Monday, November 3, 2014

El Nido, Palawan: Long Journey to Paradise

Update (July 22, 2016): Online booking for Puerto Princesa-El Nido van transfer is now available in this SITE.)

Ever since I discovered my passion for traveling, El Nido, Palawan has always been the place of my dreams. Images of its isolated white sand beaches flanked by towering limestone karst never fail to fascinate my imagination. I used to think that El Nido is a place exclusive only for the rich and famous as what I often see in magazines are ads of its high end resorts. But thanks to travel blogs, I found out that El Nido is also a haven for backpackers and budget travelers like me. This discovery fuels even more my desire to set foot on this place one day.

Fortunately, I was able to score plane tickets through Cebu Pacific’s promo fare last year. As an added bonus, the travel date falls on the week when Malou and I would celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. It would mean so much to us to celebrate this special occasion in a very special place. From that moment, I started doing more research about El Nido (and Palawan in general) so that I would be able to come up with an itinerary that would maximize our stay. I also started saving little by little to make sure we will have enough funds for this exciting journey.

Since our connecting flight route is Davao-Manila-Puerto Princesa, we traveled from our hometown in Bukidnon and stayed overnight in Davao City the day before our flight. Our flight from Davao to Manila went on as scheduled and we even arrived in NAIA 3 ten minutes ahead of the estimated arrival. In the afternoon, we boarded the plane bound for Puerto Princesa on time. However, due to air traffic, the plane’s take off was delayed for about 20 minutes, thereby also delaying our arrival in Puerto Princesa Airport.

We touched down in Palawan at almost 6 PM.  Since I already booked our van transfer to El Nido via Northern Hope Tours, a tricycle picked us up at the airport and took us to a terminal. A van then took us to another terminal where we boarded another van, along with other northbound passengers. At around 7 PM, we departed for the town of El Nido.

The butt-numbing ride took 5 hours. We made one stop in the town of Taytay before finally arriving at El Nido shortly before midnight. The van driver took us to the town proper and helped us in finding Northern Hope Inn where we booked our accommodation for two nights.

Our bed for 2 nights at Northern Hope Inn
Though we booked a room good for two persons at 800 pesos per night, the inn keeper gave us  a large room good for four at the same price. The room is airconditioned and has basic amenities suited for a no-frills traveler.   It has private bathroom with a busted door knob and a non-functioning shower head. We have to use the pail and dipper when taking a bath which was not really a problem since I am used to doing this at home.

We haven’t eaten our dinner yet but we were too tired and sleepy to go out and look for a place to eat. So after settling down our things, we dozed off to dreamland.

We woke up at 6:30 the following morning. Stepping out of the lodge and into Serena Street, the beautiful sight of Bacuit Bay greeted us. “Finally, I’m in El Nido”, I said to myself as I soaked up the view.

Beautiful morning at Bacuit Bay
Malou at the view deck of Art Cafe
El Nido nestles at the foot of gigantic limestone cliffs which gave it a uniquely beautiful landscape. It is a small town and everything is within walking distance to each other. Hotels, inns, restaurants, dive shops, and tour agencies lined up along its interior streets while general merchandising stores, hardware, pharmacies, souvenir shops, carinderias, a bakery and more accommodations flanked both sides of Rizal Street, the town’s main drag.

Serena Street

Rizal Street
Tricycle is the main mode of transportation around El Nido

Affordable breakfast at this place
After walking for a few minutes, we came across a corner eatery serving breakfast meals. We sat down and ordered “silog” dishes at only P55.00 each. After not eating a full meal since lunch the previous day, we finally have something to fill up our growling tummies. It helped us recharge and prepare for a day of exciting adventures ahead.


  1. El Nido is indeed one of the most beautiful gems of the Philippines!

    1. Truly a place worth coming back to again and again.

  2. Hi Earl - I'm looking forward to the rest of these series of post. We are going to visit Palawan next month and will definitely include El Nido in our list of places to visit. What's the road like between Puerto Princesa & El Nido?

    1. Hi Mam Marilou! The road is generally well paved except for some rough patches upon approaching El Nido. Travel time is 5 hours by van and 6-8 hours by bus.


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