Published: November 17th 2010July 20th 2010
To get to El Nido is not too hard from Sabang. We caught a Jeepny from the docks at Sabang that took us about two hours to a junction. At this junction you can either carry on back to Puerto Princesa or turn left and go up to El Nido. We got dropped off at this very quiet junction where there were a couple of strange locals hanging around – including a dog who was constantly “Excited.”
“Where you go to?” a local sitting on his motorbike taxi asks,
“We are going to El Nido,”
“I will take you.”
“errr maybe errr 7 hour”
We continued to wait for the bus. You have to keep an eye out for it because it will whizz past if you do not make it clear you are waiting for a bus. To be fair to the Taxi man – he screamed at the bus when it came around the corner. He was a nice bloke! There was room on the bus so we hopped on. We had quite a sizeable bench between the two of us but it was surprisingly uncomfortable?! There was a metal bar
on the back of the bench in front so you couldn’t rest your head forward and the back of the bench was acutely upright!
The journey took about 5 hours with a number of stops. We stopped on the road at one point so a girl behind us could get out and use the toilet that did not exist. She was expected to pee with us as spectators. Andy, her boyfriend, explains...
“She will pee anywhere, she has a weak bladder.”
And this was our first meeting with Andy and Emma (who are also travelblog bloggers under the name ‘Andy and Emma’). They are a pair of scousers who we would spend the next week with.
The bus stop is a little way inland from the coast line in El Nido, so it is quite ugly at first. Then once you have walked down to the front you realise the beauty of this place. This is a prettier, more dramatic version of Sabang. From the beach you have a panoramic view over the Bacuit Archipelago. High rising, uninhabited land masses poking out of the crystal clear waters in no particular order. The beach itself is nice
but probably just loses out to the sands of Sabang. The water quality here is amazing though.
We stayed in a slightly more expensive place right in the middle of the beach for two nights but spent the remaining 5 nights at a cheaper place that is on the other beach to the right of the main strip. It is a bit of a walk but it is cheaper and just as nice. This place was really quiet and had some really nice areas to sit and admire the view. It is much cheaper than the places on the main beach as well – so worth the walk, even if it is past a graveyard (can be quite daunting after a few beers and there are no lamp posts so take a head torch!).
The beach is lined with a number of really nice restaurants/bars. Sea Slugs was always really nice for food, and just next door is a great bar to spend the night drinking, metres away from the peaceful tide, listening to live reggae music. Squido’s does a great breakfast but you have to share the restaurant with a MASSIVE rat. There are also a lot
of tour operators offering the famous “island hopping” tours. These are all the same and are offered as different packages e.g. tour A or tour B. They all take in different groups of islands and they are all around the same price. Some advertise extra service and so charge slightly more but most are the same and are often run independently by locals with their own boats.
We did a couple of little fishing trips that you can book with the Art Cafe and as there was four of us, the boat hire was quite cheap. We did two of the island hopping trips and these are seriously good. If you can find Rodrigo on the island (he advertises snorkelling with sharks and turtles) then go with him. He and his son run a really good operation and they are both really nice. He did not lie about taking us snorkelling with sharks and turtles as he took us to some of the best snorkelling spots I have ever been to. The visibility here is ridiculous! Seriously clear water and the coral is so diverse and so alive. The marine life is not as diverse as parts of Indonesia
but the coral is the best I have seen. Rodrigo cooked us up some amazing food on the beach for lunch. Unicorn fish is up there with the best fish I have eaten. These trips have a lot of hidden extras that I will allow you to discover by yourself but what I can tell you is the islands of the Bacuit Archipelago are beyond stunning. To quote an old cliché – my pictures do not do it justice!
“We snorkel with Sharks now” Rodrigo says at 8:30 in the morning before any food.
“How long will we be Rody?”
“Ohhh 20 minutes maybe.”
Stupidly – Me and Andy proceed into the water without putting suntan lotion on. We ended up snorkelling the whole way round this small island in search of the sharks. We found them and it was great but we were snorkelling for about 1.30hours!! I was so tired and did not realise the extent to which I had burnt myself until the next day (see pictures) and Andy was worse!! Please be careful in the waters here. The sun is unbelievably strong. Probably the strongest I have experienced.
I spent 8
days here in the end and I could have happily stayed there for many more. The place is growing – no doubt about it. However, it doesn’t matter because 95% of the stunning islands off the coast of this place are uninhabitable and they will keep their charm whilst El Nido’s fades. I get the feeling that the “second beach” around the corner from the main strip – where we stayed – is what El Nido would have been like a few years ago so I would highly recommend staying there. For the divers out there – the coral is stunning but the marine life does not match the diversity of the coral. Whilst writing this I cannot stop smiling about this place – please come here if you have the chance.
There are more photos below