Philippines Part 2 - Siargao Island

We made it! Lush green hills, mangrove swamps, and forests of coconut trees as far as the eye can see. We were picked up at the one room Siargao airport and driven in the back of a pick-up truck to our accommodation. We rented a large house right on the beach with a little wharf over the water and its own swimming pool. Relaxation!  

Cute little stingless jelly.

Comin' in Hawt!

Beach combing booty!

The next day we rented motorbikes and checked out the little town 30 min away from our house. We hadn’t realized that the place we were staying was in the middle of nowhere… miles down a winding dirt road in a very tiny village, which led to a lot of sore butts from the mopeds! We went into the town, General Luna, to check out the world class surf break “Cloud 9” (what the island is known for and part of the whole reason we came). The town was less developed than we had originally expected. Some nice guest houses, resorts and restaurants but quite uninhabited compared to so many other places we had been. Even better, many of the people spoke English! What a relief! After traveling for awhile you really appreciate being able to understand what people are saying to you!

Quick pit stop.

Checking out "Cloud Nine"

The boardwalk out to the break.

In the afternoon of the next day, Emily and Brendan finally made it to Siargao. It was so exciting to finally see them! We hung out that day enjoying each others company and the warm sun! That night it was the first time Mikey and I had cooked a real meal in 6 months! It felt good being able to cook something exactly how you want it. We had mahi mahi fish steaks with a mango salsa, DELICIOUS! It was also time to surf and the waves were PUMPING! It was a real shocker for the boys the next morning when they thought the waves would be 3-4 foot and ended up 3-4 meters! Turned out not to be a good day for soft top longboards, but they made the best of it! Later that day, we got the entire group out in front of the house surfing the baby waves, and eventually the girls were getting into everything on their own!

Left: Swarmed by kids. Right: Homemade Mahi Mahi Steaks.

Party wave!

Bombs away!!!

We wanted to go explore the island further so we headed up north with our gang of mopeds. Rice paddy field after rice paddy field mixed with groves of coconut trees, the landscape was beautiful. It must have been harvest season because picked, unprocessed rice was set out on the side of the roads (or even in the roads) in order to dry out. Even better than the landscape, were the people. The rice paddy workers would stop their work as we drove by to give us a shout or a wave or even a little dance. Children would yell at us, wave and try to get high-speed high-fives. 

High speed high fives!

Right: Miles of drying roadside rice.

We then headed up farther north to Pacifico Beach where we had an amazing lunch. While waiting for the food Emily and I were eyeing up some local kids playing some pickup basketball. Our competitive side got the better of us and we challenged them to a 3 on 3 basketball match, choosing a small but cute little kid to be on our team. I think we were the only girls to ever play with them because after a few minutes the whole town was out on the street watching us! We had a whole cheering squad! The boys weren’t taking it easy on us either but in the end we won! There were two little girls watching us that were especially excited that we came out on top. It was Joe & Beth’s last night with us before they headed home so we had a bonfire on the beach and had some fun underneath the star-studded sky! 


Bullfrog party!

Joe and Beths last night bonfire.

Small glimpse of the milky way.

The next day we checked out the Magpupungko tide pools to do a little snorkeling. The lava formed a mega tide pool that is only exposed during low tide. Here we saw little fishes and even a deadly coral snake (banded sea crate). After another full day of beach, surf and food, sadly it was then time for Amanda & Nick to leave. Getting them to the airport turned out to be quite the challenge when we happened to get 2 flat tires!!! Luckily they made it out in time.

4 deep on the motorcycles!

Beach combing treats.

Chillen at "Cloud 9".

Left: Getting the tire patched (vulcanized), very old school! Right: 12ft alligator! Turns out the mangroves are infested!

And then there was four! Emily, Brendan, Mikey & I chose to move to another hotel closer to town, entirely due to the terrible, terrible, awful owner/host of our current house (P.S. NEVER STAY AT PARAISO RESORT!!!). But we won’t get into that whole ordeal. Thankfully the next place we stayed was absolutely amazing, on the beach, next to surf breaks, right in town, and served up some amazing jungle juice! 

Ocean 101. 

Island hopping!

One of the coolest adventures over the next few days was going to the Sohoton Caves, a mere 2.5 hour (very loud) boat ride away, but an entirely new galaxy! The bluest, greenest, clearest waters you will ever see in your life and epic caves. Once at the cave area, the tour starts by speeding through low clearance, stalactite ridden caves. But don’t you worry, we were very safe, they decked us out in googley hard hats and life jackets. We looked like bob the builder wannabes. At the first stop we swam through a low, small cave entrance that opened up into a huge water filled cavern, where the only light came from the sun reflected water from outside. Our pictures, although awesome, don’t do it justice. The next stop was quite the adventure. We jumped off the boat and waded into a large dark cave. We then climbed up huge stalactites gaining higher and higher ground which led to a platform with a cliff jump into the clearest water imaginable. We then toured around the glorious backwaters with large cliffs and gorgeous corals. Our last stop was to swim with the stingless jellyfish. They’re quite cute little creatures especially when they can’t sting the life the out of you. All in all it was an incredible day! 

Heading to Sohoton Caves.

The green room.

The caves 

The jellyfish pool.

Closer Inspection.

Another day we circumvented the whole island on mopeds with our new friends Marcelle and Yoyo. When our sore butts couldn’t handle it any longer we stopped at a small burger joint in the middle of nowhere. We were lucky because as soon as we sat down a storm hit!! A downpour of rain and wind. Welp, I guess we will be staying here for awhile! Thankfully, just before sunset the rain let up and we hurried our way back home. 

Right: Mobs of kids! Stop for a second and your getting surrounded.

Right: Massive Pig!

Mikey and Brendan went on a few more morning dawn patrol surfing sessions during our stay. Emily and I decided they shouldn’t have all the fun so we went out to surf by ourselves at a smaller break. At first when we showed up there was NOBODY there. The one piece of advice the boys gave us was, “just go where everyone else goes.” Well that wasn’t going to work! But we toughened up and paddled out, to our surprise we crushed it, catching dozens of small little waves. What a blast! 

Left: Rock island surf break. Right: Gettin fishy!

On Emily & Brendan’s last night, the whole hotel had a party for them! Well it wasn’t actually for them but we like to think of it that way. The hotel was opening their new restaurant and all of us were invited to a free banquet and show! That morning while eating breakfast, the workers were finishing up the last few things on the building and we suspiciously saw them walk a very upset little goat over to the front of the building, in perfect view of all the morning breakfast eaters. “What are they doing with that goat?” I asked. THEN a heart wrenching squeal. Mikey says “OMG don’t look, just don’t look.” Before I could turn my eyes away the worker had slit the poor goats throat and was walking it lifelessly around the building. Everyone in the restaurant was in utter disbelief! So much for breakfast! Later we found out that it was a ritual done to protect the new building, brutal yet effective. 

Dinner is served.

That night was very fun! They had a huge spread of local Filipino dishes and two huge whole pigs! They even had an hour of singing and dancing entertainment. It was a great last night to spend together. We were sad to see the last remaining family depart for home. It was so strange to be all alone after 3 weeks of constant interaction and adventure. We had a quick pit stop in Cebu for the night. Two flights later we found ourselves being kicked out of Vietnam due to missing connecting flights and having no visa, we were then forced to overnight in Bangkok and lost Mikey’s debit card in a greedy ATM!!! That little setback wont keep us from our final stop… Myanmar!!!!!!

Enjoying one last sunset.

The Philippines Part 1 - El Nido, Palawan

What a hidden gem!!! Months ago after originally talking to Emily and Brendan about going to the Philippines, we had no idea what to expect. Sure enough, we slowly started talking to people about what it had to offer! Well to be blunt, this place rules! After spending only 3 weeks here, we didn't even scratch the tip of the iceberg. Better yet, we didn't even see the iceberg! This is the type of place that you could spend years of your life exploring on a live aboard sailboat and be left wanting more. 

Group Shot- Nacpan Beach.

To start things off, seeing Amanda, Nick, Joe and Beth was AMAZING! What a treat to be so far from home and see friendly faces while sharing in the the epic-ness of adventure. El Nido, Palawan was the first stop on the itinerary and what an experience it was just getting there. After meeting up in Manila and packing the 6 of us (Mikaela, Amanda, Nick, Joe, Beth, and myself) into a little clown car taxi to get to the airport, we were of course dropped off at the wrong terminal! It turned out we were flying a private carrier and no taxis knew where it was. Our taxi just said he did to get the fare! We spent the next 45 minutes cooking in the dry Manila sun while walking and trying to get to the right place. Finally after arriving, we struck gold. A free all we could eat breakfast spread and a cozy lounge awaited us while the plane was prepping for takeoff.

Packing into the airport clown car taxi!                                             Photo Cred- Beth!

Two hours later we arrived in El Nido. After a short Jeep-ny ride to the arrivals cabana, we were greeted by a group of women singing a hawaiian-esc island welcome song. We got another quick bite of food and it was time to boogy! We loaded up in what I guess you would call a taxi (a motorcycle with a fiberglass Toyota sidecar shell, making it look like a car) and we were off, barreling down the road at a staggering 15 mph.

El Nido Town

El Nido turned out to be quite the popping little town. After settling into our place, we had a nice dinner on the beach and tried to figure out how much stuff we could pack into the next few days. The following day consisted of renting mopeds and exploring the nearby beaches. What an EPIC landscape we were surrounded by. Massive cliff walls jutted out over the sapphire colored ocean while hundreds of untouched islands littered the area. Speaking of litter, there was none to be found! What a surprise to be in a place this undeveloped and not see any trash on the ground.

First dinner to catch up with friends & fam.

Ohh the joys of dirt roads and dump trucks!

Nacpan Beach.

On to the next beach!

The first place we made our way to was Nacpan Beach. This was one of your empty stereotypical dream beaches with sand bottom as far as you dared to go out and small but fun waves to play in. We then walked down the mile long strip of sand to the far end and discovered a small hill to climb; what a beautiful 360 degree vantage point to really take in where we were. We put some local food in our bellies and downed a few coconuts, then hit the road again. Heading even further north we had no idea where we were going but had heard there were some really nice beaches way off the beaten path. We eventually made it to the perfect beach in the middle of nowhere for sunset, body surfed in the waves, got chased by a massive pig on the way out, and Joe & Beth got a flat front tire to top it all off!

Looking out over Nacpan Beach, full 360

Say Cheese!

The only photo we have of our favorite beach. You know its good when you forget to take pictures! 

The next day we decided to kayak out to some islands a mile or so offshore. It was awesome to get away from town again and just have some good relaxing time in the bathtub warm waters. It was fairly uneventful until I decided to go for a lunchtime snack 25’ up a tree for some coconuts. BAD idea…Just as I touched my prize I was immediately bombarded by a hundred small ants that really took pleasure in letting me know that this was their turf. On top of all the biting ants, I then realized that I had really picked the wrong tree, as I was staring face to face with a green tree viper snake. Time to go down in a hurry!! That was enough excitement for one day.

Right: A sweet little shack we found on a small island while kayaking.

Amanda's Super creepy but effective berka!

The last day on Palawan we were aching to do some scuba diving as we had heard that it was not to be missed. It turned out that the entire group was able to come with us and do some of the same dives! At one point in the dive we even happened to run into them looking at a big green sea turtle! The visibility was decent most of the time, but also not so good for the other half. We really have had bad luck on that front, better luck next time!

Amanda, Nick, Joe & Beth about to get their dive on!

Gearing up!

Chilling out between dives.

Our second dive sight, Twin Rocks.

We enjoyed what Palawan had to offer and wish that we could have spent more time there!! We now had to make a 6 hour bus ride to the airport, a plane ride, one night stop-over in Cebu and then one more plane ride to our next destination, Siargao, to meet up with Emily and Brendan. It isn’t over yet, Siargao here we come! Philippines Part 2 coming soon!

Nacpan Beach!