I am at Puerto Princesa International Airport waiting for my noon flight back to Cebu. Having this much time to kill in the airport is not fun – especially when alone. I am cruising through memory lane of these past 3 days. This El Nido and Puerto Princesa, Palawan trip has been dramatic, fun, memorable, and short. Nevertheless, I am fairly certain this is, among all of my other trips so far, the most unforgettable.


Three days ago, Dianzel, one of my best friends, missed his flight to Palawan. I traveled to Palawan from Cebu and he from Manila. I learned about it literally minutes before my flight took off. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with emotions on the plane. I began to jumble my options following the setback. It was not fun at all. We had been planning this trip for months; and for it to crumble just like that was devastating, to say the least.

However, after much hesitation and coaxing, Dianzel agreed to take the later flight to Puerto Princesa. Thanks to his roommate, Paul, who was also with us in the trip. Similarly, thanks largely to Local Escapes Travel and Tours for assisting us in our situation. They were very accommodating and patient in helping us book the flight and adjusting our schedule for the day. I highly recommend their services for your Palawan experience and you can always contact them here.

This trip would be one of the moments where something good came out of a very bad situation – no matter the cost.

El Nido, Palawan Tour A

I would like start by saying that El Nido Tours destinations was potentially among the best places I’d been to in the country so far. People were not overstating; and pictures were not lying. I was not referring to the place itself per se. I was referring to the destinations in the area.

Despite being blessed with incredible natural resources, the place which we had stayed in El Nido needed a rather drastic improvement. The narrow roads did not give enough way for vehicles and pedestrians alike. Also, the water was dirty you would think twice to take a shower in your accommodation. Those were a couple of bummers in the area. But the beautiful islands we visited compensated us beyond measure.

Towering limestone formations surrounded El Nido. Trees and shrubs ornamented the limestone formations striking a sight to behold. That signature look was not uncommon in almost every island in El Nido. Couple that with turquoise water and white-sand beaches and we got paradise. Nevertheless, we were just on the tip of El Nido. Sadly, with our very limited schedule, we afforded only this El Nido tour.

Despite the jam-packed island destinations, we enjoyed the places the boat took us to. The tour guide cracked so much jokes it was an overkill sometimes. Nevertheless, the high spirit we all had had proven to be a necessary ingredient of a wholesome island hopping adventure.

Seven Commandos Beach

Jordan at El Nido!

That’s right! We bumped into my good friend and the legendary Jordan Gases in our El Nido island hopping.

Small Lagoon

The very first El Nido and Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan Tours

We rented a kayak for 400 pesos and learned to paddle towards small lagoon.

Secret Lagoon

The very first El Nido and Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan Tours

Our nationality-wise diverse group was all fun and chatter throughout the tour.

A small beach in Miniloc Island

The very first El Nido and Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan Tours

The Shimizu Island was crowded so, instead, our tour guide brought us to this alternative destination for lunch. It was facing Shimizu Island.

Big Lagoon

The very first El Nido and Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan Tours

It drizzled thus the dirty camera lens. But the majesty of the Big Lagoon remains clear!

PS: If you are considering a weekend trip to Palawan you might want to reconsider extending it because you will definitely be craving for more.

Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) Tour

Well, who haven’t heard of the Underground River?

What we liked most about Puerto Princesa was that the people were generally nice. The tour services we had had been very well laid and smoothly executed. The very professional tour guide assisted us thoroughly throughout the duration of the tour.

But here was the funny thing. The Underground River tour took about 45 minutes but the Underground River was the only destination for the day. The waiting time to go to the river went as long as almost half a day. The place was swamped, and being one of the New7Wonders of Nature; it should be! The superb thing about the PPUR Tour was that the people who were facilitating the tour were all well-informed and organized. They had a system and every tour guide knew them almost at heart.

The PPUR was about 20-minute boat ride from Sabang Port. Considering the time of the year, huge waves rocked the boat making it rather difficult to disembark.

Our tour guide repeatedly instructed us what to do and not to do when monkeys interact with us on the beach to the cave. I hadn’t seen any monkey in the area though. Maybe I just hadn’t looked that hard.

The very first El Nido and Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan Tours

The opening of the Underground River where boats carrying tourists are entering and exiting.

After being given with an audio guide, we waited for our turn to ride a smaller boat to go in the cave. The boat man paddled the boat while spotlighting rock formations in the cave as the audio guide continuously narrated. Once in a while our boatman would throw trivia related to the audio we were hearing through the earpiece. For instance, he pointed out the difference between stalactites and stalagmites by noting the T for top and G for ground – clever and accurate.
There was no question to the grandeur, beauty, and uniqueness of the PPUR cave. You really had to see it for yourself to totally experience the coldness inside, the smell of the guano, and total darkness when all lights were out. Also, you had to really see the rock formations molded by nature for thousands or millions of years. The navigable area in the cave was small portion compared to what it all was but we could not complain with its exquisite beauty.

The very first El Nido and Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan Tours

The boatman told us to let our imaginations run wild to the rock formations in the cave. That’s the Demogorgon y’all!

On our way back, our boatman hummed My Heart Will Go On. With the to and fro of the boats with passengers in orange life vests, it fittingly blended to the darkness and coldness of the cave – and experience we all could never forget.


My reverie is cut with the call for final check-in for my flight. With my stomach now grumbling, I start walking to the mezzanine to grab lunch. I settle for ham and cheese sandwich and iced Americano. While eating, I begin to start considering when’s the best time to return to Palawan next year.

Note: Date of writing was November 12, 2017.

Author: Mark Atong

If he is not taking advantage of his skills on full-time IT employment, he is going different places and hopefully making his mother proud. He believes writing is his passion; but it has yet to prove to pay his bills. He is a fun-loving individual who would rather stay at home reading books and catch-up on episodes of TV shows.

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