Landing here was like having your own private jet, runway and airport. Only one airline lands El Nido and that is owned by the El Nido Resort. The plane is exclusive to the resort.
Recently the resort started selling the leftover seats to anyone traveling to El Nido. Lucky for us there were two left. Upon arrival we were greeted by a jeepney (most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines) that took us to the airport from the runway.
A trio of ladies sang a welcome song to all of the passengers as we walked into an open air waiting area.
We were astonished to see a complimentary buffet of sweets and drinks to enjoy while our luggage was being pulled off the plane. This is by far the best service at an airport I’ve experienced. Did I mention the water buffalo outside of the departure area?
There are island tours that most tourists take while visiting here. Since this town is built around the sea it’s the thing to do. The first thing we did was book one of the three tours. Tour A.
The Sea Cocoon hotel is in the center of town. This location was close to the ocean, shopping, restaurants, tour companies.
There was action on every street. Between puppies and the fresh foods I always had something sweet in my hands.
A Farmer’s Festival was going on the second day we were there. A big parade filled the streets and then ended up in a huge school yard.
Within the yard were fun farm events. We arrived just in time for the pig catching contest, followed up by the water buffalo races.
This was a huge event with over one hundred people. It was so fun to see. There was even a chicken catching contest, but the chicken flew off.
Instead of going on an organized tour the first day we hired a private boat. Part of the fun was going to the village to hire a driver. Giving our business to a local family felt better than a big tour company and the price was less than half.
We originally planned to go to 7 Commandos beach but it was so crowded we chose the nieghboring Papaya Beach.
Papaya beach is private and we were the only people there. It was like every daydream I’ve ever had about being on a secluded island.
The boat dropped us off around 11:30am and was scheduled to return at 3pm. It was stunning and the water was crystal clear. So clear we noticed the water was infested with jellyfish. There were so many of them.
Unbeknownst to us, jellyfish season is from November to April. Needless to say, it was next to impossible to swim around them. There were times I was so hot I just ran in and out of the water. Thank God there was a dog on the beach to play with. All he wanted to do mostly was sleep in the shade. Kayaks were stopping by the beach to take a break throughout the day. We watched people get in the ocean to swim, get stung and get right out.
We took a tricycle to Nacpan beach. Every time we walked by a tricycle the driver would call out “nacpan beach?”. The large fare is like winning the lottery for the driver. Finally pulling the trigger to a stunned driver, he started out asking for 1,500 pesos ($30.00 USD). We settled on 800 pesos ($17.00 USD). The tricycle was so uncomfortable. We didn’t realize the seat on this particular one was much smaller than the others we had ridden. The road was paved the first 20 minutes but the last 25 minutes was on rocks and sand. The scenery was beautiful. Lots of green fields, green mountains and small homes along the way were soothing to see. This beach is special because it’s so hard to get to. Nacpan beach is also rated as one of the best beaches in the world.
Nacpan beach has one restaurant with cabana/hut style seating on the sand. Further down the beach are plastic lounge chairs and umbrellas for rent. The cost is 450 pesos ($9.60 USD) for the day. The cost went down to 250 pesos ($5.35 USD) since we were only staying two hours.
The beach was beautiful, spacious and clean. The ocean was infested with jellyfish so no one was swimming. Watching people get in unknowingly and get right back out rubbing their arms or legs was entertaining. It was really hot outside so some people made the most of the beach by laying in the shore break to cool off.
One thing the people of El Nido know how to do best is have a great time. Every night there was live entertainment or a big event for the locals. From the Farmer’s Day Parade to the 100 year anniversary party for the city El Nido, the locals were celebrating and having a ball. There was even an outdoor pseudo casino at night. The odds were the same here as everywhere – not in my favor.
Some of the nights we could actually feel the bass of the music through our hotel window going on until 2am. Cotton candy, fresh popcorn, grilled meats on a stick, balloons and candy were sold around these local events. The atmosphere was always festive. Kids and adults were out late at night enjoying the festivities even if school was the next day.