Palawan Highlights: Part 2
El Nido, Palawan
Part of the island hopping experience in El Nido was snorkelling. Embarrassingly, I’d consider this time my first time properly snorkelling. The last time I was in El Nido in 2017, snorkelling came up as the next activity immediately after I nearly drowned and where everyone got pierced by sharp coral. Not fun. This means we weren’t really in a snorkelling mood at that time. So here I am, with my family, we’re all jumping into the water with our life jackets (except my dad, he’s like part Lapu-Lapu or Grouper fish). He just swam his ass off freely and fearlessly. Meanwhile, the rest of us with our snorkel gear and life jackets carefully braved the deep Palawan waters. Anyway so this is my first time snorkelling properly, and every time I went underwater to see all the wonders, I was met with a heap of salt water gushing into my mouth. Coming out for air, I looked around at my family all swimming around. Thinking to myself, how in the hell is this not bothering anyone else but me? Is everyone else all good with consuming litres of saltwater just to see some bloody coral and fish? Am I the weird one?
And then I realised what had happened. My snorkel equipment had been working just fine. I just wasn’t using it correctly. I wasn’t breathing. My dumb ass thought once I had it on, it just works. Once we moved past that, I had the best fucking time snorkelling! Swaying and swimming fifty metres above the ocean bed, exhilarating. The differently formed corals, and the many fish, mesmerising. The real mvp would have to go my part fish, part human dad though. He embodies the epitome of being chill and carefree when in the ocean. See for yourself in the video below.
5. Nacpan Beach
El Nido, Palawan
For those who may not know me that well, I used to hate the summer sun. Past experiences has always been nothing but grief inducing occurrences where it has irritated my sensitive skin. Growing up, everyone would say the salt water is good for my skin, a healing factor that they would boast about. But they never mentioned the fact that I have to go through this agonising stinging pain before the healing begins. Every jump into any beach was just that. Stinging pain followed with soothing sensations throughout.
To my surprise, the Palawan beaches were different. I would jump into the waters fully expecting the agony to envelope me. But it didn’t. The stinging pain that would follow was sure to be on its way. But it never came. The water was so crystal clear and clean that the agonising and stinging pain I was accustomed to was removed completely from the equation. So with that, we had the best fun. Nacpan is still quite a new addition to the Palawan beach family but it’s already become a tourist hotspot with sand bars and areas for tanning and relaxing. We spent the afternoon at the Nacpan beach, some of us took a nap, others slipped on cocktails. Edmond and I shamelessly went for an hour long Swedish massage. The lady got rid of all the knots in our back and shoulders, knots we received from the previous island hopping and getting whiplashed by the superman zip line. Edmond enjoyed the massage so much he knocked out cold mid-massage.
We spend the rest of the day getting darker and splashing about in the water. I put Nacpan beach there in the highlights title, but let’s be honest, all the beaches in Palawan are really on point, straight up gorgeous. This is coming from a once upon a time beach hater so best believe that I’m speaking the truth when I say I had a phenomenal beach experience here in El Nido.
6. Underground River Cave
Puerto Princessa, Palawan
The underground river cave is an astonishing sight. Its full name, the Puerto Princessa Subterranean River National Park boasts a limestone mountain landscape which means various rock formations overtime has morphed and grew into various shapes and sizes now interpreted curiously and creatively by the Palawan locals. Some limestone formations resemble animals, vegetables and even religious thematics like the holy trinity. It’s also a bat cave. A legit bat cave. As if getting to Puerto Princessa itself wasn’t already a journey in it of itself, actually getting to this mysterious, yet wondrous place, an adventure awaits. Upon arrival, you’ll need to wait in line to get into a speedboat in which you’ll travel to a remote island half an hour away. But it’s not over yet. Hopping off this island, you’ve literally stepped into a beach-like jungle. Reptiles such as lizards who happen to be super chill just roam around casually like it’s no one’s business. But the monkeys. The monkeys man. You have to cross through a bit of a walk and a couple of bridges, and you’re warned of the monkeys. Do not eat or take out food during this tour. Monkeys have been known to swipe and steal your food. But once you actually make it to the cave, it’s really quite pleasant and eye-catching. Beautiful clear waters, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.
So the tour is 45 minutes long, and a local Filipino man will take his long rowing paddle and will single-handedly take a boat filled with tourists through the underground cave. If his physical prowess wasn’t enough to have you gawking in awe, he also coordinates perfectly with the headset attached to your ear narrating the history of the cave. These locals do all of this humbly and gracefully.
I had been before but I wanted to go again because this time around, I was with my parents. Their first time in Palawan and they were really keen to see this wonder of the world. I should have mentioned, this cave is considered one of the new seven wonders of the world. It continues to grow and grow, a natural beauty.
End of PH-2