I had a kind of tight schedule in Palawan. Not sure why but I only gave myself two weeks to explore the area. Guess thats plenty of time for a lot of people but as you know I like to go a bit slower so another week would have been great. I already done a post about my day and a half in Sabang and here is the my journey traveling north visiting Port Barton and El Nido.
The weather was from great the three days I had in Port Barton but somehow I really got to like this place. The town consists of two dirt roads and the electricity works between 5 PM and midnight and as pretty much the rest of the Philippines the wifi is either non-existing or works very slow. This means that people actually talk to each other and pretty much everyone says hi to you on the street. With other words it is very easy to meet fellow travelers here.
Woke up to some serious rain my first morning so new this wouldn't be the most productive day. Instead I did breakfast and then I took my book and headed down to one of the cafes along the beach for some reading. Bumped into some of the people that was in the same van as me going to Port Barton and rather then reading we started to play Jenga and then we moved on to some other board games and then that day was over.
Day two was spent island hopping visiting the nearby islands with some snorkeling in-between. Several of these tours depart every morning, on our boat it was only myself and a French couple. The weather looked amazing in the morning as we got on the boat so thought I had chosen a perfect day for it. But as the captain started the engine, the dark clouds rolled in and so came the rain. Ok, it didn't rain for the full four hours but the dark clouds followed us wherever we went and at one point it actually felt warmer in the water then on the boat! The snorkeling was great in most places were we saw colorful coral, some other stuff and I saw a huge banded sea snake.
Half way in to the day we stopped for a top notch lunch which was cooked by the captain and some other dude that was with us. We were lucky because the sun showed it self at this stage but as soon as lunch was over, the sun decided to disappear again. I kept on reminding myself to look at the bright side, not many other people were out visiting the islands due to the shitty weather so it turned out to be a nice and relaxed day!
Weather on day three was amazing with clear blue sky so decided against having this as travel day so stayed another day just to relax on the beach, chill with some more board games and watch the kids lose their pesos gambling in the eve (see pic above)!
Arrived in the afternoon and had no clue what direction to go as I left the bus station so took a chance and did a left. After about ten minutes walk I reached some guesthouses and on the third try I also manage to get a room. The afternoon was then spent on the beach next to the guesthouse, wouldn't recommend this though since full of sandflies! In the eve I figured out that I wasn't staying in El Nido but in the neighboring village, Corong Corong but hey it was only a fifteen minute walk between the two so not much of an issue. El Nido town itself was super busy with tons of people and tricycles everywhere so in the end I was happy to stay where I was.
Had a very early start on my first full day, alarm was set for 7 AM to ensure I would be on time for my day diving. Since I only had two days in El Nido I prioritised going diving over island hopping. This way I would still see a lot of the islands and landscape but I didn't have to do it with 10 million other people, yes El Nido is busy! I had chosen to dive with Turtle Dive after scanning TripAdvisor and seen that they had great reviews and that they didn't have a lot of reviews. In my previous experience this means that they also slightly smaller and you have a more personal experience. Afterward I also found out that they are fully Filipino owned, a rare thing here, most places are owned by westerners. So were very happy with that as well.
Except for dark clouds hanging over us, this was just a perfect day. On the way out to the dive site we spotted a whale shark so expectations were high getting in to the water on our first dive. Unfortunately we didn't come across any whale sharks in the water but we saw more turtles then I did diving Apo Island and Apo Island is known for being the place to see turtles! It was only me and two other girls diving with our dive master and he made sure to point out everything he saw under the water and he took his time and nothing felt rushed. All three dives we did that day was with great visibility and we saw tons of nice marine life and also the most colorful corals I've ever seen. The pictures might make it look a bit dark and dull but that wasn't the case at all. It's more the case of "don't use a GoPro if you want good pictures diving"!
As with the island hopping in Port Barton they served us a delicious lunch with fresh grilled fish, grilled chicken, salad, rice and fruit. We also had plenty of coffee, tea, fruit and cookies to snack on in between the dives. I haven't done much diving compared to a lot of people but this was definitely the best dive experience I had even if the weather was a bit crap. The people at Turtle dive were all so friendly, helpful, professional and all fun all though out the day.
Day two gave me clear blue skies and I felt it was time to rent a scooter to explore a couple of beaches. First on the agenda was Nacpan Beach, a 4 km long beach about 45 minutes drive from El Nido. It's said to be the most beautiful beach in El Nido. I prepared myself for a challenging drive since I read that the last 20 minutes is driven on dirt road that is not fit for a scooter. But I had nothing to worry about, the "scooter non-friendly dirt road" wasn't worse then the road I had to my house growing up, except for a couple of wooden bridges. Yep, I'm from the country side and been on many gravel roads. I might have been lucky though with the dirt road since it was dry season, I could imagine that it's worse after a lot of rain! Anyhow, got to the beach and indeed it was a very beautiful beach but far from deserted. So if you are looking for a beach with no people then this isn't for you. After a couple of hours I felt I had enough and got to my scooter for departure to next place. There are a couple of kids up by the parking lot trying to make some cash by asking tourists for money for parking. There is no official parking fee but I guess they still make some money though by people that don't know. What I don't understand is that first they say PHP 30 and when you say no, they lower the price to PHP 10. This happened twice to me. Why not PHP 20?! Anyhow, stone cold as I am, I didn't pay a thing...
Next beach on the list was Las Cabanas, only 3 KM outside El Nido Town. This beach was much smaller then Nacpan but it had a good few resto bars with comfy beach chairs so got my book out, leaned back and relaxed. There is not much more you need to do when beach side!
This is pretty much all I managed to do in El Nido on my two days. I could have without a doubt stayed for another day or two and still kept myself busy but my hectic schedule told me I had to move on...
Cost of My Day Scootering El Nido
Scooter: PHP 500/ USD 10/ EUR 9.30
Petrol: PHP 90/ USD 1.80/ EUR 1.70
Cost of My Day Diving El Nido
3 dives with Turtle Dive including all gear, transport, snacks and lunch
PHP 4 000/ USD 80/ EUR 75
Where I Stayed in El Nido
Dreamland: PHP 500/ USD 10/ EUR 9.30 (in Corong Corong)
Room with private bathroom
I decided that it was time for a career break. So handed in my notice to the company who I worked with for the last ten years. It's time to pack my bag and depart from Amsterdam which been my home town for the last 4.5 years. -"Amsterdam, it's not you it's me and I need a break!". Read more
WHERE AM I?