Is El Nido does ring a bell? A majestic town whirling on all the adventures of island hopping, cliff hiking, scuba diving and beachfront strolling.
El Nido, Palawan is the town packed with all the excitement and wonders a traveller can think for a dream vacation. But, even if you did not choose to pump your adrenaline, there are still lots of activities this exciting town offers. May it is your choice or a weather disturbance happened, you would not surely get bored with alternative recreations.
Puerto Princesa Airport
The flight to Puerto Princesa City was a real, smooth one. Peeking from the window and gazing outside reminded me of the types of clouds taught by my Science teacher decades ago.
Is that stratus, cumulus? How many types of clouds there is? Is that all, or maybe 4? Those cotton-like thing floating around makes a bright morning.
There are many times I could get a view way downward. And then spot an island, a river, a vast of water, or a stream going that extensive water. Wow, so amazing to see. Now I knew how a drone felt.
The 45-minute flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa International Airport was such a slight drone feeling entertainment.
You see, from a very fearful passenger, being silent and hysterical, twitching and holding tight buddy’s arm. Now, on the second time after I took an EFT class to solve my fear of flying, it had solved it tremendously.
It may be a little slow in the process, but a big leap compared to the past air flights. So, now, I enjoyed much flying and appreciating more the view higher than the cumulus and the stratus one.
Disembarking the plane and choosing to have a hand carry-bag for a 5-day trip was a real breeze, no need to line up waiting for check-in baggage. We were ready for the adventure as soon as we carry our bags on our back.
How do I get from Puerto Princesa to El Nido?
- Ride an airport tricycle to bus terminal. Ride a bus to El Nido.
- Or ride an airport van to El Nido.
Going out of the arrival area, we headed to the Airport Tricycle Terminal. Fare is P150, less than $3, from airport to the bus terminal.
There is an option of riding a van straight to El Nido. But considering the 6 hours of travelling time, it would be best to ride a spacious bus so you can spread and relax your legs than a squeezing, crowded van. The leg space is too little, plus a bit more squeeze from well-built guests.
But, the travel time is shorter. For a van, the ride is faster. No passengers were loading and unloading on certain corners of towns. It also had a lesser stopover, if there is any.
Since I always enjoy sight-seeing while traversing the countryside without worrying about how much travel time it would take and the spacious bus comfortability, we chose to ride a bus.
Here is the schedule of the bus trips to El Nido.
At the bus terminal, the 1 pm schedule was an old bus. Due to the heat of the noon, the aircon cannot give the coolness you wished it had. We are a little bit early, so we sat inside the bus.
An Ice Cream Lunch
Luckily, there was an ice cream cart, why not have an ice cream lunch? Ice cream carts roam around the bus terminal. You can hear the ice cream vendor ringing a bell, meaning him approaching.
Two scoops of ice cream in a cone are P10, about $0.20, and three scoops ice cream in between a sliced burger bun really would be a festive, colourful lunch. And it is still P10. We had lunch for only P20, at about $0.40. And it was so refreshing that it almost cooled our body forgetting the warmth of the noon and the aircon.
The almost first hour of the ride takes us to the road of Puerto Princesa City. Here, we got to see some establishments like a mall, a hospital, hotels and restaurants.
As the bus made a big curve, I captured the first glimpse of the mountainous Palawan. The green scenery welcomed me to this site. A giant white cross on the top and more trees started relaxing my eyes and enjoying the view. I caught some huts on an excellent picnic view.
Some more turns and there was the beach. I was still in Puerto Princesa, with several resorts in a row. And, so, these are the water of Palawan. Some portions had mangroves. It seemed natural to have mangroves in this part of the globe.
There are turns that you are glaring to a rice field. Then, just a slight curve would have a beach view, the winding road taking us to the two sides of Palawan.
After 1 ½ hour, we stopover for 10 minutes for a quick snack. Or, if you wanted to use the restrooms.
Here, we tasted their carioca – a good, fried rice cake. What overwhelmed me is the sweetened cashew. Cooked in sugar and maybe cooled it by portion, about ten pieces a bunch. Each bunch cost P20, about $0.40.
We had to hop on the bus. And, as I bite the sweetened cashew, how I wished buying more. It was lightly sweetened and very satisfying, crispy cashew. So yummy.
Carved Buko Trees
As we continued travelling, there is no more beach water. It became rice fields and acres of buko trees. They had lots of very tall buko trees.
Farmers carved each tree trunk on places where one’s foot could step when going up the tree. This carving served as something to step their foot on until they reached the top.
That’s why I was so delighted when we had a 15-minute lunch stop. For the canteen also offered buko pie — my favourite.
First, we hurriedly ate our lunch. A fried vegetable roll or lumpia costs P20 each. P120 for a grilled, whole, fresh and meaty fish called Balaw, plain rice and a soda, all were totalling for P190, about $3.70. And for my dessert, a buko pie for P100.
You can use their very scenic toilet. It has a tall glass window that you can see the landscape of this beautiful side of Palawan. Good experience. You can drop a small donation to their box.
Back on sitting on the bus, we hurriedly opened the buko pie box and started indulging on its slice.
The size of the buko pie may be about 7-inch round. The crust is thin, holding up a delicate filling. Not a thick tart, yet creamy and delicious, very different to the famous buko pie of Laguna. The exact amount of buko in it and somewhat spots of light saltiness, like cheese, made the pastry great. And, a dessert solved within the bus.
With all the green scenery, rice fields and buko trees, I did not have a single second feeling bored. It was very entertaining that ran hour after hour. Imagine travelling without all these.
As we go farther, banana trees are not just simple trees. Some leafy plant attached on their trunks, make them like a wild banana tree. There are several areas with dense trees.
Ferns covered the facade of the mountain. I smell the leafy environment though I am stuck on a closed bus.
There are hilly roads that the bus travelled on up directions. And you will feel that the aircon had been turned off, and would come back if the way was on its descending voyage or a straight one. That is the situation of an old bus.
Luckily, darkness fell, and the interior of the bus was cool enough not to feel the on and off of the aircon.
So, if you want a better ride, get the schedule of the 2×1 type of bus. The fare is P500, about $9.77. Ours is only P300, at about $5.86.
We did ride the new bus upon coming back to Puerto Princesa City. And in a noon high heat, we settled to off our aircon because it was too cold, more spacious and with CR onboard.
Dark and Winding Road
At 6:30 pm, the bus travelled on a non-light part winding road. Few distanced, visible houses had a candlelit inside their homes. But you won’t feel afraid.
With all the sharp curves and the dimness of the place, you will feel the expertness of the driver. You may understand why he got so slow.
If your sight went on the direction of the road, you would see that even an expert need not get fast. It is stiff and dark. Only the front lights of the bus are the guaranteed light.
Welcome to El Nido Palawan Philippines
At a little past 7 pm, we entered an alive city. Foreigners roam around. The market still open, considering it is already late. A very different scenario compared to where we were 10 minutes ago.
We arrived at the bus terminal and went to the line of tricycles. We told our place, and the driver asked for a P100. But we insisted for P50, for we had researched and knew it is only for P50, about $0.98. So, now, we were brought to Dayunan Tourist Inn.
Dayunan Tourist Inn
To be on Dayunan, you need to cross a fixed, wooden bridge with water under it. The bridge is an L-shape passing a store and a house.
As you are in the front of Dayunan, few wooden, long chairs readied for the visitors. They had a lobby where the counter is. They expected us and had prepared our room. We had already paid P1,500, about $30, via a booking website.
Since it was already late at night, we only put our bags down and off we went out to the famous El Nido town. We only need to pass walking some streets to locate the city.
El Nido Town
Here, there are lots of tourists roaming around either looking for a place to eat or a souvenir store to buy some stuff. There are also lots of travel agencies offering different tours on the islands of Palawan. One would only choose from their packages.
There are ice cream houses and gelato cafe.
And, then, the blackout. But, it was only a matter of seconds. Generators started to work, bringing back the lights. And all the activities around.
A pizza house wherein you can witness the juggling of pizza dough before spreading the sauce and putting on its brick oven is lined up by waiting customers.
As you take your turn going up to a dining table, you need to take off your footwear. This practice is to maintain cleanliness in the dining area.
The long-lined customers made our decision, not to the line-up. We continued walking and trying to look for vacant chairs, but it seems to no avail. Tourists swarm up. And everybody is enjoying it.
Happy Hour of El Nido Town
Females wore spaghetti strap hanging fit blouses with the super short shorts. While I was walking from my heavy pants and long sleeves, still my wear from the airport to the bus. Anyway, I did not mind it because if I did change my clothes, I would maybe not witness this night’s celebration.
We trudged on a very dark alley. Maybe, there is no more any establishment because of the absence of lights.
We then walked a little more until we decided to come back to the busy street. Upon returning, a decrease in the number of tourists observed. It was about 8 pm past.
We spotted a free table in Cafe Athena and hurriedly came in. And, surprise, in front of us is the seashore. Yes, the other side of the street where we kept walking is facing the sea. So, we are lucky to experience the night sea breeze.
We were excited to order for seafood and come up with Seafood platter. The grilled kinds of seafood were so fresh and perfect.
The juiciness of the tuna steak and the softness of the squid were perfect. It seems you were in heaven, plus the skewered shrimp, a real wow!
I am happy for the welcome feast of El Nido. Thank you. The seashore and fresh seafood. Truly superb.
It completed our night, and we went back to the inn. We ate buko pie slices for dessert before going to bed.
View from Dayunan
Going up to their rooftop leave you shortness in breath. Not because of the one upper-level climb but with the breathtaking view. In here, we expect our breakfast.
The free breakfast of Dayunan depended on your choice from their options. I chose bread with egg and fruit. And I had four pieces of small sliced bread with scrambled egg and a small banana.
Luckily, there were available jams. You can also make your coffee. You can also try the other breakfast: a cup of rice with two pieces of fried small hotdogs and a small banana.
So, now, that is the reason why they installed a wooden bridge down there. It is connected to the dry land on the street corner crossing the waters of the sea.
But, now, since it is low tide on this early morning, the water receded. And all was left were a dry shore and small passage of water flowing to the sea.
As the water comes up during high tide, the dry spot under the bridge would have seawater. So, the bridge is just right to cross between the two dry areas.
At low tide, the dried shore serves as a parking space for the motorized boats. It seemed unusual to see vessels like these on dry dock. At first, it seems chaos. But as you keenly observe, there seems a system used in parking these boats.
We went out for a morning walk. The morning was a lot different from the recent night. Now, it was calmer, just like seawater. It may be tourists are off to island hopping or still sleeping.
El Nido Palawan Resorts
This side of the sea is not appropriate for swimming. It is more likely a place for the boats staying area. Parking for a night or anchored in the day. But the view is still fantastic.
They had a long beachfront. The shore is worth for a morning walk. Fine sand can let your feet do bare walking or make some dipping of toes.
Many resorts and restaurants are facing the sea. They offer kayak and island hopping, to name a few of its activities.
Some parts of the shore had small rocks. Now, I knew why there are lots of tables offering rentals for aqua shoes.
It’s great to experience the morning light, the sand and islands surrounding you. You felt your oneness in nature. You taste the fresh air. You are drinking the whole view and letting it sink and stay.
El Nido Town in the Morning
Little turns into alleys brought us to the main street.
The bakery had lots of choices on their shelves. Tourists loved their bread. But, we prefer to buy two pieces of their sponge cake topped with butter icing and grated cheese.
We then explore the road where it was too dark last night.
Taraw Cliff El Nido
Here, you will witness another wonder of El Nido. The Taraw cliff.
The limestone karst mountain is known as Taraw Cliff towers in El Nido. You can hike this mountain and get bruised to reach its peak.
Once you look at this mountain, you would get awed how magnificent it is standing. Then as you continuously stare, you would recognize the sharp curved stones, the spikes at the top and the smoothness of it.
You would keep imagining hikers doing a dangerous climbing with the help of their apparatus. That will hold them surely and steadily. It is exhilarating to view a thing like this, how thrilling for hikers.
This karst mountain is same as the one we saw in Puerto Princesa Underground River.
Shuttle to Lio
We went to El Nido Resort Tourism Office to see the shuttle’s schedule of Lio Beach. Yeah, we would have two nights stay in Lio Beach. Isn’t that exciting?
But a message posted in the waiting shed says that the shuttle is out of service. Oh, oh. The tourism officers confirmed that the engine is under construction at the moment. But, as soon, as, it is good to go, they would reach out to our number.
The officer had replied to all our inquiries, adding up so much information and tips on when are the times they offer promo packages, a very great help and enticing invitation.
I Love El Nido
We then walked to the municipal hall where the El Nido marker stood. Town folks were busy preparing this place for various events.
As we walked on, several inns and lodges boast the cliff on their brand names. If on the other side, it is all about the seafront. Here, the view is the magnificent facade of a gigantic cliff that welcomes you from the morning till dusk.
Such a rare and mesmerizing sight, oh, Palawan, in every corner and every place, you had so much magic.
We then went back to the town and purchased two scoops of gelato in Gusto Gelato. Currently, there was no line compared last night. And we had to chance to sit on their dining table feeling relaxed.
Two scoops cost P180, at about $3.52. They have many flavours like Coffee Beans, Fior Di Latte, whiskey cream, oreo, green apple sorbet, cherry cheesecake, white chocolate, mint chocolate, pistachio and so much more. We opt for mint chocolate and coffee beans.
These are refreshing, a great dessert, a definite chill down gelato. We indulge in every spoonful, licking each bite.
A Pita House is in front of us inviting. And the much-lined pizza place is still closed.
St Francis of Assisi Parish
Walking more, their Church, St. Francis of Assisi Parish is under construction, but still open for everyone. A hearty donation is very much appreciated. As of now, the Church is low-ceiling. But a peek on the construction revealed that it would eventually be high enough to be more spacious.
We passed by Lobster King. The restaurant is at the foot of Taraw cliff. It would be great to have lunch here, being surrounded by this gigantic wondrous cliff.
We went back to our inn. But before coming up to our room, we explore the place further.
A Touch and A Climb
Because of low tide, I had a chance to touch the rock formation on this side of the island. It wore some vandalism. It was a stone lovely to hold, cool to the touch.
And I got a chance to climb a parked boat.
After packing our things, we decided to go back to town and have our lunch in the Silog Republic. This dining place is recommended by backpackers who visit downtown El Nido because of its affordable meals.
We asked for two orders of Tapsilog, P149 each and Pancit Canton, P149, about $2.91. Tapsilog stands for Tapa (fried marinated beef), Sinangag (fried rice) and Itlog (egg).
Their beef tapa is soft and juicy. Adding for a sharing Pancit would fill you up. A thumbs up lunch.
We headed to Lio Beach riding a tricycle. Fare is P300, about $5.87.
Our 2-day remarkable stay is detailed on our Lio Beach Experience post.
From Lio Beach, we choose to spent our last days in Corong Corong, El Nido, Palawan.
It is high noon. This spot is precisely the opposite side of El Nido town, where we spent our first day.
We are on Corong-Corong. This side of El Nido boasts the spectacular sights of the beautiful sunset. So, we headed here and looked forward or the event.
Buko Beach Resort
We, then first had our lunch. On the seafront, Buko Beach Resort had its restaurant. Foundation of the dining place lies on the strength of buko trunks.
The place is somewhat relaxing, considering the heat of the sun. From here, you can see the swimming pool of the resort. A perfect set-up considering that the seawater is not suitable for swimming.
Seashores are full of stones and mud. Here in Palawan, there are sea fronts not ideal for dipping, but still, you can do other water activities such as island hopping.
On the islands to be visited, it would be very much possible to do snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming.
So, that’s what this buko resort offered, a refreshing dip on high noon.
We planned to see the sunset on Vanilla Beach, a few kilometres away. A coffee shop would be the best spot.
We went to our room and rummaged my belongings to look for pen and paper. I opened the other door exiting for the balcony.
RL Coastline Inn
It left me on gasped. Wow, a viewing deck fronting the sea and the sight of the islands. Tables and chairs are waiting for me to slip down and start jotting down my notes. Won’t this place a right spot for sunset?
It is, indeed, the best spot. When the simplest of the site awed me, we cancelled the planned visit to Vanilla Beach — pulling a chair, starting my pen, writing down the significance of the place.
RL Coastline Inn is not such an old inn offering their rooms for a lower rate. Only P1,500, about $30, a night. You had a small room, a double bed fitted with a little space for you to stand, a tv that is not working, a table and chairs and a delightfully clean toilet.
It is way too different from Lio Beach, where we came from that seems years ago. But actually, it was only about 3 hours ago.
It doesn’t bother us locations like this as long as it served its purpose. The choice being great for we would stay only for a night and an early morning check out would be swiftly done.
The morrow, we need to ride the bus early for the 6-hours ride to the airport. So, why spend for more? Enough this room is.
Corong Corong Beach Sunset
And, I will not exchange my seat for the awaited sunset. If your schedule is like ours, many inns/lodging hours offer cheap rates, just to sleep the night away.
We settled ourselves and waited for the moment. It seemed that the heavy clouds were still present. Shadows from the storm that had just passed yet hang on the sky.
The sun setting had not penetrated thru these thick clouds. But though these clouds gave their whole effort to hide the settling of the sun, the last light still bursts from the power of the setting sun.
That means you can start small after the storm. You can start from a small light until such time you become whole again and spread your light.
When darkness fell, we decided to take a walk to the Pop District. Pop District is a place on a small side street leading to seawaters. Restaurants and stores sprouted in this area, making it a favourite place of tourists.
It was not easy walking towards Pop District. We chose not to ride a tricycle for it is only a kilometre away, an excellent movement to our legs.
But the dimness of the street somewhat distracted us. This site was the place where our bus made turns on dim roads. Since a flashlight came out handy, we don’t felt afraid, for soon, numerous establishments are on the side of the way.
Restaurants, resorts and houses selling grilled, skewered meats. I even had a chance to capture a photo of another brick oven, just fascinated with these ovens ever since I saw one in Laguna.
It was far as from expected. We are getting tired when we locate the place. We entered the well-lit street. Yes, here settled the Shwarma eateries, dine-ins, counters and the long-lined pizza house that we saw in El Nido town.
We got excited, forgot to leave our footwear on their shelves. Here, no waiting to be seated. No long line to conquer.
Oh! We ordered for a 4-cheese pizza. The flavour we usually ordered if available on any pizza parlours. We only want something light. The manager, a foreigner, beautiful and sweet, as she talks, as her face is, got our orders.
It was not too long when it came and served. The first bite got to be mouthwatering, imagining the four kinds of cheese oozing and melting on each slice.
It was too salty for me because I have an untrained tastebud for saltiness. I would just try another flavour when I next visit a branch.
We then walked towards the seafront. Tourists come and go through their dormitel, some hotels and spas. They could be eating, or most walking to and from the hotel.
We went back riding a tricycle, haggling the fare from P100 to P50, about a dollar.
We spent a late night in the balcony listening to the waves crashing on the shore.
Breakfast in Corong Corong
Morning came, and we still got time for our breakfast. It was free from the inn. It came late. The prepared kettle for us to heat did not work. So, even the coffee was too late.
We gobbled our food so we can catch our bus at 9 am. As we rode the tricycle, the driver had told us that he never had a chance to make ends meet during this season. But come the last week of December, they will not try to sleep because of the surplus of foreigners.
They can earn P16,000, at about $312, a day. With that, I imagine how much busy the road will be and the occupancy of the resorts. Indeed, El Nido is a vacation spot of tourists all around the globe.
Bus Trip from El Nido to Puerto Princesa
The bus trip had made me underustand why our first bus had been so slow. It has several sharp curves with some gorge on the side.
Travelling on a darker than the darkest night would surely leave the driver to drive carefully, making the bus go slow.
Amidst the curves and zigzags, you can’t help but admire El Nido. All of it, embracing its enchantment.
The magic of the setting sun and the magic I felt, carry oneness bursting my feeling of gratitude of all these things I saw and felt. The peeking of light shows how much special this vacation is.