We didn’t have to catch the ferry from Coron to El Nido till midday, so we had a nice lie in before packing the bags! I had a minor meltdown when I couldn’t find my credit card stash, but found them right where I had put them, remembering at the time that I’d probably forget that I’d put them there.
We’ve bought a few things along the way, snorkeling gear, drybags, (which have been the Best Buy with all the trips on the boats and on the back of the scooter on wet days),reef slippers and I bought a new sun hat to replace the $60 US Panama hat that was supposed to be a buy one hat last a lifetime buy! Pfft lasted a month in Bali just.
My new hat cost the equivalent of $4 Aus.
Trying to squish the extra in the bag is getting harder, but we manage somehow.
After packing we decided to shout ourselves a great Aussie breakfast at buzz, where we met a nice couple from Newcastle probably about our age.
The ferry had reserved seating and movies playing so the almost 4 hours passed quite easily and we were snaring our first glances of El Niño before 4pm.
The entry in is awesome and in fact the whole trip we were surrounded by islands making it a very visually interesting trip.
ElNido is a more lively town than Coron and caters for the young tourists with lots of eating and drinking places.
We instantly loved the vibe and are excited to discover this new town.
We got a tricycle to our hotel The Columbus Inn (strange that we will be sailing on the Columbus ship in February ) we were thrilled to discover that although not expensive it was far far far better than our Fawlty tower experience in Coron.
The view out the window is worth it alone.
After unpacking we grabbed a tricycle back into town, our hotel is in Corong a few kms out of the ElNido town.
The tricycle driver dropped us at a restaurant he thought we’d like and we did. And as we’d only had breakfast did justice to the food and drink we ordered.
After a stroll around we headed home as we had a boat tour booked for the next day.
For our first trip we picked tour A one of the two that are highly recommended. To be honest we had a great day but felt it wasn’t as spectacular as the ones we had done in Coron and way more boat/ people traffic.
Saying that we did still enjoy the day mixing with the other people on the tour.
After a shower we decided to head into the town of Corong to look for dinner and buy a few supplies. James had seen an Italian restaurant as we came off the boat trip and we went to check it out. So glad we did, had probably the best meal we’ve had in the Philippines and the wine was the cheapest we’d seen here ever, and was excellent. It was the first wine we’ve had here in Palawan as cocktails are cheaper usually. We will definitely go back.
We had a margarita each, a red wine each, I had a sofa water, James a bottle of plain water, we shared an entree, had a main each, shared a desert and James had an espresso and it was around $45 Aus. Ran into a young couple from our tour who also have recommended a French restaurant so somewhere else to check out.
The hardest part about being in the Philippines is the lack of internet, it just either doesn’t work at all or too slow to download or google.
That restaurant we said we’d go back to, try four nights in a row, to be fair we did try to go somewhere else but they were full.
Not one evening were we disappointed with the food, drink or music at the restaurant, in fact the music was so good we asked the manager one night where he got it, he said just music he’s liked off the Internet, he told us bring in a USB stick and they can download it for us, which we did!
We hired a motor scooter for two days after our first tour on the water and potted around going into El Nido and Dos Cabanos a beach near us.
and we went off heading north to a waterfall.
This was a great experience you hook up with a local guide, about $10 Aus for the two of us and then head off across farmers fields with cows, goats, pigs chickens all running free, cross over streams many times, walk through native vegetation and after around 45 minutes arrive at the waterfall with a beautiful cool refreshing pool to soak in before heading back.
These waterfalls have not been commercialised yet with stalls etc and the track hasn’t been upgraded and I hope it stays that way.
We booked tour B for our next on water adventure and we were pleased as it wasn’t anywhere near as busy at the stops and really quite stunning.
On our tour today we had a couple from Canada and their 7month old son Rowan. What a happy little chappie he was and smiled all day.
Palawan is a tropical paradise and there’s an amazing vista everywhere you look.
It’s different from Bali, there’s not the infrastructure here yet nor the shopping except for wet bags, sun hats, snorkeling sets, reef shoes and a few tee shirts.
Tour shops are everywhere and there are massage spas here as well.
We booked a scooter again for our next two days and have booked tour C for Thursday 16th November.
The first day with the scooter again we went into El Nido and were thrilled that the SIM card we had topped up in Coron but which hadn’t worked at all was suddenly working in town yay! We were able to book accommodation for our two nights in Manila before we fly out to Hong Kong, enjoy a lovely Mediterranean lunch overlooking the water, take the scooter to Dos Cabanos for sunset drinks and a swim before showering and heading back into Corong town for dinner at a restaurant for taco Tuesday with live music and margaritas buy one get one free, what a top day!
Oh and if you didn’t bring your dog on holiday don’t worry the restaurant will let you adopt theirs to sleep at your feet or give a pat too.
Our second day with the scooter we headed to Macpan beach.
This is north from El Nido and we passed the waterfall guide stalls on the way. We had been warned once you get off the National highway that the track road to Macpan beach was boggy after heavy rains, But we went anyway and James did a brilliant job of off-roading riding with me keeping still on the back. Like everyone else who ventured there by bike we were mud splattered on arrival.
The beach is a long stretch of white sands, coconut tree lined beach front with lush green vegetation covering hills at one end and little islands dotted off the coast. The water is turquoise clear and warm enough to dive into but still refreshing. We hired a couple of sun lounges with an umbrella for $10 Aus for the day and settled into a day of reading, swimming and relaxing in this visual paradise.
A couple of little native beach huts selling food and drinks supplied us with a snacking type of lunch, one thing we’ve loved about most of the food outlets here is if they offer fries, they are hand cut and soo delicious.
It was a very happy couple who rode back through the rice paddies with the caribou working the fields with their owners, passing little townships and passing tricycles with sidecars with their livestock of a couple of pigs in each.
The more we stay here away from the big town of Puerto Princesa the more we are falling for the charms of the Philippines.
Of course we ended our day with a shower, had to wash the motor scooter too as was dripping with sloshy mud, had a little nap then headed to our favourite restaurant for some more of their sensational pasta.
Thursday the 16th is tour C Island hopping day. We wake to the sound of roosters every morning and then the little chirps of the baby chickens scratching around in the vegetation at the back of our accommodation, we are snuggled into a hillside here with about 50 steps up to our 2nd floor room (hence the great views).
Tour C was a great day and our pick of the tours here in El Nido.
Another great day mixing with people from all over and we met some totally great ex pat Filipinos living in California for the last 37 Year’s. Will definitely be looking them up when we’re over that way.
Great locations with an awesome reef for snorkeling and excellent company made for a great day.
we decided to walk along the beachfront when we returned in the afternoon for drinks and a few tapas snacks watching the sunset over sunset beach,
back home for a shower and back for a pizza at our favourite restaurant. Another brilliant day.
Having booked the scooter for the next few days, we were hoping to get up to Duli beach but the first day we woke up to torrential rain and we relaxed, reading and dozing off again till midday. Headed into El Nido for lunch and ran into Carlos and Mina, a gorgeous young couple whom we keep running into, Carlos invited us to join them and some other young travellers at the bar for drinks, we had a great time chatting and exchanging tips and stories. Thanks for making our day.
Saturday the 18th November and second day with scooter again, still not looking like a beach day so we decided to head south and just see the countryside. In the end we rode to TayTay a seaside town with a fort, huge Catholic Church and lots of markets. We spotted one other non Filipino there and we did stand out a bit, but everyone is friendly and we found a Pensione that had a restaurant for lunch. As we were leaving a truck with army soldiers came in for lunch. They were all carrying massive automatic rifles AK47 style. If they hadn’t been smiling and said Hello would have been really intimidating, well it probably still was a little to be honest.
The loveliest part is waving to all the smiling kids as they wave to you as you ride past. Even older people wave to us, young folk on backs of trucks even (probably wondering what Lola and LoLo are doing).
Back home we had hot showers as we had plenty of rain on the trip, luckily we had taken our raincoats.
We went into El Nido to pick up the USB stick with the music on from the restaurant manager (they have several restaurants), the town was heaving with people and the busiest traffic we’ve seen here.
Went back to our favourite restaurant and couldn’t believe just as we were finishing up Carlos and Mina walked in. It’s bizarre how that happens, this isn’t that small a town. They were out celebrating Carlos’ birthday.
Our last day in El Nido and the sun was shining so we decided to spend the day at Dos Cabanos beach, we got there early enough to score free sun lounges(with cushions) and spent the day reading,swimming,eating and drinking.
That night we headed out for our last dinner at Tratoria Altrove. The staff gave us a warm welcome and even the manager was there and came over to say goodbye and thanked us for our custom.
Off course we ran into Carlos and Mina again up the lane way and another of the couples we’d met came into the restaurant for dinner.
That’s what we love about staying longer, you make a connection to places and with people.
Our van trip to Puerto Princesa was fairly gruelling considering it was air conditioned, they squeezed too many people in and it’s a long 6 hours from being picked up from our hotel. Never mind we arrived at Floral Villarosa along with another couple on the van and enjoyed the well appointed room and hotel.
Next day Tuesday 21st James got his tooth work finalised and we flew to Manila for our last two nights.