Are you tired and stressed and just want to get away? El Nido, Palawan is the place to be.
Our flight was from Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Thanks heavens, there were no delays for us; in fact, we landed 18 minutes earlier than our estimated time of arrival (as per cabin crew). So from Puerto Princesa Airport, you need to travel (again!) by land to reach the famous El Nido island of the Philippines. It was a long 6 hours of endless zigzag travelling. If you have motion sickness, like me, I suggest that you take some medicine (bonamine) right after you landed in Puerto Princesa Airport; before the land travel.
We’ve reached Ricgem Hotel (in El Nido) at around 1 AM. We checked-in the hotel, they asked what breakfast we prefer for tomorrow and by the time that we reached our beds, we were already very tired and went to sleep right away.
Enjoying El Nido
The next morning, while having our breakfast, the hotel receptionist went to us and said that Tour C (our availed package tour) will not be available due to bad weather. He asked us what alternate tour we would avail instead: Tour A or Tour B. We opted for Tour A (mostly lagoons) because we are all afraid of snakes (Tour B has the Snake Island in its itinerary). We went for the safer one.
For travel guidance, here are the offered tours in El Nido:
Tour A – Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon and Seven Commandos Beach
Tour B – Pangalusian Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Vigan and Snake Island, Cadugnon Point and Cave, Pinasil Island and Cathedral Cave
Tour C – Dilumacad and Helicopter Island, Tapiutan Island, Matinloc Island, Star Beach and Matinloc Shrine
Tour D – Cadlao Island, Pasandigan Beach, Nat Nat Beach & Bucal Beach and Paradise Beach
Tour E – Nacpan and Calitang Beach, Nacpan and Calitang Beaches, Calitang and Nacpan beach, Nagkalit-kalit Falls
It’s better if you just avail a package before your flight so that when you get to the place, there’s no need for you to look for tour packages on the spot. You can go to this site: http://www.gopalawan.travel/palawan-tours/el_nido to avail the tour packages. But if you really want to avail the packages there in the island, there are many ready tour guides in the beach to accommodate you.
Our tour guide’s name is Regina and she is one funny lady! We really enjoyed her humor and it shows that she really knows everything she told us about the places we went to. On my next visit there, I will surely look for her.
Seven Commandos Beach
We started with the Seven Commandos Beach. As per Regina, it was named after a ship that wrecked some years ago during the time of war. There are restaurants and beach houses (that you are not allowed to take photos of) in the place. While walking in the beach, I was stopped by someone because somebody is about to do some swinging. It looks fun! You should try it, too. We weren’t able to try it though because lots of people were lined for it.
Next, we went to the Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon. We are not able to get out of the boat but it slow-mo-ed in those places for us to be able to strike a pose and take some pictures with the rock formations there. It’s basically all there is — rock formations. But I assure you, the pictures does not even do justice for the beauty the place has to offer. It’s magical. I am not much of a lover of rocks but I was struck in awe with the surroundings.
Because we were all good tourists, our set of tour guides decided to take us to an additional place: the Payong-Payong Island. Yay! It’s just a small island that is shaped like an umbrella. They let us snorkel while they were preparing our lunch and we ate the sumptuous meal there in the sea shore. While eating, a monkey went near to us and we were all like, “Wooow! A monkey!” One of the boat crew threw a banana to the monkey and he ate it for less than a minute! It’s so fast we didn’t even realized he’s already eating it until he threw the banana peel to us. So yeah, the monkey was an additional fun moment for everybody.
Next stop: Shimizu Island. We spent all our time snorkeling in the island. The view under water? It’s The. Bomb. The colorful coral reefs and fishes is a sight to see! You should definitely try it! Make sure that your phones are ready for the activity though — water-proof cases. And prepare your action cameras or go-pro for wider shots. Documentation is definitely a must for this trip!
The last stop of the tour is my favorite place like, ever. The Secret Lagoon. In there, everyone is encouraged to ride a kayak because the entrance to the lagoon is very narrow. When Regina said that, I was very excited and immediately jumped in the next available kayak. I was excited like that. Ha-ha! Our boat is not that far from the entrance but it was heavily raining at that time so our vision is somewhat blurred. But nonetheless, we are still excited to see the place.
In less than 5 minutes of kayaking, we got through the entrance and we immediately stopped rowing. We were speechless. I remember having an emotional moment there, too, and I don’t know why. The place is really, really beautiful. The rock formations, luscious greenery and clear water is a sight to behold. I will never forget that vision, that’s for sure. We were still enjoying kayaking around the place when our tour guides told us it’s time to get back.
We spent the whole day for Tour A. It’s somewhat tiring but it was definitely an awesome experience!
Dinner at El Nido
After we got back to the hotel, we just washed ourselves and changed our clothes to have our dinner outside. We tried googling for a good restaurant but the signal in the island was really bad so we just have to rely with the information our friends gave us. They suggested a restaurant called Altrove.
The place is just a 5-minute walk from our hotel and the ambiance was really cozy. Everyone who eats there is required to be barefoot. Slippers and shoes are left at a shelf just outside the door but they provide an eco-bag for those who do not want their footwear to be left outside. Their best sellers are the pizzas. It’s a must-try! And their pastas are good, too. They have big servings so if you and your friends are in a budget, keep that in mind. *wink
All in all, our day spent in the island was awesome with a capital A. I get to see why El Nido was dubbed as the No.1 island in the world.
The place and the people were really great. So I encourage everyone to go visit the island once in your life and discover the amazing sights there.