This is the first part of our Palawan getaway last July. Aside from being a favorite holiday destination, I've always wanted to go to Palawan to discover its captivating natural wonders and experience its unspoiled beauty. The perfect opportunity was this year while the travel bug is too strong to resist. :-)
Last March, Cebu Pacific Air made a seat sale announcement and right on the spot, my friend and I decided to book for flights to Puerto Princesa for July. We got a good deal on round trip tickets for P1,900++ per person. As early as April, I started planning for our Palawan getaway right after our Boracay trip.
The original plan was to explore only the popular tourist attractions in Puerto Princesa but, surprisingly, it turned into an ultimate Palawan escapade after we stumbled upon an irresistible deal from Hadefe Cottages. Like most budget travelers, we don't like tour packages too. What sealed the deal for me was the inclusion of the tour package – Underground River cruise, Puerto Princesa city tour and a two-night stay in El Nido with island hopping for P7K per person. That's 5 days and 4 nights of amazing Palawan exploration! Finally, I can set foot in Palawan and visit one of my top dream destinations, El Nido, just right on a budget.
This was our first time to go to Palawan and what can be more exciting than to include the chance to visit the Philippines' last frontier? I was very ecstatic!
The sunlight would turn the sea floor into gold. What a sight to behold!
El Nido is located near the northern tip of Palawan. To get there, you can take a direct flight from Manila but this option is very expensive for budget travelers (around P6K for one-way fare). A less expensive option is to fly from Manila to Puerto Princesa City (the capital of Palawan) and take a bus or van to El Nido. Travel time is 5-6 hours. Our transfer from Puerto Princesa to El Nido was included in the package but fare per person is P220 for bus and P700 for van.
After a 45-minute flight from Manila, we landed at Puerto Princesa airport at 12:30 PM. Our cool tour guide "Loloy" from Hadefe Cottages greeted us as soon as we got out of the airport. Thinking that we're on a "package tour", we anticipated a few other guests to join us on the ride to El Nido. But to our surprise, the mini van was exclusive for just the two of us! Wow, I was damn astounded. Hiring a private van costs P8-12K, you know. :-)
We took a quick lunch at Noki Nocs Savory House (a recommendation by Loloy for their cheap and yummy menu) and left for El Nido afterwards at around 1:00 PM. It kept raining very hard during the entire trip and I barely slept in the van due to excitement. :-) After 5 hours, we arrived feeling amped in El Nido. The weather was good, sun was still shining and the sky was waiting for us to give us their best colors at sunset.
View of Helicopter Island (left) and Cadlao Island from Calaan Beach at sunset.
The first thing I loved about the resort was its laid back atmosphere. It's the perfect place for a temporary escape. A wonderful place of slowing down and savoring. Added to that was the tremendous hospitality by the staff of Hadefe. They treated us like friends or members of their own family, not as guests! :-)
We spent the rest of the day exploring the town to look for good places to eat. We couldn't wait for the next day for our first island hopping day tour.
Read more about my El Nido and Puerto Princesa series:
- Part 1 - Palawan: A Gateway to Paradise
- Part 2 - Falling in Love with the Islands of El Nido (Part 1)
- Part 3 - El Nido: Fish Feeding at Simizu Island
- Part 4 - Falling in Love with the Islands of El Nido (Part 2)
- Part 5 - Discovering Palawan's Jewel: The Puerto Princesa Underground River
- Part 6 - Puerto Princesa City Tour