El Nido bound and we landed at Puerto Princesa airport after having the strangest plane journey ever, the picture below is the veggie option for Holly and Aimie on the plane after then ran out of food by the time they got to us, joy’s of travelling!
On our way to the famous El Nido which looks like heaven but one hell of a journey to get there. El Nido was north of the island only accessible by one road which take 6 hours. This was us sat at Puerto Princesa airport after we landed trying to make sense of what we had to do in order to stop off at the underground river on the way to El Nido, where we were staying in El Nido and tonight and all on free airport free wifi. Stress levels were high!
We walked outside the airport and found two shops that sell trips to El Nido and stop off at the underground river and return us to the airport a week later for about £10. We booked it all and Holly and Aimie pulled through, as they were on top of finding the best and cleanest places for us to stay and we arrived at Paboreal Boutique Hotel in Puerto Princesa. We booked 20 minutes before we arrived and when we arrived the receptionist was the most welcoming lady who spoke very good English. She helped us with our underground river trip the next day, calling them to double check they knew to pick us up from this hotel and even called the best restaurant in town and booked us a table for that night! We also discovered that all the hotels in El Nido were fully booked and most hotels didn’t have online booking at the wifi on this island was very limited so the owner of the current hotel we were in called his friend in El Nido and managed to book us a night in his hotel!! This was such a good hotel and probably the best night sleep I had in a long time!
Kalui Restaurant, the best Restaurant in town!
Our 7am start to the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River, which is a UNESCO world heritage protected site. Basically one of the new 7 wonders of the world. It is 8.2km long underground river which thousands of bats taking refugee inside the caves. Because of their Guano (Poop) being the most expensive and effective fertiliser in the world, the government wanted this site protected, not to disturb the limestone or animals living here. The chambers inside this are incredible and it is hard not to open your mouth with amazement but then you are likely to get a mouth full of Guano. The whole thing takes about 5 hours.. but the boat trip inside if only about half an hour, its one long day of queuing.
Finally reaching El Nido we managed to stay in one hotel (which had three chow chows) for one night, then we walked up and down the beach for hours trying to find accommodation for the next few days for 5 of us as Numra and Steph were joining us the next day and it seemed impossible. We were followed by other backpackers who were looking and they were in groups of two so they had more luck as everything seemed to be full! We came across this, what seemed like a farm and surprisingly they had two rooms available! No WiFi, no water a hell a lot of goats,cats, dogs and cats but at least we had a roof over our head.
The small strip of bars, restaurants and shops.
It looks beautiful and over the year I have been away I have mastered the art of selling dreams on social media but this place actually turned into hell. This lovely beach I thought I could relax on, and chill and I wasn’t swimming that day due to my back still being bad so I stayed on the beach watching Dexter on my phone while Holly and Aimie went for a swim and I started to notice small black dots on my arms and legs. Thinking it was sand I didn’t move until it started to hurt so I looked down again and these tiny black dots were now red. They were red because they were full with my blood and where biting me. 56 Sand-fly bites..56! I was not happy in heaven anymore.
Las Casbanas Beach in El Nido!
On this beach about 20 minute cab drive from El Nido, there is the famous island to island zip line. Me and Aimie really wanted to do this but the day we went there the weather wasn’t too great and a lot of people were getting stuck in the middle which dangles you over the sea. As much as this place was paradise I wasn’t about to die on a dodgy wire hanging over the whole beach with lots of people watching.
Four Island tour (A+C)
The most amazing trip I have ever been on!!! Midnight Sun tours hooked us up with our own private boat and we booked tour A as there was a storm on the way which the coast guard said the conditions were too dangerous for boats to go to Tour C destinations. Tour A and C came highly recommended here and we got to visit the Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shitmizu Island and 7 Commando Beach. Our tour guides were amazing and told us that every other tour company does the same route so we did the route backwards which meant we had this beach to our selves!
Our crew caught and cooked our lunch for us which was divine. The crew honestly went above and beyond for us helping us on and off the boat, letting us jump from the roof, helping Aimie when she nearly drown, teaching us about the reef and letting us hold onto the side of the boat while they were driving with us still in the sea.
They also had no choice but to become our photographer for the day
El Nido is honestly the most beautiful place on Earth! I think I died and went to Heaven here, everyday just exceeded expectations of paradise. Every time I managed to speak to Olly using one wifi hotspot in town, all I could say was ‘today was the best day’ because it just seemed to get better and better. Unlike South East Asia, no one is trying to rip you off or over charge you for a taxi and the people in the Philippines are so genuine and nice they want to help you as much as they possibly can, whether you’re lost or just need advice on the area. The Filipino food wasn’t the nicest in the world but you can find some great French and Spanish restaurants around. The Spanish colonised the Philippines for 327 years but yet all the children wear uniforms to school as a result of us apparently!
I learnt that El Nido was only discovered by the outside world in 1990 and it still seems to be untouched by the western world which is why I love this place. This island in 10 years will become how Thailand is now, tatty and touristy. It really breaks my heart how we can ruin a place and the Philippines will join that list. Everyone has seen ‘The Beach’ with leo in paradise trying to hide this place from everyone, which was filmed in Thailand, but the book that the film is based on, is written about El Nido. I can see why anyone would want to hide this place, the island is beautiful and for some reason Humans love to ruin a good thing and the more popular this place becomes the more it will be ruined, with litter, people abusing the reef and more people mean more boats polluting the water. If this place is on your bucket list I advise you to go sooner rather than later!