Friday, December 26, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Blue Rider’s Sulit Package in El Nido

Palawan is an archipelago of 1,780 islands on the western part of the Philippines. It has the most concentration of islands but is the most sparsely populated region in the country. Because of its scenic landscapes and high bio-diversity, Palawan is known as “The Last Ecological Frontier of the Philippines”.
The northern part of Palawan province is blessed with crystal-clear waters, pristine beaches, and a wealth of flora and fauna. El Nido is really a magical place. From its ageless towering marble cliffs to its white sandy beaches with  clear waters, it is a truly exotic destination.  Known for its breath taking beaches and viewing spots for the most amazing sunsets and recently hailed as the world’s top beach destination, El Nido falls on the list of “I-wish-I-could-afford-that” vacation plans
What if I told you that you can get a glimpse and enjoy this paradise for 5days and 4 nights for less than 10,000 pesos? Sounds too good to be true? Check out my itinerary for your very own slice of heaven on earth.
Day 1
10:00 AM  - Arrival at Puerto Princesa Airport
12:00 NN – Lunch at Badjao Seafront Restaurant <-- Click Here for Details
01:00 PM – Depart for El Nido (Van Transfer)
07:00 PM – Arrival in El Nido Town Proper – Check Inn and Dinner
08:00 PM – Lights Out

Day 2
07:00 AM – Wake up, Freshen Up and Breakfast
09:00 AM – Start Island Hopping Tour C  <-- Click Here for Details
04:00 PM – Head Back to El Nido Poblacion
05:00 PM – Freshen up Free Time
07:00 PM – Dinner (ArtCafe)
08:00 PM – Lights Out

Day 3
04:00 AM – Wake up, Freshen Up
05:00 AM – Start Climbing Taraw Peak  <-- Click Here for Details
06:30 AM – Taraw Peak Photo Op
07:00 AM – Descend Taraw Peak
08:00 AM - Breakfast
09:00 AM – Start Island Hopping Tour B  <-- Click Here for Details
04:00 PM – Head Back to El Nido Poblacion
05:00 PM – Freshen up Free Time
07:00 PM – Dinner (Skyline Grill and Restaurant)
08:00 PM – Lights Out

Day 4
07:00 AM - Wake up, Freshen Up and Breakfast
09:00 AM – Start Island Hopping Tour A  <-- Click Here for Details
04:00 PM – Head Back to El Nido Poblacion
05:00 PM – Freshen up Free Time
07:00 PM – Dinner (Seafood bought from Local Market)
08:00 PM – Lights Out

Day 5
07:00 AM - Wake up, Freshen Up and Breakfast
08:00 AM – Depart for Nacpan and Calitang Twin Beaches
09:00 AM – Arrival at Nacpan and Calitang Twin Beaches (Photo Op and Climb the hill for a great view of the Twin Beach)  <-- Click Here for Details
12:00 NN – Lunch at the Beach
03:00 PM – Depart for Maremegmeg, Corong Corong and Las Cabanas Beach  <-- Click Here for Details
05:00 PM – Snacks, Photo Ops, Chillaxin’ while waiting for the Sunset
07:00 PM – Dinner, prep to depart for Puerto Princesa
08:00 PM – Depart for Puerto Princesa

Php 7,815.00 --- Total Expenses
Php 1,000.00 Accommodation in El Nido for 4 Nights (Standard Fan Room w/ Private Bathroom)
Php 1,000.00 Island Hopping Tour C
Php 1,000.00 Island Hopping Tour B
Php 1,000.00 Island Hopping Tour A
Php   300.00 Taraw Peak Guide
Php   850.00 Van Transfer (Puerto Princesa to El Nido vv)
Php   500.00 Nacpan/Calitang Twin Beaches, Maremegmeg, Corong Corong and Las Cavanas Sunset Tour
Php   250.00 Transportation going around El Nido and Puerto Princesa
Php   350.00 Art Cafe Pizza and Pesto w/ Iced Tea for Dinner
Php   235.00 Skyline Grill and Restaurant El Nido Soup, Adobo and Soda for Dinner
Php   450.00 Lunch and Snacks at Nacpan Beach Restaurant/Las Cavanas
Php   230.00 Badjao Seafront Restaurant meal of the day
Php   300.00 Accommodation in Puerto Princesa (Standarad Fan Room w/ Private Bathroom)
Php   350.00 Breakfast, snacks and Seafood Dinner in El Nido
All prices are in a per-person basis. I did not include our expenses for air fare (my RT fare is Php 1,600.00), souvenirs, tips, and other fees in this rate sheet as you may have different needs and preferences.  Note that all figures are subject to change without prior notice.
1. We booked all these tours through Northern Hope Tours through Ma’am Neriza (very generous and accommodating owner). She gave us discounts for all Tours and even waived the Php 200.00 Environmental Fee ^_^  Get in touch with her in advance to arrange your tours at 0927-7353221 or if you want a personal guide/boatman/driver all in one, I highly recommend Kuya Nelson Fernandez 0907-327-1050 (very kind, patient, informative and Ilonggo by blood)
2. For the room accommodation, enjoy an affordable and homey experience at Northern Hope Inn. Their personalized service is truly exceptional.  Get in touch with them using the following details:
3. Good news to all, El Nido got 24/7 power activated so you will truly enjoy your stay. According to Ate Minda, this has been implemented last Oct 16, 2014.
4. There are no Banks and ATM machines in El Nido. Make sure to bring CASH, CASH and more CASH. There are establishments and shops that accepts credit cards but it would cost you more than expected, so better bring in cash.
5. Internet is accessible in cafes, restaurants, bars, and other establishments. Some also have free WiFi. In addition, Smart, Globe, and Sun phone networks are adequate here.
6. El Nido is a small, resort town. You can actually go around El Nido on foot. However, if you wish, you can rent a bike to go around town and other places in the municipality. Rental can range from P 700 and up.
7. As a world-renown tourist/resort town, everyday things (e.g. carenderia food, drinks, supplies, etc.) and services offered in El Nido can be quite expensive. Be sure to bring extra money. Also, not all stores are open 24/7
8. If you have the time and money, we strongly recommend that you devote one day for each tour. You have the option to do combo tours (e.g. Tours A&C, B&D or however you prefer it)
So, who says El Nido is just for foreigners and ‘can-afford’ travelers? Come on, pack those bags, book your tickets and fly to Palawan and get the grandest vacation you deserve in the beautiful Island of El Nido.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Taste of Paradise in El Nido (Day 5 – Inland Tours | Corong-corong and Marimegmeg Beaches)

While island-hopping is *the* thing to do in El Nido, Palawan, it isn’t the only thing to do.

After having our grand time in the stunning view of the Twin Beaches of Nacpan and Calitang, off we go to our next and final destination for the day: The Beaches of Corong-Corong and Marimegmeg and the stunning sunset view in Las Cabanas. We will cap the day watching the sun sink below the neighboring islets in a romantic burst of colors. I love sunset, that’s for sure! So I will not miss this chance to catch one here in El Nido.

At the top of the hill, this view opened up and a tiny squeal of delight escaped me, prompting our driver to pull over to the side of the road. “Picture muna, ma’am?” he said with a chuckle.

He pointed out our destination: Las Cabanas, a secluded resort at the southernmost tip of Corong-Corong beach.

A view of Marimegmeg and Las Cabanas from above


From the road, we followed an up-and-down muddy dirt path about 100m toward the general direction of the beach, confident that good things awaited at the end. And indeed, they did: a stretch of golden sand, with only a few day-trippers…




The rustic charm of Las Cabanas seem to be a good middle ground between the five-star luxury and backpacker options. If I ever returned to El Nido , I’d opt for a more laid-back vacation away from town, and stay here instead.


This end of Corong-Corong beach is a great place to enjoy the last few hours of the day, walking along the shore…


sinking down into one of these  loungers…


Remote, relaxed and absolutely gorgeous. (A drink always helps, too. Don’t quote me on that.)



The stunning sunset view slowly unfold and the scenery shifted from yellow to orange and then my most favorite color. I did my iconic silhouette jumpshot. It looks gorgeous :)

IMG_1662  IMG_1663



My whole body and soul found solace in the wonders of nature – now, I can say I have conquered the slice of heaven on earth in this beautiful island of El Nido.

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”
George Gordon Byron

To each his own. That's the beauty of traveling. You see the place in your own way, and you don't have to agree with other people who went there before you. What's spectacular to me may not be outstanding to you. Or what's average to you is just so perfect for me.

How to get to Marimegmeg/Corong-corong Beaches/Las Cabanas:

You can hail a tricycle from the town proper and would usually cost you Php 200.00 roundtrip depending on your haggling skills.  It will take you 10-15 minutes ride and 5 minutes walk to get to the beach.

WALLET DAMAGE: Php 0.00 (cost included in Tour E)   Snacks at the Resto Php 95.00

A Taste of Paradise in El Nido (Day 5 – Inland Tour | Nacpan and Calitang Twin Beaches)

Too much contemplating if we will push through with this inland tour, but I guess the sense of curiosity won. A secret hideaway for the very few who have learned it. We were in the mood to bask in the sun that morning and the Twin Beaches of Nacpan and Calitang will grant that wish to us today.

We prepared early for that day as we are set to depart the town proper at 8 in the morning. Kuya Nelson fetch us with his motorcycle and off we go to our ultimate beach destination for that day. “This is going to be a great day!”

We own the Beach for a Day!


Situated in Sitio Calitang, approximately 17 kilometers north of El Nido, the twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang are main attractions of the mainland.  Nacpan beach brags approximately four-kilometer stretch of cream sand beach scattered with coconut trees. It is generally bare, unspoiled and unexploited, and of course with lesser crowd. Just my kind of perfect beach. NO ENTRANCE FEE for now :)

Kuya Nelson led us to a grass-covered hill at the end of Nacpan where a steep overused trail was waiting for us. After a short climb, the top of the hill surprised us with wig-snatching winds and a splendid 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape!

A picturesque view of Nacpan and Calitang Twin Beach – The most Photographed Spot



The hill is where the beaches of Nacpan and Calitang meet. While Nacpan appeared to be almost infinite, Calitang is much shorter. One end cradles a fishing village, and the other a row of multi-colored boats. The two beaches merge in a narrow powdery sandbar that snakes into a verdant hill that lies adjacent to it. The other side of the hill is rocky and more dangerous, as it faces the open sea.

The other side of the Beach


A pose with our Ilonggo Guide Kuya Nelson



How to get to Nacpan-Calitang Twin Beaches:

Located in Barangay Bucana north of El Nido town proper, the twin beaches are 45 minutes away by van, even longer by tricycle. It is not included in the usual island-hopping tours, but most travel agencies and tour operators offer trips to this stunner. You can also take a public jeepney from El Nido town although taking this mode of transport will require an overnight stay in the beach since there is only one trip daily – leaving in El Nido at noon and returning in the morning the next day.

Nacpan and Calitang is part of the itinerary of El Nido Inland Tour (Tour E) that costs Php 1,200.00/per person but a DIY trip is much cheaper.  You may rent a tricycle to take you there or van for bigger group. This is worth a whole day tour with side trip in some of the waterfalls. We prefer beaches instead, so off we go to our next destination.

WALLET DAMAGE: Php 500.00 (Tour E)   Lunch/Snacks at the Resto Php 350.00

If you want to avail the services of our guides you may contact Kuya Nelson Fernandez at 09073271050. In case you will get a hold of Kuya Nelson’s services, please extend my regards to him.

A Taste of Paradise in El Nido (Day 4 – Island Hopping A)

Tour A = AWESOME! A day of Lagoons and Beaches


Tour A is mostly centered around Miniloc Island, as shown in the map. It is the most famous and most availed tour package in El Nido. It is also known as the Lagoon Tour as it comprised 2 lagoon expedition  — cleverly named Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon. You have a totally yummy, specially-prepared lunch on a very picturesque little beach, then off to a small hidden lagoon (Secret Lagoon), and finally a pit stop on a long, off-white sandy beach just to relax.


Welcome to El Nido – simply amazing!


Warning: When you move from the boat to the lagoon entrance, you WILL get bitten on the legs and back etc by some kind of territorial fish that lives in that stretch of water.


Now the special surprise. If you go right to the other side of the Small Lagoon, which isn’t very far, you can go into a small entranceway that leads to a water-filled cave. It’s completely enclosed, but over the centuries, rainwater seeping through the cracks has made a skylight with some amazing limestone shapes and formations to stare up at.

RIMG0364         RIMG0376 


The Big Lagoon was the main highlight of Island Hopping Tour A. It is seriously beautiful. But it’s also a place we just drove the boat in, puttered around, then drove out again. It’s one of those places you quietly boat through in stunned silence as you soak in the colors and clarity of the water.

Boats cannot access the Big Lagoon in low tide, which is why renting a kayak is recommended for tour A — it would serve as a backup plan B and would give you the ability to be the boss of your time. From there, you get to experience the Big Lagoon’s deep emerald water and gigantic limestone cliffs on your own and find serenity in exploring without the noises of the boat.




This small island, which apparently got its name from a Japanese diver who died there in an underwater cave, is where we stop for lunch. In spite of the depressing roots of the nomenclature, it’s a stunning place to chill while the boat crew prepares your lunch.





The place was very relaxing, quite, and bounded by tall coconut trees and big limestone cliff — the real epitome of a paradise. The Secret Lagoon is one of the protected islands of El Nido from unauthorized or illegal collection of balinsasayaw’s nest (swift’s nest).The entrance to the Secret Lagoon was surprisingly a tiny hole on the huge wall of limestone cliffs and used all my flexibility to reach the inside. I think I got most pictures from this stop :)







Because we still got plenty of time, our kind guides brought us to the snorkeling site (I forgot the name) Here I feasted my eyes to the awesome underwater wonders. Our boat captain is even kind enough to take me to the deeper part and enjoy more coral views.   RIMG0438




This is the destination for Tour A to relax and have a final dip before heading back to town.  We docked in Papaya Beach and went to 7 Commandos via kayak. According to our guide, if it’s low tide, they usually bring the guest to 7 Commandos.  Hell I care, it’s just few meters away.
You can buy fresh buko juice and snacks in this area.






Happy smile and grateful heart is what I brought back to town. Getting a glimpse of the beautiful and stunning islands of El Nido is something I will forever cherish. No wonder why it’s the world’s top beach destination. I am pretty sure, I’ll keep coming back and will never get tired of feasting on this magnificent wonders of nature.

I wish I could spend more days here for Island Hopping. This give me more reasons to go back for more.


IMG_1334   IMG_1342

Capped the day with a sumptuous seafood dinner bought from the market and prepared by our ever reliable Ate Minda. Happy Tummy!

WALLET DAMAGE: Php 1,000.00 (Tour A)   Home Cooked Dinner (Shrimp and Crabs Galore) Php 150.00

If you want to avail the services of our guides you may contact Kuya Nelson Fernandez at 09073271050. In case you will get a hold of Kuya Nelson’s services, please extend my regards to him.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Taste of Paradise in El Nido (Day 3 – Island Hopping B)

A Day of Sandbars, Soft Beaches and Caves

After that adrenaline impelling early morning exercise climbing the Taraw Peak, we are now prepared to continue our island hopping adventures. We are more than ready to take another day of awesome site of El Nido. This time we are heading to the eastern part of the Bacuit Bay. 


Just like a beautiful song, each of the wonders you find in this charming town contain diverse chords and each of the harmonies are notes, cautiously and accurately chosen to create a harmonic symphony. Each note has its own timber, pitch, and tone, each contributing to become a fascinating harmony that enchants the mind and touches the soul.



I am glad we are still able to join our Nanay and Tatay here in El Nido for this tour.  This time, more bonding and story telling of there endless adventure to travel the world together and enjoy the fruits of their hard work. Such an inspiring couple, a testament that true love still exist and sweeter on the road. (makahanap nga din ng kagaya ni


First stop is Entalula Island with white sand, turquoise water and amazing rock formation.  It’s a nice scenic beach with one noticeable limestone standing like a sentinel.This place is really an ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling.



I really enjoyed the clear water and the different fishes I saw. I keep on chasing them not noticing that I am already in the deeper part of the sea, hehehe! 





After almost an hour, just enough to say that we have enjoyed the beach, off we go to our next destination. I am very much excited to see this: The Snake Island. Unfortunately, we were not able to see the sandbar coz it’s high tide and the couple we’re with doesn’t want to stay in this island as they find it a little bit dirty as compared to the first one.  We stayed there for roughly an hour, since we can’t see the sandbar and take a dip we just managed to climb up the viewdeck and took some shots overlooking the view of the sea and the sandbar.

Our guide Elfer, led us to the trail that goes up to a viewing deck. Now, that’s Snake Island! Definitely one better site up here :)

Snake Island got its name from that long, pure white sandbar resembling a snake. Shoreward and seaward currents push the sand under the sea’s surface to form this sandbar. The long sandbar connects the mainland and the islet. At the other side of Snake Island is this dazzling aquamarine bay. Just look at how crystal clear that water is

Overlooking the Snake Island from the ViewDeck


The other side of the Snake Island


We even met some Russian folks and they requested to have some pictures taken with us (celebrity mode 101..checked!)


Our Guide Elfer with the Cool Russian guys (I forgot their



After that speedy tour of Snake Island, we boarded our boat and headed to our next destination.  The next island will be our lunch stop over. We docked at the beautiful white-sand beach of Cudugnon Point but that beautiful shore was not the high spot of this place. The best part was Cudugnon Cave, a sacred place behind the rock walls that borders the beach.

While waiting for our lunch to be served, we played like kids in the shore. I found this really cool swing and tree to get some wacky shots. When tatay roamed around, he asked some caretakers if they allow overnight stay and they said they are accommodating guests and even have packages available upon request.




After feasting ourselves with the great food served, we took a bit of rest before exploring Cudugnon Cave. We walked into waist-deep, unexpectedly warm water and go into a space between two rock ledges. At this point, I can’t help but think: why so many of El Nido’s and Bacuit Bay’s wonders are hidden by Mother Nature. To access the cave’s main chamber, we need to crawl through another tiny opening in the rock wall.


We climbed up a sandy, slippery slope and entered the cave’s splendid main chamber. Named after a Cuyonon word “Cudugnon” which means to shake since this was the hiding place for some Japanese and Filipinos during the war and they will feel the ground shaking every time bombs are dropped on the island. Guide said that thousands of years ago, Cudugnon Cave was a sacred burial site. In other words, this cave was actually used as a natural catacomb. Naturally, it is presently an important anthropological site.


Hole in the Wall


Ancient Palawenos and settlers from Borneo placed their deceased loved one’s bones in natural holes like these. Symbolically, it’s returning to Mother Nature’s bosom after spending a finite life here on earth.

Unfortunately, the bones and burial jars that dated back to the Sung Dynasty were extracted by archaeologists; the artifacts are now displayed in some museum out there.



After exploring Cudugnon Cave, we went back to the boat and cast off to our next destination. We cruised to our next stop, Pinasil Island where Cathedral Cave can be found. The foremost feature of this island is that foreboding hole at the center .  Up Close, this colossal cavern has an opening higher albeit narrower than that of the Underground River and surrounded by rocky cliffs that features unusual stalactites. This can be considered as one of El Nido’s awesome wonders.

IMG_1084 IMG_1091

Also, notice that lovely blue water. Looks very conducive for swimming, right? Our guide encouraged us to just go here for sight seeing because jumping in the water would simply mean suicide. It’s because the cave is home to several species of extremely aggressive, territorial and venomous snakes. There were some foreigners swimming though, good luck!


After taking some photos of Cathedral Cave, off we go to our next and last stop for the day.  Our boat captain then steered our boat towards Pinagbuyutan Island. It’s towering peaks maybe the first you will notice in Bacuit Bay as you enter the town of El Nido.

Along the way, we witnessed massive sea cliffs. Half an hour of cruising, we finally reached  the dome-shaped island dominated by extremely high cliffs.



We walked along the shore and found this nice vine as a picture background.


Strolling to the other side of the beach, are we in a seaside golf course? Well, no, but it does seem like it! Pinagbuyutan Island has patches of grass and coconut mangroves. Interestingly, the air here was quite chilly. This portion of the beach is ideal for picnics.




We could have taken more photos on this side of the beach if not for this snake! (weeeeeh, let’s go back instead)




After an hour, we decided to call it a day and headed back to El Nido town. This tour is also wonderful and I enjoyed each island’s unique features especially the stunning view of the Snake Island and soft beach of Pinagbuyutan with the exemption of the snake’s presence.

We freshen up and prepared for dinner and this time we will try the famous El Nido soup served at Skyline Grill and Restaurant with our Nanay and Tatay in El Nido.

nido soup

el nido nanay


It’s time to say goodnight, after a tiring yet fun-filled day.

WALLET DAMAGE: Php 1,000.00 (Tour B)   Skyline Grill and Restaurant Php 235.00

If you want to avail the services of our guides you may contact Kuya Nelson Fernandez at 09073271050. In case you will get a hold of Kuya Nelson’s services, please extend my regards to him.