Saturday, January 21, 2017

Nesting in El Nido, Palawan: An Affordable Weekend Get Away In Paradise

One does not need to spend much to enjoy the paradise that is El Nido, Palawan. Thanks to the affordable tour packages offered by budget travel agencies like Viaje Amores, for only Php 6,800/pax, the dream of being in the last frontier of Palawan can now be realized.

We scheduled our El Nido weekend getaway last January 13-16, 2017. We were picked up by the van from our house in Cavite at 3am and flew via Air Asia at 740m. The flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa took around an hour. From Puerto Princesa Airport, we were transported by another shuttle (Eulen Jen Transport) together with other tourists to our hotel. We traversed the long and winding road leading to El Nido for approximately 5 hours with one stopover. We left the airport at 10am and reached the hotel at around 3pm.

We were checked in at El Nido Four Seasons Beach Resort. Four Seasons offered decent accommodation with free breakfast. We stayed in a family room with balcony and a breathtaking view of the sea. To ensure comfortable stay, the room had an aircondition unit, cable TV, hot shower, refrigerator, and free WiFi. Overlooking our room was the swimming pool.

Affordable El Nido Palawan Tour
El Nido Four Seasons Beach Resort

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
View sunset from the balcony

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
Dip into the swimming pool!

The town was 10-15 minutes away from the hotel via tricycle (the fare was Php 30/head). We explored the town on our first night and what I noticed that there were not much eating places in El Nido, or at least the more interesting ones. Foods were quite pricey as well. Save for the food, the experience in El Nido was truly something to cherish because of the island and beaching hopping tours. Included in the package that we selected were two tours: TOUR A and TOUR C, with free lunch!

TOUR A – January 14, 2017

Our first tour was a tour of the lagoons. None from the hotel guests were going on a tour that day, thus, the entire motor boat was ours. Yes, as if we rented it privately for ourselves!

We first went to the Small Lagoon, which was my favorite among all the lagoons, because we needed to paddle a kayak to go inside the said lagoon. We rented two kayaks for Php 300/each. I was in awe as the beauty of nature unfolded right before my eyes, especially the emerald waters amidst the backdrop of marvelous rock formations.
Affordable El Nido Tour Package
Kayaking in Small Lagoon

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
Nanay enjoys the kayak

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
Enterprising Pinoy!

We then went to the Secret Lagoon, where we had to pass through a small opening leading to the lagoon. We returned to the beach and swam, while waiting for the lunch to be cooked. My niece, Alpha, loved playing with the sand and soaking in the waters.

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
Entrance to the Secret Lagoon

Affordable El Nido Package Tour
At the Secret Lagoon

One thing I loved about the tour was the (free!) luscious lunch – rice, grilled lapu-lapu, grilled pork and chicken, salad, and mixed tropical fruits (papaya, banana, watermelon).

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
Tour A Lunch

Another lagoon that I enjoyed because of its Instagram-worthy view was the Big Lagoon. If I’m not mistaken, that was what we saw in the Bourne Movie.

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
The Big Lagoon

Tour A was priced at Php 1,200/pax. For us, it’s included in our package.

TOUR C – January 15, 2017

The second tour was a tour of the beaches! I told my family to bring with them white clothing so we could have our photoshoot. You don’t always go to El Nido, so might as well take advantage of the wonderful sceneries, and have your photos taken there!

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
My family in white (as if we're attending a beach wedding!)

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
Take advantage of the view!

We went on the tour with guests from other hotel.

Among the places that we visited were the Helicopter Island, Hidden Beach, Secret Beach, and Matinloc Shrine. Being in these beaches, one would realize that Boracay doesn’t have the monopoly over white, powdery sand!

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
At the Hidden Beach
Affordable El Nido Tour Package
At the Hidden Beach, too!

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
Tour C Lunch

Perhaps the beach that I would not forget was the Secret Beach because it was quite a challenge going there. Similar to the Secret Lagoon, we needed to pass through a small opening. What made this challenging was the long, arduous swim that one needed to do before reaching the said passageway! And you would swim against the waves! As the tour guide warned us, weak swimmers should be extra wary.  

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
Going to the Secret Beach was challenging!

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
Matinloc Shrine

Tour C was priced at Php 1,400/pax, which also included sumptuous lunch. What’s not included in the tour package that we paid Via Amores was the Eco Tourism Fee of Php 200/pax (for adults; for kids, the fee was Php 100).

We had a great time in El Nido. I am grateful to Viaje Amores for organizing this trip for us by finding the cheapest flight on the dates that we specified, for checking us in an affordable yet decent resort, for safeguarding hassle-free airport transfers, and for ensuring enjoyable tours. If we organized this ourselves, taking in consideration the cost of airfare, airport transfers, hotel accommodation (for 4 days and 3 nights), and the tour, we would spend around Php 13,000/pax. With the budget travel package, we saved around Php 6,200/pax!

It’s only the start of the year! There are more adventures to go! Gala Pa More!

Affordable El Nido Tour Package
Gala Pa More! (from the balcony, with the sea as the backdrop)

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