This is a very delayed post, I tell you, but I just have to share this trip with all of you.
Last November, I had the chance to organize a mini-getaway for my family. My mother keeps on telling me to plan a trip somewhere since we barely went out to travel for the past months. She always mentioned that she wanted to go to Palawan and it was just so timely I found some sweet deals to finally fulfill her wish.
Palawan was recently named as “The Best Island in the World” in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Wards. It’s a hidden paradise, they say. It is known for its three major and must-visit “spots” – Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron.
This isn’t the first time Palawan received an award. One of the very popular awards was naming the Underground River in Puerto Princesa one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
With its clear, blue and green waters, its majestic rock formations which seemed to be jungle-filled mountains rising up from the ocean, and its community, it’s easy to see why Palawan has achieved all these titles.
Palawan is known to be one of the “expensive” destinations in the Philippines but if you’re patient enough, you’d probably score cheap deals.
✈️ How to get there
This group of islands is accessible by boat or by plane. Since many airports in the Philippines have already started their upgrades and renovations, they also opened to more destinations including this beautiful archipelago. You can either pass through Manila, Iloilo or Cebu. Many say the best time to visit is between October and May.
Our timing was just perfect!
There were minimal tourists during our visit since most would prefer to go during summer. The climate was kind of cooperating, at first.
We went to El Nido passing through Puerto Princesa. You can also take a direct flight going to El Nido but most of these flights depart from Manila.
Our initial plan was to take the Underground River tour right after our arrival but thanks to Cebu Pacific for delaying our flight, we were not able to do the tour.
Anyway, we proceeded to El Nido. We bought the land transfer from the plane.
Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific offer land transfers to and fro El Nido and Puerto Princesa. It was a 5-hour land trip. We stopped at Corong-Corong and took the tricycle going to El Nido proper. We ate dinner and then slept to prepare for the next day.
For the information of those who haven’t been to Palawan, especially El Nido, you can actually maximize your trip by getting the pre-planned island tours. Palawan is an archipelago by itself. The islands surrounding the main island were discovered to be unique so visiting just one island does not really summarize the El Nido experience.
There are four main island hopping tours in El Nido.
TIP: If you stay for only a short time and plan to do the island hopping tour, consider Combo Tour A and C to get the best of the Bacuit Archipelago. You can also ask around locals and you will get the same answer.
I personally chose Tour A and C but for the benefit of everyone, I will still share the inclusions of Tour B and D.
Tour A is one of the best and most popular island-hopping tours in El Nido. During the day, you will discover beautiful lagoons, beaches and snorkeling spots where you can swim and admire the corals, the colorful fauna and its hundred of fishes species.
Tour A destinations:
- Small Lagoon
- Big Lagoon
- Secret Lagoon
- Shimizu Island
- Seven Commando
Tour B is an interesting one. You will enjoy white sand beaches, snorkeling, but also get to visit a cave and discover a unique sandbar in the middle of the sea.
Tour B destinations:
- Snake Island
- Pinagbuyutan Island
- Entalula Beach
- Cadugnon Cave
Tour C is probably the most popular of all the tours. It will take you on a journey to beautiful islands, beaches and snorkeling spots, and to an uncanny place: Matinloc Shrine. If you were to pick only one tour in El Nido, this probably would be Tour C.
Tour C destinations:
- Helicopter Island
- Matinloc Shrine
- Secret Beach
- Star Beach
- Hidden Beach
Tour D will take you on a memorable journey through ones of the most beautiful beaches in Palawan. You will have the time to relax on the white sand, to snorkel around, admire the colorful aquatic fauna, and simply enjoy the beauty of a wild nature.
Tour D destinations:
- Ipil Beach
- Cadlao Lagoon
- Paradise Beach
- Pasandigan Beach
- Natnat Beach
- Bukal Beach
All the island hopping tours start in El Nido town, at the Pier Harbor or the Port Authority. The boatmen or crew will meet and welcome you there. Most of these tours already come with lunch buffets. You only have to know which tour operators offer the best deals.
Most tour packages range from 1,200 to 1,800. I got ours for 900 to 1,200. The price depends on the number of people joining the tour. If you’re traveling with your group of friends, you have the luxury to negotiate a cheaper deal. Ask Ate Lani! She is very accommodating and her team of boatmen and tour guides are the best! You can contact her through this number +63921 598 1221.
If you’re traveling with your partner or with a lesser group, you don’t have to worry. There are joiner packages for a cheaper price but if you really want the exclusive experience, prepare to pay the higher price.
There are a lot of things to do in El Nido and 4 days definitely is not enough. For sure, I will be back to explore more of its beauty. I failed to visit Nacpan since my mom was a bit drained from all the tours and boat rides.
We went back to Puerto Princesa hoping to score the Underground River Tour. Sadly, the weather wasn’t that good when we arrived in Puerto Princesa. They closed the river that day.
While waiting for our flight, we killed our time by roaming around Puerto Princesa City. We went home tired but happy.
Since this trip was for family, I wasn’t really monitoring the expenses. But just to give you an idea here’s what I remember:
Food (per person) 2,000.00
Accommodation (3 Nights – Family Room) 4,284.00
Combo A + C Tour (per person) 2,100.00
Puerto Princesa City Tour (per person) 250.00
I’m planning to visit Coron soon and will sure write about it when I have the chance. Keep posted as I’ll be sharing more about my beach escapades this summer!