Palawan Chronicles: The Trip to Paradise

Palawan is called the Philippines’ “last frontier” and joins the ranks of “the best islands in the world” among travel websites and magazines these past few years.  And so, when an opportunity to visit the province came, deciding was easy.  And this would be one of my most epic getaways so far.

Somewhere over Luzon

This is part of a series

Palawan is the largest province in the Philippines, comprised of 1,780 islands.  With that many islands, most of which as unspoiled, it’s not that easy to pick a spot.  Fortunately, I found a good deal from El Nido Resorts in line with the then forthcoming travel expo.  It included a room for two days and three nights, full board meals, roundtrip airfare from Manila to El Nido, and van and boat transfers to/from the island.  It’s the most expensive weekend I’ve ever booked, but it’s the most hassle-free!

With four islands under El Nido Resorts, namely Apulit, Miniloc, Lagen, and Pangulasian, all having different offerings, picking one is a pleasant dilemma!  You can’t possibly go wrong with any of them!  If I could afford it, I’d definitely try them all, but since I can’t, I can only pick one.  Eventually, I picked the island of Apulit.  All their rooms are on the sea!  How could I resist that?

Flying to El Nido Airport (ENI) is currently the fastest way to get to El Nido from Manila.  It is currently serviced only by AirSWIFT.  From Manila, the trip starts from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) Terminal 4.  It had improved from the last time I’ve been here, but it still looks like a bus terminal.  It’s interesting that the most frugal of Manila’s airport terminals serves the most exclusive routes to the country’s most luxurious resorts.  I wonder what these VIPs think of Manila after passing through this terminal?

The start of this journey is from NAIA Terminal 4, formerly called the Domestic Terminal
We were given these treats by our airline prior to departure.
We boarded a bus that took us from the terminal to our plane somewhere else at the airport.
And we got the exit rows!

Apulit is the farthest island from El Nido among the four that El Nido Resorts offers.  It is so far out that it is already under a different town called Taytay.  From El Nido Airport, we took a van to take us to the pier of Taytay where our boat to the island awaits.

At the tarmac of El Nido Airport, taken soon after alighting our plane.
Seen here is the jeepney that took us to the terminal and a plane similar to ours.
We were greeted with a snack buffet upon arrival at El Nido (also called Lio) Airport terminal.
It’s a great way for foreigners to be acquainted with local traditional snacks like biko, suman, etc.

It’s another 65 kilometer or so journey by land from El Nido to Taytay.

This segment gave me a chance to appreciate the often overlooked sights of the mainland.

It’s nice that El Nido Resorts utilizes the boats of the locals to transfer their guests to and from the island.  It gives foreigners a chance to experience the local “bangka.”  But since these are anything but speed boats, plus the fact that we were going against the waves, it took us quite some time to get to the island.  But as we approached the island of Apulit, slowly but surely, our excitement slowly builds up.  And you just have to be amazed by the surreal color of the sea!

Taytay with its signature signage.
Once again, we were greeted with a snack buffet while waiting for boarding our boat!
Our boat to Apulit Island is similar in size to this one.  From here, it’s another hour and a half to the island.

A glass of drink and a small presentation from the El Nido Resorts staff greeted us upon arrival.  I quickly noticed their board listing the activities of the day and sightings of sea creatures around the island.  From here, we were guided to the main hall where we’d be checking in, passing by those huts on the sea that I’ve seen on the brochures.  There, we arrived at the sight of an ongoing buffet.  We were told to have our lunch while waiting for our room.  This is the first time I’ve ever experienced having a buffet while waiting to be checked in!  If this doesn’t give you a great first impression, I don’t know what will!

This picture did not do any justice to how surreal the waters around Apulit Island are!
The staff greeted us upon our arrival with a very Filipino welcome—with a song! 😀
One of the first thing I noticed is this board with the day’s weather forecast and activities.

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Palawan Chronicles:

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