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Published: September 29th 2012
The Small Lagoon
could not believe how clear the water was
After the unfortunate visit to Boracay we flew to Palawan
hoping to spend some wonderful time over there. Yes, we were hoping as El Nido
is also quite a popular tourist destination in Philippines and we were not sure what changes tourism has made to this place. Fortunately, El Nido is not the easiest place to reach unless you can splash on a charter plane so that already narrows the number of visitors down. During our travels we have learnt that any place that takes time to reach does not attract tour groups but different class of visitors therefore is worth a visit.
We decided to stay overnight in Puerto Princesa
even though there were charter minivans and night buses available. It was quick decision after we made friends with a friendly Argentinean guy – Patrick who suggested we all go out that night. He was obviously looking for some company but we also clicked instantly so we knew we would have fun. We stayed in the same guesthouse as Patrick (it was above our budget but owner gave us discount so that we can stay together) and we also met another American couple of friends who decided to join
coming from school
us. Who would have thought that we would have ended up with a group of great people that night? That is a great thing about traveling, you never know what is going to happen next, who you are going to meet and how your evening is going to end. One day we were so fed up with Boracay and another we were back to having a great time.
The Americans took us to Tiki Bar
that offered live music and great food (they had been in PP for a week now and became usual customers in this place). We don’t remember when was the last time we had so much fun going out to be honest. They were all crazy happy and fun. Unfortunately we were all going in different directions the next day so we had to say goodbye. We got on a morning bus to El Nido and several hours of painstaking journey later we arrived at our home for the next week or so. We did not have to look long for a nice accommodation as we managed to get a beautiful bungalow at Divayas Cottages
for a bargain 500P (just opposite famous Rossanas Cottages that
us in a sunny place but...
if you look closer there is a storm just behind us in the background
charges 1000Pesos for a fan room by the street).
Unfortunately it kept raining and we figured that monsoon has just fully arrived in Philippines. Oh well you cannot be always lucky with the weather and besides we managed to escape monsoon in the mainland so we could take a little bit of water. We found El Nido very peaceful place and even though it had more tourists that we would wish for it was still very pleasant and not spoiled. Local residents seemed very genuine and caring and our land lady was always more than helpful. It was not the cheapest to eat out but very quickly we found some spots that offered great and inexpensive treats to keep us going.
Every day we were actually able to enjoy breakfast and lunch at our veranda hidden between flower trees thanks to the Midtown Bakery
in El Nido. Except for the usual buns and cakes they had real brown bread (with seeds on top) that we just could not resist. We just had to add a little something to it like tuna salad, fried egg, tomato or even jam and we could enjoy something different for change. We have
to admit with shame that we spent every single evening in El Nido eating at Angel Jamafel Restaurant
(on the opposite side from the bakery) that served foot-long hotdogs and double patty burgers for like 2$ - best budget place in town in our opinion. They were so fabulous that we kept recommending it to people and we kept bringing all new friends with us to this place. Everybody was really amazed by this family run place (name comes from the family members’ names: Angel-little girl, Jamel – older girl, Marlon-husband, Jenifel – owner and cook,).
One day when walking on the beach we bumped into Hailey and Tristan from UK that we had previously met in Russia, ages ago. At least it seemed like ages ago as it was just at the beginning of our trip. We met them once more in Xian, China where we stayed in the same hostel but never expected to see them again. They were supposed to be working in Australia by now but traveling was far more exciting than work so they visited more countries in SE Asia. We went out for a foot-long hotdog and drinks after all – wonderful evening
So it was raining and raining in the nest (El Nido means nest in Spanish) for a few days before we managed to win a weather lottery and got one fabulous day to explore what El Nido had to offer. By then we only managed to walk around nearby beaches like Coron but we were waiting for the snorkel trip opportunity to really enjoy it. We read somewhere that El Nido has over 50 beaches plus enchanting lagoons with tranquil turquoise-green water, caves that can take you to hidden beaches, and a very diverse variety of wildlife to discover. The limestone cliffs of El Nido were naturally carved out in the similar fashion to the ones in Northern Vietnam and South China. We kept thinking how this place was so similar but prettier than Halong Bay and yet Vietnam gets all the credit – not fair ;-)
With the nice weather we jumped at the opportunity and booked a trip (650P each) for a whole day that included all the places we wanted to see which were really Big and Small Lagoon and Pangalusian Island
On board we met another wonderful American couple -
Danielle and John – and we knew straight away that we found some drinking buddies for the evening to come. What was it about this island that we kept meeting such great people??? Maybe it was our Karma saying sorry for letting us go and visit Boracay hahha It was the best excursion we have ever taken. It was professionally planned with stunning scenery, fantastic beach time, great swimming and yummy fresh BBQ lunch included.
We just loved the Small Lagoon and we could not get over the fact how incredibly beautiful this place was. Not sure if there is any other place like it where you enter a lagoon, swim through the rock opening to discover another green water lagoon and then repeat the same to find a third lagoon!!! We finished a day playing volleyball at the beach and drinking beer when sitting in amazingly turquoise water – what a day!!! Actually when I think about it, I believe that our El Nido stay would not be that special if not the snorkeling tour – it is just a must do!!!
So, did we mind that it rained for majority of our time in El Nido?
No, we did not as sometimes you need this kind of break just to sit down, relax and read a book with no 'pressure' to go swimming, snorkeling etc. We had a beautiful bungalow located basically just on the beach in a stunning garden and we could spend some quality time together. It sounds weird I know, because all we do is spending time together on this trip. However when there are activities to do and places to see we don’t really have these one-to-one moments, if that makes sense. So we got spoiled with spare quality time and fresh air with a hint of blossoming flowers (rain made it really nice and spring like). We really enjoyed this place for many reasons but our visa was running out and we had to move on;-(
On the way out of Philippines we were flying from Clark and because of its dodgy reputation we decided to spend a night at the airport. We did not think that we would have had any problems with staying at the terminal. Obviously we were wrong. We met a really nice girl – Jana and together we had to stay in the outside café
in order to wait for our flight. It was not that bad and the 10h went pretty fast and additionally at the end we met 4 Polish travelers (very rare thing on the road) flying to the same location so we ended up gaining new travel companions for weeks to come. Seriously, what is it about Palawan and meeting people?? Additional Note:
• Apparently there is a brilliant new hotel at Clark’s Airport that comes really cheap (around 10$) if you are flying with Air Asia. You can book it through Air Asia web. Our friends said it was the best budget hotel in Asia that they ever stayed in. Wish we had known as our flight to Kota Kinabalu was with AA;-(
• an advantage of flying out of Clark (probably the only one besides cheap Air Asia) is lower international departure tax of 500P not 750P as in Manila
• important to book a flight out before coming to Philippines as they request that at the airport - if not sure of how long you are going to stay just book a flight you can cancel for free later on Additional Note - Summary
• 21 days, 4 islands
• our favourite place: Malapascua Island
• our favourite food: not sure, bakeries are great though
• our favourite landscape: El Nido bay
• our favourite activities: El Nido boat trip
• our favourite hotel/guest-house: the one at Bantayan Island
• least favourite thing about Philippines: what happened to Boracay
• our cost per day: 26£/41$ per day for both of us excluding flights (68$ per day incl flights that are as cheap as 30$ each except for the Cebu-Boracay one)
Tot: 2.459s; Tpl: 0.101s; cc: 17; qc: 31; dbt: 0.054s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb