Philippines – Cebu & Palawan

The last frontier.

This how Palawan is described. A name that impersonates wilderness. A very exciting destination, west of the Philippines archipelago.

We flew from Singapore to Cebu, before taking a connecting flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s capital at the center of this long (450 km) island. The connecting flight was on the next day only, so we had a bit of time to visit Cebu, the 2nd largest city in the Philippines. Cebu is a big, lively, noisy, polluted city, but its tourist sites, are somewhat off the mayhem.

Cebu

 

 

The colourful custom-painted jeepneys, the main public transport in Philippines  
Street food stalls are everywhere, klaxons are echoing, and the jeepneys’ copilots are screaming their destination, stopping randomly here and there to drop and take passengers. For a more immersive feeling, here is a quick clip, live from a Cebu jeepney.

Puerto Princesa

After being quite unimpressed by Cebu, but having relaxed with a good massage, we took our flight to Puerto Princesa on the next day. The pollution clouds were definitely absent, and the holiday feeling became much more obvious as we stepped out of the plane…

Blue skies upon arrival to Puerto Princesa airport…

PP is a laidback regional town, quite spread out, where there are many accomodation available. The most recommended one was booked out, but we could easily find a clean hotel even at last minute.

Puerto Princesa

 

Store in Puerto Princesa

We visited the underground river of Puerto Princesa, one of the longest in the world that is open to public. Having visited many caves in my life, I was quite unimpressed by the experience,  but my partner loved it. When we came back from the visit by boat to the town of Sabang, it was a bit rainy, and we were hoping to jump on a van to El Nido, that we had booked earlier.

To our utmost disappointment, we realised that the arrangement was no longer valid, and that we actually could not do leave the same day. So we had to stay for one night in Sabang, where we find the right level of comfort and cleanliness after a few bungalow visits.

There were good-sized waves that afternoon and I could take a revigorating bath, the first of the trip! At dawn, the scenery was very romantic.

Sunset in Sabang…

On the way to heaven on earth

After a rather good night sleep, we jumped on the van to El Nido. It was a long 5 hours drive on bumpy roads, but the scenery was beautiful all the way. We had not booked any accomodation in El Nido, but a tuk tuk driver took us from one place to the next until we found a little paradise named Island Front cottage, not in El Nido per say, but in the
nearby village of Corong.

The bungalows had the simplest and most perfect design for me, with a balcony outside, a double bed inside, small table and chair, and bathroom. Very colourful and girly in a way, but really fresh for a bungalow right on the beach.

Love nest on Corong beach

Once installed, we rapidly found a diving operator to start discovery of the under water world. The sites were very clean, with great rock formation to navigate, corals teeming with life, and we could spot some interesting creatures!

Sawtooth eel
Big pufferfish!
Plenty of life around the healthy corals…
Curious batfish

 

At night, there are plenty of restaurants who put their tables and chairs on ElNido beach. It is rather cramped, and service takes forever, but since you are on holidays, with your feet in the sand, it’s usually no big deal..
Boating to the diving sites are not bad moments either…

 

View from Island Front cottages bungalow…

After 4 days in Coron / El Nido, it was a real heartbreak to leave… There are so many day trips to the islands and beaches in the archipelago that we could have gone on for much longer…
We were very luck to find our accomodation, and it was not that cheap. It would therefore strongly advise that you book in advance something nice for yourself, because the last thing you want when you reach this far-away paradise is to have to sleep in a place that does not match your standards…

I wish to come back there someday, and hope that tourism development will be kept to dimensions that respect this beautuful environment. This is the kind of destination where I would not mind paying more for this sort of beauty.

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