Palawan: What You Probably Didn’t Know But Need to Know About This Hidden Paradise
When in Manila, chances are you’ve already looked at the top tourist destinations in the country that you can escape to at least once or twice in your life, regardless of whether you’re a foreigner or a local. I know I have.
So, after checking out the obvious choices on your list, you realize that one of them is the majestic island of Palawan. When you think of Palawan, the first thing that comes to mind is sun, sand, beach, and sky – am I right? Well, what better place to head off to than the undiscovered paradise that is El Nido, then?
These are just some of the pictures my brother Paolo and I took during our trip with our whole family.
About 200 kilometers away from the province’s capital, Puerto Princesa; El Nido boasts of crystal clear waters, white sand, lush forests–and the best part of it all is that it’s a tourist destination yet to be discovered. Sure, it’s gotten more publicity as the years have gone by, what with everybody searching for the “next Boracay”.
Despite the tourism industry looking at Palawan as the Philippines’ next of kin in the top tourist destinations list, though, El Nido is a “hidden away” place, its exclusivity making it is almost as good as the place itself. Only accessible by a 5-hour car ride from Puerto Princesa or by plane ride (either from Puerto Princesa or Manila, through a smaller plane) the many islands, whose names range from “helicopter” to “snake” are a gem to behold. With no human settlements in sight (and therefore, no trash), it truly is a tropical haven to island-hop to.
The variety of island-hopping packages normally include boat rentals, island-hopping of 6-7 islands or more, snorkeling in the beautiful big and small lagoons, and lunch by the island shore courtesy of the boatmen/tour guides themselves who will prepare your food right in front of you (read: inihaw heaven).
The best part about these island-hopping packages is that you won’t be time-pressured to get to the island, look around for five minutes and then head straight to the next one because you are allowed to explore at your own pace (especially if you’re with your family or friends and you have the boat to yourselves). Some pricier packages include overnight camp-outs in the deserted islands for the adventure junkies (or if you’re traveling with your significant other, a quite unique and intimate way to bond).
On the other hand, if you’re not a beachy type of person (how couldn’t you be, though?), El Nido has numerous small-scale resorts you can choose from, as well. Some beach strips also offer a taste of the nightlife that Boracay boasts of, only with less noise and more leisurely-type dinner settings, which, in my opinion, is much better because you already have that crazy nightlife scene in Manila anyway.
I was able to enjoy all of this and more, and I could proudly say that El Nido is the pride of Palawan and our tropical country. Nothing could ever come close to the feeling of being in touch with nature when a fantastical view is in front of you and the breeze hits your face in just the right way. The pictures you see online or on postcards of beautiful beaches and sceneries all around the world– the likes of which are named Hawaii, Maldives, or Bora Bora— I could attest that El Nido has enough beef to join the competition, if not exceed its more famous competitors.
And I think everybody would agree that it is much better for El Nido to stay this way: well-known enough but not too heavily advertised and commodified that capitalists start commercializing it through swanky and overpriced exclusive establishments that it starts to lose its value.
So, When in Manila (or wherever it is you live), and planning to go on your next escapade with your family, friends, or significant other during the summer; you definitely have to take a chance on El Nido.