Didem Doğan

El Nido: a priceless jewel

Sublime, indescribably beautiful. Millions of colours, living beings, under and above the waters, colours you cannot even name, a silhouette made of thousands of islands that raise like giant black mountains on the water, a green that you will never see it anywhere else, a gentle breeze of tropical weather, a place you wish the time could be frozen… El Nido is situated at the north of the island of Palawan, one of the thousands of islands in the Philippines. It chosen by travellers as the most beautiful island in the world. There are two ways to reach there: you can either fly from Manila to Puerto Princesa (an hour flight) and take the transfer to El Nido by minivan (takes four to five hours) or you can fly directly to El Nido airport from Manila (there’s only one company that operates on this line with its forty to fifty seats). Spending a night in Puerto Princesa will give you the chance to visit the Underground River, a Unesco heritage Site. This is an underground river of eight kilometres, it is reached by a forty minute boat ride from Puerto Princesa, you then take a canoe to the underground river and go until one and a half kilometres inside the dark cave. Thousands of bats stay right above you, you hear their noise, smell their poo, it is an incredible experience. Actually i the island of Palawan the activities are always based on hoping on hoping off the islands. There are two options to experience El Nido: the budget option is to stay in a hostel/hotel at the centre of El Nido and take daily regular tours, the most popular ones are tour a, b and c: taking you to the small and big lagoons, caves, secret beaches. The tours depart everyday from the beach at the centre of El Nido, the wooden boats that look like spiders are operated by three Filipino workers. They last the whole day with four to five stops, including a lunch… The other option is the luxury one, by that we understand staying on an island resort, an exclusive place to resort guests, where you have the all included system, the lunch and dinner, boat tours, etc. You will see mostly European tourists, Spanish (due to colonial history maybe), the Chinese, the new rich of the world… The advantage and the disadvantage is the same, that Philippines, still not as developed as Thailand is still virgin, with lesser crowds, unspoilt beaches is also suffering from infrastructure problems: electricity shortages, roads… It is undoubted that it will be one of the most beautiful places you will ever see in your life.