Palawan has been on the bucket list for some years, we just hadn’t managed time to get there.
We were time poor with only ten days inclusive of travel days to make a break for it. The trip was for Locks birthday – I wanted an escape with little travel time, and thankfully Japan has direct flights to manila.
We jumped on an almost 4 hour flight to Manila, the aim of this trip was to relax and soak up as much sunshine as possible leaving behind Tokyos chilly winter.
I’m crap at surprises, especially for my well travelled husband. I began the search for a few nights in a unique style of accomodation, after a few days hacking the net, I found it! An entire island through airbnb!!! An island all to ourselves, am I crazy? is this even real?!!
After some hesitation and reluctancy — I hit book, and boom! We have an island.
I emailed ahead to align some birthday surprise’s including transfers to food requirements, the stuff that Lock normally sorts out with fine precession.
We travel stand by which is very normal for us however incase we are bumped I always allow a day before our expected arrival incase we lose our non-refundable bookings, we make it and spend the night in Manila. We stayed at the Conrad perfectly along the water and next door to the mall where we stocked up on insect repellent, baby snacks and treats before setting of to the islands of Palawan. At first light we are off! The first flight to leave the small crowded domestic airport, every parent is happy to see a playarea in an airport plus coffee, so no matter how small and busy manila airport was gold.
Airswift was great, a one hour flight in a new ATR – impresses us.
We arrived at 7:45am eagerly early; our transfer was prompt and picked us up for the very cool island airport taking us to Lio Beach for breakfast — if this was a glimpse into our week ahead we would be stoked. An order of yummy breakfast smoothie bowls and a swing to occupy the toddler starts the trip off well.
The drive ahead was approximately 1.25hrs south, the transfer was a van around $70AUD each way. We passed the main villages of El Nido and caught some traffic, the roads are mixed between windy and rough to clean newish motorways onto 45 minutes of dirt. It is great for Riley to visit countries like this, there are children in the fields and drying rice along the road. A real eye opener.
Here we are complaining to our parents that we don’t have the latest iphone or we snobbishly send back steaks when they are slightly under or over cooked when these people are happily living their lives with no running water. Makes you rethink right!
The island we are staying at provides jobs for the locals and supports the community giving back which made or stay far more important.
We soon pull into a little muddy fishing village where children are playing with no shoes but gleaming in smiles as we make our way to the Jetty where we are pleasantly greeted. Life vests are donned and then we are safely transported to our island. As you pull up to paradise the staff and owner awaits with giant waves and smiles.
An introduction and tour of the island kicks off the stay. We cant believe it, it is magical and already we don’t ever want to leave. We are seated for lunch in the main dining area that over looks the ocean. A four course meal is prepared of soup, pasta, fresh seafood, breads, and fruit. Yup! i’m patting my back right now. After our delicious lunch we are off to choose our room.
The island has four suites available the superior inbeded in the rock face of the island, it overlooked the water and jetty with an outdoor bathroom and a breeze to send you dreaming. While it was romantic and stunning it wasn’t toddler friendly. We decided to head back down to the lower level beach houses. It was just as lovely with a porch leading to the hammocks under the palms and an uninterrupted view of the water.
Riley enjoyed the hammocks and playing in the sand while lock toured around. The island offers water sports from diving equipment to kayaks. You can indulge with a massage, and cocktails or enjoy the giant fire pit, fit for a party off 12.
We spent the afternoon relaxing, playing and swimming and before long the day turns to night showing off the most stunning sunset. We watch from the jetty, before Riley pulls us to dinner.
Another beautiful meal is prepared stars from the open air dining room. Day 2 we are up feed and off to explore, kayaking around the island finding peaceful little beaches that were once occupied by fisherman.
Ill skip to dinner where they beautiful ladies have baked a birthday cake, displayed a beautiful romantic beach dinner and set up birthday fireworks for Lock, his day/holiday is a success!
Soon we are packing and sadly leaving, we have 4 days left heading back to El Nido. Moving to Lio Beach its a great location to be while exploring the surrounding islands, with a large handful of restaurants along the beach. We booked a private day boat for the next day picked up first thing. The boat crowds are heavy, a good thing is only 300 tourists are allowed each day. This is an implementation to preserve hot spots such as Secret Beach, Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon – they can no longer be visited on the same day. The number of tourists, boats and kayaks will be limited and time slots will be issued per visit. This means we will not be able to guarantee what time you will be going to Big Lagoon or Small Lagoon. The tours are broken into A and B you select your preference.
Staying in the lagoon area will also be limited, as only a maximum of 90 minutes for Big Lagoon and 1 hour for Small Lagoon will be implemented.
A user fee of Php 200 per person each visit for Secret Beach, Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon. This is in addition to the Php 200 Eco-Tourism.
Additionally, entry of motorised boats is now prohibited for Big Lagoon except for special cases.
It is a massive process with the Life Patrol registering each boat and person. Once the being tours are out we are loaded onto our 4 crew expedition. A traditional Paraw Boat heading to Blue Lagoon, Secret Lagoon and Shimizu Island. They were all crowded, our second stop Shimizu Island an idyllic little location sheltered from the strong wind at this time of the year with soft sand and shade for Riley to play. We enjoyed our catered BBQ lunch of whole fresh BBQ fish, fresh fruits and side all while we were knee deep in the ocean — it was magic!
Our tour guide ended up taking us to some smaller more private spots which was pure heaven, the last spot of course being our favourite, a swing attached to a tree that swooped into the water had Riley content. The day was ending too soon, and we weren’t really ready to leave but it was time.
Most people do back to back tours tof see both rounds but we decided to head to Sitio Beach or known as Las Cabanas beach. Scattered with trendy beach bars and restaurants tourist dropped along the sand a glistening water. We actual walk around to the other side where we find a gorgeous tree cabana, and shallow water for Riley to play in. Once the boys have eaten and swam they fall asleep under the palms and I head out on the tube. A relaxing day for-sure.
Our time is short but our tans are glowing and our hearts are happy. We head back to Manila for a night before our early morning flight back to Japan.
I don’t doubt that we will be back to explore further and I would easily say you will love it kids and all.
The crazy three nomads travelling the world, one baby step at a time :)