El Nido, Palawan is probably one of the most overrated places in the Philippines. Overrated in the sense that, before only those who are elite can see its beauty. Hoax said that this place is too expensive to have a vacation. I used to think that every individual who had their vacation here are the richest of the richest people. So out of curiosity about the expensivity of this place, i decided to read blogs and googled places of interests. I wanted to prove that it’s feasible to enjoy the place without drilling a hole in my pocket.
So in continuity of my “it’s more fun in the Philippines” quest this year (been to Cebu, Bohol in January & Boracay last June), i booked a flight via Cebu Pacific Air to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. This is the hub to El Nido, Palawan.
One can go here via 3 different mode, its either via chartered plane (way too expensive), by land or by boat if coming from Coron.
I opt to do the land travel since i wanted to save. Before this trip, a friend who did this method swear that its the most uncomfortable trip she’d ever done. I bear it in my head and start preparing myself of the endurance i had to make.
I did all my research, itineraries, aswell as accommodation bookings prior. This itinerary also includes Puerto Princesa (read it on a different post).
How to get to El Nido via Puerto Princesa?
> Upon Arrival, go to the tricycle (white-colored) terminal located near the entrance of the arrival Hall, tell the driver “San Jose Bus Terminal” – Fare is P120 or
> Walk your way towards the main road, hail any colored tricycle and get off at the junction (the intersection or stoplight) – Fare is P8. Then ride a multicab towards San Jose Bus Terminal – Fare is P 13
> From there, you can choose to ride a Bus or Van, here’s the list of Bus lines and their timetable:
*Note: There are several private Vans aswell, do haggle to get the best fare. There’s no time of departure for them as long as the Van is full, then they are ready to go. Btw, we got our fare for 400 php only. 🙂
We choose to go on with the Van, it’s a bit faster than the Bus. A van ride will take you to El Nido for about 5 to 6 hrs. While the bus is about 7 to 9 hrs. We departed at around 5:15 PM.
How our road trip went?
I told you, i’m prepared! My mind is all set for what is worst. But to my surprised, its not that bad after all. The roads are cemented, tho’ its like a roller coaster, zigzag road when in times the word “dizziness” will strike you, still it’s manageable. I still was able to sleep, o well, probably coz i’m used to commuting in my daily routine, but nope, in all honesty it’s not that Bad! The government of Palawan wanted to encourage loads of tourist, so the infrastructures are getting better. I believed that the only rough road that we have encountered are the last 30 mins. of the trip.
Upon arrival at the El Nido Bus Terminal, just hop-in to one of the tricycle to bring you to your accommodation – Fare is P50
We arrived from Puerto Princesa at around 10:30 PM (there are several stop-overs for dinner break and unloading of passengers).
Check-in at Swiflets Inn
Well, i’m not used in telling side stories about how my accommodation was. But this time, i will. This Inn is relatively new, they opened this year. I stumbled with this Inn while browsing through Agoda. Then, i managed to contact them via Facebook. The one answering my inquiries is very polite and answers quickly. She gave me a good price, obey my little request and kind enough to let us take our shower on our last day after our tour. She let us check-out late without a fee. Such a good Soul.
They offer free breakfast. Simple but can get you through. They have free coffee and hot chocolate for the rest of the day.
The room is simple, with basic amenities. Tho’ the bed is a little hard and a bit uncomfortable but manageable. Bathroom is clean with bathtub and hot/cold shower. They clean the room everyday, you can also request to have your towels changed. The facade is undoubtedly crystal clear. They only offer 4 rooms for now, tho’ another 4 are in works, probably ready by early next year.
Though not beach front, which i felt is not really necessary. The location is superb, fronting to the famous El Nido limestone, making your view each morning breathtaking. It is also a 5-min walk to the beach, 2 mins to the eateries, restaurants and convenience stores. And around 10 mins walk to the bus/van terminal.
My experience here is one of a kind. Making me realized how lovely Palawenos are. The room is not that extravagant but it’s very clean. The only thing that strikes me are the lovely owners. This family is so supportive that they treat us like a family member. This is the first time that i experienced such. They actually accommodate us towards the tricycle every time we leave for our island tours. They even bid us a sweet goodbye when we leave El Nido. So Kudos to Swiftlets Inn, i’ll be coming back for sure! ☺️
List of Accommodations. Click to Enlarge
In order to enjoy the place, it’s necessary to booked an Island Hopping Tour. El Nido is known for its beautiful islands, limestone mountains and amazing marine sources.
There are 4 Island Hopping Tours. Categorically separated, namely:
Here’s the list of Tour Agencies in El Nido. Kindly Click to Enlarge.
We took Tour C on our 1st Day and Tour A on our last. You can request to have a combination Tour if you have constraint time. But i’m not advising you to do so, it’s nicer to enjoy the place in tranquil mode.
We are greeted with a nice weather, tho’ the Sun is smiling, we are informed that it’s high tide and the waves are not at their finest. We are only 7 (tourists) in the boat and around 4 boatmen including our Tour Guide. Me, my Man, and my Mom plus 3 American guys and 1 Filipina (girl of one American).
This Tour includes Secret Beach, Matinloc Shrine, Helicopter Island, Colasa Beach, Hidden Beach. Since the waves are not good, the guide informed us that we will skip the Secret Beach and instead will go to Cadlao Beach.
1. Cadlao Beach
The boat dropped us in the middle, a bit far from the shore. The waters are not too deep, about 5 ft. (I’m 5’4 tall btw) but a life jacket is needed for safety. Well, i wore them all the time as i am not a good swimmer. This area is a good location for snorkling.
2. Colasa Beach
The Nice Marine Life
3. Matinloc Shrine
Another favorite of mine. The guide told us that a church was once built in this place. You can see it through the facade and the Pillars as well as the Christ Sculpture. It also has its own seashore and a cemented hallway which is great for photography.
4. Hidden Beach – Of all the islands i’ve been, this is probably my favorite. Coming here is a bit tricky, the boat will not dock near the entrance of the beach as it was surrounded with growling waters. Instead, they will let you swim towards the entrance. Since i don’t know how to swim, the guide pulled me near the entrance up until the shallow area. From there, you’ll need to squeeze in & cross a small rocky hole. After doing so, you will then be greeted with a shore surrounded by a formation of rocky limestones and a still & large heel-deep water. Literally, the area is so breathtaking, even my pictures can’t justify how mesmerizing the place was! Absolutely, this will marked in my heart.
5. Helicopter Island
The Tour was over at around 4:30 PM, after that we headed back to our Inn. Take a shower and walk around the area. Bought my souvenirs and eat dinner.
The next day, after breakfast, we waited for the tricycle who will take us to the starting point of our Tour A. Supposedly, the tour will start at 9 AM, but they arrived late, so we started the tour at 10 AM. Unlike yesterday, this day is an all-Filipino Tour. Still we’re 7 plus several boatmen and our guide from yesterday.
1. Big Lagoon
This is where the Bourne Legacy filming location took place. This area is good for photography, for whatever reasons, they are not allowing tourists to swim in the lagoon.
2. Shimizu Island
3. Secret Lagoon
This area is surrounded by rocky mountains creating a crater like lagoon. In order to see the place, one must swim from the docking area and passed through a very tiny hole. A bit of a challenge, tho’ the water inside is already musty, probably coz of the many tourists flocking the site.
4. Small Lagoon
Great for swimming and Kayaking
5. 7 Commando
White-Sand beach with crystal clear water.
The boat docking station
The Crew of our 2 Days Island Hopping Tour
This trip is one of the most unforgettable places i’ve been. I’ve fallen in love with El Nido. See, i’m not a beach person but this place majestically soar in my soul. Everything is beautiful, one of a kind and undoubtedly the best in the Philippines! I’ll be here again for sure! 😍😍😍