Whilst the TAO trip was a highlight of our three months in Asia, it was still a nice feeling to get to the dry land of Palawan at the end of it; returning to luxuries like electricity, running water, and a bed that wasn’t a roll mat on a bamboo floor.
There has been a surge in tourism to Palawan of late; in fact over the last couple of years tourism figures here have topped one million guests per year. Whilst the Philippines as a whole is still emerging as a tourism destination, it’s more popular spots have been on the map now for some time, and felt a world away from our remoteness in the jungle days earlier.
We spent the first three days of our Palawan trip in El Nido, before making our way South to Sabang Beach for another couple of days, and then flying on from there out of Puerto Princesa Airport.
We had accomodation booked in El Nido near the Port, foolishly assuming that our TAO boat would dock there near their head office. However, this is the Philippines, so obviously it made a lot more sense to dock at a completely different port a couple of miles away in Corong Corong Beach.
Below is where our boat pulled up; as the water near the Port is located is so shallow we had to wade through the last fifty metres or so to the shore; the dry bag we purchased certainly came in handy!
Corong Corong Beach was certainly more aesthetically pleasing than El Nido town, and thankfully was only a ten minute drive away. A lot of people stay in Corong Corong beach and eat in El Nido town, so there were plenty of drivers shuttling people between the two locations.
The tuk tuk’s with locals on usually contain twice as many people as the ones with tourists on, so we took a leaf from the book of the locals and tried to pack as many people and luggage onto each one as possible which was good fun!
We returned to Corong Corong beach a few times during our stay in El Nido to catch some of the famous sunsets that you get in this part of the world.
Due to the abundance of tourists in El Nido, it seems like every man and his dog sits in the Port all day offering Boat trips. We organised a private boat through our resort which was quite reasonably priced, giving the driver strict instructions to avoid other tourists like the plague and take us to the more authentic spots.
Our driver did a good job, and we were able to spend a good day snorkelling, swimming and relaxing on the beaches.
After El Nido we headed South for a couple of nights down to Sabang Beach to visit the underground river. The river is the longest navigable underground river in the world; on the course of the river there are lots of interesting formations that have been naturally created in the limestone over thousands of years.
It didn’t take us long to tour the river so it was certainly a cool thing to explore for an hour or two; however the place was packed with tourists so not worth sticking around for too long. As it was dark I could only get one photo as we were going in.
Most tourists here do organised day trips from Palawan but we decided to stay for a couple of nights which meant that we got the beach to ourselves!
It’s impossible to walk along Sabang Beach and not be impressed by the Sheraton Resort, which an iconic hotel in the area and boasts a huge pool and nice views of the scenery.
Being backpackers, we obviously didn’t book a room here and instead booked ourselves into a shack guesthouse around the corner for a quarter of the price, but in truth this wasn’t too big of a problem as we made it to our second day at the resort before someone caught on to the fact that we weren’t staying there and made us pay the day rate to use the facilities.
One day, I’ll be a millionaire and be able to return to Sabang Beach to actually stay in the Sheraton, but until then it was time pack our bags at the end of the two days and hit the road again.