The Philippines – Our Final Stop in Asia

So there we were…eating, drinking, napping, swimming, snorkeling…eating, drinking, napping, swimming…

After our time in Borneo, we were ready for some chilled out beach time and that is exactly what we got.  Because it was currently typhoon season in The Philippines, we had to choose our destination carefully.  We decided on the large island of Palawan which sits in an area that normally does not see too much rain this time of year.  After a flight into Manila, we flew on to Puerto Princesa, the biggest city in Palawan.  It was not a place you really want to hang out for too long so after one night, we traveled to our first destination of Sabang.

Anyone who comes to Palawan is heading to Sabang to visit the underground river.  An amazing cave system has been created with a freshwater river flowing into the ocean.  The best way to view the caves is by taking a boat ride up river through the inside.  Upon arriving in Sabang, we were very pleasantly surprised to realize that besides the underground river, there was also a beautiful beach to hang out at.  Most people only come and visit the river during the day so around sunset, the beach cleared out and it felt like our own little island paradise.  We were only planning on staying for two nights, but with its relaxed vibe and spectacular beach, we kept extending our stay.

After five nights in Sabang and a quick trip to the underground river, we found some travellers to share a boat to a private island which was home to the Coconut Island Beach Resort.  The morning we left on the boat, the clouds rolled in and it looked like a storm might begin.  Neither of us really thought much of it until we got on our tiny banka (boat) and started getting out on the ocean.  The huge swells and white caps not only got us (and all of our bags) soaking wet, they almost tipped over our rickety boat.  We thought for sure that we were going over and would have to swim to shore.  Three hours later, we were so thankful to pull around and see the resort up ahead.  The boat ride had been one of the scariest rides we have had on this trip!

Unfortunately, several days of rain followed and the resort quickly cleared out with people heading back to the mainland of Palawan.  We decided to stay one extra day and got lucky with sunny weather.  We ended up being the only people still at the resort so we had the entire island and beach to ourselves!  It was a fantastic place to hang out once the weather cleared up. 

Moving on from Coconut Garden, we took another boat (this one was much more sturdy!) to the nearest city of Port Barton.  More beach time and more beautiful sunsets, we spent several days here before moving onto our final destination of El Nido.  El Nido is also a place that is on everyone’s list who comes to Palawan.  In the northern part of the island, the sleepy fishing town is always busy with tourists coming to explore the surrounding Bacuit archipelago.  Right off shore, huge limestone cliffs jet out of the water.  As our trip was soon coming to an end, we spent most of our time in El Nido just relaxing and drinking San Miguel (the local beer).  One of the days, we hired a boat to take us out on the water to see some of the spectacular scenery and secluded beaches surrounding the town.  We had made friends with an Australian named Kerry in Port Barton and much of our time in El Nido was spent with him.  He joined us for our boat ride and together we visited some beautiful coves and picture perfect beaches. 

All good things must come to end though and eventually it was time to leave Palawan and head back to Manila.  We spent our days in Manila scouring the shopping malls and markets for some good, cheap knockoffs and loaded up our bags for the trip home.  After 14 months on the road, it was finally time to head stateside.  We were heading to Maui to surprise my Mom for my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary and even though we wouldn’t be home for several more months, leaving Manila was emotional.  Looking back at all the amazing things we have done, people we have met and things we have seen, it was hard not to be sentimental.  We have many great things to look forward to back in the States, but just knowing we were leaving the craziness of backpacking around the would was tough to think about.

We hope that you have enjoyed reading about our adventure and we hope that you will continue to read the blog as we have a few more places to report on before starting our life back in Denver!  Stay tuned!

Highlights

  • Cruisin’ the dark passages of the underground river
  • The wide distribution of cheap San Miguel beer and dirt cheap Tanduay rum
  • Island hopping around El Nido
  • Chilled out time in Sabang

Lowlights

  • Horrible boat ride from Sabang to Coconut Garden Resort, we were lucky we got there safely
Beach in Sabang
Exploring the area around Sabang
Entrance to the underground river
Our own private beach at Coconut Garden Resort
Local basketball game on the backroads of Port Barton
The colorful Filipino Jeepney
One of the many amazing sunsets around Port Barton
Hiking around El Nido
Jason and Kerry enjoying our private beach outside of El Nido
The view in front of our hotel in El Nido
Enjoying the scenery around the Bacuit archipelago
Amazing views around El Nido
Becky trying to bargin for a puppy to bring home on our last day in Manila
Our last night out in Manila before flying to Maui
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