We arrived in El nido, Palawan, around 14 with the ferry boat from Coron. The ride went well, as said in my previous post. We were quite hungry, at least me, since they didn’t serve anything vegetarian on the boat, so I had plain rice only.
Our first impression of the small coastal town El Nido was that it was more calm here, and a much more organized town than Coron. It feels like there’s less traffic, at least the noise is lower (seems like they have quieter tricycles here), and with pedestrian streets on the sides. There are a few trafficked roads and narrow alleys connecting the roads, kind of making small squares in the town, where no cars or motos can go and there are only small shops and restaurants there.
We had lunch at a pizzeria and pasta place. I had a vegetarian pizza, and it was surprisingly good! Then we took a tricycle to Corong Corong where we had rented a beach cottage. It’s about 10-15 min away with tricycle, in a quieter place. The ride was only 50 php there!
We are staying at Arbor Beach Cottages in Sitio Lugadia, and paying about 8400 php for 5 nights with breakfast and wifi (about 30 USD/euros per nigh). It’s quite expensive for being Philippines, and also for the standard of the cottage, but it was one of the cheaper options for a cottage close to the beach here in el Nido. This place only has 2 cottages, and we have about 10m to the beach, and a swing just beside where I like to sit and read my book in the mornings. :) Also the sunsets are just beautiful from here!!
The breakfast is good also, Mark who is our host and very sweet, comes with it in a cute picnic basket every morning. We had pancakes the first day, they were huge – very thick but good! Really filling. Another day I tried an omelette and Duilio had eggs and bacon, but we were hungry again after a few hours, so after that we sticked with pancakes every morning, haha. We love to have it on our porch! :) We actually love to just hang out here… We got quite lazy haha.
We really just wanted to have a tranquil place, and the location is perfect. We thought it was going to be more remote, but there’s plenty of things going on in the area. We have “Happiness beach bar” just besides us, but the noise isn’t bothering at all, and they close at 22. They have great food, with many veg options like falafel and hummus with pita bread and that sort of Arabic/Lebanese food.
A couple of hundred meters to the other side there’s a bar called La Republica which is on the hill with a stunning view over the bay and perfect to watch the sunset. A spanish guy is running it, and the menu is a typical spanish tapas menu, with ”tortilla de patatas” ”gazpacho” ”patatas bravas con aioli” ”sangria” ”tinto de verano” and many other. I’ve tried all the vegetarian ones :) Hehe. We arrived quite early one day and just stayed there for a couple of hours, it got really crowded when the sun is about to go down!
If we walk on the ”highway road” on the hill above the beach towards el Nido town, there are also quite many shops, tour companies, hotels etc, so basically you have everything you need here. We arranged a tour through Mark here in our accommodation one day, and it goes from the town, but that’s the only time we have actually been there.
We tried ”tour C”, and honestly, it was quite bad. First we had to wait a couple of hours with no info of why, we just stood there waiting until we could board, and then we sat there waiting until we left… we left about 10.30 from the bay. Not at all as arranged as in Coron. We had to go in the water to get to the boat, with water up to our chests; they don’t have a pier or anything.
Then we were many in our group, like 15 or 20 people, and the guide wasn’t around the first hour because he jumped on the boat on another island, so we didn’t get any introduction to the tour our each other. The only ones we talked to during the whole day was another Spanish couple, Vicente and Valeria, and we hung out during the day and later at night haha.
The guide didn’t actually tell us much about the places we visited, just ”this is the hidden beach, bring your flipflops because it’s rocky on your way there” and that kind of information. … And the places weren’t that spectacular; they all looked sort of the same.
We visited Matinloc Shrine, the hidden beach, star beach, helicopter island and then we were supposed to visit the secret beach… And it was the only place we were really looking forward to see, but we couldn’t :(
To bad we couldn’t visit the Secret beach on Matinloc island, it was there which Alex Garland wrote a book about during his 6 months here in Palawan, and that inspired the movie ”The Beach” (with Leonardo Dicaprio) which was based on this secret backpackers paradise. But the movie didn’t get the rights to film in the Philippines because they didn’t want to destroy it with tourism, so the movie was shot on the Phi Phi islands in Thailand instead.
Anyhow, you can only reach it through a whole in the rocks, like a cave, but the sea was so turbulent and there was a lot of waves and current, so we couldn’t go there because it’s dangerous. Instead we went to a small place on the other side of the lake… not that remarkable at all.
We still enjoyed to be seeing the surroundings, but we would have probably enjoyed to take the tour A instead. Valeria and Vicente had done it the day before and showed us pictures and it looked amazing. We then found out about a place that sort of do that tour, but on a stand up paddle instead, which we wanted to do. We found the office but the ”business was closed for this week to arrange some things” – so then we just didn’t do any more tour.
One day we walked from our cottage southwards along the beach and the rocky sides (low tie) until we reached Marimegmeg beach and las cabañas, beautiful!
We got a text from another spanish couple that we had met at Bar Republica the day before, and they were planning on renting some scooters and driving to Pacnan beach about 20 kms to the north, so we joined. We found a scooter at ”Islandfront Cottages” close to where we live in Corong corong, and since it was around noon, we only paid 400 php for a half day, but we had to return them at 18.30. Guillermo and Candela, couldn’t find any cheaper than 600 in el Nido town where they were staying, so they took a tricycle to Corong corong to rent it from the same place too, haha.
Then we started our journey! The streets are really good, we passed by small villages along the way, rice terraces, school kids, and lot’s of green and beautiful scenery.
Then the good road ended, and we got to construction work and bumpy and sandy roads. Since we had to go slow there, a lot of kids walking the same road reached out there hands so we could make a ”high five” with them, but sometimes they actually grabbed onto your hand and wouldn’t let go and run besides the moto, haha. It was really close that we would fall, since it was like beachy sand on the road. Maybe the kids have a challenge within the group of other local kids there ”how many tourists did you throw out of the moto today?” haha.
We arrived the Nacpan beach, it costed 50 php in a tourist fee. The beach was amazing, reaaally long beach and almost empty. We found some hammocks under some palm trees, and there was one guy in the tree cutting down coco nuts, and I had one for 50php. :)
There were a few restaurants there with about the half price of food as in the other places we have around our accommodation, so we were happy. Me and Duilio got our food quite fast, it was really good, but Guillermo and Candelas food was probably forgotten, because we reminded them 2 times and it took 2 hours for them to get the food! Well well. This is a place where you should go to early in the morning to really enjoy a full day there. After lunch we hung out in the hammocks again. Love them!
Our last day we were super tired and a little bit bad in our stomachs, so we just hung out at our beach and the porch for the whole day, haha. We saw our last beautiful sunset here in Corong corong, as always, lovely.
Anyhow. Now we have been 5 days in El Nido. As said we haven’t done so much island hoping, but we have enjoyed our time here as true vacations, eating and drinking good and watching all the beautiful sunsets by the beach.
Next destination: Puerto Princesa!