Palawan has been named as the best island in the world by Conde Naste and Travel Magazine. It’s been chosen by travelers. I obviously am so proud on this, of course as a Filipino, we are more than delighted to achieve as such especially when it comes to natural spots.
This island has a total of 1,780 surrounding the province. As we all know, in 2012, one of the 7 wonders of nature in the world chosen was the underground river, located just 80 km from the center of Puerto Princesa City. So imagine the adorableness throughout the whole province knowing just one site has been named as such.
Recently, I came to visit El Nido Palawan again, but this time, it was a cold rainy month of August. Luckily, on the day we arrived, it was good weather, I even indulged the beauty of the sea water right after my arrival. Yet, when the dark night time came, the pressure started to fill in. It was raining heavily that it never showed signs of stopping, the rain coupled with the strong wind was a bit alarming. The next day, coast guards declared a “No Island Hopping Tour” for the day. Although in the middle of the day, the rain started to slow down, yet, island hopping tours were still canceled.
Also, throughout the day, I noticed how progressively the business is growing. From small stores, stalls, barbecue stands to huge business, newly constructed hotels, resorts, an uncontrolled kiosk for tour operators merging their services with van and tricycle rentals. It is increasing massively.
During my 5 days stay in this town, we’ve experienced the monsoon season where rain, cold and strong wind appeared or was noticeable most of the time. On my second day, the coast guard announced that only Tour D Island Hopping will be open, as the weather was still not good. Tours in El Nido are named alphabetically, these are the tours which tourists can get to choose from Tour A, B, C, D or combination of A and C for island hopping and an inland tour for Nacpan Beach. Listed below are the tours I got to choose from Northern Hope Tours, they took care very well my concerns and call anytime to make sure I am comfortable with the given schedule from the coast guards or to make changes with my tours.
Since Tour D was the only open for island hopping that day, I warmly joined the group. We were 21 of us, all Filipinos living from the different parts of the country. We started at 9 am, the good thing with Northern Hope Tours, they have their own waiting area for all their guests known as BSAI Canteen, located near the entrance gate of port and just beside the Port’s office. I am honestly impressed by how organized the team was, from assisting the guests for our needs, like aqua shoes or snorkeling kit, to checking our payment, our concerns, and our needs. The team works according to their destined task, and I love the way they managed to organized the trip especially for big tours like in my group. I commend Northern Hope Tours for the job well done on our very first day. Please be fully informed too, that the rest of the operators or boats, their waiting or pick up area is at the main El Nido beach. All boats should also visit that place for it is where Tourism personnel checked all departing boats, to make sure all boatmen followed the protocol of the coast guards and the tourism.
Tour D actually is the least visited tour among the 4 tours, Tour A and C are the famous and most recommended tour whereas Tour B can only be recommended by operators or local when tourists are done with Tour A and C. So Tour D usually unlikely to be picked and to be visited. Please, I beg you, DO NOT underestimate what lies behind the islands of Palawan regardless if it’s unpopular tour or not. My first visit to Tour D on a cold, rainy and gloomy day have proven more on why Palawan is entitled as the best island.
After the orientation from Ryan, one of our tour guides from Northern Hope Tours, after about 30-40 minutes bumpy, wavy and adventure boat ride to the first stop which is Cadlao Lagoon, had made all of us speechless and forgot how uneasy it was to come to the place for we know it was more than worth it. (Weather was really bad) See for yourself with the picture here, obviously, this photo couldn’t justify how beautiful the site is in actual. We stayed for about 40 minutes on this lagoon, was able to swim, move our butts to the other site, took pictures from one another, played around, and mesmerize by the stunning color of the calm water. All I could remember is the color was sky blue and so crystal clear.
After which, we headed to Paradise Beach where we supposed to have our lunch, yet the place was overcrowded, full of boats lining in a small shoreline where ours cannot dock in. The guides asked permission from us if it will be ok for us to drive another 15 minutes to Tao Beach where the shore is wide and many things to do. Please note, we were only given 4 hours from the coast guard to do the island hopping, our time was limited due from the bad weather, that’s why guides asked permission from us. Went straight to Tao beach, it’s also beautiful but not as stunning as Paradise beach (personally for me, that’s just my opinion), yet, it has a vast area enough for us to be entertained by the charm of the nature within the vicinity, but what struck me most is the limestone hill which was beautifully covered by the fog and tiny cloud water droplets. It was unforgettable. While our guides and boatmen were busy preparing for our lunch, we were able to walk through inside quarter of Tao, because the weather still was gloomy and countless of boats docked in the area too, so we decided to do something else that is away from the crowd. Delighted by how the small huts were designed in the Tao quarter, I and 3 other tourists interviewed the caretaker, took many photos, and found out how amazing their expedition. I silently aim to do their tour in the future, I was really amazed by the stories I got from the caretaker. He must have good marketing tactics too huh? I’m sold and I loved it!
Our lunch prepared by the crew was extravagant and fresh! Couldn’t asked for more! They even arranged pretty well the table setting. We had so much food that made all of us full. In Tao beach, we stayed for more than an hour there, where I was able to swim, walked by the beach, the Tao quarter, and just rest. I bet when the weather is sunny and clear, the vibrant color of the water must have been awesome.
On our last destination, we went back to Paradise beach, but, on the side where the marine sanctuary is. This time, the weather was already really bad, there was non-stop rain, very cold that it got through our veins and a bit windy. But, the captain and guides still pushed to stop at the sanctuary for the water was calm in the sanctuary area. I did snorkel, saw the sea snake, different kind of fish, beautiful table corals too, but, there were some areas where I’ve seen dead corals. We aim to see turtles, unfortunately, I didn’t. On this marine sanctuary, even if you don’t swim, the clear water and the corals can be seen in the boat. We landed and stayed near on one of the limestone karsts as well, so, the magical feeling watching the view while waiting for others to come up after their snorkeling was for me extravagant!
We ended our Tour D excursion with an awe of El Nido, we actually want to see more, however, the rain and wind were unmanageable, and we also abide coast guard’s warning to go back to the mainland at 2 PM.
With the cold and rain, the experience was beautifully different. Indeed, Palawan is the best island.
This is only Part 1 of my 5 days stay in El Nido, the rest of the tour will be linked here soon.
Author: Ferna Mae
Ferna is from the Philippines who travel spontaneously. Thrives to be more independent in her own skin. She first traveled The Philippines first before she embarked to other countries. She believes that by traveling, her undying crave for learning excites her in a more profound way. Her flexibility had proven her that time is genuine. As a former tour guide in the Philippines, she hopes that her travel experiences will give value to the aspiring travelers. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org,