The ferry to El Nido from Coron departed just after 1 pm and arrived roughly 5.30 pm. Which in comparison to some of the journeys we have completed previously is nothing, but something about the journey just made it drag. The ferry was also full so there wasn’t a lot of space for everyone onboard. Although I did get lucky and have the people next to me move for much of the ride giving me a bit of extra space which was good. After the 5 of us had settled into our hostel (Con, Fred, Zoe, Jade and I) we met up with 4 fellow travellers we had previously met in various places making our total 9. We spent the evening catching up over a few beers before heading to bed ready for our boat tour the following day.
On the 7th of March, it was Jess’s birthday one of the 4 travellers we met in El Nido and because we were such a large group of 9 we had the whole boat to ourselves for the tour. The tour went to several different locations around El Nido showing us some of the highlights. The first stop was an island called helicopter island, which as the name suggests looks like a helicopter (I didn’t take a photo but google it). We stopped here for some time on the beach and snorkelling. After helicopter island, we made our way to another secluded beach where the water was so clear but also full of dead jellyfish. They didn’t sting however so once everyone got over the initial fear of being freaked out it was fine. After taking some photos (many photos) at this little hidden beach we then made our way to a lagoon type place where we stopped for lunch.
The water once again was amazingly blue, and the setting was such a great spot for lunch. Again, we went snorkelling and done a little free diving where the reef dropped off to greater depths. There was also a local man going around on a kayak selling beer and other confectionaries to all the boat tours, so we grabbed a few cold ones to enjoy with our lunch. Lunch might I add was incredible, there was so much seafood like massive prawns, whole fish and squid along with rice, vegetables and chicken. All cocked up on the back of this little boat, but it was simply delicious. I can’t imagine how much all that fresh seafood would cost in England but here it was included in the price of the day tour which worked out around £15 each. After suitably stuffing our faces with amazing food the tour continued to another secret beach which was only accessible by swimming through a little cove. Unfortunately, it was a little crowded which detracted from the charm a little. The final stop of the tour was another lagoon for snorkelling and swimming. Once again, the water and views were stunning. There simply aren’t enough superlatives to compliment how amazing the ocean and beaches are in the Philippines. After the tour, we all headed back to the hostel to spruce ourselves up before having Mexican food and some drinks for Jess’s birthday. The restaurant also cocked up the bill, so it was a lot cheaper than we all anticipated paying. For drinks, the first bar we went to had live music and the band were great playing some of my favourite songs. After an hour or so signing away, we then moved to another bar which was more of a club before we called it a night.
The 8th of March, my 23rd birthday! For my birthday we had opted to do another boat tour with the same company as the previous day. Once again, we had the whole boat to ourselves and told the company to take us to places that all the tours don’t go. We stocked up a cooler with beers and set off for the day. We arrived at our first stop which was a massive sandy beach that we had virtually all to ourselves, besides about 4 other people who were miles from us anyway. We spent several hours at the beach just chilling out, relaxing and drinking a few beers. It really was an unbelievable setting for a birthday. After chilling out on the beach in the morning we boarded the boat again and set off to our second destination, which was basically the same island but around the other side on an even more remote and stunning beach. This one we really did have all to ourselves and it was perfect. We drank more beer and ate yet again another wonderful lunch. Once again there was marvellous seafood, including muscles, prawns and large fish. Plus, all the usual trimmings such as rice, vegetables and chicken. It really was a feast and a birthday meal I won’t forget for a very long time. Not only for the quality but the setting as well. After lunch I took the opportunity to take myself away from everyone on the beach (the 8 other people I was with) and simply sit and reflect on what an amazing year my 22nd year was. My 22nd year begun by celebrating my birthday with all my amazing friends at university. I then went on to graduate from university with a First Class Honours, before starting this amazing trip around south-east Asia. Topping off my 22nd year and beginning my 23rd by spending it in the most stunning and picturesque place I’ve ever been. It truly was a wonderful year for me and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who made it that way. If my 23rd year is half as kind to me as my 22nd I’m in for another cracker.
After spending the day chillaxing on our private beaches, we headed back to El Nido town. Here we freshened up and headed for dinner where I ate a lovely bolognese pizza (which unfortunately later came back up haha). After dinner, where I was already feeling a little tipsy, we headed to the main bar/club in El Nido to party. Everyone I was travelling with was so kind and brought me many drinks and shots! Probably one too many as when Fred came over to talk to me my first response was “I’m going to be sick”. We headed to the bathroom and Fred provided me with support while I was sick in the toilet. It may not sound funny, but Fred and I were pissing ourselves and there is a great video which I won’t share with the world that records our laughter (and my sick). I must say the pizza didn’t taste quite as good on the way back up. After I had been sick though there was more to come. Initially, after first laughing with me, the smell got to Fred a little and he was then sick himself. Then the poor guy assigned with keeping the toilets clean came in to do his job (I am so so sorry) at which point he didn’t like the smell either and rushed off to the female toilets to be sick himself. It was quite eventful; all the while Connor had now joined us and was just pissing himself watching all the commotion unfold. After that incident, I continued to party the night away for a little while longer before I called it a night and was gratefully taken back to the hostel by Zoe who ensured I didn’t get myself into trouble haha. Overall, I had a bloody cracker of a day and it will take some beating to top my 23rd birthday. I’m sure I can give it a shot.
The next day as you can imagine I was a little fragile, I never like the 9th of March. The morning started slowly and by the time we all really got going, it was probably afternoon. We had some food before chilling out in the hostel pool for an hour or so. We had booked transport to take us to the famous Nacpan beach which was about a 30-minute car ride away from the town of El Nido itself. We had also lost some of the gang who were travelling to Coron and Connor opted to stay in bed, so it was just Fred, Zoe, Jade, Lisa and I who made the beach. The beach was stunning and mostly deserted. Although I imagine it’s pretty hard to fill a 5km long stretch of beach. We chilled out and strolled along the beach until around 5.30 pm when we decided to get some food and watch the sunset which was beautiful. At 7 pm we were picked up and taken back to El Nido were we all had an early night as we would be up early to transfer to our next destination.
On the morning of the 10th of at 8 am, I left the gang. The reason for this is I had 4 more days until my flight out of Puerto Princessa, whereas the rest of the crew left on the 12th. I had determined I wanted to visit one more place on the island of Palawan which was Port Barton whereas everyone else was moving on a bit before me. So, I said my goodbyes to Fred, Con, Jade, Zoe and Lisa and made my way, solo, to Port Barton. I must admit it wasn’t the nicest feeling after having such a great time with everyone for the last 10 days, but the separation won’t be for long as we all reunite on Malapascua island on the 17th of March anyway. I’m therefore looking forward to a bit of “me time” before meeting up with everyone again. More on my time alone in Port Barton in the next blog.