Are you travelling to The Philippines and looking for the perfect way to see two of the most hyped-up locations El Nido and Coron? Well, having recently visited, I’ve got you covered! Read on for the tale of my El Nido Paradise, ultimate 5 sailing day adventure!
If you are travelling to The Philippines to witness untouched nature at it’s finest, islands with populations of zero and the clearest turquoise waters you’ve ever laid eyes on then the chances are you’ll fly home content. After so much hype over the past few years discovering the true beauty of The Philippines now that the word is out can be more challenging than it used to be, it is however, absolutely still possible!
The opportunities for discovering paradise are a plenty in The Philippines but it isn’t the easiest country to navigate around! With so many opportunities to discover something and somewhere incredible it can be quite daunting to plan a trip there, so I’m hoping to lend a helping hand. Having travelled to a few places in Asia over the past five years I was already fully aware of the stunning scenery that can be found this side of the world. It was the idea of seeing a similar setting and having the views all to myself that drew me in!
When booking the trip Mr C and I created our own itinerary, we started our adventure in the east after our international flight with Cathay Airways (From London Heathrow to Cebu via Hong Kong) followed by an immediate flight to Siargao island for a few days. I’ve written a full blogpost about the beauty of Siargao, it’s best described by me as the Maldives of The Philippines! You can read it here. We then caught a flight from Cebu to El Nido with Air Swift airlines.
Before booking all of our flights within the country I spent a few days back home researching where we would like to visit during our 3 week trip and we decided on Siargao, Cebu, El Nido and Coron. After booking our accommodation in Siargao we started to carve out our plans for El Nido and Coron and I discovered that there are three options if you want to see both places, you can get an internal flight between the islands which is the quickest option but quite expensive and limited timings or you can get a seven hour ferry which is long and uncomfortable, the other option is to sail slowly between the islands and make a trip out of it, docking and exploring the islands along the way.
When looking online for inspiration I came across a great blogpost by a fellow blogger who had enjoyed a three day boat tour with an El Nido based company, El Nido Paradise. Hearing about her travel experience and looking through the amazing pictures on her site definitely sold me to want to book a trip of my own and after enquiring with the exact same company online I discovered that they offered a similar boat trip from El Nido to Coron. So this option would cover off both of the destinations we were most keen to discover and would also showcase the beauty in between! After a few emails back and forth we booked in for the 5 day ultimate adventure tour.
So after spending one evening in El Nido at The Amakan Bed & Breakfast (which was a clean but simple room with just a bed and a bathroom, great for a one night stay!) we ventured down to the El Nido Paradise office with our backpacks in tow to start the adventure.
After checking in and jumping on a moped down to the beach ‘marina’ we arrived to absolute chaos and waited for an hour on the shore before being able to board the boat. Once we stepped up and on we discovered that the company had over booked the trip and there were a few extra people on board than we had previously expected. To say we were tight on space is a huge understatement, it was like sardines on tour! We quickly discovered that despite the shabby upkeep of the boat and the overcrowding (that meant not everyone was able to even sit down on deck!) we were in for a great few days at sea because the people on board made us feel at ease immediately, one thing was for sure, we were going to have some fun!
When it came to the boat itself there was 26 people on board (should have been 24) plus the 4/5 members of staff and with regards to amenities and comfort it doesn’t really get more basic than the boat we sailed on. The seating area was wooden so a little sore on the tootsie and the toilet got one look from me at the very start of the trip and it was never in my eye sight (or smelling distance) again for the entirety of our sail!
The trip included food but as with most residences in The Philippines (whether on land or at sea) the selection was quite limited for vegetarians and some dishes were questionable when it came to in keeping with health guidelines but we were well fed with sweet banana snacks everyday and I lived for these moments!
We camped on a different beach each night, anchoring up before sunrise and enjoying a different colour display in the vast sky ahead every evening. The team on board our boat would lay out matresses (sometimes sodden from the canoe splashes of getting them onto the beach) inside our two-man tents. Inside was a small pillow each and a single bed sheet.
It was quite hot and sticky in the evenings but being outdoors provided a natural fan 😉 No matter how good our body brushing skills and entry acrobatics were, getting into the tent meant we spent every slumber covered in sand but waking up on our daily private beaches, eradicated all the turmoil of the restless sleep in seconds!
That’s the point though really, isn’t it? The days at sea were utterly incredible, we were travelling to lands untouched by thousands of toes and gliding through water that was so clear we could sea the marine life swimming along with us from the boat. Asides from the squalor of our living standards (there was no running water so showers consisted of a bucket toss) we were fed and watered, we made it safely to each destination and we were sleeping under the stars! I would jump straight back on board for this trip if it were offered to me.
We travelled to a number of inhabited isles during the day and jumped into the crystal clear waters in search of the most colourful corals and sandiest shores and the scenery at every stop along the way from El Nido to Coron was as dreamy as the beautiful destinations teams will have you believe. Then on the last day, at our request we tucked our boat into some of the famous lagoon entires and wandered through the swim/walk ways to the picture perfect lakes the are nestled amongst the towering sea emerging mountains. We visited Barracuda Lake and The Big Lagoon, both of which although crowded at our time of visit were stunning! We took the drone up to really capture the drama of the scenery and it absolutely took our breath away!
Seeing Coron both El Nido and Coron by boat is an absolute must if you are heading to these areas on your own trip to The Philippines and having the opportunity to combine the two in such an amazing way was one of the highlights of our trip.
At the end of the five days the need to put a bum to a toilet seat and our hair in the shower over took the niceties of hugs and kisses goodbye but from each person who travelled the journey with us we learnt something new and our faces earned a few extra smile lines from laughter!
Was it glamorous, no, hygienic, definitely not but ask me if it was worth it, abso-freaking-lutley.
Price wise you actually couldn’t get more for your money in my opinion, we paid £306.00 each for the five day excursion and that included absolutely everything. We may have slept covered in sand on damp mattresses and avoided the smell of our own skin for the duration as part of an ‘ignorance is bliss’ strategy but the experience is one I wouldn’t hesitate in re-booking.
The group of people on the boat with Mems and I were such a great bunch and it felt like we had all booked and trip as a group of friends who wanted to enjoy the hidden wonders of the scattered islands together. We laughed our way through the adventure with beer and rum filling us up daily to make the (what should have been awkward) lack of toilet situation a daily topic of free discussion! The boat had no electricity and the vast ocean no signal so we were all cut off from the ‘outside’ world for the entire five days leaving us to bond over life stories past and travel dreams to come, all the while surrounded by unique and mesmerising scenery of Palawan and basking in the December sunshine!
Watch the trip come to life in my latest youtube video:
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