Bucketlist check: El Nido, Palawan

There are few things in life I love more than spending my days wearing a bikini, the feeling of sand between my toes, and with a fresh coconut in my hand. I must’ve been a mermaid or something in a previous life because whenever the opportunity arises, I flee the city and seek shelter in the big blue. Being near the ocean, listening to waves while sitting in the sand is such a soothing sensation. That’s why you will find places like Palawan far more often on my bucket list than big cities. And you bet I finally ticked Palawan off my list. El Nido is exactly what you see in pictures. Pristine white beaches, crystal clear lagoons and turquoise waters. Palawan and El Nido is a dream come true. Like most people I had heard how difficult going there would be, but that didn’t put me off from trying. Is it worth the hassle? Absolutely. Scroll through the pictures, and if you still feel as strongly about taking the trip, you will find all the details at the bottom of this post.

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Palawan is one big island built up of smaller ports if you may. The most famous ones is Puerto Princesa, El Nido and Coron. We flew in from Manila to Puerto Princesa, spent one night and took a shared mini van the following day for El Nido. The trip takes about 5-6 hours. It’s not the most comfortable drive as the roads are bumpy, and the seats are missing the upper part. This makes sleeping hard, but the price is only 500 pesos per person, which makes it worth it. The money saved can be spent on something more fun, like an extra day of island hopping. If you want more comfort, you can always hire a private car, or fly directly to El Nido or Coron. Coron is even farther away, like 8 hours farther away. Flight might be the better option. Mind you we came here in low season so less crowded, but low season means unstable weather. The weather forecast said rain and thunderstorm every single day. I like to call it bipolar as the weather switched from sunshine to rain within minutes apart. But this is something you just have to take for what it is, and make the best out of a unlucky situation. The bad weather didn’t stop us from hopping on a Island tour, or Morten underestimating the sun and skipping the sun lotion. Let’s just say someone looks like a lobster now…

One thing to note is that El Nido the city, is not what you see in pictures. So don’t get discouraged when you first arrive. The fun part is the island hopping tours. There are 4 different ones to choose between. A, B, C and D, with A and C being the most popular, and best they say. Morten and I did tour A together, and I did C solo as he was too sunburned to leave the room. The price for the difference tours ranges between 1200-1400 pesos, with a 200 pesos nature park fee (this is a one time fee, so take care of the receipt). Each tour takes about 6-7 hours with lunch included. If you have any dietary needs, do specify when you book so they can prepare food accordingly. Who to book with? Pretty much anyone in town. There are street signs with tour operators on every street and corner.

What to bring? Snacks and water, sun lotion, underwater camera, dry bag and a snorkel mask if you have. If not they will give this out for those who need. Oh and aqua shoes or diving booties. Some of the areas in the lagoons are really shallow, I got a deep cut under my foot, and Morten’s foot looks like a flesh eating insect has been munching away. Once again, if you don’t have you can rent these anywhere in town for 100 pesos. What else? Just have fun and enjoy this beautiful island.

 

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