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El Nido

Written on: Monday May 5th, 2008

A journal entry from: Southeast Asian Adventures!

At last, we arrived in paradise! The jeepney/bus ride to El Nido was hellish - a 2 hour jeepney ride with fish juice dripping on us over the bumpy roads... but this time we expected that. We got off the jeepney at the junction (just the side of the road, really), and hopped on the bus to El Nido when it rolled around an hour later. The bus ride was very long and mostly over unpaved roads, which quickly turned into mud bogs when it started pouring. The people on the roof got soaked as the rain started, and was quite relentless for most of the journey. Yet another hectic bus ride in the Philippines.

I was so relieved to reach El Nido, despite the pouring rain. We looked around for a place to stay and settled on Gloria's Beach Cottages, which I highly recommend to anyone visiting El Nido. The cottages are owned by 84 year old Gloria, who has lived in El Nido since the 1940s. She was an amateur archaeologist when she was younger, owns her own museum full of artifacts she discovered, and owns at least half of El Nido. She was great to talk to, and had loads of interesting stories. The cottages are the oldest in El Nido with tons of character, and are located right on the beach.

El Nido is definitely my favourite place in the Philippines. El Nido is the gateway to Bacuit Archipelago, which consists of many limestone islands jutting out of crystal clear water, covered in greenery, each with its own beautiful beach. From Gloria's Beach Cottages we could see a few of these striking islands, making for the most beautiful seascapes I've ever seen.

We did one day of island hopping in El Nido. We saw 4 different islands on our own small boat and snorkelled the day away. My favourite islands were the big and small lagoon on Maniloc Island. We jumped in the clear blue water, swam under a craggy limestone cave and arrived in a beautiful lagoon, which we paddled around in, in awe of the scenery. Another highlight was Secret Lagoon, where we climbed through a small cave into a small lagoon. Secret Lagoon also offered the best snorkeling.

Another day we took a tricycle ride just 10 minutes out of El Nido to Las Cabanas beach. We had the entire white sand beach all to ourselves! 

The only downside to El Nido was the poor weather. It rained torrentially every day, flooding the streets and forcing us to stay on the patio at Gloria's, playing cards, reading and drinking rum and mango juice. The locals thought a typhoon was heading in our direction, but luckily it never arrived. 

As our time in the Philippines is at its end, I am so glad that we made it to Palawan and to El Nido in particular. It was definitely the highlight of my travels in the Philippines.