Here we go island hopping in El Nido, the northern most region on Palawan and probably the most known too.
Hitting the town in the morning we immediately understand that tourism is becoming well established here, way more than previous places we’ve been to in the Philippines such as Cebu and Bohol. El Nido is a simple village with a road on the beach side leading to the port that has become home to plenty of businesses: restaurants, hotels&hostels, dive centres, scooter rentals and travel agencies.
EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING TOURS
One can tell that to make it simple everybody agreed to the municipality program to offer 4 tours named A-B-C-D, all of them with fixed prices. Depending on high/low season, or large groups, everybody is then free to offer discounts.
We opted for tour A to begin with on our first available full day, and we found an agency that sold it for 900 pesos/each (early November). Tours leave at around 9 am and return before 5 pm.
We rented a scooter and decided to go farther to Nacpan Beach, about 30 km away (also reachable by tricycle if you don’t mind the 45min-trip). It wasn’t high season yet, actually rains were still hitting the area every few days, and the last couple of km were muddy dirt roads! It was a fun challenge to overcome them though, and the reward was absolutely stunning: the majestic Nacpan Beach was awaiting us in all its beauty. This beach is so large that even dozens of people won’t make it look busy.
It is situated in a wide bay with some islets in the middle, and the views are simply wonderful. Luckily the area isn’t much constructed, so its wildness is preserved. On the left side of the beach, a few meters from the water, there are few stilt houses where local fishermen families live.
The next day we get to the meeting point where all tours leave from, it’s a loud mess with guides shouting “Tour A here! Tour C that way!” and some vendors trying to sell the usual water-shoes, pearls, snorkels, etc.. It’s a lovely sunny day, one of the best we had in the Philippines so far, and when our boat gets going, we have in front of us all the amazing views we’ve been dreaming of: emerald waters, a hot sun, white bangka boats, mountainous limestone islands and sandy secluded beaches.
It’s also a good season to be here, not so crowded as they told us, and once in a while we can enjoy views and places all for ourselves!
As our tour ends, we return to town much pleased and tanned!
Unfortunately a typhoon kept us two days longer than expected on Coron island, so when we returned to El Nido we only had one day left. Our plans to try another island hopping tour, then go back to Nacpan or find some other remote beach went wasted. We just have the time to visit Las Cabanas Beach the very last morning, for a quick hour before it starts raining.
Salamat Pilipinas, it was amazing!
WHERE TO STAY IN EL NIDO:
- Smile Lodge, El Nido: simple rooms in quiet and central locations, cheap prices;
- Aqua Travel Lodge, El Nido: nice seafront rooms on the main road, lovely sunsets.
HOW TO MOVE AROUND:
- Van, Puerto Princesa – El Nido: 300pp/person, 5-6hrs;
- Tricycle to Las Cabanas Beach: 100pp/1way, 10min;
- Fast ferry, El Nido – Coron: 1750pp/person, 3h30, 6am everyday;
- Bunso boats, El Nido – Coron: 1400pp/person, 5-8hrs, 8am everyday.
|Ferry El Nido - Coron $ 36.65 4h|
- Scooter rental: 400pp/half day;
- Island hopping tour A: 900pp/each (discounted from 1200), boat, lunch, snorkels, entry fees included; kayak, snorkel shoes not included;
- Environmental fee, compulsory for every person: 200pp, valid for 1 week for any number of island hopping tours.
- Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.
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