Long time no see guys! It’s been a minute since I last posted on my blog and thought this would be a story to tell. As you all know we got married last year in October and decided to have our honeymoon in the Philippines and after Japan. Japan got cancelled unfortunately due to the virus but at least we got to experience and enjoy Philippines.
The journey was long, we traveled from London to Bahrain, Bahrain to Manila,where we had a 10 hour layover so we rented a room in the city and spent half a day there.
From Manila we had another flight to Puerto Princesa and then we took a van to Port Barton, which was 500 pesos per person, then we took a boat ride to White Beach, this was 400 pesos for both of us, and here we stayed for 5 nights.
We rented here a hut in the middle of the jungle and to get to the beach by walk it was around 15-20 mins. The place is called Green Hill Restaurant and Cottages and if you wanted o discover the area more you could do hiking, snorkeling and cycling.
The accommodation where we stayed was something new for us, the cabin was open on the sides, at night you could hear all the noises, at one point I thought there are rats around it, but it turned out there were only bats :)), better for me since I have a phobia with rats. Around the bed we had a bed canopy, just to keep the little insects and mosquito away from us. Really important here as any other places in Asia, is to take a mosquito spray with you as at night time they are everywhere.
I wanted to mention this about the shower as thought it was such a cool idea that it was made out of bamboos, had a few holes here and there where the water was coming from. Initially I thought how the heck will I wash my fair, it will take ages to rinse it, but had no problems, the water flow was extremely good. Another thing to mention is that the power was stopped during the day, when everyone will be at the beach or around the island, just to conserve the energy as they were using generators, being in the middle of the jungle, but around evening time they will turn the power on so we can charge our phones, cameras and other bits that needed charging.
Again at the beach we had to pay 50 pesos fee per person each day just to have access to the beach, but there you had a restaurant and a bar, so you could just spent the entire day enjoying the sun.
From Port Barton we took another van to go to El Nido and if I remember well this was 600 pesos per person, I bit pricey if you ask me, but what we noticed here is that is hard to negociate in the Philippines, if people give you a price for something, there is no way they will drop a penny from it, when in Thailand or Bali you could negociate everything. The ride took around 6 or 7 hours to get to El Nido where we stayed for 4 nights.
What to do in El Nido?
The best thing is to rent a scooter and just start exploring the place, the scooter is around 400 pesos per day. You can also take a taxi and here try and negociate as they will ask you for more than what the ride costs. Here you can do island hopping to different beaches around El Nido, they offer 4 tours to different areas, we did tour A with big hesitations since we knew that going on a tour will mean that there will be too many people on the same beach at the same time, but for our “luck” was that there were not as many tourists there as usual and this was because Philippines banned anyone travelling from China to enter their country (this was only to keep the country safe as the virus was spreading already around the world and at the time Philippines had no cases). Tour A included 7 Commando beach, Big Lagoon ( where we crashed the drone into the water), Shimizu island, Small Lagoon and Secret Lagoon.
The next day we rented a scooter and went to Nacpan beach and Duli beach. In our way we had the opportunity to make some great friends, all travelling for a few months already in Asia and spent most of our time in El Nido with them.
Remember how I said this was our honemoon? Well to make a bit more special than your usual touristic areas, we booked 5 days on a private island, Doracotan island, extremelly remote, most of the locals didn’t knew about it when we told them where we’re going next, but we had to have something extra, right?
How to get here? From El Nido we took a taxi to Cali Artisano, then a van to a village from where we took a boat ride to the island. We were told by the owner that they get fresh products everyday from mainland, but there were no plastic bottles or crisps or anyhting that was packed in plastic just to maintain a plastic free area.
What to do on the island? You could do snorkeling, there was a beautiful ship wreck around or some beautiful reefs around the whole island and they also had a yoga teacher if anyone wanted to do any sessions, or just enjoy your day at the beach or why not explore the entire island? You could walk around the island in maybe less than an hour. Make sure to always have games with you, just to keep you a bit more entertained.
How much did we pay? Well, we paid for 4 nights 800pounds, but it was totally worth it. You could stay in a hut or a tent, the tent was a bit cheaper than the hut, but we took the hut and it was absolutely amazing. On the entire island there were maybe around 30 people, so extremely remote and chilled, they had their own cook on the island and their menu will change daily. The food was extremely delicious, again a bit more pricey than what you would usually pay on mainland but it was all worth it.
From here we had nearly a day trip back to Puerto Princesa where we stayed for a night and early in the morning, 4AM to be more exact, we went on our way to Balabac, this Maldives of the Philippines that only few people knew about. Balabac, officially the Municipality of Balabac, consists of some 36 islands. Situated at the southern most part of Palawan, this group of islands shares its border with Sabah, Malaysia. Many tourists are put off by the fact that it’s located At Sulu Sea, because On the other side of Sulu Sea is Jolo, Sulu where PH army continues to battle against bandits.
The second and less threatening factor is that Balabac is known for its saltwater crocodiles, but we asked the locals and we were told that they haven’t seen a crocodile in months and the ones that were found where in Buliluyan Port.
Balabac is a three-hour boat trip from Bataraza on the island of Palawan; Bataraza in turn can be reached from Palawan’s capital city Puerto Princesa.
It is the Maldives of the Philippines, never seen such blue and clear water anywhere else in Asia. If you ever get the chance to visit, this is a place that I highly recommend and if you get the chance go there sooner rather than later as currently not many people know about it, we barely found locals who heard about this place and for us this was perfect. It’s the paradise on earth not yet discovered by big companies who will end up investing in the place by building resorts and bringing a lot of tourism around. We were told by the locals that they plan to build an airport in the next few years so this only means that this beautiful, remote place will be flooded by a high number of tourists in the next coming years.