Got back from our vacation to my homeland Philippines. This time I was with Armin and it was only for three weeks which is really short considering the time we have to travel to and fro. But since I am again a member of the labor pool, my vacation time is now limited 🙁 . Still, I am glad to be able to spend some time with my parents, sister and nephews.
The highlights of our recent trips would be our (Armin and I) 1 week stay at El Nido, Palawan and then our visit to the Hundred Islands in Pangasinan with the rest of the family. This post will be about El Nido.
How to get to EL Nido, Palawan?
From my hometown Pampanga, we had to go to Manila and catch a short flight from NAIA Terminal 3 going to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Because our flight was in the afternoon we opted to stay overnight in Puerto Princesa and took the bus to El Nido the next day, which usually takes about 5-6 hours. There are 2 bus operators from Puerto Princesa to El Nido and vise versa, the Cherry Bus and the Roro Bus. There are aircon and non-aircon buses leaving at intervals. To avoid waiting too long at the bus terminal or not getting a seat (during peak season), it is better to book bus tickets ahead of time and your hotel (or whatever accommodation you've checked-in) can usually do this for you if you ask them nicely:-).
There are also vans that travel from Puerto Princesa to El Nido that cost around Php600-Php950 per head or you can rent the whole van for Php 7000-10000. We chose the bus for the leg room.
Best Place to Stay in El Nido?
This is of course a matter of opinion and also of budget. There are a lot of nice island resorts in El Nido but they could be (really) pricey. I read somewhere that El Nido used to be a playground for only the rich and famous but because of its popularity a lot of backpackers and budget-travellers decided that they should also enjoy a piece of this paradise and the demand for medium to low-budget accommodations became more and more.
As for us, we started looking for accommodations as early as November and most of them were already booked-out for January, as this is already the start of peak season. Then after reading a lot of reviews and comments about El Nido, Armin insisted that we look for a beach resort in Barangay Corong-Corong and luckily we were able to get a cottage room (the last one available) in Greenviews Resort. The price range (at this time) is from Php1400-Php2,700. They also offer island hopping tours so we don't have to go anywhere else for that as they have their own boats.
The first thing we did after checking in was to check out the town proper of El Nido. It was only about a kilometer away and so we took a tricycle there and we were really thankful that Armin has done his research and that we listened to the tips and advices from travel forums. Corong-corong was a better choice compared to the beach along the El Nido town proper (Barangay Buena Suerte) where most resorts, hotels and restaurants are. The beach in Corong-corong was so much cleaner and the sand whiter, not as crowded and loud and we were able to enjoy the sunset unlike on the other beach because it is surrounded by tall limestone and marble cliffs . Maybe the only thing we can complain about is that the water in Corong-Corong is shallower. But that is also not bad, at least not for me.
What to do in El Nido?
To be honest, the only way to truly appreciate El Nido is through the island hopping tours. We've been to many different beaches in the Philippines and when we got to El Nido we're like "ok...so..what was all the hype about???" sure it is beautiful but so are the other beaches we've been and we didn't need to sit on a bus for 6 long hours to get there (some only 3 or 4)...that is until we had our tour on our second day. We took Tour A as recommended by many. The tours usually costs Php1200 per head (plus Php200 environment fee but valid for 10 days) this includes buffet lunch which is prepared by the boatsmen and since we took our tour from Greenviews, we also got free breakfast.
Here are some of our pictures we took from Tour A.
On our third day we decided to take a bit of rest and just rented a kayak in the afternoon. We just went along the stretch of Corong-Corong beach and found a small quite beach just for us.
In the evening, our resort would set up table and chairs on the beach front and offers a live band music while people are enjoying their dinner and the sunset.
There is only one ATM machine in El Nido and sometimes it is out of service so better bring cash. Some restaurants and resorts accepts credit card for additional 5-6% charge.
Although El Nido is considerably a small town and not that yet developed, I find the prices, in general , to be a bit high (in Filipino standard of course) as they have to get almost everything from Puerto Princesa and of course because of all the foreign tourist coming here. So don't expect a decent meal to be cheap. There are, however, also a lot of eateries at the town proper which seems to be budget friendly.