After days of sticking to a strict itinerary and being adamant about being on time for plane and bus rides, we finally had a day of spontaneity. Our first full day in El Nido, Palawan was a bit more excruciating (but amazingly fun) than I expected it to be.
We slept in for the first time, leaving our Airbnb at 9AM instead of the usual 7AM. After walking around, we finally found the Environmental and Tourism Office to ask questions about hiking and renting kayaks. We went straight to the pier and found a great deal for 400/500 pesos per kayak.
We took off from there, straight to the lush mountains along the way to find some nearing beaches. Turns out we did half of an island tour all on our own! Josh and I got the hang of the double kayak while Alvin was still getting used to the single. We weren’t in any rush though. We were more so mesmerized by the surrounding island mountainscapes that we could have stayed in the middle of that ocean for hours.
We finally made it to Paradise Beach, which is a tiny secluded island with one man living on it who was laying in a hammock when we got there. Josh, Alvin, and I quickly realized that we were super parched from our journey there… But we didn’t pack any water. Josh and Alvin (being men), decided it was a great idea to try and find a coconut off of a tree and break it open for survival purposes. They found a beautiful fallen green coconut that looked promising. They broke it open with a sharp rock, and with much excitement, tasted their efforts going to waste as they found out the coconut was well underway to fermentation.
We laughed it off and went to our next destination, which was as even smaller and more secluded. There were divers on the island hanging out, who were nice and gave us water to drink. We stayed here for a few hours, taking in the quietness and clear waters and doing some yoga in the sun.
We kayaked back to the main land, and I decided I wanted to try the single kayak and make the journey all by myself. I was off to a great start until my arm muscles started to burn, but Alvin and Josh were nice enough to take breaks and wait for me along the way. We made it back super hungry and sunburnt, and ate at Art Cafe overlooking the ocean.
We spent the rest of our day at Nacpan Beach, which is about a 40-minute tricycle ride north of El Nido. We were charged 1200 pesos for a ride there and back, which is a great deal. This was by far the most beautiful tricycle ride I’ve been on. The road there goes through the lush green lands that haven’t been touched by humans yet. It’s a bit of off-roading, and makes you feel like you’re about to go to some hidden kingdom on an Indiana Jones adventure.
We spent 2-hours at what’s arguably the island’s most beautiful beach. There weren’t a lot of people on the beach and there were no boats. The beach stretched long, creating a U-shape. From left to right there was clear water and soft sand. We did yoga on the sand bars, made sand mandalas, lingered in the water, and waited until sunset. As we were leaving the beach, we saw the sky turn orange and pink. I told the boys that this was the saddest I’ve ever been leaving a place before. I didn’t want to leave.
A note to travelers:
One thing I didn’t expect coming here was the many, many options of activities you can do on this island! My suggestion if you haven’t booked any tours upon arriving in El Nido is to head straight to the Environmental and Tourism Office, located right across Municipal Hall. There you will pay your environmental maintenance fee (about 200 pesos), and inquire about the best deals in town for island tours, kayak rentals, paddle board rentals, and more. Always walk around and ask for prices before booking. Some places are cheaper than others and offer better deals that include lunch with your tours!