After an amazing trip island hopping around the beautiful islands of Coron we began our next journey to El Nido. El Nido is another part of Palawan which is bedded beneath beautiful limestone cliffs that sits on a small beach with beautiful restaurants where you can experience a traditional Philippine sunset you will not get bored of. With so many beautiful white beaches to see, tours to go on and adventures to experience El Nido is a must visit if heading to the Philippines.
Included in our tour package from Coron we managed to hustle in our slow boat ticket to El Nido. A pretty boring 6-8 hour slow boat with no wifi, plug sockets or even life jackets, just a bunch of travellers, 2 old toilets and 30 Filipino boat workers doing odd jobs and serving lunch for us all. Don't get excited about lunch it's literally rice and a small handful of vegetables so we thoroughly recommend bringing snacks, beers and water too.
Unfortunately Will and Robbie came down with a stomach bug overnight which couldn't have been worse timing for them, having to travel whilst feeling ill is the worst feeling when travelling. When this occurs the best thing you can do is just support the people who are ill and be as patient as possible with them because it is a horrible feeling.
After about 7 hours of sunbathing on the upper deck we finally arrived in El Nido, all tanned up, starving, no accommodation booked and slugging a few heavy backpacks over our shoulders. Is this what homeless feels like? We were greeted by an extremely busy port and a beautiful array of hotels/houses sitting on the bed of the sea.
We left Will and Robbie sheltered with water whilst the healthy bunch strolled the small streets of El Nido to find accommodation. We finally found 2 bedrooms both with air-con and double beds for a reasonable traveller price of 1500 peso a night per room called Shorepass Lodge. It was a really nice hotel which sat on the beach front. The owners are the most miserable Filipinos we met so we challenge anyone to make them crack a smile! The balcony had an incredible view of the sea and what was ever so special was watching the hundreds of fishing boats at sunset whilst nursing a San Miguel, a moment of content what we won't be forgetting.
We put Will and Robbie in quarantine whilst Sam, Lewis and myself went for dinner and a stroll. El Nido town is really small with a bunch of boutique restaurants, street stalls, food trucks and tuk tuk drivers just standing around with there bellys out, the nightlife scene isn't too bad either. There are a few gyms with extremely precious equipment but we loved training in them as you just sweat and the Filipino kids all stand around watching so you feel like the Hulk.
The following morning we cooked our own breakfast in the hotel so we headed to the local market and grabbed some eggs, vegetables and some bread rolls and cooked up a mean breakfast. Sometimes it's nice to be able to cook your own food as you will most likely get sick of Asian cuisine after a while! We had planned to head to Napcan beach which is supposed to be unlike any other beach in The Philippines and we understood why. After a pretty wobbly journey we finally arrived where we were greeted by an extremely long beach stretch which seemed to go on forever with a forest of palm trees like something out of the tv series LOST ready to be explored. The beach was so quite and perfect for relaxing and catching some rays in our own private spot. We stayed here almost all day before heading back for more of the finest Filipino chicken and ready to hit the gym. The gym was a small local gym called Peak Corner, pretty dam old school and cost about 30 peso a session, not exactly luxury but it had your go to machines so pretty worth it if you're in the area and looking to train!
Will and I headed back to the hotel to find the boys in a miserable mood as all the cash machines had stopped working and there was no way of getting cash for the next few days. We had to pile our money together and figure out how we were going to do the tour around El Nido islands, get to Puerto Princesca, do the Puerto Princesca underground river tour, eat and did we mention we hadn't paid for the accommodation yet? This meant we were in budget mode. We had been told rumours of this happening before but we didn't think it'd possibly happen to us! So, always make sure you have enough cash on you incase all cash points stop working, especially in El Nido.
The following morning we managed to speak with this woman who organised the sweetest package we could possibly get which included a tour around the El Nido Islands, a bus to Puerto Princesca that evening then the tour to the underground river in Puerto Princesca, 2 free meals and a lift to the airport to fly back to Cebu. All this for about £15-20 per person! It's weird how everyone is connected and helps each other out by just a phone call in South East Asia.
After finalising all our travel details we were finally stress free. We boarded the boat late as usual and began the tour with a mixed group of people. There are 4 day tours as well as overnight tours where you camp on a beach too which unfortunately we had to miss. We decided to do Tour A as this was the shortest tour but also the most popular as it took you around all the key spots around El Nido. During the day we discovered beautiful lagoons, beaches and some amazing snorkeling spots filled with the most amazing coral reef, colourful fauna and hundred of fish species. We stopped off at 5 different locations including Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island and 7 Commando Beach. On the tour the amazing Filipino workers will grill you the most amazing lunch with amazing sea food, meats, rice and fresh fruits.
We got back to the port late and missed our connecting bus to Puerto Princesca and suddenly we were back in panic mode but the Filipinos are so friendly they sat us down gave us a Krispy Kreme doughnut and organised for us to hop on the the later bus. Only if more people in this world were like the Filipinos!
All in all El Nido is a fantastic place to travel to the town is old school and quirky with loads of hidden alleys but it is really small. Make sure you check our Youtube video on El Nido which give a great in sight to the beautiful place.
Next stop...Puerto Princescsa.
Arriving into El Nido
The lunch on Tour A
The amazing sunset off our balcony