Never thought I would ever be beached out. But I am. Although I think it’s more than that. I’ve always loved the beach, living by the sea, I could spend hours, days, laying on the beach, soaking in the sun, staring out to sea. But somethings shifted. I’ve changed. Or maybe just realised who I am more. Learning my likes. It aint all about the beach life anymore. Turns out I’ve got a yearning to be surrounded by green things. Go figure.
So back to being beached. That’s Palawan for me. 3 days travel from Bali and I arrived in El Nido. Not what I had expected at all. A busy little town that on first impressions reminded me of India. Little shacks of shops everywhere, construction at every corner, strange mix matched decor that doesn’t go quite right with the surroundings or their neighbours. It didn’t seem like there was much conformity. But I realised it was part of it’s charm. At night it came alive even more so, a bustle of lively energy. I started to enjoy this little town with it’s little streets charm. And no I do not need a waterproof bag, for the hundredth time. If you go to the beach here in the morning you’ll be shocked and disappointed. Some advice. Wait until after ten when most of the tourists boats have gone. Ooohhhhh, that’s what it’s meant to look like. Have to admit, with all the hype and excitement, I was let down with my first Filipino beach. But then that’s just a lesson in having expectations hey! I’m sure it would have been stunning 15/20 years ago, white sand, clear calm water, those incredible cliffs and islands dotted out to sea, just a couple of huts on the coast line. But now it’s over crowded and murky. However, you can get to a ton of nice beaches from here. So as a base it’s good, just expect it to be BUSY.
One day I went to Nacpan which was on Trip Advisors list of Worlds Best Beaches in 2016, so again, expecting great things. It was nice but I wasn’t blown away. I really need to sort out this expectations malarkey, or have I just turned into a beach snob? Someone said to me recently once you’ve seen one good beach you’ve seen them all. Which I thought a tad ridiculous, you can always see the beauty and they will always differ. But maybe there’s some truth to it, you can’t keep topping it can you? You have to reach that climatic point some time. However, it is 4km of sand so if like me, you like a beach where you can sit in isolation with no people anywhere near you, it’s pretty good. Just walk from the drop off point and you’re golden. Choppy waters, but delish all the same.
Another day I went to Las Cabanas. Now this was more of a beach I could get behind. More greenery jungle style, islands, cove, calm water. Yes please. Although the shacks banging out ‘celebrate good times’ can do one. As the day got on it got pretty busy, although you could still find some more chilled out areas. Zip lining to the next island from here too. Looked cool. I would have liked to have done it. But that would have meant climbing steps. And that’s effort.. Instead I got on a stand up paddle board (as encouraged by the two girls I was with) and sat on it.
I did a couple of tours from El Nido too, Tour A & C were said to be the best, although in hindsight I should have done B & D since EVERYONE does the other two, and a quieter trip would have been preferred. But tourist spots are touristy for a reason right. And I lucked out on my boat with there being only 7 of us, whereas the other boats were packing on 25.
I love being on a boat, sailing through the ocean (as long as it’s not to bumpy otherwise I freak the frack out), enjoying the stunning scenery. And yes the destinations were stunning but it’s really difficult to properly take in the beauty of the place when it’s littered with hundreds of people in life jackets all taking photos. Yes yes, I was one of these people as well (without the life jacket though), but unfortunately it ruins the magnificence of the place. It looses its magic.
Then it was camping time. Bit apprehensive due to this crazy heat but I survived. Stayed on the other side of the tip of the island in a place called Tapik Beach. It was always breezy there which was a god send. The beach wasn’t much to look at and you could walk out 500 miles and the water still be at your calves. But I actually really enjoyed sleeping in a tent, waking up for sunrise on the beach every morning. I would get up and do my Qigong practise, so beautiful and peaceful. When the dogs didn’t get too excited to see someone awake and start jumping all over me mid practise that is. The tours from here however, on point. Actually landing our boat on deserted islands and beaches. YES. Now this was more like it. Now this is what it’s all about.
This is how I had imagined my beach adventuring to go. It was stunning, and the snorkelling was even better. Slack on the fish front (although did see some baby sharks!) but sooo clear. And the coral was insane, such diversity, and so bright in colour. I was pretty happy. We also went kayaking in the mangroves, where weirdly my phones internet worked well for the first time since being here. I left here early though, I was done, I was bored, bored by a beach?! It finally happened. I needed more, I wanted more, nature, trees, jungle, anything. I decided to go to Coron. That idea was short lived.
After staying another night in El Nido and realising the fast boats were booked up for the next couple of days, and really not wanting to face the slow boat and losing a couple of days through travel. I decided to go to Port Barton, then fly to Cebu, a place I had wanted to go to originally but didn’t think I would have enough time. I love the freedom of travel and how plans can change much, sometimes even hourly, but it’s all fine.
Port Barton was a funny little town. I thought I was going to love it. I had heard that it was super quiet and chilled and that’s what I wanted. But it wasn’t. I clearly wasn’t in the right head space, and I needed something else. Something these god damn beautiful beaches weren’t giving me! The town is real low key, but a couple of good places to eat so I was happy. Finally some good food. It was jelly fish season so no swimming on this beach, and the water wasn’t clear so they could definitely sneak up on you. White beach is a MUST though. I finally found my perfect beach. I fell in love. And annoyingly only had two hours to enjoy it before I was leaving (due to changed plans again).. Figures. You have to pay a small fee to get on the beach, or stay in the very expensive huts. But it was totally idealistic. Beautiful; jungle right up to the edge, lots of hammocks, clear blue water, perfectly deep for swimming, in a cove so super calm. Oh my days, just perfect. I would love to come here and sleep in a hammock overnight. Beware of sand flies though. Cover yourself in bug stuff and you should be alright.
They also offer the tours A, B, C, D here but it’s total nonsense and they all repeat a bunch of the same places. So you do a ‘combination’ tour. Hah. Swam with turtles, and again got horribly annoyed at ignorant tourists again. No the turtle does not want to be touched, do you not see how it swims so fast away from you? Maybe if you kept your distance it would actually stick around for you to enjoy. I was annoyed at why the boat crew didn’t tell everyone about touching the wildlife then when one of the crew swam down and tried to pick the turtle up by its shell and turn it around for photos!! WTF. Pleeasssseee…. What are you doing. The poor thing was clearly terrified and pissed to say the least. I can not stress enough, leave the poor things along, have some respect, enjoy it by all means but you’re on his turf, he just wants to eat his weird grub, let him be.
I had one more uneventful night in Puerto Princesca before I flew off to Cebu. Goodbye beaches, you’ve been awesome but I’m in need of something different.