Around Palawan

Originally written by Jovin Aspillaga

We start off our Palawan trip with ferry ride on the 2GO, a cruise liner in the Philippines. Our boat leaves at 1:30 pm, but itinerary instruction ask that you be checked in at the terminal 4 hours before the boat leaves. We take a taxi from Pedro Gil to Pier 4 for about 100php. Upon arriving at Pier 4, you are expected to pay a terminal fee of 95php per regular passenger. Our ferry took about 16 hours to get to Coron, Palawan.

2Go Ferryboat to Palawan

After 16 hours of floating on the open seas we reach Coron at around 5am. Having a reservation at Coron Backpackers hostel, we take a tricycle from the port to our accommodation close to the town proper costing us 80php together. A bit early, we wait around the living room of Coron Backpackers and wait 'til the staff is ready to take us in. After speaking to one of the staff they inform us that someone is still in our room and check out time isn't until 11am; expecting this, we ask if we can leave our packs and just come back, they agree and my wife and I are off to the public market. Coron backpackers offer the use of their kitchen for free, so we set out with the intention to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner. Still trying to figure out our whole itinerary we choose to relax for most of the day as we enjoyed the WiFi and try to book our next move.

Mt. Taypas

In the afternoon we walked up Mt. Tapyas 721 steps leads you to the best view in Coron town proper. The best part about going up Mt. Tapyas is the idea of going down and resting your tired feet over at the Maniquit hot springs. Once you get down Mt. Tapyas pay a tricycle driver to take you to Maniquit hot springs, 300php to take you to and from the hot springs. After a relaxing soak at the hot springs, my wife and I prepare dinner and rest for the day.

Maniquit Hotspring

We woke up early the next day for our boat tour around Coron which we booked earlier with Dream Tours the day before. We started off by leaving the town proper at around 9am and got to our first destination, Kayangan Lake. Kayangan lake is a huge lake in the middle of the sea; tall narrow pointed rock formations trap this body of water in the middle. You have to take a 10 minute trek up and down the rock formations to get to the lake.

Kayangan Lake

After an hour, we leave for twin lagoons resembling a wide open pool between again tall rock formations, it feels like it's your own personal swimming spot. Lunch was next as we stop by a nearby beach to enjoy grilled squid, grilled chicken, pinakbetenseladang talong, fruits, and of course rice. A short distance away, we get to Coral Garden a shallow part on island where you can see a wide range of living Corals almost close enough to touch.

School of fish at Skeleton Wreck

Skeleton wreck boasts a huge school of fish that you can feed in the water right from your fingertips. Last of our 5 destinations is CYC beach a laid back island where you can rest and soak in the sun and sea as you reflect of the day's events. A 15 minute boat ride takes you back to the town proper.

Coral Garden

Day 3, we leave Coron with the intention to go to El Nido. After much deliberation on how to get to El Nido from Coron we finally decide to take a large outrigger boat worth 1,200php which will take 6 hours travel time. Initially, we wanted to take a 2GO ferry to Puerto Princesa then land travel by van to El Nido which would cost about the same amount but poor planning and lack of time got us buying tickets the day before which now cost twice as much if we were to buy tickets from 2GO. So being the cheapskates that we are, we had to go for the budget fare. Bunso 3, an 80pax outrigger boat was our vessel to El Nido. Our biggest fear was sea sickness this small boat in the open seas did not seem so pleasant for 6 hours. After the whole voyage, I did not feel sea sick or bad at all, it was a bit pleasant really, or it might have been my sea sickness medication that didn't get me to throw up.

Bunso 3, the ride to El Nido

Arriving in El Nido, we hopped on a tricycle that leads us to Tay Miloy, our accommodations. Our room costs 500php. It was very small and a bit disappointing since our stay at Coron Backpackers was way more accommodating. After settling in, we walked around the beach town looking for food. A few minutes of walking around, we were shocked to see that it seemed like a smaller version of Boracay. Bars, grill restaurants, chairs and tables in the sand and bands playing beach side. We were a bit disappointed again as we were expecting a pristine quiet beach town instead of loud music, drunkards, pearl peddlers and large cement trunks driving back and forth as we walked around. We found a small place a few feet away from the beach that sold decent priced food and refueled there; everywhere else was overpriced and the wet market was too far according to locals. Our next move was to book a tour for the next day, upon doing so we met this nice manang (old lady) that offered us cheaper prices compared to what banners and streamers were pricing all around town. We booked our tour and relaxed on the beach while listening to a mix of reggae and old school rock before turning in for the night.

Hidden Beach

The tour we chose was "Tour A" - a mix of lagoons and beaches that can be found around the nearby islands. We had our breakfast at a local bakery with 5php coffee from the makeshift vending machines. Ready to go, we get on our boat and speed off to our destinations which includes Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Hidden Lagoon, Shimzu Beach and 7 Commando Beach. Our tour was about 6 hours, including lunch, and gave us plenty of time at each destination. After our whole day tour we spoke to manang who helped us book the tour. This time we want to book tour C another island hopping tour. The manang helps us with booking our next tour, but not only that, she gives a deal on a new room - 600php for a bigger room, private bathroom, WiFi and cleaner floors. With just 100php difference with our current room, we checked out immediately and move to our new lodge. We do some laundry next and end up with dinner.

Helicopter Island

On the day of "Tour C", we picked up a usual bakery pastries, a cup of coffee and head out on our tour. Tour C is composed of hidden beach, Montiloc Shrine, snorkeling, Talisay Beach, Secret Lagoon and last, Helicopter Island. Filled with a day full of swimming we turn in early for the night.

7 Commando Beach
Hidden Lagoon

Hearing good things about the inland beaches around town, we decided on renting a motorbike for 500php instead of renting a tricycle worth 1,500php. With our motorbike we check out the local public market to replenish on food, then headed out in search of Nacpan Beach and the twin beaches. After about a 40mins riding on rough roads and wooded bridges we finally found the beautiful Nacpan Beach, this is what we went to El Nido for. The beach was quiet not over crowded with lodging establishment and restaurants screaming for your attention, just other people with tricycle and motorbikes who took refuge in the beauty of this calm relaxing beach. After a few hours, we drove to Las Cabañas next.

Twin Beach

Word of mouth from the tricycles drivers is that Las Cabanas is where you want to be for the sunset and they where definitely right. A tricycle from the port town to Las Cabañas costs 150php. I used to own an apartment in Japan that had a sea and sunset view from my living room so I've seen a lot amazing sunsets but the one I saw in Las Cabañas while music played in the background and the sound of people frolicking on the beach with sun-kissed skin speaking in different languages and Phuket like mountain rock formations in the short distance will forever be one of my most memorable sunsets as I laid on plastic bench chair with my feet in the sand. We drive back check out from our lodging and take a shower at the super nice manang's place that we met from before then hop on a cherry bus liner bound for Puerto Princessa.

Being the third time to visit Puerto Princessa, sight seeing was not on the agenda. First priority was to upload a video by use of internet to our YouTube channel. Second was to do more in depth research for the supposed next destination Balabac. After a few hours of internet and calls to unknown bangkeros (boatman) in Balabac we came to the conclusion that that last of our budget was not going to let us explore Balabac. Bangkeros were asking for more than we cared to spend and a ship to Manila from Puerto Princessa was leaving the next day. 

Kinabuch's at Puerto Prinsesa

Decisions were made and we ended up splurging the rest of our budget which was meant to be spent on the Balabac trip on an air conditioned room with a pool and decent WiFi. For dinner, we spent more than the usual by visiting Kinabuch Restaurant with their signature crocodile dishes. After a night at Kinabuch our visit to Puerto Princessa was complete. We ride back home to Manila and reflect on the beautiful sights and experiences Palawan had added to our lives.


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