El Nido is a small town in northern Palawan (Philippines). El Nido has a tiny airport with a limited number of flights which tend to be much more expensive than the many daily flights into Puerto Princesa. Many people (us included) therefore fly into Puerto Princesa and take the long bus journey to El Nido.
To break up the journey we stayed in Puerto Princesa both on arrival in Palawan and before our departing flight back to Manila.
Puerto Princesa has many cafes and restaurants and most importantly banks! There are no ATM’s in El Nido and while it is possible to pay for some meals, trips or accommodation by either credit card or Paypal most of the transactions are in cash. Many ATM’s have a withdrawal limit of 10,000 pesos (around £150) so we made a couple of trips to the ATMS’s and withdrew enough cash to last for a week or so in El Nido.
We had pre-arranged a transfer from the airport to our Puerto Princesa accommodation. To our surprise we were met by a tricycle driver! He swiftly tied our luggage to the back of the side car and we climbed in. We were driven for 15 minutes or so to our first Palawan accommodation, the lovely Marie Ville bed & breakfast.
We spent the afternoon in the town of Puerto Princesa which is described by Wikipedia as the cleanest and greenest town in the Philippines. In the evening we had an excellent meal in the Sheebang hostel, about 200 meters from Marie Ville. (2 x curries and 3 x beers for £7.50)
We had pre-booked our transfer from PP to El Nido with Day-tripper who picked us up on time at 10 am in a new, comfortable, air-conditioned 10 seater mini bus. We were each supplied with a bottle of water and a packet of banana chips. The drive was smooth and on concrete roads all the way. We stopped at a lovely Vietnamese/Filipino restaurant called the ‘Non La’ in Roxas for lunch on the way. The 6 hour drive seemed to pass quickly and before we knew it we had arrived in El Nido.
As with Puerto Princesa the most convenient form of transport in El Nido is by tricycle. Unlike Yogyakarta (Indonesia) where most tricycles were pedal power, the Philippine version is a motorbike with a side car attached. Up to 4 or 5 people often fit in the side car and sometimes an additional rider rides on the back of the motorbike! It was also helpful as every journey within the town of El Nido has a set fee of 50 pesos (£0.75) so you don’t need to negotiate with the drivers.
We had 3 nights in El Nido town before moving across to the eastern side of north Palawan to the Tapik Beach.
While in El Nido we hired a moped for a day and made our way north of the town for 45 minutes to visit Nacpan beach. It is possible to hire a tuk tuk driver but at only 500 pesos (£7.50) per day for the moped we went for this option.
Nacpan Beach is a beautiful stretch of fine white sand with sparkling blue sea. It is also known as ‘Twin Beach’ as two beaches meet and are linked by a narrow causeway. We walked around both beaches and up to the hill. The tiny village at Nacpan is a traditional Philippine village with houses made of bamboo. Most of the journey to Nacpan is on a concrete road except the last 15 minutes or so which the road turns into a rather dusty bumpy track!
Throughout northern Palawan roads are slowly being built.
On the way back to El Nido we stopped at the El Nido Cove Resort for lunch. This small hotel overlooks the sea which we would highly recommend particularly for their selection of freshly squeezed fruit juices.
The other main El Nido day trip we had was a bangka (wooden boat) cruise around the Bacuit Archipelago.
Where possible we are doing our best to plan our world route to maximise the weather in each location whilst also keeping to a logical route and without backtracking.
So we had the rainy season in Indonesia in February but as we crossed the equator and moved north we were in the high season in the Philippines.
The monsoon season for Palawan is July to September but as we visited in March we had amazing weather for the 10 days we were there.
While in El Nido we visited the ‘Happiness Bar’ which is known for its awesome sunsets!