famous fast food shop and had our dinner there. Upon going back to the hotel, we decided to maximize our time by looking for another inn which will fit with our budget. Luckily we saw this inn, Princess Armicha Pension House, offering a good rate and just a walk away from the inn we are staying. We then made an arrangement with the receptionist and decided to stay there for the rest of our days in Puerto Princesa.