Hello everyone! I hope everyone is all good, enjoying your weekends (that’s if it is the weekend whilst you’re reading this, otherwise, if it’s a Monday, I’m really sorry).
I can confidently say that El Nido is one of the most incredible places on earth. I haven’t been to many places, but I can’t see why El Nido wouldn’t be. The sad feeling I had when regretting leaving Puerto Princesa after only three nights dissapeared the second our minivan pulled around the final turn to El Nido; the flat, crystal clear sea water emerged, with islands and lagoons spotted in the distance.
The minivan. Oh my gosh. Where do I even start with that absolute hell of a 5 hour journey?! Firstly, we were the last two people to get picked up and the company had obviously wanted to squeeze as many of us as possible into one van. I ended up at the front, in the middle, wedged between the driver and a friendly chap from Belgium. There were no seatbelts. There wasn’t even anywhere for me to put my legs so I had to keep crossing them over each other and would occasionally, accidentally play footsies with the driver… My knees were in agony for hours after. The driver cut almost every corner and beeped every thirty seconds so that the tricycles and mopeds he was about to overtake knew he was coming up their asses. He even nearly ran over a kitten at one point!
I remember planning in my head what I would do if I could see we were about to crash; I had the worst seat in the house if we did! I decided that I’d spin around and grab the headrest behind me. We also had two British guys clearly going through a midlife crisis sat in the back. They were dressed like teenagers, speaking like teenagers, drinking wine straight from the bottle and using phrases like “hey kids, check out this funk” whilst playing their crappy dubstep and old, horribly remixed pop songs on their portable speaker.
Because we were in the Philippines and had the most scenic journey EVER, I was still more than happy despite the uncomfortable seating and multiple death scares. The road to El Nido was basically just one long, snake- like road through the mountains and jungle. Palm tree after palm tree, moped after moped, beach after beach. Even if I could have slept or had room to read, I wouldn’t have because the views were too impressive to miss.
The outpost beach hostel is the first hostel both me and Jenny have stayed in and it hasn’t been that bad. In fact, it’s so great here, we’ve decided to extend our stay until we go back to Manila. The staff are all so friendly and go out of their way to remember your name or ask what your plans for the day are. It is the only hostel on the actual beach in the whole of El Nido. And it is ON the beach- the water only a stone’s throw away. Music plays all day, there’s a bar and restaurant as soon as you step in, there’s a chill out area upstairs with comfy seats, a giant TV and board games.
The only negative points to make, are that firstly, it has only been open for three months, so there’s still a lot of construction going on which wakes you up early. There’s no communal kitchen, which means spending a lot more money on food and no laundry room either.
It’s open plan, which is lush. Especially when every night, at about 6pm, there is a ceremony for the sunset. It means that there’s nothing blocking the breeze from the sea or the flawless views. The staff hand out free shots every sunset and say a speech, then we all have to make animal noises before sitting back and enjoying the orange, yellow, red and blue (sometimes even green) cocktail of colours stretching across the sky.
A variety of restaurants and bars are only a short walk away, the main town only a 5-10 minute tricycle ride away. Not only that, but there’s loads of places you can get your tours booked in (for island hopping and lagoon exploring- we’ve booked one for Sunday). Also, if you’re looking to go to El Nido, and you’ve heard rumours that there’s not a single cash machine, it’s all lies! There’s a couple in town, but I’d recommend using the bank of the Philippines, as I was unable to withdraw cash from another one a few days ago and other backpackers have said they’ve had the same problem.
Another thing to bare in mind is that you will come across a few ‘gap yah’, pretentious travellers that will bad mouth El Nido, but don’t listen to them. We had one girl (who turned out to be a snobby, temper tantrum princess) slate it for being too touristy and having too many busy beaches (just after she’d been badmouthing people that don’t change/ put on a different accent when speaking to foreigners… what?!). Don’t get me wrong, I love going to more residential and secluded places, but it’s also just as fun being in a more touristy area and being more sociable and letting your hair down a bit. And about the beaches, they’re not overcrowded at all! Me and Jenny had a whole beach to ourselves on our first proper day!
Our first night consisted mainly of taking everything in. Both me and Jenny sat in awe with a beer in our hands when we realised where we were, what we were looking at and who we were with. It also consisted of beer pong, giant Jenga and making loads of new friends from all over the globe. We’ve met these two other English girls called Jemma and Lauren. We had a few drinks with them on our first night and since then have been out for food, got to know each other better over a game of ring of fire and spent a day all hungover after the full moon party the night before. It was weird staying in a hostel at first, it just feels like a giant sleepover, but I adjusted quickly.
Our first beach day was bliss and I didn’t make the same mistake of being cocky and putting a lower factor sun cream on this time. The water was see-through and there were loads of crabs and camouflage starfish blending in with the sand. I was lying, sunbathing in the water and had little fish swimming around me at the same time the water was gently brushing past me. Nothing or nobody else was in sight other than other islands and rocks in the distance. Sooo relaxing.
But, of course, a typical embarrassing Becca moment had to interrupt our moment of peace haha. I decided, considering there wasn’t a single person in sight, to sunbathe topless to avoid tan lines. This was fine up until an hour or so later, when one of my rubbish bags made a runner down the beach. I ran after it, pretty much butt naked and when I finally caught it I looked up to see a man only a few metres away, walking in my direction. GREAT.
We enjoyed some more cheap food at a place called Double Gem on the sand that evening, before buying some booze to sneak into our hostel (big bottle of rum for 100PHP- equivalent of 1.54GBP) to predrink for the Filippino version of the full moon party. It was the best opportunity for making new friends and getting drunk (finally)! We danced to some crappy electronic music with the six guys from Belgium from our hostel room, bought more shots and watched things being on fire. The night ended up going really quickly and next thing you know it was 11am the following day (it’s rare for me to wake up that late), I had a dry mouth and my foot was in agony.
Becca moment number two!
I had a flashback of me drunkenly trying to get down from one of the bunk beds a few hours before and jumping and landing straight on my foot, spraining it in the process. Would anyone expect any less of me? And now I’m sat with it up on a chair with a bandage round it praying for a speedy recovery. I’ve been putting ice on it and taking it easy and can still get around so I’m strangely not too bothered about it; I’m just grateful it wasn’t anything worse.
I headed into town with Jemma and Lauren for some hangover food and a look around. El Nido town is dainty and cute. It is more touristy, which is good because there’s a wider variety of restaurants and rooftop bars, souvenir shops and fresh juice stalls.
With the exception of a couple of free shots of rum for the sunset, we decided not to really drink that night; we need to avoid spending money every day. Instead we met another nice English girl called Milly who played Monopoly with us. She’s making the most of her gap year before starting at Oxford university.
Up until now (Saturday 13th), our days have consisted on beaching, swimming, listening to reggae whilst colouring, writing, reading, meditating, socialising, eating, drinking games and generally just being hypnotised every time I look at where we are and what’s in front of us. Pure heaven. Tomorrow we’re doing a tour, then after that I’m hoping my foot will be better so we can explore some other nearby beaches and waterfalls.
There are more strays here which is sad, but the hostels are good at looking after them and they love a cuddle because, unlike the strays in Puerto Princesa, they’re more used to affection, so I’m in my element! There’s one called Cookie with a broken paw (which has ‘apparently’ healed now but I’m sceptical) and she’s SOOO cute and always rolls on her back for belly rubs. There’s two others, one called Elvis, the other- Presley.
I’ve been here for just over four days now and once again have made myself feel at home somewhere. I’m so relaxed and so, so happy and it’s so nice finally being able to spend day after day doing my favourite things, that I don’t always have time to do at home.
Tomorrow we will be doing tour A, exploring the big lagoon, small lagoon, secret lagoon, Shimizu island and seven commandos beach. They say tour A and C are the most popular, so if you’re looking to go, I’ll try and give you the best option (if you can’t do them all)!