Palawan, Philippines

Sweat On Backpacks

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There is absolutely nothing like the paradise of Palawan!

With its fine creamy beachlines, picturesque rock formations, well-preserved marine life, and the island vibrations, you will surely need to pinch yourself to check whether you are stuck in a dream or you are indeed living the dream! It is definitely worth the time and worth the wallet, especially for you Island Girls and Boys.

In this entry, I’ll be showing you the highlights of my travel experience during my five-day stay in Palawan. Perhaps, at a later date, I’ll be writing another entry to enumerate my expenditures and share some budget tips for budget travelers like me.

Special thanks to my girlfriend and mother for taking most of the beautiful photos in this entry — because I take the worst shots in the entire world (but I’m working on it).

If you want to skip reading the whole journey and get straight to your liking, a list of my itinerary is shown below.

Honda Bay Tour
Puerto Princesa Baywalk
Puerto Princesa Underground River
El Nido Island Tour
Las Cabañas Beach

Arrival at Puerto Princesa City

I, together with my girlfriend and my mother, arrived at Puerto Princesa Airport at about 9 on a thursday evening of January. We went straight to Brgy. Sta. Monica towards our accommodation to prepare for next days’ adventure.

DAY 1

Honda Bay Tour

We set out in the morning of the first day towards Sta. Lourdes Wharf which is about 15 to 20 minutes from where we stayed. After our guide had settled the necessary permits, we proceeded with the island hopping tour towards three different islands.

Luli Island

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If you are wondering why it is called LuLi, it is actually a combination of two Filipino words “Lulubog” which means ‘to sink’ , and “Lilitaw” which means ‘to float’. The island disappears when tides are high, and rises during the low tides.

Snorkeling through crystal clear waters, you could see a lot of ‘Dory’ coming in and out of their beautiful homes, together with other kinds of fish as they scramble towards the piece of bread you have in your hand. Others get mad too as they try to bump your foot for stepping on their homes.  Sadly, I did not have any underwater device to document the amusing episode.

Starfish Island

Before you start snorkeling, be sure to wipe your goggles free from fog so as not to miss Patrick Star! From the name itself, this island is home to different types of starfish, as well as various aquatic plants and animals. Please do make sure to wear your aqua shoes for safety. Sea Urchins and the infamous Stone Fish might just be around the corner.

Cowrie Island

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Finally, we sailed to our third and final stop. Cowrie Island surely pampers the tourists with its rejuvenating waters, and powder-fine creamy shoreline. Sumptuous oriental buffet, and relaxing hands of masseurs — add these to the island’s resume! Get to  experience all these while looking at the lovely expanse of beauty.

Puerto Princesa Baywalk

20180126_191551.jpgIf you are stuck with nothing to do during the night, you might want to drop by and get some fresh air at the baywalk where you get to choose from a long stretch of small restaurants situated next to each other. We had for ourselves a “boodle-fight” for supper at ‘Kusina Sa Baybay’ restaurant.

Just so you know, bikes and ‘trisikads’ are available for rent just in case you are up for the fun and sweat 🙂

DAY 2

Puerto Princesa Underground River

The two-hour journey from Brgy Sta. Monica to Sabang Beach (where the whole underground river tour begins)  is composed mainly of curvatures, I felt like I was signing myself up for an endless roller coaster ride. There was the usual number of weekend tourists on the venue, each waiting for their turn while the tour guides secured the necessary permits at the office. The underground river was a twenty-minute boat ride away from Sabang Beach.

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Truly, I cannot find the right words — if there are any at all — to describe the majesty of one of the most wonderful places on earth! I’m so afraid of describing the whole sacred experience, fully aware of the fact that an attempt to find the perfect words will never be able to at least level with the brilliance of such creation. I left you with some photos of the outside, and only a single photo of what’s inside the cave (it sadly wasn’t a high quality photo), but you have to see them with your very own naked eyes and savor the feels!

The underground tour ended with a lunch buffet at Sabang Beach. On the way back to the city proper, we made a stop over at what used to be one of the stops of the famous television program “The Amazing Race”.

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The day tour was done, and it was time to prepare for the next destination. From where we stayed, we took a trike to San Jose (New Market) Bus Station to catch the 9 PM bus ride to El Nido.

DAY 3

Arrival at El Nido

It took, more or less, six hours for the bus to arrive at El Nido Bus Station. Luckily, the bus line Chery allowed passengers to take a rest inside the bus until late in the morning. We got off an hour later and took a trike towards our accommodation.

El Nido Island Tour

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In simple words, El Nido makes you question even further the limits of perfection. Not to say that the Honda Bay Tour wasn’t spectacular, but El Nido is totally on a different plane of chill and splendor (sorry Honda Bay Tour). Here, it’s not just about islands and beach. It’s also about the-night-life!

(Truthfully, I wish I had been more serious about taking better shots on the different islands, and had considered taking photos during the night.)

What seemed very special about the islands of El Nido to me, aside from the impeccable blue waters and rich (and colorful) marine ecosystem, is the grayish-blackish rock formations that sprout from the surface of the ocean just about everywhere! It is such a scenic view that you can’t help but crane your neck once in a while to have a better look while the boat sails to your destination.

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We took the Tour A El Nido Island Tour package which includes a tour to five different islands namely Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, and 7 Commando Beach. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to dock in Shimizu Island due to the strong current during the time. However, we settled at the back of the island where we were allowed to snorkel and enjoy the underwater view.

DAY 5

Las Cabañas Beach

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Our trip to Las Cabañas Beach was a spontaneous one, since we never really planned about doing anything on our last day in El Nido. We discovered this amazing public beach on the morning and found out that it is well known for the breathtaking sunset view it offers. We went straight there after having rented a motorcycle for five-hundred pesos (we had to pay for our fuel consumption too).

The beach was a 15-minute drive from where we stayed. The things you need? Sunscreen, beach towels, little cash for consumption, and more sunscreen! It was indeed a scorching hot day that the best you could ever hope for was the generosity of the coconut trees to shade you from the sun. We had the whole afternoon to ourselves, waiting for the sunset.

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It takes about 30 minutes to pace the stretch of sand back and forth. Along the beach are small bars and restaurants to pass time and enjoy the scenery. Aside from which, you could also do other activities such as kayak, jetski, and zipline.

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At the tip of the long stretch of sand is another island on which the path of the zipline terminates. The rocks on the picture serve as the bridge between the island and the tip of Las Cabañas Beach.

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The wait was over. The rocks that bridge the beach to the other island had already submerged, as in the photo, and a lot of people had already taken their place ahead to witness the glorious moment. The sunset view in Las Cabañas Beach was truly precious and priceless.

That night, we packed our bags to return for Puerto Princesa City for our return flight the next day.

It was indeed a very unique experience for me. Truly an escape from the hustles and bustles of the monotonous life in the city. Having discovered a part of Palawan makes me wonder even more of the secrets that are yet to be told and that I have yet to experience. For now, I only have so far as my imagination to paint the world that has remained hidden.

Until next time! Coron, you are next.

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