Day 2 – El Nido
I almost got a heart attack when the receptionist called me at 3:30 in the middle of the night. But then I remembered, that they just wanted to make sure I wake up for my flight to El Nido. Some of you may wonder, why I had to fly again just one day after I arrived in the Philippines. But I can say, that this is how it works when travelling here. The Philippines consist of 7.641 islands, of which 2.000 are inhabited. Obviously, you have to decide beforehand which islands you want to visit. The most popular areas and islands are El Nido and Coron in Palawan, Boracay, Siargao, Cebu and Bohol. But there are definitely many more popular tourist places. All of the islands are usually only reachable by flight or by boat. The fact that getting from one point to another is quite difficult and exhausting made me sceptical, if I would really like being here. But I just hoped, that all the effort would be worth it.
Back to my morning situation. I quickly got ready, packed everything and went immediately to the lobby downstairs. The guesthouse offered a shuttle to the airport, which I was extremely happy about. However, I arrived there definitely too early. My plane departed at 6:55am, but I was already at 4:15am at the airport. Well, better too early than too late.
The procedure to check in was very uncomplicated and super quick. First, I was a little scared that I needed to pay extra for my luggage, which was definitely 1 or 2 kg more than the allowed 10kg. But they didn’t care at all! The domestic airport in Manila itself is so small, that there is literally only one room, with two gates and a few small stores to get something to eat or drink. Therefore, I just sat there for ages, bought something to drink and waited for my flight. Most of the travellers here were wearing hygiene mask as well, but I still couldn’t find them. But I was happy about seeing some other foreigners travelling.
When it was finally the time for departure, we got into a bus which drove us to our small plane. It was very small! But I didn’t expect anything else. It took us around 1 hour to reach El Nido. And I am not sure if I ever in my life arrived on such a small and cute airport. We walked casually from the plane to the arrival section, where we waited for our luggage.
From there I just planned to take a “taxi” to my hostel. “Taxi”? Maybe not in El Nido. I didn’t book a shuttle beforehand. Therefore, the only opportunity I had was to take a tricycle. And those tricycles turned out to be my daily companion in Palawan. I couldn’t have had a more authentic way of getting to my hostel. That’s for sure. And I actually really enjoyed it the first 10 minutes. I got already some first insights to the island and the people. But honestly, at the end it was just uncomfortable and loud.
When I arrived at my hostel I was first completely impressed. The location was amazing. I have never ever seen a hostel like it. When I got off the tricycle, I thought it might be a joke. There wasn’t a hostel in front of me. I had to walk some stairs down to the beach, a few metres through the sand and then there was it, the Outpost Beach Hostel in El Nido. I can already say, that this was the best decision I could have made. It turned out to be always fully booked and the most popular accommodation for backpackers here. I was actually lucky that I have booked it early in advance.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t check in yet. The staff was extremely friendly, but I really didn’t want to wait 6 hours to get into the room. Therefore, I just got changed, looked a little bit around and went back up to the street, where my tricycle driver from the morning waited for me. He took me back to El Nido downtown, which took us only a few minutes. There he introduced me to some activities you can do on the island. I researched before and knew what I wanted to do here. But first, I needed some breakfast.
I headed to a very cute little café, which sold mostly juices, breakfast bowls, but also some lunch and dinner options. It was a very delicious start in the day. Just what I needed! Afterwards I went back to my driver. He actually took advantage of me and sold me a tour that I didn’t even agree on. But that’s what happens when you are just a tourist not knowing exactly what other options you might have. I definitely paid more than I could have, when just renting my own scooter. But considering it wouldn’t have been the best idea for me to drive a scooter on my own, the price wasn’t that bad.
Our first stop was Nacpan Beach, well known for being the most beautiful beach in EL Nido. The 30-40 min ride was quite intense, I would say. The streets here are not very developed, to express it nicely. Driving here by myself would have been a very bad idea. The beach itself was absolutely stunning. I could have walked forever. It was just beautiful. At first, I tried to avoid the main area with the restaurant and all the set-up beach chairs. I first walked along the beach and searched for a nice place to just relax. Considering that I didn’t sleep much the last two days, I was quite tired. Therefore, I just needed a few minutes without doing anything. But obviously I had to go for a swim. It was quite windy and wavy out there, but I totally enjoyed it.
Afterwards I headed to the beach restaurant for a drink. And guess what I got! A coconut of course! You have no idea how much I missed drinking coconut on the beach. It’s just the best thing in the entire world.
My driver waited already for me. Then the other stop on the list was Lio Beach. I have never heard about that beach before. But I really liked it, maybe even better than Nacpan Beach. Lio Beach just had more character and a nicer atmosphere. The beach itself wasn’t as incredible as at Nacpan Beach, but that didn’t bother me. I just had a walk and chilled. The hippie like decoration was my favourite here. It just created a very nice vibe. But the best was definitely the smoker’s area. I really had to laugh when I saw all those people standing together in this small area. Ridiculous!
After those two beach stops, we headed back to the hostel. I was already able to check in. And at least now, I was back in the backpacker lifestyle. I shared my room with 11 other people. Yes! I know, that’s not for everyone. Considering you only go to the room to sleep; it is not as bad as it may sound. Without no doubt, the nicest thing about the Outpost Beach hostel is the first floor. Just beautiful and the best sunset spot on the entire island.
For dinner, I ordered a spicy tofu dish with rice, which was actually pretty tasty. Food, beach, sunset! I couldn’t have asked for more. The first day in El Nido was definitely a success! I was really happy that everything turned out as planned. Maybe it was a good decision to not cancel this trip. I would have regret it!