Posts Tagged ‘Palawan’

Travellog Part V: Philippines

01 Coron 06

Although the writing of this has been delayed by being very busy, I wanted to make sure I took the time to give a rundown of our adventures in the Philippines!

Island Hopping

Marcy and I spent our last 3 weeks of travels in Palawan in the Philippines, a popular place among Filipinos for holidays on the beach. We started in the north in Coron, where we spent our first day snorkeling and island hopping, exploring nearby treasures. Over our whole time in Palawan, we did four of these island hopping trips, in Coron, El Nido, Port Barton and Puerto Princesa, and I think we had the best time in Coron, thanks to the relative lack of tourists, lovely jellyfish-free waters, and the fact that it was our first! In El Nido, because it was the week of the Easter holidays, there were loads of Filipino tourists all doing the same tours, and having 100 people climbing through the rock opening to the “Hidden Lagoon” takes away some of the magic. Port Barton should have been great, but we were plagued by some wind and rain, and the number of jellyfish in the waters put us off. In Puerto Princesa, the island hopping is a totally different scene. Instead of going to small, remote seeming places, you are crowded into a roped off area to snorkel or swim, with lots of other boatloads of people.

02 El Nido 95El Nido

As far as cool little towns on beaches go, El Nido is one of the best. The beachfront is lined with hip little restaurants and bars, with everyone offering happy hour specials as the sun goes down. We spent 5 whole days here, a long time for us, and we took a kayak out one day to find our own private beach not too far away, and a motorbike another day to a long, white-sand beach that was practically deserted. Although a popular place for Filipinos, it doesn’t have the crazy tourist scene that Boracai is known for, so it was very relaxing.

Coconut Garden

We spent several lovely days at Coconut Garden, a boat ride from Port Barton, reading on the beach, and this place was also one of the highlights of Palawan. Structured like a resort, but within affordable price-range, the hotel with its restaurant is the only thing on the beach, and boats are needed to get there and around. 02 El Nido 82

Sabang and Puerto Princesa

These two places are the more populated and well-known parts of the area, with the extensive underground river being the most popular tourist attraction. We did the tourist bit, taking the boat on the river tour, as well as visiting the mangrove forest, but overall, it wasn’t our favourite place, being a bit dirtier, noisier and less relaxing. We ended up in these two places longer than we would have liked.

Food

Compared to Vietnam and Laos, food was more difficult for us in the Philippines, and it was tough to find vegetarian options. Even though we were open to eating fish, and were situated right on the ocean, fish wasn’t always available because of the weather. Our saving grace in Puerto was the vegetarian restaurant, Ima’s, where we ate nearly every day (once, twice in one day).

Overall Impressions02 El Nido 64

As is touted in guidebooks and on t-shirts, Filipino people are very friendly and outgoing, usually with a big smile, which was really great, and they speak English, which does make travelling easier. Also compared to our other travels in SE Asia, the beaches and water were very clean in Palawan, which was really nice to see. But it was also much more expensive than our first few weeks, so our accommodation went down a star or two.

The Philippines was a great place to relax on the beach, although if we were to do it again, we’d move around a bit more, not just stay on Palawan, which we had initially chosen because we had been moving around so much in Laos and Vietnam. But we had a great time there overall.

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