Solo Travel to El Nido: An Itinerary

Solo travel to El Nido

Only a few days after coming back from our seven-day trip to Palawan, I came across an AirAsia seat sale with an airfare that was less than half of how much our Cebu Pacific Air fare was. At only ₱485.62, I thought to myself, “Some buffets cost more than this and it’s already a round trip ticket, so why would I not steal it when it’s more delicious than food?” Assuming I ended up not boarding the flight to Puerto Princesa, the truth is it wouldn’t have hurt that much. Not the case, though, as I went on a solo travel to El Nido.

The flight was in a year’s time but I pretty much knew that I was gonna be doing it on my own since my companions wouldn’t be interested in visiting the same place they just visited the prior year. I still informed them anyway just so they wouldn’t accuse me of being a selfish prick. *shrugs*

Arrival

I was heading directly to El Nido and was staying at El Nido Sands Inn again so I had a van ride arranged. My flight landed before midday and as I remember it I only waited for a few minutes before I got my arse on the van and its engine started grumbling. At six o’clock, I was back on the balcony overlooking limestone cliffs and anchored boats.

Arriving in Puerto Princesa

Van ride to El Nido

Arriving in El Nido

Our itinerary during the aforementioned Palawan trip was jam-packed in that we were essentially always on the run. There was no reason to do the same since the experience was still fresh and I wasn’t staying on the island for the same number of days. With that, I didn’t really do any planning; I only looked forward to getting some sun and seawater in El Nido.

After settling in my room (I don’t have problems being in a dorm but I opted not to be in one this time around), I went out to check the nearest ATM, hunted dinner, and watched tables unfold on the beach and be swarmed by people. It’s either I have yet to have the habit of taking photos of my beverages then or it was simply a sober night. Tapping my back if it was the latter. Good job, self!

Dinner at Purno Bravo Pizza Hauz

Night life in El Nido

El Nido Island Hopping

Eating isn’t a priority when I travel so having breakfast in the form of bread and cheese spread was already a luxury. Island hopping tours in town go by the alphabet and since I already did a combination of Tours A and C, I wanted to go on Tours B and D. Unfortunately, the latter wasn’t as popular as the former and it was an off-peak season again so the inn’s attendant wasn’t able to find a group that I could join in.

Solo travel to El Nido

Solo travel to El Nido

In the end I landed on a group that was doing Tour A, with the destinations being Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island, and Seven Commandos Beach. People were crawling because it was the National Heroes’ Day and the islands I already visited weren’t how I remember them. #DramaKing

Island hopping in El Nido

Island hopping in El Nido

Big Lagoon

Unlike when I did the bundled tour, it was high tide when we came to Big Lagoon so it was such a marvel being able to explore it on a boat. The fact that I was the only outcast in the group, though, silenced my desire to tell the boatmen to stay around for a bit for some swimming. Boo! Sucks to be a #shytype.

Big Lagoon, El Nido

Big Lagoon, El Nido

Big Lagoon, El Nido

Big Lagoon, El Nido

Big Lagoon, El Nido

Secret Lagoon

I’m not even gonna bother with photos to the entrance of Secret Lagoon because people were smothering it, waiting for their turn to penetrate it get through. Crazy how it was only us when we were there the year before. I started mingling more with the group here and even snapped at them. Saw Megan and Mikael on our way out and, true enough, the guy was “ahead of me” with only one tabò.

Secret Lagoon, El Nido

Secret Lagoon, El Nido

Secret Lagoon, El Nido

Secret Lagoon, El Nido

Shimizu Island

I’m not actually sure if it was Shimizu Island where lunch was served but if our watermen stuck to Tour A’s destinations, then that must’ve been the island. The food was even more heavenly than the last time and, with me gurgling with bottles even while still on the boat, sobriety was already a thing of the past. Booyah!

Shimizu Island, El Nido

Lunch at Shimizu Island

While the water was crystalline like everywhere else, I didn’t enjoy snorkeling that much because, where we were, majority of the corals have already undergone bleaching. Ouchie!

Snorkeling at Shimizu Island

Shimizu Island, El Nido

Seven Commandos Beach

For being the last stop of many tours, it wasn’t surprising that many visitors were making the most of the water at Seven Commandos Beach before calling it a day. For having benches for reflection relaxation and a store for refreshments, who wouldn’t wallow, right?

Seven Commandos Beach, El Nido

Seven Commandos Beach, El Nido

The tree swing was restless this time.

Seven Commandos Beach, El Nido

Seven Commandos Beach, El Nido

Seven Commandos Beach, El Nido

There was redemption on the snorkeling activity as there was a lot to take in with the submerged scenery here. In fact, I was sightseeing too much underwater, away from everyone, without paying attention to the time that one of the boatmen eventually came looking for me. Sarry!

Seven Commandos Beach, El Nido

Snorkeling at Seven Commandos Beach

Snorkeling at Seven Commandos Beach

Snorkeling at Seven Commandos Beach

Seven Commandos Beach, El Nido

Snorkeling at Seven Commandos Beach

Snorkeling at Seven Commandos Beach

Snorkeling at Seven Commandos Beach

Snorkeling at Seven Commandos Beach

Late dinner and more Red Horse was at a deserted Marber’s Restobar (can’t believe I don’t have photos of what I devoured). Afterwards, I retired back to the balcony, in front of my laptop, and abandoned myself to the quaint night and the lights illuminating it.

Night life in El Nido

Dinner at Marber's Restobar

Night life in El Nido

Taraw Cliff Canopy Walk

I was to climb Taraw Cliff (never thought about doing it when I had company) the next day but due to an accident earlier that year the activity was prohibited. Having already set my mind for it, I succumbed to doing the Canopy Walk which was supposed to be an alternative.

Canopy Walk, El Nido

Canopy Walk, El Nido

Canopy Walk, El Nido

Canopy Walk, El Nido

At the end of the trail was a platform overlooking the bay. Alas, it wasn’t any close to the view from Taraw Cliff. But hey! It’s already very good if you’re someone who doesn’t have the stomach for climbing cliffs.

Panoramic view from the Canopy Walk

Canopy Walk, El Nido

View from the Canopy Walk

I was done with the activity in less than 20 minutes and it felt like I was ripped off. Then again, it could’ve been due to my long-legged legs me being the only tourist around. The activity’s very safe with the quality of the hanging bridges and metal walkways and stairs. If you’re someone whose adrenaline loves the likes of tying your junk to a bungee or throwing it off planes, though, you’ll definitely prefer actually climbing Taraw Cliff instead.

Canopy Walk, El Nido

Got some banana-pineapple shake (sosyal) to counter the blazing sun on my way back and came home to an empty inn. The sight was quite melancholic.

El Nido Sands Inn

Ocean view from El Nido Sands Inn

Nacpan Beach

Past midday I hopped on a scooter (remembering Bantayan!) and made my way to Nacpan Beach, stopping by the sign to Nagkalit-kalit Falls despite not having the slightest intention of getting wet there. Being in a van previously, I didn’t remember the road from the highway being unpaved at all.

Scooter ride to Nacpan Beach

Scooter ride to Nacpan Beach

Scooter ride to Nacpan Beach

I brought my loaf and cheese spread and at around two o’clock feasted on it together with the pancit bam-i I ordered at the cottage where I was loafing, all the while watching noobs people play volleyball using a minuscule net. For not having the custom of photographing everything yet, I don’t have a single proof of the cold beer that was quenching me. Shame!

Relaxing at Nacpan Beach

Cottages at Nacpan Beach

The water was low but as serene and unclouded as it was.

Low tide in Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach

When the sun drew closer to half past four I walked towards the capes to relive the cult for perspectives, saying hi to furries along the way.

Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach

Greenery in Nacpan Beach

Doggie at Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach

I was already nearing my journey’s end when scooters scooted past me, making me bang my head the way Sia sang it, for the reason that I could’ve done the same had I seen someone ride one on the beach beforehand.

Illegal logging at Nacpan Beach

Riding a scooter on Nacpan Beach

Calitang Beach

Tip of Nacpan Beach

Nacpan and Calitang Beach—the twin beaches—were naturally in a dry state because of the tide.

Nacpan Beach

Solo travel to El Nido

Twin Beaches: Nacpan and Calitang Beach

I then carried on to the headland at the farther end. During my my first visit, our group had to retreat and stop exploring further because my companions were lazy asses one of my companions got dizzy.

Tip of Nacpan Beach

Quite some view below, right? Only that it would’ve been way better if my scooter was with the lot. #bitter

Nacpan Beach

Scooters on Nacpan Beach

Tip of Nacpan Beach

Walking to the tip of Nacpan Beach

The vantage point from this cape was made more picturesque by the presence of a tree, making the cape reminiscent of where the Kirikos lived during the Hunter Exam. With the right coverage, a shot could look as if looking at the beach through a forest. Kabog!

Tip of Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach

Solo travel to El Nido

Pictured on the top right below is the headland with a view of the twin beaches. Would you go this far?

Nacpan Beach

I got reunited with my scooter and lambasted it for not taking me across the beach 37 minutes past five and was back on the balcony yet again before darkness completely swallowed the day. That night I had pasta again at the same restaurant where I dined on my first night. Clingy, I know.

Scooter on Nacpan Beach

El Nido Sands Inn and pasta for dinner

Puerto Princesa

I was leaving El Nido after lunch so on my penultimate day I just took a dip in front of the inn and fraternized with boats. That was also the last time my Ricoh camera was seen alive. Who was I to know that water was already seeping through the bastard?

El Nido Sands Inn

Swimming in El Nido

Swimming in El Nido

I visit churches when I get the chance when traveling so I did that as well. You gotta be thankful, you know.

Church visit

El Nido Sands Inn

I arrived at Dallas Inn in Puerto Princesa at 6:00 PM and found myself chitchatting with a Kiwi couple in the 8-bed mixed dorm room. I’ve always sucked at geography and capitals and my knowledge that Auckland is the capital of New Zealand (well, it used to be) was debunked. Pretty much the same when I only learned in Sydney that Canberra is the capital of Australia. Yeah, my whole life has been a lie.

Dallas Inn, Puerto Princesa

Dallas Inn, Puerto Princesa

Mixed dorm room at Dallas Inn

Despite having four bottles of Pale Pilsens that night I still managed to publish more than a year’s worth of post on my personal blog following flipping another year. Or was it all thanks to the drive brought about by the no-holds-barred moans of the foreign couple who banged the night away? Such music to my ears, it was.

Working overtime at Dallas Inn

Sex at Dallas Inn

The same melancholy in El Nido crept in on my last day after waking up and seeing that everyone had already gone for the day. But with Rasty and Airen—the inn’s cordial attendants—around, the feeling fleeted. We connected on Facebook and I remember Rasty being very approving of people who do local tourism on their own. He had a handful of necklaces with shells as pendants and asked me to take some to give to loved ones.

Dallas Inn map and photo board

Dallas Inn map and photo board

Shell necklaces

The greatest takeaway of the trip? Always bring a photo that you can easily dispose. ‘Course I added an entry to the map on the board. Ako pa sad! #kumpetitib

Dallas Inn map and photo board

Rasty and I

Tips

  • For being among the most coveted destinations in the Philippines both by locals and forangers, flights to Palawan are aplenty and could be very cheap at times.
  • Solo travel to El Nido is a piece of cake as you can easily join other groups in island hopping tours. Some may even include a visit to Nacpan Beach and/or Nagkalit-kalit Falls.
  • Tricycles are readily available should you wish to check out nearby places and don’t know how to handle a scooter or motorcycle.
  • Go for an accommodation near the beach so you can chill out or go swimming if you feel like doing so, pronto.
  • As usual, avoid holidays and weekends if you want to steer clear of the horde of tourists. The presence of many people, bundled with the nature of tides, could mean that some stops during island hopping may be skipped.
  • If you’re flying to and from Puerto Princesa and have or can make extra time, try to squeeze in activities there.
  • Most importantly, don’t be gloomy when it’s gloomy. It was all drizzly before I flew out of Manila so I anticipated the same in El Nido especially with the forecast. For that reason I brought a laptop to be busy with in case I’ll be stuck indoors because of the weather. Life really is like a box of chocolates as the sun was melting me good throughout the trip.

Expenses

ItemCost (PHP)
Manila - Puerto Princesa flight (AirAsia)485.62
Puerto Princesa - El Nido van ride (round trip)1000
Tricycle ride to El Nido Sands Inn50
El Nido Sands Inn (3 nights)1800
Island hopping (Tour A)1200
Canopy Walk400
Tip to tour guide20
Scooter rental500
Refueling100
Nacpan Beach50
Dallas Inn (1 night)346.72
Tricycle to souvenir shop15
Tricycle to airport50
Total6,017.34

Visited: August 2016

Nelson

View posts by Nelson
An outdated software engineer with the attention span of a fruit fly. Follow me on Instagram if you can!

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