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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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!
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!