Archives for September 2019

11 Things to Do in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

El Nido is a municipality in Palawan, Philippines. Aptly nicknamed ‘Heaven on Earth,’ it is regarded as one of the best beach and island destinations in the Philippines. Along with Coron, it is one of the top destinations in Palawan, Philippines. 

With its powdery- sand beaches, limestone cliffs and coral reefs, one will never run of out things to do in El Nido.

But here are the 12 best things to do in El Nido, Palawan. 

11 Things to Do in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

1. El Nido Canopy Walk

view from canopy walk
view from canopy walk

Located in Brgy. Maligaya, this is definitely a must when you are in El Nido. Fully geared and with a guide, it is perfectly safe to climb and ascent. Some parts are steep and there are sharp rocks that can cut you so take extra precautions.

The climb can be challenging, but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views. Totally worth it! Note the 700 PHP fee for Canopy Walk and Dream Catcher or Spider Web. Inclusions: harness, helmet, and guide.

The activity takes about an hour, depending on how fast you climb. Wear comfortable shoes or hiking shoes, preferably.

2. Rock Climbing in Taraw Cliffs

view from taraw cliff

Climbing up the Taraw Peak which rises about 230 meters above sea level takes 1.5 hours to climb up and 1 hour to come down. Enjoy the sweeping bird’s-eye views of El Nido town and Bacuit Bay!

Be warned, though, that the terrain is steep with sharp limestone rocks so good trainers or proper trekking shoes are advised to protect your feet from the sharp edges of the cliffs. Wearing gloves will also help make the climb more comfortable. Taraw Peak Climb rates range from 300 to 500 PHP, a minimum of 2 pax.

3. Get Away from it all at Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach el nido

Nacpan Beach is one of the largest and most beautiful beaches around El Nido. The water is warm and crystal clear, with a splendid view of the surrounding hills.

The pristine beach is almost 3-km long, has a very wide frontage and is lined with palm trees. To get there, rent a tricycle from El Nido proper at around 1,500 PHP.

The trip takes an hour, or 30 minutes if you take a shuttle service for around 600 PHP per pax round-trip (or ask your hotel about it).

4. Surf and Chill at Duli Beach

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Located at Sitio Duli, Brgy. Bucana, this unspoiled beach can be accessed by motorbike, van or tricycle. Jungle backed, wide-open beach, powdery golden sands, and beautiful azure waters… this beach is heaven for photographers! Compared to the more popular Nacpan Beach, surfing at Duli Beach is better and even better still is the fewer tourists.

This is a perfect ‘chill’ place, where you can splash while you enjoy the tranquility of the place. And if you’re into huge waves that come very frequently, then this beach is for you. Note the limited accommodation available, but beach camping is possible.

There are also bars and restaurants and massage huts. You can rent a surfboard at the bar on the southern point of the beach if you want to tackle the waves. Massage costs from 300 PHP.

Surfboard rental prices are 299 PHP per hour or 999 PHP for the whole day. SeaDoo jet skis are also available for rental at 1,299 PHP for 15 minutes or 1,999 PHP for 30 minutes.

5. Find the Hidden Beach!

Matinloc Island

Your trip to El Nido is not complete without seeing the Hidden Beach on Matinloc Island. The beach, as its name implies, is quietly ‘hidden’ behind a prominent limestone cove.

To get to the beach, you must wade through a small cave so it’s important to note that you MUST know how to swim. The place is tranquil, the sandy beach is delightful, the water is crystal clear… a truly enchanting ‘find’ in El Nido!

6. Experience Cathedral Cave

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This really amazing cave can only be accessed on a boat, so make sure to hire a local boat. The place is called ‘Cathedral’ because of a natural copula.

The cave is ‘lit,’ thanks to an opening in the ceiling. Note that you cannot swim inside the cave due to sea snakes.

7. SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding)

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The lagoon hopping SUP experience can easily be considered as the highlight of one’s El Nido trip. Here guests on their Stand Up Paddleboards can enjoy paddling and gliding around various fabulous lagoons and coves.

You will find this activity easy and enjoyable, even if you’ve never done this before. Cost: 2,200 PHP (full day). Grilled lunch, fruits and plenty of filtered water included, plus the following:

  • boat ride to lagoons and islands
  • Stand Up Paddleboard, adjustable paddle and leg leash
  • mask and snorkel

8. Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls

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If you’re into waterfalls or interested in walking through a forest going through rivers, this is a good place to go.

Located between Nacpan Beach and El Nido town proper, this is also a nice place for a break from the sea and the saltwater.

The trek takes 20-30 minutes. Enjoy the view or the freshwater pool. There is a 20-PHP entrance fee and local guides charge 250 PHP per pax for the tour of the falls.

9. Dive the Dilumacad Underwater Tunnel

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Of course, what is your El Nido trip without diving any (or all!) of its 30 dive sites? Here we recommend one of the best. The Dilumacad Underwater Tunnel is located about 2.5 kilometers from the shores of Helicopter Island (official name: Dilumacad Island).

10. El Nido Party Boat

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Party aboard as you explore El Nido’s unchartered islands, lagoons, and crystal clear waters. Snorkel, swim, or simply relax with food and music.

But do note that alcohol can’t be served on boats due to government regulations. However, you can purchase beer or cocktail on some certain beaches and islands like the Seven Commandos Beach and Snake Island.

11. El Nido Full Moon Party

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Traveling to El Nido on a full moon is a totally different experience! Swing by and guzzle up at full moon parties in Corong-Corong, along Marimegmeg Beach.

Spice up your El Nido experience with local and international DJs who know the beat! Wild fun lasts the whole night. Entrance is free, but booze is not. Drink moderately! Needless to say, this happens monthly so what are you waiting for? Oh, a full moon, right!

14 Best Things to Do in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

Puerto Princesa is the capital city of the province of Palawan and the westernmost city of the Philippines. It is the least densely populated city in the country.

Bound to the east by the Sulu Sea and to the west by the South China Sea, this tourist city offers a lot of beaches and seafood restaurants. It is also cheaper to fly to Puerto Princesa if you are visiting El Nido and it can be a good side trip. 

So here’s our list of best things to do in Puerto Princesa, which is not restricted to beach bumming and seafood bingeing.

14 Things to Do in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines

1. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

This UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New7Wonders of Nature is also called the ‘Puerto Princesa Underground River.’ It’s a mountainous national park known for its 8.2-km long underground river and caves with boat tours. The astonishing 300 million years of formation and continuously forming is a must- experience.

The pungent smell from the bats may turn you off if you are sensitive, but you get used to it as you get immersed in this astonishing beauty of nature. An audio program provides historical and technical information about the Underground River as you go. Fees: Visitor’s Entry Permit (VEP) General Entrance costs 100 PHP for local tourists and 150 PHP for foreigners.

Cave entrance fee is 175 PHP for locals and 250 PHP for foreigners. There is also an environmental fee of 40 PHP per pax. The boat to Underground River from Sabang Wharf (and vice-versa) is good for 6 persons at 1,100 PHP. Transportation to and from Sabang Wharf is about 145 PHP (locals) and 210 PHP (foreigners).

The compulsory audio device costs an additional 85 PHP. The tour lasts for about 20 minutes. Tourists are only allowed to visit 1.4km of the total river, but do ask about longer tour for extra 2000 pesos.

2. Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour

Honda Bay Island

45 minutes north of the city proper, take a boat and go island-hopping at Honda Bay and visit stunning islands with white-sand beaches. See the beauty of corals and marine life as dive sites abound the Honda Bay. Every island at the bay has different thrills to offer but Starfish Island, Cowrie Island and Luli Island are great for swimming and snorkeling. Pandan Island is private and can be visited by guests on private tours only. Do note the additional entrance fee of 900 PHP.

As the name suggests, Starfish Island is teeming with starfish or sea stars. Luli Island, short for “Lulubog-Lilitaw”—Tagalog words for “sink and rise”—does just that; sink and rise. During high tide the island disappears and reappears at low tide. Cowrie Island is named after the sea snail called ‘cowrie.’ It has a Pavillion, cabanas and thatched-roof spa huts, all overlooking the sea. Pandan Island, the private island with just one small resort, has the finest and whitest sands of all these, and lush tropical forest to boot. It offers astonishing views of the Honda Bay.

Explore these islands and make your Puerto Princesa vacation extra-wonderful! The tour takes about 6 hours at 1,700 PHP fee per pax. Inclusions are the air-con van transfer from your hotel to Honda Bay, motorized boat transfer to the islands, buffet lunch with drinks, entrance fees to islands, life vest and water safety equipment, and licensed tour guide.

Note that these rates are subject to 5% service charge and 12% value-added tax. Not included in the tour are the environmental fee of 150 PHP per pax, snorkeling gear (but this can be rented from stalls at the drop-off point), and entrance fee to Pandan Island for private tours at 900 PHP per pax upon arrival.

3. Swim at Palawan’s Biggest and Longest Pool

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Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa, located near Sabang Beach in Brgy. Cabayugan takes pride in having Palawan’s biggest and longest pool that stretches up to 340 feet.

There is a pool bar in the middle where you can sit and relax while on the water. The view is beautiful at any time—day or night. Accommodation rates to Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa range from 4,700 PHP to 6,000 PHP.

4. Nagtabon Beach

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Nagtabon Beach is the best beach in Puerto Princesa not everyone has heard of. This is more of a sanctuary than a tourist attraction. If you’re looking for a less ‘touristy’ place, then this is for you. Swim, sunbathe, snorkel in summer and surf during the rainy season—or simply unwind.

To get there, take a bus going north and hop off at Bacungan Elementary School, then grab a tricycle to take you to the beach. You may also rent a private van or a motorbike.

5. Ugong Rock Spelunking and Rappeling

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Pump up your adrenaline in Ugong Rock with thrilling adventures like spelunking, rappeling through the picturesque cave. Puerto Princesa’s Ugong Rock is a gigantic moss-covered limestone formation that offers panoramic views of the mountains and the surrounding rice field at the peak.

From your guide, you will learn information about the cave and how to explore it properly. Be wowed by the untouched mineral deposits in the cave and bring out the devil in you as you descend on a single-rider zipline with a 71-meter drop.

Note that this activity is not for children 5 years old and below. Participants must note weigh more than 250 lbs. to join. The adventure package rate is around 3,300 PHP per pax.

6. Climb Thumb’s Peak Mountain

Mt pulgar

Thumb’s Peak, formerly known as Mt. Pulgar, is a majestic mountain that takes 7 hours to climb so the best itinerary we recommend is overnight camping.

The place showcases beautiful rivers, thick forest with rich varieties of flora and fauna—and of course, a stunning 360-view of nearby mountains, west coast of the island, the whole city of Puerto Princesa and the Iwahig River down the other side.

See different varieties of Nepenthes (pitcher plants) crawling under bonsai trees on the summit and various other plants still unnamed and unidentified by scientists. Get amazed by the moon and the stars through the leaves as you enjoy watching the nighttime forest canopy.

Experience a fantastic firefly-lit evening like no other! Note that this is a protected area, so you must secure a permit ahead of time. This can be arranged by your contact guide. And of course, take a local guide with you.

7. Dinner at the Floating Restaurant and Firefly Watching in Iwahig

Ride a paddleboat at night on the Iwahig River, with lots of fireflies and stars—and bio- luminescent planktons, too! Buffet dinner at the floating restaurant after the boat trip.

This is an amazing experience, a must when you’re in Puerto Princesa. Tour on a full moon and dry weather to get the best experience. You may book a boat at your hotel—or on the streets! You can book practically anywhere in the city proper.

8. Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (Crocodile Farm)

Crocodile Farm in palawan

The Crocodile Farm is located in Bgy. Irawan, a 25-minute jeepney or tricycle ride you can take along Malvar Street. You may also hire a private vehicle to go there.

This is an old-school park and breeding facility for the two endangered species found in the Philippines including the endemic Philippine Crocodile.

You can also find Nicobar pigeons, talking mynah birds, Palawan bearcat, and other animals in a mini-zoo. There are also souvenir shops in the area. The entrance fee is 40 PHP per pax for adults and 10 PHP for children.

9. Palawan Butterfly Ecological Garden and Tribal Village

Butterfly in Palawan

Located in Brgy. Sta. Monica, you can visit the butterfly garden to broaden your appreciation and knowledge of butterflies. The place houses not only a wide range of butterfly species but also other interesting and rare insects like the stag beetles and stick insects.

Scorpions, geckos, millepedes, Palawan bearcats, Philippine saltwater crocodiles and Palawan peacock pheasants can also be found here.

In the back part of the garden, there is a man-made village dedicated to one of the oldest indigenous people of Palawan—the Palawan. Tourists will learn about this tribe’s ancient language, traditional music and tribal ways of hunting animals in the forest.

The locals sell baskets, mats and other woodworks at a souvenir shop nearby. The entrance fee is 200 PHP per pax. The fare from the city proper is 15 PHP on a multicab with a Sta. Monica-Pajara route.

10. Handloom Weaving at Binuatan Creations

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Near the Butterfly Garden is the Binuatan Creations, where you can learn about one of the oldest and most highly-esteemed traditions in Palawan: handloom weaving.

Here local craftsmen will show you how to manually loom indigenous fibers such as abaca, tikog and vetiver grass that will form continuous rolls of mats. You can also try out weaving yourself using the foot-treadle floor loom.

Next to the workshop is a souvenir shop that sells handwoven purses and handbags, laptop bags, bookmarks, slippers, sleeping mats, and various others. Also sold here are civet coffee, rice coffee, and turmeric tea.

11. Mitra’s Ranch and Baker’s Hill in Sta. Monica Heights

Baker’s Hill in Sta. Monica Heights

Mitra’s Ranch, the farm owned by the family of the late Philippine Senator Ramon Mitra, sits on a picturesque hilltop.

This is a popular tourist destination that offers sweeping views of the City of Puerto Princesa from the gorgeous view deck. You can also try their zipline at 300 PHP for a ride.

Nearby is another favorite spot—a theme park called Baker’s Hill. Baker’s Hill has gained fame among the tourists and the locals alike for the baked goods they sell at very reasonable prices. The place started out as a small bakery and later expanded to become a theme park as it is now, plus a mini zoo inside.

At Baker’s Hill, they offer all sorts of goodies from brownie cakes to hopia and cashew nuts. You can also dine at any of the restaurants in Baker’s Kitchen Food Park. Entrance fee to Mitra’s Ranch is free but to get to Mitra’s house you will have to pay a 20-PHP maintenance fee per pax. Entrance to Baker’s Hill is free.

12. Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Strategically located along Rizal Avenue in Brgy. Liwanag, this historical landmark is a wonder of architecture—and more if you’re Catholic. It used to be a small church during the Spanish era and was developed into a cathedral in 1961.

Impressive not just on the outside, the interior is clean and tastefully decorated with stained glass windows as well. It is absolutely worth a shortstop—or maybe attend the mass for Catholic visitors. All pedicab drivers in Puerto Princesa have licensed tour guides so don’t hesitate to hire one to take you to the cathedral.

Non-Catholic tourists should note that this is a place of worship and be mindful of the proper respect the place deserves.

13. Plaza Cuartel

Plaza Cuartel

Along Taft Street, just across the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, is another historical tourist destination—the Plaza Cuartel. This is an outdoor park and the site of a military fort where more or less 150 American POWs were burned by the Japanese on the evening of December 14, 1944. The place looks just like another park you’ve been to with trees, concrete pavements, and benches, but it’s another story when you enter the gate.

You will be greeted by the garrison and tunnels that are witness to the said massacre. In the park, tourists will see the artwork made by one of the only 11 US soldiers who made it out alive from the cuartel. Plaza Cuartel is open daily from 8 AM to 5 PM. No entrance free.

14. Puerto Princesa City Baywalk Park

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This is well-known is a long stretch of promenade lined with palm trees right beside the bay. This is where locals and tourists can witness beautiful sunsets while riding a bicycle (available for rent at 75 PHP per hour), jogging around the pathways or simply walking around. Nice leisurely stroll with a view.

There are seahorse-shaped waiting sheds and the sea wall to sit on and observe the sailboats parked nearby or just enjoy the sunset and the fresh sea breeze. In the evening, the place transforms into a haven for drinking sprees and sumptuous dinners.

To get to the Baywalk, take a tricycle at 8 to 10 PHP per passenger. It is walking distance, however, if you’re staying in the city center.

12 Interesting Things to Do in Coron Palawan

Once a sleepy fishing town, Coron is now among the most favorite tourist destinations in the world. Powdery white sands, rolling hills, Karst rock formations, and steep cliffs will more than fill your Instagram bucket. It is also often compared to El Nido but both places are beautiful on their own. 

Fewer than 3,000 people live on this island that the Tagbanwa people claim to be a part of their ancestral domain. Local beaches, dive sites, and other natural tourist spots make tourism the top industry in Coron.

Suffice it to say, this paradise offers a vast array of interesting activities. In no particular order, here are 12 of the most interesting things to do in Coron, Palawan.

12 Interesting Things to Do in Coron Palawan, Philippines

1. Meet the Tagbanwa people in Coron

Tagbanua people in coron

Known locally as the Calis, the Tagbanwa can be mainly found in the central and northern Palawan. This ethnic tribe is one of the oldest in the Philippines.

Today they manage and preserve the rich marine and land resources in and around Coron. Tagbanwa people also preserve their culture. Not only do they believe that other spirits inhabit the forests and environment, but the tribe also worships four major deities.

The Calis inhabiting Coron Island, however, has become predominantly Christian since the late 1960s and the `70s. They have their own native languages and writing system.

Modern clothing has found its way among the people, but many Tagbanwa today still wear their traditional costumes made from the bark of the plugin trees.

2. Wreck Diving in Coron

wreck dive in coron

If you’re a diver, Coron is a piece of heaven in the middle of the sea. There’s plenty of dive sites to keep you busy and some of the favorites are the wrecks in Coron Bay.

Wreck diving sites include the Olympia Maru, Kyokuzan Maru, Nanshan Maru, Kogyo Maru, Okinawa Maru, Akitsushima, Lusong Gunboat, East Tangat Gunboat, and Skeleton Wreck.

The shipwrecks were Imperial Japanese Navy vessels strafed by the US Navy during World War II. These sunken ships are among the top-10 best scuba diving sites in the world, according to Forbes Traveler Magazine.

3. Hike Mt. Tapyas in Coron

Mt. Tapyas is an easy walk from the town center. Considered a ‘must’ when in Coron, this very prominent mountain is located behind Coron Town and highlighted by a giant cross at its summit.

You can get some decent views over the rolling hills and the Coron Bay. The views don’t come easy, however, because the 721-step climb is quite a challenge.

4. Take the Maquinit Hot Springs Plunge

maquinit hot spring in coron

Definitely a treat after the strenuous 721 steps at Mt. Tapyas! Maquinit Hot Springs is a nice place to relax with a stunning view of the sea and surrounding islands. Some locals claim that this natural hot spring is medicinal.

5. Swim in Kayangan Lake

Kayangan Lake in coron

Kayangan Lake is very popular, for a good reason. A volcanic lake where freshwater meets saltwater, beautiful waters just a few minutes from the main island, with interesting rock formations around it.

The quintessential image of the azure lakes adorns pretty much every travel brochure in the Philippines! Kayangan Lake is not for those who are looking for a relaxed quiet place to swim as it is a little crowded. Also, note the 376 steps up and down to get there.

6. Swim in the Twin Lagoon, Coron

Twin Lagoon in coron

The thermocline water makes Twin Lagoon a ‘cot/cold’ lake. During low tide, one must swim through the cave to get to the second lagoon.

Otherwise, you have to take the stairs to cross after passing the first lagoon. This is a unique swimming experience you definitely shouldn’t miss.

7. Snorkel in Barracuda Lake

Lake Barracuda is a quiet, hidden place between the rocky mountains. Crystal clear blue waters make it good for snorkeling.

The bottom of the lake is ash-like, which makes Barracuda Lake so unique. Don’t keep your hopes of seeing barracudas high, though.

8. Experience Traditional Massage (“Hilot”)

This ancient Filipino healing practice uses chiropractic-like manipulation and massage for the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal ailments. Locals believe it can reset sprained and dislocated joints in the knee, ankle, fingers and metacarpal bones.

This is a budget-friendly way to relax your tired muscles. Spa Nortia in Coron Town offers this and more. Also in the town proper is Kakiku, a less expensive alternative.

9. Feast on local delicacies in Coron

Indulge yourself in a gastronomic feast aboard a boat. It’s another ‘must’ to make your Coron tour particularly exciting. Fresh food can be bought at the market at very reasonable prices.

Have your boatmen blow you away with their cooking and presentation onboard. If you’re feeling intrepid, try the wormwood or locally known as tamilok. It’s a saltwater clam with a long body that’s too big for its shell. These mollusks live in mangroves and eat driftwood, thus the name ‘woodworm.’

You might also want to try the lato or sea grape salad and that very popular local spicy shellfish dish called the sikat-sikat.

10. Kayak around Coron Island

coron island limestones rocks

Experience Coron the tribal way—by paddling as the Tagbanwa people do. Explore less known destinations and paddle through mangroves and lagoons which can only be accessed on a sea kayak. In nice weather, you can rent a kayak and paddle to and around the island.

Kayaking is one of the most amazing activities around Coron but sadly overlooked. Take advantage of this opportunity to escape the tourist trap and get mesmerized by the beauty and tranquility of the island.

11. Rent a Motorcycle

Rent a motorcycle and get out of town! Because you can be missing out if you never escape the Coron Town. You can explore most of the beaches and attractions of Busuanga Island on a motorcycle.

It’s cheap and easy to drive. Don’t worry, the roads are safe and in great shape.

12. Shop for Souvenirs

palawan market souvenirs

Before your flight back home, grab some souvenirs or homecoming gifts at trinket shops around town.

We recommend bandi or caramelized cashews, danggit (dried fish), wood carvings, tapestries, woven bags and basket weavings.

But of course, there are good quality souvenir shirts and fridge magnets, too.

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